A federal lawsuit is alleging a Chicago Public Schools teacher and principal did nothing after learning a 5-year-old boy was being sexually abused by other students — and that the teacher even ridiculed and threatened the child.
The mother of the Wendell Smith Elementary School student — identified only as John Doe — filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against CPS. Wendell Smith is located on the Far South Side.
The boy was 5 in January 2014 when the alleged abuse began, the suit said. His teacher allowed her students to use a bathroom outside the classroom — a bathroom intended for use by older students only — and sometimes let students leave together without supervision, the suit claimed.
That January, a Wendell employee told the school principal that he heard John Doe and other boys fighting in a hallway. He found the boys naked from the waist down when he went to check on them, the suit claims.
John Doe’s mother called her the next morning and told her another boy in class demanded sexual acts from her son, the suit said. The principal called the children’s parents in for a conference to discuss the incident and later informed CPS and Chicago Board of Education officials.
The boys’ teacher was also made aware of the alleged abuse, the suit claims.
Despite all that, the boys were allowed to go to the bathroom together two more times on their own, and John Doe was abused again. In one of the incidents the suspected abuser’s cousin — who was in the same class as John Doe — also participated in the assault, the suit said.
The suit claims John Doe’s teacher made fun of him in class, telling other students and parents that he does “nasty things in the bathroom with other boys” and another time, threatened “to cut off his penis.”
John Doe’s abuser and his cousin “regularly engaged in aggressive sexualized behavior” with each other and other students on campus and in “plain view” of others, including faculty, students and parents, the suit said.
The principal reported the incident to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in June 2014, the suit said.
Through her attorney, the mother issued a statement saying she filed the lawsuit “because those that run our schools need to be held accountable for the harm that came to my child after those in charge made decisions not to protect him” and adds: “My son is hurting. My family has been affected in ways you cannot imagine.”
The four-count suit accuses CPS and the school board of being negligent and violating the student’s rights to not be harassed.
“Chicago Public Schools top priority is the safety and well being of our students. We have not yet reviewed this lawsuit and do not comment on pending litigation,” spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said in a statement.