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Former coach charged with sexually assaulting students at CPS charter school

Legal Prep Charter Academy, 4312 W. Washington Blvd. | Google Maps

A former basketball coach at a West Side charter school has been charged with sexually assaulting two students, authorities said.

Jamel Helaire-Jones, 32, is facing two felony counts of sexual assault after allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with two students who attended Legal Prep Charter Academy at 4319 W. Washington Blvd. in West Garfield Park, according to Cook County prosecutors.

Helaire-Jones was denied bail on the charges when he appeared for a hearing Wednesday afternoon before Judge Mary Marubio at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

In denying the former coach bail, Marubio cited his position of authority over the girls, who prosecutors said were between the ages of 14 and 17 when the alleged assaults occurred.

Jamel Helaire-Jones | Chicago police

Helaire-Jones, dressed in a dark-colored pea coat and blue jeans at the hearing, hung his head as Marubio announced the no-bail order.

Prosecutors said the assaults took place at the school and in Helaire-Jones’ car, between February 2017 and this past October.

School administrators became aware of rumors of the coach’s alleged conduct last November and contacted Chicago police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. A spokesman for DCFS said the agency was notified of the allegations Nov. 28.

Chicago Public Schools referred questions to the charter school.

Legal Prep Charter Academy founder Rather Stanton said Helaire-Jones was fired Nov. 30, but declined to comment on when Helaire-Jones was hired or for how long he had worked at the school.

Prosecutors said Helaire-Jones was previously convicted of a 2005 robbery charge in Michigan. He was also arrested the following year on a sexual assault charge in Battle Creek, Michigan, but the outcome of the case was unknown.

A spokeswoman with the Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office in Michigan was not immediately available to provide information about the assault case Wednesday.

Stanton said the school performs background checks on employees before they are hired, but declined to comment on whether the school was aware of Helaire-Jones’ criminal history.

“Legal Prep took immediate action to notify the appropriate authorities and remove the employee from their position upon learning of the abuse allegations,” Stanton said in an emailed statement. “Legal Prep is working closely with the affected students and families to ensure they receive the support they need.”

Officers attempted to take Helaire-Jones into custody Jan. 2 during a traffic stop, but he ran away from the officers on foot and they lost sight of him, prosecutors said. He turned himself in to authorities on Monday, according to police records.

A public defender for Helaire-Jones said he had completed high school and had taken some college courses. Most recently he had been working for a moving company.

His next court date was scheduled for Jan. 28.

Legal Prep Charter Academy was founded in 2009 to provide educational opportunities for students interested in entering the legal profession, according to its website