CHICAGO - It seemed like the perfect summer job, a lifeguard at one of Chicago's several beaches or pools, but it turned out to be anything but.
Instead, several young women say they were harassed, abused and in one case sexually assaulted by senior coworkers.
After an investigation launched in March 2020 by the Office of Inspector General, 42 employees have been disciplined, including two high-level staff members now on emergency suspension: an assistant Director of Beaches and Pools and a Beaches and Pools manager.
The Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly also announced the creation of an Office of Protection to handle complaints to "eradicate the culture of misconduct that has long existed within the aquatics department."
Kelly promised it will become a model for the nation.
"We are not going to tolerate this. Nobody is going to tolerate this," Kelly said at a news conference Monday morning at the South Shore Beach House.
He said he welcomes any potential prosecutions.
"My commitment to everyone in this, is if there is a criminal charge brought, I will be in the courtroom with you. I will do anything I can and my office will do anything [it] can to support it," Kelly said.
Kelly says Oak Street Beach was a hotspot for the complaints and encourages anyone who feels they were harassed or abused to report it to the office of the inspector general immediately.