Coach Accused of Assaulting Student

The gym teacher and teen allegedly exchanged lewd messages for about two months

A Chicago elementary school teacher was arrested Wednesday for allegedly exchanging sexual text messages and having inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old girl who viewed him as a father figure.

Ashburn Elementary School gym teacher and coach Idris Bridgeforth, of Riverdale, is being held on $250,000 bond after being charged with felony indecent solicitation and criminal sexual assault.

On multiple occasions, the 39-year-old Bridgeforth drove the teen to and from sporting events and practices. During those drives, prosecutors say, he fondled the girl's breasts and touched her under her pants.

Bridgeforth has known the girl for about four years. Their relationship was discovered Tuesday by the girl's mother after she noticed her daughter receiving late-night text messages.

The girl told police she had exchanged text messages "of a sexual nature" with Bridgeforth for about two months.

"The victim asked the defendant what he wanted for his birthday.  The defendant responded that he wanted her. The victim responded he’d already had her," Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Wendy Caceres said outside bond court Thursday. "The defendant stated he wanted her more intimately and protect themselves by wearing a condom."

Caceres said Bridgeforth admitted to having inappropriate contact with the teen and has turned his phone over to police.

The school's principal, Jewel Diaz, declined to speak about the incident Thursday, but parents spoke freely about their feelings.

"I will be talking to her today," said parent Antroinette Savage of her own daughter. "And if [Bridgeforth] touched her, he better be locked up in a cell, 10 feet underground."

Chicago Public Schools said it is working with police to investigate the incident.

The school sent a letter to parents to inform them of the arrest and said there's no indication of misconduct involving other students.

The school system said it is investigating.

"Inappropriate behavior between employees and students is inexcusable and not tolerated by CPS at any time," said press secretary Marielle Sainvilus. "Schools should always be a place where parents and students feel safe and secure. We took immediate actions to remove the employee in question from the school and are cooperating with CPD in this investigation."

Bridgeforth has been removed from his duties but is being paid.

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