There has rightly been discussion about the allegations that a former Fenwick student made last fall against a longtime teacher, which Oak Park police investigated, and that the Cook County State’s Attorney declined to bring charges, saying the statute of limitations had expired.
What the Journal reports today out of that police investigation, though, is more compelling still as it reflects on a pervasive disregard for the well-being of its students displayed by Fenwick High School over a decade.
The Oak Park detective conducting the probe last fall asked for and obtained the personnel file for John Quinn, the faculty member at the center of this swirl of allegations of improper behavior toward female and male students over decades.
In that file it was reported that school leaders had received complaints between October 2012 and May 2015 about Quinn “putting his arm around students, putting his face close to theirs, back rubbing and shoulder massages that made students feel uncomfortable,” said the detective’s report.
Police also noted there had been “a previous DCFS case against Quinn.”
We’d note that it was in this time frame that Quinn, a highly successful basketball coach at the school, was removed from that post without any logical explanation. Was that Fenwick’s timid attempt at disciplining Quinn? We’ll never know because Fenwick and its Dominican order, like so many Catholic institutions, has been stonewalling on other cases of appalling sexual misconduct against children by powerful adults for decades.
The school, doing a lame job of crisis control, claims it has undertaken a thoroughgoing and independent investigation of the charges against Quinn. A school spokesperson told the Journal there is no “specific timeline” for the investigation to wrap up. And it likely needs to be extended, as the brave testimony of former students Helen Quinn Pasin and Emma Seavey has encouraged other Fenwick students to come forward with their own personal stories.
So far this has led Fenwick to suspend Quinn from teaching. And in communications to the Fenwick community, the school has said it is prepared to act “promptly and transparently” once the investigation is complete.
We doubt that.
There is no evidence that the school has ever taken the many allegations seriously, has ever simply trusted the sincere testimonies of its students, has had the inclination to actively separate Quinn from those who have lodged complaints against him.
Why should we believe that the school will now be either prompt or transparent? That will need to be proven to us, to the community, to the young people brave enough to come forward.