The parents of a special needs student claim she was sexually abused by a teaching aide because the Special Education District of Lake County failed to protect her, a new lawsuit claims.
Israel Suaste-Gonzalez allegedly abused the student “many, many times” throughout the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years, according to a lawsuit filed Feb. 27 in Lake County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit states the school district failed to enforce its policy preventing male teachers from being alone with female students; failed to keep a sufficient number of personnel on staff; failed to train staff to prevent sex abuse; and improperly allowed a male to supervise a female student changing her clothes.
He allegedly told her to “not to tell anyone about what he had done,” according to the suit.
“It isn’t easy to report sexual abuse, especially when the abuser is in a position of power. Unfortunately, this innocent young lady has suffered severe emotional distress from these horrific acts,” the plaintiff’s attorney Patrick A. Salvi said in a statement.
Suaste-Gonzalez was charged in December 2019 with aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, according to the Lake County state’s attorney’s office. He pleaded not guilty and the case is pending, according to court records.
He was a paraprofessional at the Special Education District of Lake County’s Atkinson location from 2016 through 2018, the state’s attorney’s office said.
The lawsuit names Suaste-Gonzalez and the Special Education District of Lake County as defendants. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment.
The suit is seeking more than $50,000.