Friday, January 14, 2011

Lawsuit by 17 year old boy alleges school did nothing to protect him from teacher - teacher sentenced to 2 years sex offender probation

(Original post 8-21-09)
A math teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old boy at a Chicago West Side college preparatory school was sued by the boy's family yesterday. The suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, willful and wanton misconduct, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Damages are over $50,000 per count, excluding court costs.

The student-athlete, an unnamed minor, was recruited and enrolled at Chicago Hope Academy, 2189 West Bowler Street in the Near West Side neighborhood on the West Side, in 2005, the suit said.

Beginning in the spring of 2008, when the boy was 16 years old, his math teacher Kathryn Vail-Wesley, 22, “publicly and privately showered Plaintiff with attention and affection,” the suit said.Vail-Wesley “would hug or touch Plaintiff on an almost daily basis during the 2007-2008 school year, and would invite Plaintiff to her home,” the suit said.

Vail-Wesley was “well-liked” by students, and the boy felt “privileged to receive attention” and looked to her as a “mentor, leader, protector and authority figure,” the suit said.

After the grooming, Vail-Wesley began making phone calls and “gratuitous inappropriate and/or intimate discussion regarding her private life and sexual history,” eventually approaching his for sex because she was fond of him and wanted to “mix [his] chocolate skin with [her] vanilla skin.” This culminated in repeated sexual encounters between August and October of 2008. The end of the relationship occurred after Vail-Wesley’s husband, a fellow teacher at the school, found his wife and the victim, physically assaulting the victim.

Vail-Wesley’s solicitation and sexual exploitation of the boy included sexual touching, kissing, intercourse and other sexual acts. It occurred in various locations, including but not limited to classrooms, passageways, the teacher’s lounge, chapel and other locations on the Academy’s premises, the suit said. Vail-Wesley explained that her sexual behavior was a “reward” for the boy’s good athletic performance for the school's football team, the suit said. She would attend the boy’s football games exclusively wearing his jersey.

Vail Wesley has been charged with 5 counts of sexual assault, with the trial still pending. The lawsuit stated that teacher student boundaries were blurred, particularly between teachers and student-athletes. The perp's sexual actions were “regular and conspicuous” and “should have been apparent” to other teachers and coaches, but "[a]cademy staff turned a blind eye to Vail-Wesley’s inappropriate attention.”

The lawsuit says that school administrators, teachers, and coaches began to intimidate the victim, culminating after the administration gave the boy a choice to either withdraw or be expelled from Chicago Hope, disrupting both his academic and athletic careers.

(1-14-11 - guilty plea to lesser charges) Vail-Wesley was sentenced to 2 years of sex offender probation Wednesday, January 12, 2011 after pleading guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The other counts of sexual assault were dropped by prosecutors. Chicago Hope principal Mike Laneve said that “Chicago Hope Academy doesn’t discuss school affairs in public.”

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