OAK PARK, Ill. — When the Fenwick Friars made their playoff run in 2016, a convicted sex offender was helping coach on the sidelines.
WGN Investigates has learned Frank Battaglia, who also was a football coach at Lake Park East High School in Roselle, helped coach during the 2016 season at Fenwick High School in Oak Park.
It’s now led to the dismissal of Fenwick’s head football coach Geno Nudo.
“When this was confirmed by the school and was brought to Coach Nudo’s attention he acknowledged that he did not alert Fenwick that he was doing this and did not follow Fenwick’s important policies and procedures” the school wrote in a statement.
Battaglia, 72, of Elmhurst was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in DuPage County in 1992 when he was in his 40s. Court records said he fondled a girl who was 14 at the time.
He only received two years probation. During that time, court records show he was also ordered “not to coach school athletics.”
Last week, parents packed a meeting at Lake Park East High School. Officials indefinitely suspended Lake Park East’s head coach Chris Roll and placed the principal and athletic director on leave, saying they never submitted Battaglia’s name for a background check.
State law at the time only required Battaglia to be on the sex offender registry for a decade. However, if any of the schools had conducted a criminal background check, the conviction would have surfaced.
Both Lake Park and Fenwick High Schools say there’s no allegation of inappropriate conduct during Battaglia’s time with their football programs.
WGN Investigates reached the victim in that case. She was 14 at the time.
“The fact he’s able to still be around kids blows my mind,” she said.
Both Lake Park East and Fenwick said there’s no allegation of inappropriate conduct during Battaglia’s time with their football programs.
"Every school should have more background checks,” Fenwick parent Marisol Silva said. "We’re trusting them with our children."
Nudo has been at Fenwick since 2012 after spending 23 years working in the Arena Football League. He led Fenwick to semi-state in 2016, going 12-1.
Read the full statement from Fenwick High School below:
Traditionally, Fenwick High School does not comment on personnel matters. However, circumstances involving the termination of head football coach Gene Nudo’s tenure call for some clarity.
Fenwick has strict protocols in place that must be followed before anyone can serve as a coach or volunteer coach. These protocols require that any employee, teacher, coach or volunteer, who is involved with students in any capacity must undergo a background check and participate in Virtus training, among other things. Earlier this week, Fenwick received information that in 2016 Coach Nudo allowed someone whom he had coached with in the past to attend a couple of football practices and to assist Coach Nudo on the sidelines during some games at the end of the season. When this was confirmed by the school and was brought to Coach Nudo’s attention he acknowledged that he did not alert Fenwick that he was doing this and did not follow Fenwick’s important policies and procedures. At that time, Coach Nudo agreed to step down immediately.
Fenwick has no evidence of any wrongdoing by the person Coach Nudo brought in while he was at Fenwick nor any evidence of any other violation of Fenwick’s rules by Coach Nudo. Fenwick thanks Coach Nudo for his years of service and many contributions to the school.
Both Fenwick and Coach Nudo have the utmost confidence in the assistant football coaches to lead the team going forward.