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Out of bounds: NBC 5 investigates local coach accused of abusing player

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WARNING: This article contains sexual assault references that may disturb some readers.Discretion recommended.

A new analysis by NBC 5 Investigates has found that dozens of Chicago-area coaches have been disciplined for sexual abuse or misconduct over the past decade.

According to its analysis, since 2010, 135 Chicago-area coaches have been sanctioned, suspended, reprimanded or convicted of sexual abuse or misconduct.

Criminal cases, dismissal of teachers, and investigations into the disciplinary record of sports organizations are still ongoing, leading to a variety of misconduct, whether it results in dismissal, loss of license, or registration on the state sex offender registry. was discovered.

More than two-thirds of the coaches we identified were accused of abusing student-athletes, most often teenagers or children. Problem coaches span a wide range of sports and schools, from elementary school to high school to college.

Some are repeat offenders, exposing holes in the system that lack comprehensive tracking and monitoring.

Grooming is often required in these cases. defined by RAINN as “manipulative behaviors abusers use to access potential victims, coerce them into consenting to abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught.” Experts interviewed by NBC 5 say coaching offers a special opportunity for grooming.

Coaches can spend hours outside of school with athletes, easily blurring the lines of normal interest and attention into the lives of students and crossing them into dangerous ones. Get the opportunity to improve the lives of your students. However, due to the nature of their role, coaches have a lot of unsupervised contact, especially at night and on weekends.

Former basketball coach at the Legal Prep Charter Academy, Jamel Hellyer-Jones, was one of several local coaches accused of abusing players, one of whom she told her story of being sexually abused at the age of 17. was put forward.

“I didn’t interact with him much until my senior year,” said the former player, who agreed to go by the name Jane.

She filed a civil lawsuit against Helaire-Jones and Legal Prep detailing alleged abuse over months of 2018.

Jane said in her suit that Helea-Jones will give individual attention to many players. As many good coaches do, he worked with certain players in practice and checked them in via text.

“He just asked me how was my day, how was my day, did I eat,” Jane said. “A very normal, normal thing like that…it was good at first because I was like, ‘OK, he wants to know how I’m doing because I’m one of his players. Because maybe this is how he does it.Coach. [He wants to] Check out his players. ”

Jane said in her lawsuit that Helea-Jones regularly drives her and other players home after practice. Suit details when she said he was alone in her car one night when he made a detour.

“He pulled up in the alley, pulled up, pulled out his pubic area,” Jane said. “I looked at it and he looked at it and said, ‘Do you want to suck?’ And I’m like, ‘No. ”

In her lawsuit, Jane alleges other inappropriate conduct by a coach during her senior year. According to the lawsuit, Helaire-Jones tried to grab her breasts twice. she kissed her She asked him to give her oral sex. She sent her some explicit text messages. She sexually assaulted her in the gym.

An attorney for Helaire-Jones declined to comment on the lawsuit. Legal Prep also declined to comment, citing pending lawsuits.

“He was a methodical groomer,” said Yao Dinizul, Jane’s attorney.

Helaire-Jones is also facing a lawsuit filed by another legal prep student who said she was abused by her coach in 2018 as well. According to Dinizulu, the texts Helaire-Jones sent to her Jane and another of her students, her messages were eventually discovered by parents, then administrators, and eventually Chicago police. I was.

Helaire-Jones was fired by Legal Prep on November 30, 2018, according to the lawsuit.

Cook County prosecutors have charged Helaire-Jones with seven counts of criminal sexual assault in two Legal Prep cases. He has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney has refused to speak to his NBC 5 Investigates about the criminal charges and his second lawsuit.

Jane’s lawsuit said the ride home and the repeated flattering comments established a pattern of seemingly caring behavior that eventually turned predatory.

“It builds a certain additional layer of trust because you [have] Something to remember: Jones was actually not just a coach, he was also a dean,” Dinizul said. It was attached to him by a legal reserve. ”

For weeks, NBC 5 Investigates has been following the case of a local coach who has been credibly accused or convicted of sexual misconduct.

This process is not simple and that is part of the problem. We have searched various sources. criminal cases; civil litigation; teacher dismissal proceedings; revocation of teaching licenses by state boards of education; “Ban” and “Ineligible” lists issued.and lists issued by the Olympic sanctioning bodies of individual sports in the United States

In all, NBC5 Investigates collected records on nearly 250 coaches, examining the histories of coaches ranging from Little League and youth sports to public and private school coaches to college and professional coaches. I keep doing it. level.

Most are in the nearby Chicago area. Others are in downstate Illinois or Indiana. Most people have been reliably accused or convicted of sexual abuse since 2010. Others were previously accused or convicted.

Whether these coaches are fired, placed on state sex offender lists, or legally prosecuted depends on the details of each case. Schools that have criminal registers and background checks help weed out coaches with questionable pasts.

However, NBC 5 found the process to be piecemeal at best. There is no single comprehensive system for monitoring and training questionable coaches. They found that there was no consistent way for athletes and their families to track the past of potential coaches.

Jane’s lawsuit accused the school of hiring Herrele Jones before conducting the necessary background checks, saying there was a major problem with the way Herrele Jones was hired by Legal Prep.

Dinizul said, “We were concerned about the student’s safety and at least had enough information to do research to find out more about it and not hire him in this case.

Helaire-Jones’ past and what happened at Legal Prep will be explored in Part 2 of Out of Bounds, which airs Tuesday night.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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