Chicago Park District board president Avis LaVelle resigns in wake of lifeguard sex abuse scandal

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Avis LaVelle resigned Wednesday as president of the Chicago Park District board after coming under fire for not being more forthcoming with information about the lifeguard scandal.

At the Park district's monthly board meeting, LaVelle read a statement announcing her resignation. The statement said she was sorry for the culture of abuse and harassment that was allowed to fester.

RELATED: Chicago Park District CEO Michael Kelly resigns amid lifeguard sexual harassment probe

Last week, another devastating report found the Chicago Park District managers did not take timely action on reports of sexual misconduct, bullying and harassment by victims.

The report from the Arnold & Porter law firm detailed serious allegations that former park district head Mike Kelly and his management team failed to forward complaints from at least two of the lifeguards who detailed their concerns to management two years ago. Eventually they did, months later at the beginning of the pandemic.

But those complaints, which included drinking on the job by supervisors and a code of silence that prevented people from speaking out or taking action, got bogged down or, worse, ignored by an investigatory regime ill equipped to handle them.

LaVelle claimed she had no idea how rotten the culture was under her.

"I don't think any commissioner, anybody that has ever sat on that seat or on the board, had any idea of what was going on," she said.

Interim superintendent Rosa Escareno is vowing to clean house based on the report's findings. So far, that has meant the firing of Kelly and his team. She has also promised the complainants mentioned in the report will have easy access to resources to help them overcome their pain.
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