Chicago Public Schools Sexual Assault Lawsuit
A Chicago Public Schools sexual assault lawsuit may be an option for students who were sexually assaulted, abused or harassed in Chicago’s public schools. According to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, hundreds of students were allegedly sexually assaulted and abused by faculty, other school employees, and other students. In many cases, teachers, principals and other administrators reportedly failed to notify the proper authorities about the alleged abuse despite Illinois’ mandated reporter law. Affected students and their families may be able to pursue a claim and recover compensation with the help of a personal injury attorney.
For more information, contact Attorney Group to learn about your options. We offer free, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
Have You Seen a Chicago Public Schools Sexual Assault Lawsuit Commercial?
You may have seen a Chicago Public Schools sexual assault lawsuit commercial on television and wondered whether you or a loved one were subjected to sexual assault, abuse or harassment in Chicago’s public schools and, if so, whether you are eligible to pursue a claim. The purpose of this article is to provide you with additional information about lawsuits and other litigation involving the Chicago Public Schools system so that you have a better understanding of your options.
Chicago Public Schools Sexual Abuse Investigation
Administrators, faculty and other employees of the Chicago Public Schools system reportedly failed to protect students from sexual assault and abuse for over a decade.
According to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, hundreds of students in the Chicago Public Schools system were reportedly abused by teachers or other employees beginning in 2008.
In all, the Tribune looked into 523 police reports of children who were allegedly sexually assaulted or abused in public schools throughout the city of Chicago from 2008 through 2017. As a result of their investigation, reporters at the Tribune found that a total of 72 school employees had allegedly violated students, including teachers, counselors, coaches, security guards and more.
Sexual Abuse by School Employees
According to the Tribune’s investigation, a number of students were sexually assaulted, raped or abused by trusted faculty and other school employees in the Chicago Public Schools system. Students reportedly affected include top athletes, honor-roll students, children struggling to read, and teenagers seeking guidance. Many students who reported abuse to the Tribune indicated that they received little to no help from school administrators — people they should trust — when fellow students or school employees committed assault, abuse or harassment.
These incidents represent only a snapshot of the many alleged sexual abuse cases reported in the Tribune’s investigation. According to the Tribune’s investigation, “[t]he exact number of cases in which school workers sexually assaulted students remains elusive, in part because the CPS does so little to understand and tackle the problem.” In fact, the Tribune threatened to file a lawsuit to force the disclosure of documents related to the misconduct before the school system finally released such information.
Simeon Career Academy
Gerald Gaddy, a volunteer assistant coach of the boys wrestling and girls track teams at Simeon Career Academy, repeatedly raped a 16-year-old athlete and groped two other students. School administrators reportedly failed to conduct a full criminal background check before making Gaddy a coach in 2010. Reports also indicate that administrators ignored instructions to keep Gaddy out of the school when knowledge of four drug felony drug convictions surfaced in 2011. Gaddy is now serving a 40-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault.
Black Magnet Elementary
In 2015, officials at Black Magnet Elementary School found that a substitute teacher had been sending “lewd texts and graphic sexual propositions to eight-grader.” School administrators reportedly took the student’s phone and called her mother instead of contacting law enforcement. In many cases of sexual assault and abuse, administrative questioning such as this can complicate matters and inflict additional trauma on those who have been abused.
Morgan Park High School
Dino Amendola, A physical education teacher at Morgan Park High School, was fired after “he allegedly had sex multiple times with an 18-year-old female student, including in the office he used as a coach.” Amendola was reportedly on probation for allegedly knocking a man down a flight of stairs and kicking him when he began teaching at the school in 1999. Unlike other states, having sex with a student above the age of 17 is legal in Illinois, and in the case of Amendola, no investigation or inquiry into the matter was conducted.
Taft High School
A student reported that Jonn Laney, a security guard and assistant track coach at Taft High School, groped her during practice in 2016. School officials reportedly never followed up with the family of the alleged victim and did not alert members of the community, even when Laney was allowed to accompany students to a track meet after the allegations surfaced.
Illinois Mandated Reporter Law
Illinois, as well as a number of other states in the U.S., have mandated reporter laws. Mandated reporters — people who are in contact with children, dependent adults or elders — are required to report any indication of assault or abuse that has been observed or suspected.
The Tribune’s investigation discovered that Illinois’ Mandated Reporter Law was often ignored in cases of sexual abuse in the Chicago Public Schools system. Reporters also found that, instead of reporting alleged sexual abuse cases to the proper authorities, school officials were doing the investigating themselves.
In Illinois, mandated reporters are required to call the state’s Child Abuse Hotline when they have “reasonable cause to believe” that a child may have been abused or neglected. According to Illinois state law, mandated reporters “are professionals who may work with children in the course of their professional duties,” including medical personnel, school personnel, social service/mental health personnel, law enforcement personnel, coroner/medical examiner personnel, child care personnel, and members of the clergy.
According to the Illinois’ Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), criteria needed for a child abuse or neglect investigation includes
- The alleged victim is a child under the age of 18.
- The alleged perpetrator is a parent, guardian, foster parent, relative caregiver, paramour, any individual residing in the same home, any person responsible for the child’s welfare at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect, or any person who came to know the child through an official capacity or position of trust (for example: health care professionals, educational personnel, recreational supervisors, members of the clergy, volunteers or support personnel) in settings where children may be subject to abuse and neglect.
- There is a specific incident of abuse or neglect or a specific set of circumstances involving suspected abuse or neglect.
- There is demonstrated harm to the child or a substantial risk of physical or sexual injury to the child.
Information the reporter should have ready to give to the Hotline:
- Names, birth dates (or approximate ages), races, genders, etc. for all adult and child subjects.
- Addresses for all victims and perpetrators, including current location.
- Information about the siblings or other family members, if available.
- Specific information about the abusive incident or the circumstances contributing to risk of harm—for example, when the incident occurred, the extent of the injuries, how the child says it happened, and any other pertinent information.
School personnel may include administrators and certified and non-certified staff such as the superintendent, teacher, principal, school counselor, school nurse, school social worker, assistant principal, teacher’s aide, truant officer, school psychologist, and secretary, including personnel of institutions of higher education.
Student-on-Student Sexual Assault and Abuse
In addition to multiple reports of sexual assault, abuse and harassment allegedly committed by faculty and other school personnel in the Chicago Public Schools system, the Chicago Tribune uncovered a number of student-on-student sexual assaults.
In many instances of sexual assault and abuse by fellow students, employees in the Chicago Public Schools system reportedly failed to protect victims and report nearly 40 cases at over two-dozen high schools, prep schools, and elementary schools in which students reported sexual assault since 2008.
According to the Tribune, the sexual-assault victim or the perpetrator involved was a student with disabilities in more than half the cases compiled in the investigation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with disabilities may be at a higher risk for abuse or neglect than children without disabilities.
In many cases, reporters discovered that school administrators often failed to act on the sexual assault allegations. Some principals were even criticized for not believing victims or blaming victims for the alleged incidents.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse may include sexual contact with a child as well as other actions such as exposing of oneself, sharing obscene images, or taking inappropriate photos or videos of a child.
Physical, behavioral and emotional signs of sexual abuse may be present. Those signs may include:
- Physical – sexually transmitted infections; signs of physical trauma, such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, or blood on sheets or clothing
- Behavioral – inappropriate sexual behavior for the child’s age; bedwetting or soiling the bed, if the child has outgrown these behaviors; not wanting to be left alone or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers; avoiding removing clothes to change or bathe
- Emotional – excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics; resuming behaviors that they have grown out of; nightmares or fear of being alone at night; excessive worry or fearfulness
In many cases, those who sexually abuse children are in a position of trust; the majority of sexual assault victims know their abuser or perpetrator.
Lauren A. on May 16, 2016
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Chicago Public Schools Sexual Assault Lawsuit Claims
Numerous civil lawsuits have been filed against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago as a result of allegations of sexual abuse by teachers and other school personnel in the Chicago Public Schools system.
Plaintiffs often claim that administrators and other school employees failed to appropriately report the allegations to the DCFS or proper authorities.
How a Chicago Public Schools Sexual Assault Lawsuit Attorney Can Help
Public and private entities that negligently hire, supervise or retain employees who they know or reasonably should suspect pose a danger to others are legally responsible for any injuries caused by their employees’ conduct, including sexual assault and abuse. Survivors are entitled to compensation for damages stemming from physical injuries as well as past, current, and future emotional distress.
People injured as a result of sexual assault may be entitled to compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- The permanency of the injury
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Loss of income or ability to work
People injured, or the families of those killed, in sexual assaults are encouraged to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney to learn more about their rights and remedies.