A nineteenth man has joined a lawsuit against Chicago-based United Airlines, claiming years of sexual abuse at the hands of an afterschool program mentor who plaintiffs say reported to the company.
“John Doe #19” was a participant in a United Airlines-sponsored scholarship program called “Believers” between 1995 and 1998. He claimed in the lawsuit he was abused by program coordinator Marvin Lovett.
“He’s come forward after learning that there actually is a voice for the victims in this matter,” said Lyndsay Markley, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.
The 19 men participated in the program as children. They claim Lovett abused them and said United and a co-defendant organization did not do enough to protect them. United Airlines said while Lovett was the program coordinator, the plaintiffs cannot allege that Lovett was hired or employed by the company.
“It’s just been a very traumatic, long road for my clients to even recognize that society does view them as victims,” Markley said.
The “Believers” program selected a group of Johnson Elementary students in the mid 1990s. The prize included college scholarships if participants attended afterschool activities and stayed out of trouble throughout high school.
According to the lawsuit, at least two parents expressed concern to United about Lovett’s interactions with the children.
Lovett was shot to death in 2000.
During the investigation, police said they found 140 videotapes showing him sexually abusing minors, including “Believers” participants.
“Believers” participant Sylvestor Jamison, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, was charged with the murder. He told police that Lovett sexually abused him for years.
United Airlines later ended the “Believers” program.
The airline said it disagrees that its donations constitute condoning the reprehensible acts of one individual involved. And in court documents, United has said the efforts to blame it for Lovett’s abuse is “weak."