Chicago Board of Education Named Defendant in “Believers” Abuse Lawsuit

A group of men who claim their mentor abused them as children now allege the Chicago Board of Education could have prevented their abuse, according to court documents filed Thursday.

The CBE was added as a defendant in the group's existing lawsuit against United Airlines, which sponsored a scholarship program called Believers in the late 1990s at Johnson Elementary. The program members were promised college scholarships in exchange for their participation and keeping out of trouble.

The nineteen plaintiffs allege Believers program coordinator Marvin Lovett sexually abused them in exchange for allowing them to continue in the program, according to their attorney Lyndsay Markley.

The amended complaint alleges sometime prior to Lovett being recommended as program coordinator to United Airlines, Lovett was dismissed from volunteering and/or performing work at another school after a principal received reports of Lovett engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior towards young males in the community.

"They had reason to believe [Lovett] was unfit for any role with children," Markley said.

A Chicago city spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations.

Lovett was shot to death in 2000. A Believers participant, Sylvester Jamison, pleaded guilty to murder.

Police said they found 140 videotapes showing Lovett sexually abusing minors, including Believers participants.

The program was later shut down.

United Airlines has said it disagrees that its donations constitute endorsement of the reprehensible acts of one individual involved in the program.  

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