Orland Park school district sued over ex-coach charged with abuse

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Cara Labus | Orland Park police

Two former junior high school students are suing the southwest suburban school district that previously employed the basketball coach accused of having sex with them during “sleepovers” at her home over a period of more than three years.

Cara Labus, 32, was charged in January 2015 with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of the students she met while she was a teacher and basketball coach at Jerling Junior High School in Orland Park, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

After the girls graduated, they returned to “assist Labus coach the girls basketball team,” according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court, which uses fictitious names for the plaintiffs.

Starting in December 2008, the girls would periodically stay overnight at a home Labus shared with her husband in Orland Park, where she abused them, the suit claims. Labus has pleaded not guilty.

The abuse continued through February 2011, and one of the victims went to police in December 2014, prosecutors said. Labus was working at Hufford Junior High School in Joliet when she was arrested.

The suit claims the girls “were victims of a known and preventable hazard” that Orland School District 135 should have protected them from, and that the district should have prevented unsupervised contact with students.

“The staff member in question has not been employed by District 135 since 2010,” Supt. DJ Skogsberg said in an email Wednesday night. “Because of the nature of this litigation, we cannot comment further at this time, except that the District will cooperate with law enforcement throughout the investigation.”

The suit also names Labus’ husband as a defendant, claiming he was home at the time of the alleged abuse and should have protected the girls from the “dangerous, criminal and exploitative sexual propensities” of his wife.

Labus, of the 1500 block of Kempton Street in Joliet, was released from jail after posting 10 percent of a $150,000 bond, according to Cook County Circuit Court records. She remains on electronic home monitoring with a nightly curfew of 10:30 p.m. Her next court date is Nov. 10.

The suit seeks more than $100,000 in damages.

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