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Chicago Park District Inspector General Elaine Little Resigns Amid Probe Into Sexual Harassment, Abuse Among Lifeguards

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago Park District Inspector General Elaine Little resigned Tuesday, amid an ongoing investigation into widespread sexual harassment targeting female lifeguards.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed Little's resignation on Tuesday. It came after WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio reported Little was herself under an investigation into "alleged conflicts and wrongdoing" upon leaving a post as director of investigations at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center three years ago.

Last month, Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly said Little's office had resulted in disciplinary action against 42 employees since the investigation into harassment among lifeguards began last March.

Two top managers, the district's assistant director of beaches and pools, and the beaches and pools manager, both were placed on emergency suspension last month, based on information Kelly received from the inspector general. Both will remain on suspension until the inspector general's investigation is completed.

Meantime, two other employees were terminated and barred from future employment with the district, six resigned and were placed on the district's "do not hire" list, nine were suspended, five remain on emergency suspension, and 18 received written reprimands.

The inspector general's probe – first disclosed by WBEZ – began in March 2020, when Kelly turned over a complaint he received from a former lifeguard, who described a toxic environment at Oak Street Beach, accusing fellow lifeguards of subjecting her and others to sexual harassment, and sexual and physical abuse. She also reported witnessing rampant drug and alcohol use by fellow lifeguards.

Kelly did not turn that letter over to the inspector general until six weeks after he received it, and last month he defended his decision, saying he first turned over the complaint to his management team.

Kelly said he hopes the disciplinary action the district is taking will show employees "we do have your back" when they blow the whistle on misconduct.

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