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Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse by Teacher and Negligence at Chicago Suburban High School

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Former Student Sues Fenton High School District for Failing to Protect Her from Sexual Abuse

A woman, identified as “Survivor A” in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, is suing Fenton Community High School District 100 in Bensenville, alleging that a former teacher sexually abused her while she was a student. The lawsuit claims that the teacher, who also served as a track coach, repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted her in 2015 and 2016.

5 Key Points

  • The lawsuit alleges that the teacher sexually assaulted Survivor A on school grounds, in his car, and in a hotel room.
  • Other teachers and staff members allegedly knew of the inappropriate relationship but failed to report it.
  • The teacher was reassigned to a librarian position in December 2016, suggesting that the school district was aware of his misconduct.
  • The school district allegedly failed to notify Survivor A’s parents of a meeting regarding the inappropriate relationship.
  • The lawsuit holds the school district accountable for failing to protect Survivor A and other students from predatory behavior.

Allegations of Sexual Abuse and Negligence

According to the lawsuit, the teacher sexually assaulted Survivor A on school grounds, including in his office, where other teachers and staff members allegedly knew she was present with the door closed and blinds down. The suit also accuses the teacher of sexually assaulting Survivor A in his car, her car, and a hotel room, even videotaping one of the incidents.

The lawsuit claims that the school district knew or should have known about the teacher’s misconduct based on Survivor A’s presence in his office with the door closed and the volume of text messages he sent her on a school-issued phone. Despite this, the school district allegedly failed to report the teacher to law enforcement and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as the law requires.

School District’s Response and Alleged Cover-Up

In December 2016, the teacher was reassigned from his teaching and coaching positions to a school librarian role, and his school-issued cellphone was removed. The lawsuit suggests that this reassignment reflects the school district’s knowledge of the teacher’s “inappropriate and unlawful communication and conduct with students.”

The same month, Survivor A was summoned for an unscheduled meeting with then-Superintendent James Ongtengco and a resource officer, where she was interrogated about the inappropriate relationship. Fearing intimidation, Survivor A denied the relationship, and her parents were never notified of the meeting, according to the lawsuit.

Calls for Accountability and Justice

The lawsuit alleges various violations, including Title IX violations, failure to intervene, and negligence. It seeks unspecified damages and aims to hold the school district accountable for its alleged failure to protect Survivor A and other students from predatory behavior.

Attorney Patrick A. Thronson of Janet, Janet & Suggs LLC, which filed the lawsuit, praised Survivor A’s courage in coming forward and encouraged other potential survivors to seek justice and help protect current and future students from possible abuse.

The allegations against the teacher date back to 2011, and the lawsuit’s filing has prompted calls for the resignation of Superintendent Ongtengco and anyone who knew of the claims and failed to take action. As of March 29, Ongtengco and Fenton High School Principal Samuel Bentsen were placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.

The Chicago public schools abuse lawsuit serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of protecting students from predatory behavior and holding educational institutions accountable for their failure to do so. As the legal proceedings unfold, it is crucial to support survivors, ensure thorough investigations, and implement measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

 

FAQ

Q. Do you qualify for a sex abuse lawsuit?

A. To see if you qualify, click here.

 

Q. Who is the defendant in the lawsuit?

A. The defendant in the lawsuit is Fenton Community High School District 100 in Bensenville, a suburb of Chicago.

 

Q. What are the main allegations in the lawsuit?

A. The primary allegations in the lawsuit include sexual abuse of a student by a former teacher and track coach, as well as negligence on the part of the school district in failing to protect the student and report the abuse.

 

Q. When did the alleged sexual abuse occur?

A. The alleged sexual abuse occurred in 2015 and 2016, when the plaintiff, identified as “Survivor A,” was a student at Fenton High School.

 

Q. What actions did the school district allegedly take in response to the accusations?

A. According to the lawsuit, the school district reassigned the teacher to a librarian position and removed his school-issued cellphone in December 2016, suggesting their awareness of his misconduct. However, as the law requires, they allegedly failed to report the teacher to law enforcement and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

 

Q. What is the school officials’ current status in the case?

A. As of March 29, Superintendent James Ongtengco and Fenton High School Principal Samuel Bentsen were placed on administrative leave pending further investigation into the allegations.

 

Citations:

Harrington, A. (2024, June 10). Lawsuit alleges sex abuse by teacher, negligence by Fenton High School in Chicago suburbs. CBS News. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/lawsuit-alleges-sex-abuse-by-teacher-negligence-by-fenton-high-school-in-chicago-suburbs/ar-BB1nLEFJ?ocid=BingNewsSerp

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