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Former Chicago Park District lifeguard supervisor charged with sexually assaulting 16-year-old employee

Mauricio Ramirez, 32, was ordered held on $500,000 bail for criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The lifeguard stand at North Avenue Beach.  Getty Images

A former Chicago Park District lifeguard supervisor would often pick up his teenage employee from her high school before he would sexually assault her at various locations, including his home, Cook County prosecutors said Thursday.

Mauricio Ramirez, 32, first began talking to the girl in July while she worked as a lifeguard under his supervision, prosecutors said.

During their initial conversations, the girl told Ramirez she was a junior in high school, prosecutors said.

Still, Ramirez later went on to pick her up after class and they would drive to different places — sometimes his house — where he sexually assaulted her on at least seven separate occasions, prosecutors said.

In September, the girl told a friend and her parents about the attacks and she was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where a sexual assault kit was administered, prosecutors said.

Ramirez was first arrested on Oct. 12 in connection with the case.

Mauricio Ramirez
Mauricio Ramirez
Chicago police arrest photo

At that time, he agreed to provide his DNA for testing and was released from custody, prosecutors said.

Ramirez was arrested again Wednesday on criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges after tests showed his DNA matched samples taken from the girl’s sexual assault kit, prosecutors said.

Ramirez’s phone records show that he was in regular contact with the girl between July and September, but the records did not show the contents of their conversations, prosecutors said.

Ramirez most recently has been working for Amazon since he left the park district after 15 years of employment, his attorney Paul De Luca told Judge Marie McCarthy Thursday.

De Luca noted Ramirez had cooperated with the investigation and would agree to be placed on electronic monitoring if he was able to post bond.

McCarthy called Ramirez a danger to the community and ordered him held on $500,000 bail.

A spokeswoman for the park district declined to comment Thursday.

Ramirez was placed on unpaid emergency suspension by the park district on Sept. 13 “pending the outcome of an (inspector general) investigation,” according to personnel records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“You are further prohibited from having contact with other park district employees and visiting park district facilities,” he was told.

Ramirez resigned on Oct. 4, saying he was “pursuing other career opportunities.”

The resignation was a major development in the ongoing investigation of sexual harassment and abuse among park district lifeguards that raised questions about an alleged cover-up in then-Supt. Mike Kelly’s administration.

Kelly resigned days later when Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the park district’s board of commissioners to fire him over his handling of the allegations.

The Sun-Times reported in August that an Oak Street Beach lifeguard sent 11 pages of explosive allegations in February 2020 to Kelly about lifeguards’ conduct during the summer of 2019.

Ramirez is expected back in court on Nov. 15.

Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick and Fran Spielman