According to WBEZ Chicago, a victim has come forward outing as many as seven supervisors that oversee the lifeguards at Oak Street Beach located in Chicago, Illinois.
The 19-year-od victim initially reported the sexual misconduct that took place when she was 17 years old to Park District CEO Michael Kelly in February of 2020. Her 11-page report alleged that seven of the supervisors at the public beach and pools by Oak Street Beach had subjected her to physical abuse in addition to sexually harassing comments over a two-year period. Kelly replied that he would make the inspector general's office aware of her allegations, but this did not happen until March 2020, after another complaint came through to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Mayor Lightfoot then referred the complaint to the park district's leader.
The second victim alleged that a manager sexually abused her when she was 17 years old and that the other supervisors in the district mocked her for it. When she discussed the events with other coworkers, they responded that it was a common occurrence at the park district.
Kelly acknowledged that there were 41-days from the initial letter until the referral was made to the inspector general's office. The names of the suspended officials were not disclosed, and the investigation is said to still be ongoing. Elaine Little is the park district's inspector general, and she reported that her office lacks the resources to deal with the investigation. WBEZ also reported that dozens of employees face serious complaints, and it could be a systemic issue. However, Kelly stated that he was sure they had enough resources and would not require the assistance of the City Hall inspector general.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent, a former sex-crimes prosecutor, is an experienced sexual assault attorney representing sexual assault victims in civil lawsuits. Brian has provided some of his thoughts on the legal rights of victims of sexual assault by supervisor:
"Employers have a duty to protect both the workers and the customers from crimes, such as sexual assault. It is necessary that they maintain a level of security within the workplace and during working hours. Often predators will seek positions of power in order to exploit their victims. Management should implement background checks and keep security cameras to detect and prevent the presence of predators in the workplace. If management fails to implement adequate measures in order to protect their staff and customers, they could be held accountable in a civil lawsuit."
"In addition to adequate preventative measures, if management fails to follow up on a report of misconduct or to investigate an employee's criminal history, they could be deemed liable for neglect. If warning signs were ignored or reports of sexual complaints were ignored, the employers or management can be held accountable for their deliberate failures. In such cases, a victim may have liable ground to pursue a civil lawsuit and should employ the counsel of an experienced sexual assault attorney."