Taste worker arrested for taking photo of teen

June 30, 2011 8:45:20 PM PDT
A worker for a company at the Taste of Chicago allegedly took an inappropriate picture of a teenage girl.

Edwin Bankhead was arrested by Chicago police after the teen's family alerted authorities. Thursday night, the park district was looking into the backgrounds of its security staffers.

While police officers are assigned to the Taste of Chicago, the park district also uses a private contractor for security.

However, the hiring practices of that firm are in question following the arrest of one of its employees who was allegedly hired as support staff.

As a south suburban family prepared to leave the Taste of Chicago Wednesday, Lisa Fischer says she noticed a staffer paying a bit too much attention to her little sister.

"He came up very, very closely with his - it was a flip phone - and literally, he pointed it kind of up a little bit because he was down to get a good angle, and I heard it click," said Fischer.

She says the man took an inappropriate photo of her 13-year-old sister Hanna's backside in shorts.

"I heard the click too, and I kinda, like, looked at my sister, and I heard that she noticed it, and the next thing I knew, she got up and then was going to get the police," said Hannah Fischer.

Police arrested Bankhead for public indecency for allegedly taking that photo, but once he was in custody, police say they found illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and a record.

According to the Department of Corrections website, Bankhead has served time for several theft convictions and drug possession. He was just released from prison four weeks ago.

"He was a convicted felon out on parole working for a security company," said mother Carrie Fischer. "Does anyone see a problem with that? I do."

The park district runs the Taste and employs nearly 5,000 people. The park district's interim general superintendent, Michael Kelly, tells us Bankhead was a laborer for a private security firm, and that all employees with that firm should have had background checks.

"Up until now, this has been a very family-friendly event. We've had very low arrests at this, the police have done a wonderful job, and that fact that this happened - it's troubling, and we're not happy about it," said Michael Kelly of the Chicago Park District.

"I know it's not the company's fault - him taking the picture of my daughter," said Carrie Fischer. "I know it's not the company's fault that he had crack cocaine, but it is the company's fault that he was a known felon on parole."

As for young Hannah, this incident has made an impression.

"It just bothers me how the world is," said Hannah Fischer. "It just makes me sad."

The park district says Bankhead worked for Security Management Group (SMG). ABC7 called SMG and went to its Chicago office, but no one has commented on this incident.

Bankhead was given a $40,000 bond in court Thursday morning. The Department of Corrections has been notified, as Bankhead could also face parole violations.

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