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Park District Holding Town Halls Where Chicagoans Can Ask About New Accountability Agency After Lifeguard Sex Abuse Scandal

The interim CEO and other officials will discuss overhauls to the Park District after its massive lifeguard abuse scandal.

Tobey Prinz Beach in Rogers Park on Sept. 1, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Chicagoans can give input this month on the Park District’s newly created Office of Prevention and Accountability, which was launched in the wake of a massive scandal involving pervasive sexual abuse of the agency’s lifeguards.

Interim Park District CEO Rosa Escareño and other officials will lead three town hall meetings to talk about the district’s new division, answer community questions and collect feedback on how to make the agency more inclusive, safe and equitable, according to a news release. 

All meetings are free and open to the public.

The schedule:

  • In-person: 6 p.m. Monday at Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave.
  • In-person: 6 p.m. March 24 at Fosco Park, 1312 S. Racine Ave.
  • Virtual: 6 p.m. March 29 online.

WBEZ broke the lifeguard abuse story in 2021, detailing several accusations of sexual violence among lifeguards, including a case where a higher-level lifeguard allegedly forced a girl to perform a sexual act. The investigation also detailed instances where people who tried to report sexual violence faced retaliation.

The former Park District CEO, Mike Kelly, resigned in October. Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed Escareño to the position until a permanent replacement is found. 

The Office of Prevention and Accountability will be used to help prevent future misconduct from Park District employees and patrons, investigate allegations of miscounduct and wrongdoing, as well as hold perpetrators accountable, officials said. 

The office will also be the main method of implementing plans to rebuild the trust of employees and patrons, officials said. It will be created primarily through a code of amendments introduced to the Park District Board of Commissioners in January. 

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Rosa Escareño speaks at a press conference in June 2021.

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