CPS failed to protect Lincoln Park H.S. student from sex assault, lawsuit alleges

“It’s very upsetting that you can’t drop your kid off at school and expect that your daughter or son is protected,” an attorney said. “It changes these kids forever.”

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Chicago Police officers keep watch at Lincoln Park High School as students stage protests over the removal of school administrators and the suspension of the varsity boys basketball season, Thursday morning, Feb. 6, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A newly filed lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools alleges the school district failed to protect a teenage girl from a mid-January sexual assault at Lincoln Park High School.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of troubling revelations at the North Side school, which has been in the spotlight since CPS officials late last month suspended the boys basketball season and fired top administrators under a cloud of four investigations.

The negligence suit, filed by an anonymous father in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of his underage daughter, alleges the district “failed to provide adequate security on the premises to protect ... against sexual assault” and “failed to implement policies to prevent the sexual abuse of minors on school property.”

The alleged assault happened after school Jan. 13 when a male student, who is an athlete, left his team’s practice and met the girl in an unlocked classroom where she was studying, according to the lawsuit.

CPS “carelessly allowed [another student] to sexually assault Jane Doe,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that CPS also “failed to adequately investigate past allegations of battery and/or sexual assault by” the same male student.

The suit names the alleged perpetrator, but the Chicago Sun-Times is not identifying him because he has not been charged with a crime and is not a party to the lawsuit.

Chicago police confirmed last week they were investigating a reported sexual assault inside a Lincoln Park classroom on Jan. 13, but no charges have been filed.

“It’s just another symptom of this school,” said Patrick Condron, one of the attorneys representing the girl. “It’s very upsetting that you can’t drop your kid off at school and expect that your daughter or son is protected. It changes these kids forever.”

He added: “The young lady is not doing well at all, it’s really a bad situation. They’ve got to step up and protect these kids, and it’s not happening.”

The alleged assault is one of many allegations that, in part, led to the upheaval at the school.

CPS officials have released a broad list of misconduct allegations at Lincoln Park, but have not said what exactly former Interim Principal John Thuet, former Assistant Principal Michelle Brumfield and former Dean John Johnson did that led to their ouster.

Boys basketball coach Pat Gordon was removed from his position in early January, three weeks before the rest of the firings, because of an alleged incident on a team trip to Detroit that involved some type of sexual misconduct and social media. Gordon was not accused of any sexual impropriety, but CPS questioned whether he knew of the incident — which he has denied.

The only adult that has been accused of sexual misconduct at Lincoln Park is the girls basketball coach, who was removed from the school a week before Thuet and Brumfield were fired.

One of the administrators put in place last week to replace Thuet and Brumfield on an interim basis has also already been removed for allegedly grabbing a student by the face, an incident that was caught on camera and is under investigation by CPS.

The lawsuit, dated Friday, seeks monetary relief of more than $50,000.

CPS spokesman Michael Passman said in a statement that “protecting students is our highest priority, which is why it was necessary for the district to take a series of personnel actions at Lincoln Park High School in response to serious allegations of recent adult and student misconduct.”

“While we are unable to comment on pending litigation, we are committed to supporting the Lincoln Park High School community through this challenging time,” Passman continued. 

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