No bail for man charged with sexually assaulting 7-year-old during e-learning livestream

The attack was allegedly witnessed by the girl’s teacher and classmates during a break in an online class Thursday afternoon.

SHARE No bail for man charged with sexually assaulting 7-year-old during e-learning livestream
Cook County Jail, pictured in July.

Cook County Jail, pictured in July.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Cook County prosecutors say a South Side man sexually assaulted a 7-year-old family member in a disturbing attack that was witnessed by the girl’s teacher and classmates during an e-learning session earlier this week.

A judge denied bail Saturday for 18-year-old Catrell Walls, who faces a felony charge of predatory criminal sexual assault following the encounter that was allegedly caught on video from a West Chesterfield neighborhood home during a break in the girl’s online class Thursday afternoon.

The microphone was muted on the girl’s computer, but the camera was on as a handful of other students were logged in to the Google Meets session, prosecutors said during Walls’ bail hearing.

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The teacher was working on a different computer during the pause in class when she heard two other students say, “What is going on? What is happening?” according to prosecutors.

When the teacher opened the screen back to her online class, she saw the 7-year-old girl being assaulted, prosecutors said.

The teacher yelled for the other students to log off and called the girl’s name, telling her to turn off her camera, prosecutors said. The teacher allegedly then saw Walls pick up the laptop and close it.

The teacher reported what she saw to the school’s principal, who called the girl’s family, Chicago police and authorities from Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, prosecutors said.

Catrell Walls.

Catrell Walls.

Chicago police

The girl had been staying at her grandmother’s home during the school day.

When the girl’s father, principal and the school’s chief executive officer went to the home to ask the girl about what happened, she initially said Walls “just hit her,” prosecutors said.

But when the principal spoke with her away from the family, the girl described a sexual assault and said it had happened before, prosecutors said. The girl was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital for examination.

Walls was arrested and the next day, during an interview with detectives, allegedly admitted to what the teacher and students had seen on video, as well as other assaults of the girl since she turned 6.

Prosecutors said Walls broke out in tears and told officers, “I don’t know why, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Walls is a senior in high school and has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which impairs his ability to control his impulses, his defense attorney said.

The 18-year-old had been out of jail on bond following a previous felony charge of unlawful use of a weapon, prosecutors said.

“This ongoing history of assault, for approximately a year, according to the victim, leads me to believe this is not something that will just stop because I have ordered it to,” Judge Charles Beach said. “This history and his actions from this case lead me to believe that he is a threat to an individual and the community as a whole.”

At an unrelated Friday press conference, Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said “this situation is definitely disturbing and something that has been unsettling to me personally since I heard about it. But I also think it just makes me more committed to seeing our kids back in school, under the watchful eyes of their teachers who care for them deeply.”

Walls is due back in court Nov. 21.

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