Chicago Parks District Watchdog Calls Suspension Retaliation | Illinois News

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CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Park District Assistant Inspector General has said he believes his suspension in an investigation into charges of sexual abuse by rescuers was retaliation for trying to expose the attempts to cover up the misconduct.

Nathan Kipp said he was on an indefinite emergency suspension last week in what he called an attempt to “whitewash” an investigation into widespread sexual assault, sexual harassment and physical abuse among the lifeguards of the district.

“I cannot think of any other reason than the fact that I have pursued this investigation with zeal,” Kipp said Thursday.

“This baseless action is a clear attempt by Park District officials to obstruct and impede a devastating investigation into widespread sexual assault, sexual harassment and physical abuse at the District Beach and Pool Unit.” Kipp said in a statement.

Park district officials have not provided him with any explanation for the suspension, Kipp said.

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The Park District said in a statement that it “operates independently of the Office of the Inspector General and has absolutely no influence on the policies and decisions made by the IG.”

The Park District on Monday announced the suspension of two high-level executives in disciplinary action against 42 employees, including nine cases resulting from a sexual misconduct and abuse investigation.

The two directors – the deputy director of recreation and beaches and the director of swimming pools – were urgently suspended on August 13 as the district awaits the outcome of the investigation from the inspector general’s office, the CEO said. Michael Kelly.

The Inspector General’s investigation began in March 2020, when Kelly handed over a complaint he received from a former lifeguard, which described a toxic environment on a beach, accusing his fellow lifeguards of submitting it, and others, to sexual harassment, sexual and physical abuse. She also said she witnessed widespread drug and alcohol use by fellow rescuers.

Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ first reported in April that the park district was investigating numerous allegations of sexual misconduct among pool and beach workers.

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