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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Park District's leader has resigned following questions about his handling of sexual misconduct and abuse allegations among lifeguards.

Mike Kelly, who serves as superintendent and CEO of the city's park system, issued a resignation letter Saturday saying his departure was "effective immediately." He stepped down the same day Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for his removal, saying in a letter that a "culture of sexual abuse, harassment, and coercion" has become pervasive and there was a "lack of urgency and accountability" in handling it.

Kelly was appointed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011. WBEZ reported Kelly was informed of the first allegation in February 2020 but didn't forward complaints to the inspector general for over a month.[1]

City aldermen called for his resignation because of the lack of action against the allegations.

"It has been an honor to steward this extraordinary organization for the past ten years," Kelly said in the resignation letter. "It has also been an honor to serve Chicagoans as a public servant for the past 27 years. I have always had the best interests of our patrons and our employees at heart."

Investigations into the allegations have led to disciplinary action against dozens of employees in the Beaches and Pool Unit, including high-level managers.[2]

Notes & References

  1. Mihalopoulos, Dan. “Chicago Parks Chief Promised to Investigate Lifeguard Abuse - but Did Not Act for 6 Weeks.” WBEZ Chicago. WBEZ Chicago, August 5, 2021. https://www.wbez.org/stories/chicago-parks-chief-delayed-investigating-lifeguard-abuse/ae02c4e6-0bc2-46ec-bea6-00060ead3a99. ↩︎

  2. “Chicago Parks District Watchdog Calls Suspension a Reprisal.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, August 20, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/chicago-abda1111d48935ce8fca5b3b5a6b17fb. ↩︎