WGN Investigates has talked to more than half-a-dozen former Evanston Township High School students who say their theater teacher engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct decades ago.
Evanston police say nearly 50 people have come forward with information, roughly 10 say they themselves were victims.
Experts say the statute of limitations on these types of cases from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s may prevent criminal prosecution.
The lawsuits accuse the former teacher of sexually abusing boys while he ran the theater program. In court filings, they say it included grabbing their genitals, sexual grooming, a shirtless massage at the teacher’s home and taking students to New York to see hardcore gay pornographic films.
Attorney Evan Smola filed the suits. He says it’s not uncommon for a “trigger” to unleash a flood of old memories.
Bruce Siewerth retired from Evanston Township High School in 1999. “Am I being charged with something or is this all just a bunch of accusations by people that are phoning the media,” Siewerth asked WGN’s Ben Bradley. He has not responded to requests for comment on the new allegations or lawsuits.
After his initial denials to WGN Investigates, he has not responded to repeated requests for comment on the new allegations or lawsuits filed since we talked.
Evanston school officials say via an open records request, there was no written record of any complaints filed against the teacher by parents or students. The district denied a request to see records of any disciplinary action taken against the teacher.
The school hasn’t commented on the lawsuits but officials say they are cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation.