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Former Chicago Park District Supervisor Mauricio Ramirez Arrested For Sexually Assaulting Another 16-Year-Old Lifeguard

By Todd Feurer and Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A former Chicago Park District supervisor, who already was facing charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl who worked as a lifeguard this summer, has been arrested for sexually assaulting another teenage girl several times starting eight years ago.

Mauricio Ramirez, 32, is charged with one count of criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in 2013 and 2014, according to Chicago Police.

At a bond hearing Wednesday afternoon, Cook County prosecutors said Ramirez met the girl at a lifeguard training class in March of 2013 while both of them were working as Park District lifeguards, and Ramirez was the girl's supervisor.

On July 26, 2013, the two were at a party where the girl had been drinking alcohol, and although her mother was supposed to pick her up around 11 p.m., she walked away from the party early, and Ramirez followed her, offering a few times to drive her home, before picking her up and putting her in his car.

Prosecutors said the girl repeatedly told Ramirez to take her home, but instead he drove to a motel parking lot and went inside while the girl waited in the passenger seat. About 10 minutes later, he carried her into the motel, because she was intoxicated. He then placed her on a bed, removed her clothes, and sexually assaulted her.

The girl woke up the next morning in the motel, and Ramirez drove her home.

Over the next few months, Ramirez sexually assaulted the girl three to five times a week, both in the backseat of his car and at various motels, as well as at least once at the victim's house while her parents were out of town, according to prosecutors.

Ramirez gave the victim gifts and longer lunch breaks, or assigned her to shorter working hours if she had sex with him, according to prosecutors. If she refused, he would punish her by making her stay on duty longer, or perform extensive workouts, prosecutors said.

After school started that fall, and the girl stopped working a s a lifeguard for the year, she did not see Ramirez again until the next summer, when she resumed working as a lifeguard.

Between June and November of 2014, Ramirez again sexually assaulted the girl three to five times a week, including while she was showering at work, and after picking her up from school and helping her with homework or to study for the ACT exam, according to prosecutors.

On one occasion, he also brought her home to his apartment, where he sexually assaulted her. After that incident, she didn't have contact with Ramirez again.

Prosecutors said, in 2015, the victim told her boyfriend about the assaults, "but no action was taken" until late October or early November this year, when a friend sent the girl an article regarding Ramirez' arrest for the sexual assault of another 16-year-old girl this summer.

The girl then filed reports with the Park District's inspector general, the Cook County State's Attorney's office, and Chicago Police. When she was questioned in November, she provided screenshots of Facebook messages from Ramirez from 2014, including conversations about him picking her up.

Ramirez was arrested on the new charges on Tuesday. A judge set his bond in the new case at $50,000, meaning he must post $5,000 bail to be released. He was already free on electronic monitoring in the first case, after he posted $50,000 bail on those charges.

Ramirez will be back in court for a hearing in the first case brought against him in early 2022.

In the first case against Ramirez, Cook County prosecutors said Ramirez was the girl's supervisor as she was working as a lifeguard this summer, and was well aware of her age when he began talking to her in July, when she told him she was a 16-year-old junior in high school.

Prosecutors said, on two occasions between July and September, Ramirez picked the girl up from her school in his car, and later pulled over and sexually assaulted her, before taking her home.

In August, he also drove her home from work, and on the drive home, he sexually assaulted her.

On another occasion between July and September, the girl snuck out of her house at 2 a.m., and Ramirez picked her up and drove her to his house, where he sexually assaulted her, and then took her to school in the morning.

Another time on Sept. 26, prosecutors said Ramirez picked the girl up and took her home, and sexually assaulted her two times, then took her home.

The next day, the girl told a friend and her parents what had been happening, and reported the assaults to police.

The girl then went to Lurie Children's Hospital, where a rape kit was collected

The victim later told detectives she had deleted text messages between herself and Ramirez, but her phone records showed they had been in contact.

Ramirez was arrested on Oct. 12 and consented to a DNA swab, and was released from custody.

On Monday, DNA tests compared to the victim's rape kit determined Ramirez was a match, and he was arrested on Wednesday.

A Cook County judge set his bond at $500,000 during his first court appearance Thursday afternoon. He is due back in court on Nov. 17.

According to WBEZ, which has reported extensively on the Park District sexual assault scandal, Ramirez resigned his post on Oct. 4, after allegations of misconduct were brought to park officials.

Ramirez is the first Park District employee to face criminal charges stemming from multiple investigations into allegations of widespread sexual assault, abuse, and harassment against women and girls who have worked as lifeguards at the city's pools and beaches.

The scandal led to the resignation of former Park District CEO Mike Kelly earlier this month, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded the Park District board fire him for his handling of the scandal.

Kelly's resignation came just weeks after Chicago Park District Inspector General Elaine Little resigned amid her office's ongoing investigation into widespread sexual harassment targeting female lifeguards.

Little's resignation 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.

In August, Kelly said the investigation by Little's office had resulted in disciplinary action against 42 employees since the probe 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.

We asked the Chicago Park District if this arrest means others have come forward with more ongoing investigations. They released the following response:

"The Chicago Park District is committed to building a culture that prioritizes safety, accountability, and respect, and we condemn this alleged criminal assault. Mauricio Ramirez resigned from his position this fall while under emergency suspension during an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and, based on the OIG's recommendation, he has been coded "Do Not Rehire". Accountability is critical, and we continue to support the OIG's ongoing work to investigate complaints of misconduct and abuse, while also supporting criminal investigations into any act that may rise to that level."

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