2nd lifeguard supervisor charged with sexually assaulting teen employee
Former lifeguard supervisor Hector Coz’s bail was set at $275,000 during a hearing where he faced charges of criminal sexual assault related to an alleged 2018 incident at the Jefferson Memorial Pool, 4822 N. Long Ave.
Another former supervisor in the Chicago Park District’s lifeguard program is facing sexual assault charges, the latest alleged misconduct in a scandal surrounding the program that led to former park district Supt. Mike Kelly’s resignation last year.
Former lifeguard supervisor Hector Coz’s bail was set at $275,000 Thursday during a hearing where he faced charges of criminal sexual assault by force, sexual assault by a person in a position of authority and sexual abuse related to an alleged 2018 incident at the Jefferson Memorial Pool, 4822 N. Long Ave., in Jefferson Park.
Coz, then 22, was a supervisor in the summer seasonal lifeguard program when he pushed a 17-year-old lifeguard into a locker room at the pool, pinned her against a bank of lockers and sexually assaulted her, Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said in court.
Leading up to the attack, Coz allegedly sexually harassed the teenager by making comments about his sexual prowess.
In July or August that year, Coz was in charge of scheduling lifeguards and set the teenager’s schedule so that they would work together during morning shifts when few people were at the pool, Hanichak said.
On an undisclosed date, the teenager went into a locker room, changed into a swimsuit and was met at the door as she left by Coz, who walked into the locker room and locked the door behind him before sexually assaulting her, Hanichak said.
She told Coz to stop repeatedly until she was able to get away from him and leave the locker room, Hanichak said.
She didn’t tell anyone about the incident until August 2020 when she told a fellow female lifeguard, Hanichak said. That lifeguard responded that Coz had also touched her inappropriately but prosecutors noted that the statute of limitations had passed in that alleged case, so he couldn’t be charged.
The Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago Police Department was assigned the investigation in July last year, and authorities interviewed the alleged victim, who is now 21, and the woman that she told about the encounter. Both identified Coz in a photo array, prosecutors say.
Coz, 25, was arrested Wednesday.
He had never been arrested before and currently lives with his fiancee in Naperville, an assistant public defender said. He was employed and volunteers as a DJ at special events, the defense attorney added.
In addition to setting bail, Judge Charles Beach ordered Coz to have no contact with the alleged victim or witnesses in the case, as well as anyone under the age of 18 if he is released ahead of trial.
Coz is the second ex-park district supervisor to face charges recently.
Former lifeguard supervisor Mauricio Ramirez, 32, was charged last fall with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old employee. In December, Ramirez was charged with new counts of sexual assault after another woman came forward and alleged he assaulted her while she was his employee as a teenager in 2013-2014.
Ramirez has pleaded not guilty in both cases, according to court records.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported in August that an Oak Street Beach lifeguard in early 2020 sent Supt. Kelly 11 pages of explosive allegations about the lifeguard program claiming there was rampant abuse, harassment and on-duty drug use during the summer of 2019 at Oak Street Beach. Kelly delayed passing along the complaint for weeks to the inspector general’s office.
Kelly resigned after Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the park district’s board of commissioners to fire him over his handling of the allegations.
A January report on an investigation by the park district’s Office of the Inspector General confirmed findings of widespread sexual abuse and harassment among lifeguards and a failure by managers and other officials to report incidents.
The park district has announced plans to create an Office of Prevention and Accountability to investigate allegations of misconduct.