42 Chicago Park District employees disciplined, fired in wake of sexual misconduct investigation

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Dozens of Chicago Park District employees are being disciplined — and some fired — as the inspector general looks into allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse.

Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District Michael Kelly held a press conference Monday where he announced sweeping measures taken against numerous employees.

Kelly says 42 staff members have been disciplined since allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse first came to light last year. Nine of those are directly related to the office of inspector general’s ongoing investigation.

“Despite recent reports, I’ve always taken these allegations with the utmost seriousness,” Kelly said.

The staff members also include two high-level employees — the assistant director of recreation and beaches, and the pools manager. They’ve been placed on emergency suspension, as have several others. An inspector general investigation is pending.

“Currently there are seven additional employees who’ll remain on emergency suspension in relation to the investigation. Six others have resigned and have been placed on the do not hire list, excluding them from future employment with the parks district,” Kelly said. “The remaining employees have received a written reprimand, suspension, chose to resign, or were terminated, and are no longer eligible for future employment with the district.”

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Kelly also thanked the women that came forward and announced the creation of a new office of protection, which he expects will be up and running by January of next year. That will serve as an intake point for verification and assessment of complaints going forward.

In the meantime, if anyone has a complaint, they can take that directly to the Inspector General.

The displinary actions stems from a report in which a former lifeguard accussed coworkers of sexual harrassment along with both sexual and physical abuse. The complaint was eventually handed over to Inspector General, albeit six weeks later, which drew criticism.

“I got that letter from that young woman, I turned it over to the IG. What I did instead is I read it and turned it over to my management,” he said. “That’s quite normal to ask management to look into it first.”

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