Watch CBS News

After Scathing Reports Of Abuse, Harassment At Park District, How Many Cases Will Bring Criminal Charges?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- What's next in the nearly 30 Chicago Park District sexual harassment and abuse investigations?

Scathing reports released last week detailed years of abuse in the aquatics division of the parks, describing a "code of silence" within the district.

Now, CBS 2's Tara Molina reports, the number of actual criminal investigations may be much smaller than district officials indicated when the reports went public.

Two reports found Chicago Park District employees in the Aquatics Department engaged in employee-on-employee sexual abuse and assault, sexual harassment, physical abuse, bullying and hazing.

We know about charges in one case, from this summer, involving a 16-year-old lifeguard and lifeguard supervisor 32-year-old Mauricio Ramirez, who is now facing felony counts of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Mauricio Ramirez
Former Chicago Park District supervisor Mauricio Ramirez is charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old lifeguard multiple times over the summer of 2021. (Credit: Chicago Police)

But, so far, that's it, and there have been no updates, even as CBS 2 inquires daily.

Acting Superintendent Rosa Escareño said last week she fired three senior managers who failed to keep employees safe--with 27 investigations into the misconduct announced. (Former Superintendent Mike Kelly resigned as Park District superintendent earlier this month, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded the Park District board fire him for his handling of the scandal.)

Since Escareño's announcement? Nothing.

"Has enough been done, so far? Absolutely not," said Ald. Scott Waguespack. "I think the public needs to see much more done at the board level and management at the district. There were a lot more people that knew what was going on."

Waguespack has publicly called for the Parks Board President Avis LaVelle to resign. On Monday, he told CBS 2 that the majority of those 27 investigations are not criminal, like the Ramirez case.

"When we break it down, there are a good half dozen that could be criminal charges," Waguespack said. "The rest of them are cases that might not rise up to criminal level, but include harassment, bullying."

Why hasn't the Park District clarified that?

We asked district officials today, but they did not respond to questions.

Waguespack believes it is because of liability.

"They know that they've made egregious errors. They know they've covered stuff up. And the liability issues there are exponentially greater when you see what they've covered up."

CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller explained all of this is going to take time as cases are investigated by the Cook County State's Attorney's office. While many of the investigations aren't considered criminal now, they could rise to that level, Miller said.

"The criminal conduct could occur more than the alleged victim being violated; it also could be part of the coverup," Miller said. "Destroying evidence. Telling victims not to testify."

Read The Reports Below (Warning: Reports contain offensive language and detailed descriptions of assault and abuse)

Report By Park District Office Of The Inspector General

[scribd id=536771380 key=key-aOV3kxvnrIkmfi8vNUTy mode=scroll]

Report By Arnold & Porter Law Firm

[scribd id=536771176 key=key-26qdepv5MZOJPJdg8eqC mode=scroll]

Chicago Police still haven't responded to CBS 2's requests since last week.

On Monday the state's attorney's office said it is still investigating.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.