A report, published on Jan. 1 by the Chicago Board of Education’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has revealed that hundreds of Chicago public school students were either raped, sexually assaulted or groomed by their teachers during the 2021-2022 school year.
A total of 772 investigations into the alleged crimes occurred over the year, the report revealed.
The OIG was able to close 600 “adult on student” cases with more than half of the allegations being substantiated.
The issue is so prevalent that the Chicago Board of Education created the Sexual Allegations Unit (SAU) in Oct. 2018 to track and address allegations of sexual assault by school staff.
“Since its inception in October 2018, the OIG Sexual Allegations Unit (SAU) has grown exponentially into a team of more than 30 uniquely qualified staff responsible for handling hundreds of sexual misconduct allegations per year,” reads the report.
Alarmingly, the authors of the report point out that “While the volume of allegations and the number of substantiated cases of sexual misconduct understandably causes concern within the District and impacted school communities, there is no indication that the frequency of these occurrences is higher within CPS than in other districts nationwide.”
The SAU is the first and only investigative body of its kind in the United States.
Over four years the SAU opened 1,735 cases following allegations by students, closing a total of 1,384 cases which raised concerns of “adult-on-student” sexual misconduct, and substantiated policy violations in 302 investigations. Despite this, only 16 investigations resulted in criminal charges.
When criminal conduct does not result in criminal charges
The report admits that other than the handful of cases that have resulted in criminal charges, the SAU “has investigated many other allegations that do not lead to an arrest (or conviction) despite the criminal nature of the conduct,” adding that “In these cases, the SAU’s investigation may be the only avenue through which the offender may face any consequences for their conduct.”
One incident the report brings to light — that did not result in charges — is of an eighth-grade student who initially denied having sexual intercourse with a teacher. An investigation revealed approximately 12,000 calls and texts between the teacher and student over a period of seven months and when confronted with the communications the student admitted to having sexual intercourse with the teacher on two occasions at her apartment.
Another investigation, that did not result in charges, involved incidents that allegedly occurred between 1996 and 1999 when the student was approximately aged 11 to 14 years old.
The former student accused a teacher of repeatedly sexually abusing him, however did not report the abuse at the time. A criminal investigation was not opened because the victim was over 18 years of age at the time of his outcry.
Over cases cited include incidents where the victim was either unavailable or uncooperative and when acquittals occur when the prosecutors were unable to meet a “higher burden of proof.”
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Cases involving criminal charges
The report details an incident where a high school teacher groomed and sexually assaulted a 17-year-old female student which resulted in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office charging the teacher with multiple counts of criminal sexual assault.
The student provided detailed accounts of three separate instances of sexual assault, partly corroborated by text messages on a “CPS-sanctioned Remind app, Snapchat records, and a student witness who overheard a conversation between the teacher and student.”
The teacher’s own statements also corroborated the allegations. When the teacher was told that the assaults were going to be reported to authorities the teacher messaged the student, “Please no…. We r talking about my entire life here….Please….I’m begging u…..”
The report says that prior to the assaults the teacher groomed the student “by establishing an emotional connection with her and breaking down her inhibitors.” The teacher would make remarks like, “I like the way you look in your jeans,” and groped the student while hugging her and touching her thighs and buttocks under the pretext of removing lint from her clothing.
The teacher was subsequently fired and was placed on a “Do Not Hire” list. However, when the case went to trial in November, 2022 a jury acquitted the teacher on all counts.
Another incident details how a teacher provided his 16 to 17-year-old student with alcohol and cannabis. He had his student buy the cannabis for him — prior to it becoming legal in Illinois — and bring it to school.
Cell phone records revealed hundreds of text messages between the teacher and student, some of a graphic sexual nature. One text read, “I’m ready to f*** right now … I’m not gonna be gentle either.”
When the teacher became aware that he was coming under investigation “he threatened to kill the student and her family if she disclosed the sexual abuse,” the report states.
The teacher was arrested and charged with eight counts of criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The teacher pled guilty to the latter in court, and was sentenced to time served and four years of probation in addition to being required to register as a sex offender. He resigned from the CPS during the investigation.
Abuse spanned years with no action
The report revealed the conduct of a high school substitute teacher who “engaged in a systematic pattern of grooming behaviors with female students” including intimate physical contact like kisses, sexual hugs and back-rubs, and who openly solicited sexual acts such as asking a student to recruit another student for a “threesome.”
The teacher engaged in harassment of the students with inappropriate comments, asking about a student’s sex life, telling a student he loved her and remarking on a student’s body.
An investigation revealed “extensive personal communications” with students on social media and by cell phone.
The conduct began in 2015 and persisted into the 2019-20 school year.
“The former student then disclosed various interactions with the teacher on social media, at which point other former students came forward with disclosures of similar incidents,” the report states.