A former basketball coach from Legal Prep Charter Academy on Chicago’s West Side was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting two students on Wednesday, January 9. Prosecutors say that 32-year-old Jamel Helaire-Jones was involved in sexual relationships with two students while he was coaching basketball at the school in West Garfield Park.
The girls were between ages 14 and 17 when the alleged assaults occurred. According to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, these assaults happened on school property and in Helaire-Jones’ vehicle in 2018.
Helaire-Jones has been charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual assault in which the victims were between the ages of 13 and 17. He appeared in court on Wednesday and was ordered held without bail. His next court date is January 28.
Continue reading for lawyer commentary from basketball coach sexual abuse lawyer, Brian Kent.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent helps survivors of sexual violence find justice and support through civil lawsuits. We’ve asked him to share some thoughts on the legal options available to survivors of sexual abuse by coaches, teachers, and other school employees:
When a teacher sexually abuses a student, the effects are felt throughout the whole community. Not only are the victims and their families traumatized, but the public trust is also damaged. It’s s crucial for our schools to be aware of the sad fact that sexual predators often seek out positions of trust that involve working with kids. Preventative measures need to be taken in order to ensure the safety of students. And when allegations of sexual abuse surface, they must be taken seriously and reported to law enforcement immediately.
Some cases of sexual abuse involving school employees only occur because of negligence on the part of the school – such as hiring a new employee without running a background check or failing to report suspected abuse. In these types of cases, the victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse by a coach, teacher, or another school employee, we understand the difficulties your family faces during this troubling time. If you’d like to learn more about your family’s legal rights, consider speaking to one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors attorneys.