Lawsuit claims Lake County Special Education District failed to protect students with special needs from sexual assault

Parents of a student with special needs claim she was sexually assaulted by a teacher assistant because the Lake County Special Education District failed to protect her, a new lawsuit has found.

Israel Suaste-Gonzalez allegedly abused the student “countless times” during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years, according to a lawsuit filed Feb. 27 in Lake County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit says the school district failed to enforce its policy preventing male teachers from being alone with female students; failed to retain a sufficient number of staff; did not train staff to prevent sexual abuse; and wrongly allowed a man to supervise a student changing her clothes.

He allegedly told him to “not tell anyone about what he had done”, according to the prosecution.

“It’s not easy to report sexual abuse, especially when the abuser is in a position of power. Unfortunately, this innocent young woman suffered from severe emotional distress as a result of these horrific acts, ”the plaintiff’s lawyer, Patrick A. Salvi, said in a statement.

Suaste-Gonzalez was indicted in December 2019 aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, according to the Lake County State Attorney’s Office. He has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending, according to court records.

He was a paraprofessional in the Lake County Atkinson Site Special Education District from 2016 to 2018, the state attorney’s office said.

The lawsuit names Suaste-Gonzalez and the Lake County Special Education District as defendants. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment.

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About Donnie R. Losey

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