Student Allegedly Molested, Then Expelled

Victims’ advocates are questioning private high school’s methods

High school students can be expelled for a number of reasons, but victims' rights groups say this shouldn't be one of them: being the victim of an alleged sexual assault.

Kathryn Vail-Wesley, 22, is accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old football player last year, both at her home and in her classroom at Chicago Hope Academy, 2189 W Bowler St.

The student's mother said Vail-Wesley's husband—another teacher at the private high school—found the boy and his wife together and punched the student. No charges were filed against the husband.

Vail-Wesley was arrested in October and is now awaiting trial. The boy's mother told the Chicago Tribune that the accused teacher's husband still works at the school, but school officials would not confirm this nor discuss specifics of the case.

"Chicago Hope Academy doesn't discuss school affairs in public," Principal Mike Laneve told the Sun-Times. "We do that for the protection of the children and the families."

A few days after the sexual assault allegations became public, the student's mother says she was told that if she didn't withdraw her son from the school, the student would face expulsion.

"The child shouldn't have been forced to leave the school," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "The child should've been embraced by the school. ...They haven't created an environment to encourage people to come forward."

Laneve invited concerned parents, reporters, and SNAP members inside the school on Wednesday. He told them he could not discuss school affairs in public and would not say whether Vail-Wesley still works at the school. However, he did tell the group that the school conducts employee-background checks and takes other measures to "create a safe environment."

The student now attends a public school in the western suburbs.

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