An ex-paraprofessional for the Special Education District of Lake County has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a girl with disabilities while working. 49-year-old Israel Suaste-Gonzalez appeared in court on Tuesday morning and was ordered held on $2 million bail.
Suaste-Gonzalez has been charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, four counts of criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Police believe that Suaste-Gonzalez abused a girl with physical and intellectual disabilities between 2016 and 2018. The victim called Suaste-Gonzalez her “teacher” and stated that she thought she had to agree to the abuse because her teacher repeatedly told her to. She also said that Suaste-Gonzalez told her not to tell anyone.
According to the authorities, Suaste-Gonzalez initially denied the allegations when the police interviewed him. However, he allegedly later admitted to sexually abusing the girl at least five different times.
School sexual abuse lawyer and Attorney contributor Brian Kent represents school sex abuse victims and their families in civil lawsuits against sexual predators and negligent schools that have failed to protect their students. We’ve asked Brian for some thoughts on the legal rights of families affected by sexual abuse involving school employees:
In any field that involves working with people with disabilities, it’s critical that all employees are trustworthy people. Sadly, the more vulnerable people in our communities are more likely to become victims of sexual abuse. Some sexual predators seek out positions in fields like special education, where they commit heinous crimes against the people they’re supposed to look after.
When a student with disabilities is abused by a school staff member, it’s important to ask how the abuse happened and whether it was preventable. Some of these cases only happen due to negligence by the school district – such as hiring an employee without running a background check. In cases of negligence, the victim and their family may have a case for a lawsuit.
If you or your child is a victim of sexual abuse by a school staff member, you can learn more about your legal rights in a free consultation with one of our experienced sex abuse victims lawyers.