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3 staffers on leave after sexual assault at Chicago area center for people with disabilities

Officials investigate sexual abuse at Chicago area facility for the disabled
Officials investigate sexual abuse at Chicago area facility for the disabled 02:38

GENEVA, Ill. (CBS) -- A west suburban residential facility for people with severe developmental disabilities has revealed that three male staffers have been placed on leave after a resident was sexually assaulted and became pregnant.

The case at the Marklund Center in Geneva has rocked the 70-year-old nonprofit organization, which has been a pillar for the disabled community in the area.

The victim in this case has given birth and was recovering as of Wednesday.

"We want to be transparent. We want to be above-board," said Marklund president and chief executive officer Gil Fonger. "We want to be honest about what's going on."

Officials with the Marklund administration said they first learned about the case of sexual abuse on Tuesday, April 9. The patient is severely disabled and nonverbal.

At that point, the organization said it reported the situation to the Kane County Sheriff's office, as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health. The victim's family was also notified.

"Early on we identified three males that could be potentially part of that incident, and so they were suspended," Fonger said.

In addition to three male staffers who were immediately placed on leave, other current and former workers have all cooperated in the investigation with Kane County Sheriff's detectives. CBS 2 is told all of them have taken DNA tests.

A significant part of the investigation is how the woman's pregnancy went unnoticed for what appears to be the full nine-month term.

Marklund leadership provided some insight on that earlier – the woman has a condition because of her disability that makes it hard to tell she was pregnant.

"[Her stomach is] actually measured on a weekly basis, and so it's been very consistent – there's a certain baseline, and just in the past week, all of sudden, it went outside the baseline," said Marklund president and chief executive officer Gil Fonger, "so that, along with some abnormal tests, led us to take her to Delnor Hospital for an examination. That's where we found out she was pregnant."

The state Department of Public Health confirmed that an investigation is under way. A survey team is on-site and will remain there until the investigation is complete.  

Marklund is also conducting its own investigation, on a case that has left staffers unnerved.

"Our commitment – my commitment – is to guarantee we're going to do everything possible so this never happens again," Fonger said.

The victim has been at the facility for more than 20 years.

Despite the circumstances, officials at the facility said the family of the victim plans to keep her housed at Marklund moving forward.

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