Washington Park community mobilizes after assault of 11-year-old girl
CHICAGO - Days after an 11-year-old Washington Park girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted on her way home from Dulles Elementary School, community leaders gathered to demand action from Chicago Public Schools.
Police are still looking for the man who grabbed the girl Thursday afternoon as she walked home in the 6200 block of South Indiana Avenue. He took her to a nearby alley where he sexually assaulted her before she got away, police said.
A $4,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
Bamani Obadele, a Washington Park resident, contributed $2,500 of that amount. He and others attended Monday’s news conference outside Dulles Elementary.
"Black women and children have a right to be protected in our community. Time is up for this type of behavior taking place in our community," Obadele said.
"I want the Chicago Police Department to bring in every sex offender that’s in Washington Park in the lineup and let that baby look at all of them. If she points out one of them, they should be dealt with."
Also attending the news conference was Andre Smith, vice president of the Washington Park Residents Advisory Council, who’s running for Cook County commissioner. He said Safe Passage workers should have prevented the assault.
Safe Passage is a state-funded Chicago Public Schools program to monitor walking routes to CPS schools. The Safe Passage route for Dulles includes the block where the girl was walking when she was abducted.
"Safe Passage workers should have been able to see if they were out there doing what they were paid to do," Smith said. "Whether that is Safe Passage, whether it’s people working on safety, or whatever it is, you should have been out here protecting this young girl."
Smith said he wanted Safe Passage investigated to find out where its workers were at the time of the kidnapping and assault.
"I’m not here to say who’s right or who’s wrong," Smith said. "I’m saying that an investigation needs to be taking place. Because if we say that we’re going to do something, and you pay to do it, it needs to be done."
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Asked for comment, CPS released a statement:
"The safety of our children is our top priority. We are working with CPD and community partners to make available all our safety supports in the area."
After the assault, Dulles sent a statement to the school community, saying officials were working with CPS to "implement additional safety measures to support the safety of our students and staff."
The statement continued:
"We will do everything we can to support those members of our school community that were impacted by this incident. … If your child voices any concerns or fears regarding the incident, please let us know and we can provide them extra support through Crisis and Counseling supports."
Chicago police on Saturday released a sketch of the suspect.
Smith said the girl’s mother told him she planned to move out of the neighborhood in the next week.
"She said that she hasn’t slept," Smith said. "And she also said her daughter is dealing with it hard."
In its statement to the Sun-Times, CPS confirmed that its Office of Student Protections and the CPS Crisis Team "are offering supports to the school community."
Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Residents Advisory Council and 40-year resident, said the incident was unusual for the neighborhood.
"For something like this to happen in our community, especially since we had a good summer, we need to come to the bottom and find out exactly who this person is," Butler said. "We don’t want anything else to happen to anybody else in this neighborhood because enough happens already."