CPS elementary school gym teacher accused of grooming, assaulting students in lawsuit

Leah Hope Image
Tuesday, December 12, 2023
CPS elementary school gym teacher accused of assaulting students: suit
Andrew Castro, who was a Chicago Public Schools gym teacher at Lorca Elementary, is accused of grooming and assaulting students in a lawsuit.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A gym teacher for Chicago Public Schools is accused of grooming his young students, then sexually assaulting them.

Attorneys for the three alleged victims say the school system did not do enough to prevent this from happening.

They say the boys, then 8 to 11 years old, were groomed by their gym teacher at Lorca Elementary School on the Northwest Side, starting in 2017. The teacher allegedly befriended their Spanish-speaking parents, and later sexually assaulted the children.

"He would take them to the movies and the bowling alley. He introduced himself to the family of these children and gained their trust by offering to do work, for example at their house," attorney Cass Casper said. "He would play games that would require them to remove their clothes if they lost, and ultimately, as outlined in the complaint, he raped one of these children on three occasions."

"The impact of these traumatic events are profound and long-lasting," attorney Patrycja Karlin said.

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Attorneys for the boys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit contending the staff at Lorca Elementary and Chicago Public Schools did not protect the children against this staffer.

Andrew Castro was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a child. He remains in custody, and is no longer on-staff with CPS.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Chicago Public Schools responded to the lawsuit, saying, "We take seriously our responsibility to ensure all employees act in the best interest of our students. The District does not comment on pending investigations or litigation."

Attorneys for the Chicago Board of Education, which runs CPS, have filed a stay to put the federal lawsuit on-hold while the criminal case against Castro is pursued.

The federal complaint alleges staff from Lorca Elementary saw Castro with the boys outside of school, including at a strip mall in Harwood Heights. And after others complained about Castro, the school did not stop Castro's contact with the boys.

Attorneys for the boys allege a pattern of neglect by CPS.

"The accusations in this case are sickening and difficult to read, but it's essential that they remain public. The defendants failed to protect the most vulnerable members of our society," attorney Bob Fioretti said.

Attorneys for the boys ask others who may have been victimized by staff at CPS or other schools to come forward.

There will be a hotline set up in the coming weeks for that purpose.