Chicago Park District swimming instructor resigns after sex abuse allegations

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A Chicago Park District swimming instructor resigned Monday in the face of sex abuse allegations.

On Wednesday, the park district confirmed that officials were made aware of abuse accusations against a natatorium instructor on Aug. 26.

The case was referred to the city’s Office of the Inspector General, which determined, based on details at the time, that its involvement was not warranted.

The next day, the park district’s human resources department began its own investigation. On Sept. 10, the district received a written statement from a third party verifying the claims. The verification included screenshots of text messages and reports of inappropriate communications and choking done in a sexual manner.

Three days later, the employee was placed on “emergency suspension” and the district said it contacted DCFS.

The accused swimming instructor resigned on Monday, the park district said.

This follows reporting by WBEZ and the Sun Times that uncovered several park district lifeguard allegelly sexual harassment and abuse.

“Since initial allegations of misconduct in the Beaches and Pools Unit were made in February 2020, the Chicago Park District has made both immediate and long-term operational changes to not just change the culture of that unit, but to ensure victims and witnesses feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns. That includes taking action against more than 40 Park District employees,” the park district said in the statement.

Ald. Scott Waguespack and Ald. Michele Smith urged Mayor Lightfoot to fire Chicago Park District Supt. Mike Kelly in wake of the allegations.

“We reiterate the call for Mike Kelly’s resignation and that of all Park Officials who have failed these victims. To be clear, we are not talking about “relationships”, we are talking about rape and sexual abuse. We are talking about a culture where grooming and other predatory behaviors are swept under the rug. We stand in support of everyone who has suffered abuse or lived in fear at the Parks District. We are dedicated to being a resource and voice to these victims and if you are considering sharing your story, please know there are people who will support you,” they said in a statement.

The accused former employee has not been arrested at this time.

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