Gym teacher accused of inappropriately touching student faces charges

HARVEY, Ill. -- The Department of Child and Family Services is investigating after a gym teacher at a south suburban high school was accused of inappropriately touching a student and was charged with a misdemeanor.

School officials at Thornton High School in Harvey confirmed the male teacher in question has been on administrative leave since the incident was reported in May.

The student and her mother, whose identity WGN News is concealing because of the nature of the charges, said the teacher has a reputation for flirting with young girls and in some cases, inappropriately touching them. He was also the student's softball coach.

“He was a touchy coach,” she said. "He always grabbing on you.  He did it to everybody but I never thought anything of it."

At one point, he made an off color comment while correcting her batting stance.

“He was trying to relate batting to having sex,” the student said.

Last spring, the student said she was in the gym when the teacher asked her to step out into the hallway so he could talk to her. When she did, she said the teacher grabbed her, hugged her and said, “I love you.”

“I turned around to go back in the gym but the door was locked,” the student said. “He put his hand up the back of my shirt and he was caressing the sides and my back. I started knocking for someone to open the door and he (said), ‘Calm down. They’re going to come.’ So I started beating even harder and finally somebody came.”

She said she told a dean, who immediately made her write it down. She said she then called her mother crying.

“She didn’t want to say because it was him, like she going to get him in trouble,” her mother said.  “She felt bad because it was him.”

Her mother said she immediately reported it to the school and filled out what she thought was a police report. She said when she tried to follow up on it, she found out it was never filed.

The student and her mother said it is widely known among the students and staff that the teacher is handsy and inappropriate. They said administrators have done nothing about it.

The mother posted on Facebook and asked, “If they could name a pervert coach or teacher, who would that person be?” She said several women and girls replied with the name of the accused teacher.

“It’s disgusting to look on Facebook and see one young lady say, ‘It’s about time they got him because going he’s been going thru generations of kids.’”

She said she finally went to the Harvey Police Department last month to make an official report. On Saturday, the teacher turned himself in.

A Harvey spokesperson told WGN News because there is no proof the touch was sexual in nature, is it considered battery and a misdemeanor. The teacher has since bonded out.

“That is someone I trusted, confided in as a coach, as a teacher,” the student said.  “That trust is gone.”