Chicago Parks District watchdog calls suspension retaliatory

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Park District’s assistant inspector general said he believes his suspension amid an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by lifeguards was retaliation for trying to expose attempts to concealment of misconduct.

Nathan Kipp said he was urgently suspended indefinitely last week in what he called an attempt to “whitewash” an investigation into rampant sexual assault, sexual harassment and physical abuse among district lifeguards.

“I can’t think of any reason other than the fact that I pursued this investigation diligently,” Kipp said Thursday.

“This meritless action is a clear attempt by Park District officials to prevent and obstruct a devastating investigation into widespread sexual assault, sexual harassment and physical abuse throughout the Beaches and Beaches Unit. district pools,” Kipp said in a statement.

Park District officials have not provided him with an explanation for the suspension, Kipp said.

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

The Park District announced the suspensions on Monday of two high-level executives in connection with disciplinary action against 42 employees, including nine cases stemming from an investigation into sexual misconduct and abuse.

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

The Inspector General’s investigation began in March 2020, when Kelly handed over a complaint he had received from a former lifeguard, who described a toxic environment at a beach, accusing his fellow lifeguards of submitting it, as well as others to sexual harassment and sexual and physical abuse. She also reported witnessing rampant drug and alcohol use by fellow rescuers.

Chicago public radio station WBEZ first reported in April that the Park District was investigating numerous allegations of sexual misconduct among pool and beach attendants.

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