OAK PARK, Ill. —A teacher at a suburban high school has been placed on administrative leave after a former student accused him of sexual misconduct.
Helen Quinn-Pasin, a former student at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, said she shared her story after nearly a decade because she couldn’t sit by while her abuser still worked at the school.
Quinn-Pasin shared her story the sexual assault on YouTube. In the 13-minute video she detailed at least 10 instances of unwanted touching and groping by a teacher from 2012 to 2014.
“I am here as an absolute last resort,” she said in the video. “(He) wrapped his arm around me, put his cheek on mine and asked me about my love life while looking me up and down and making noises that sounded like he was growling.”
Quinn-Pasin, now 26, said she filed a police report last fall but the statute of limitations had passed.
Oak Park Police Dept confirmed that the report was made in September 2021. According to a statement made to WGN News, police immediately began an investigation, “including contacting the school and interviewing witnesses.” Police said they consulted with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit, which said “evidence did not support a felony complaint.”
“If allegations had been reported within the statute of limitations, misdemeanor battery charges may have been warranted,” the statement said.
WGN New is not naming the the teacher because no charges have been filed.
“It was disappointing that I wasn’t able to press charges because I would be willing to,” Quinn-Pasin said. “But I’m giving myself grace because it was really hard to even go to the police to begin with.”
The video was posted online on Monday. Since then Fenwick said they have placed the teacher on administrative leave.
Fenwick’s president, Richard Peddicord, sent a letter to the school community that reads:
|Dear Fenwick Community,|
As some of you know, this morning a Fenwick alumna posted a video detailing her experience as a student at Fenwick and our handling of a serious matter involving a faculty member. Please be assured that we took, and are taking, her allegations seriously and the inquiry into the incidents she describes is ongoing.
Fenwick has been in contact with the Oak Park Police Department regarding this matter. Their investigation concluded this past fall, and no charges were brought. Through an independent third party, Fenwick has offered to provide a forum the alumna finds acceptable to make a statement in detail, but nonetheless we are moving ahead with the investigation of the conduct she brought to our attention in December 2021.
The safety of the young people entrusted to our care is of the utmost importance to us. If anyone feels he or she has suffered abuse or other misconduct at Fenwick, we ask them to come forward with any information and to receive the help and healing they deserve.
“It’s very scary that Fenwick has protected him for decades and that’s why I don’t have a lot of faith in them to do the right thing,” Quinn-Pasin said.
The teacher’s attorney, Tom Quinn, said the teacher is cooperating with the school’s independent investigation.
In a statement, he said, “The recent accusation is categorically false. He has never abused a Fenwick student at any time or in any place.”
But Quinn-Pasin said she plans to see this through.
“I will not be satisfied until he is either fired or someone goes to the police and he is charged criminally,” she said.
Quinn-Pasin says she’s received an overwhelming amount of support from current and former students after she posted her video. She said many reached out to her to share similar stories.