Evanston Township High School faces lawsuit alleging two security guards sexually abused female students


Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave.

Troy Closson, Reporter

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges two Evanston Township High School security guards sexually abused female students and that the school district didn’t do enough to prevent it.

In the 22-page suit, a June 2019 graduate of ETHS and her mother claim the high school’s principal — along with the school district and its superintendent — failed to protect the female students and should have known the security guards were a risk to the student body.

“Defendants’ conduct, failure to act, and failure to exercise reasonable care are directly responsible for giving former ETHS Safety Officer Michael B. Haywood unfettered access to minor girls within the building and grounds of ETHS,” the lawsuit says.

Evanston Township High School and District 202 officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

One guard named in the suit — Michael Haywood — was charged with criminal sexual assault by a person of authority in February for an incident in November 2018 with a different 17-year-old female student. The lawsuit says Haywood started sexually targeting the plaintiff — along with at least two other female students — after his 2018 hiring while parents weren’t fully informed of the allegations against him after he was fired in January.

The other security guard Marvin Rhone — who was fired from the district in 2016 — engaged in more than 50 “unwanted and unauthorized sexual acts” with the plaintiff over two years, the lawsuit alleges.

The city of Evanston and Evanston Township High School District 202 are among the defendants named in the suit. Evanston Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Plaintiffs seek to be made whole for the damage caused by Defendants’ willful, reckless, and negligent conduct in refusing to address systemic failures,” the lawsuit says, “and documented patterns and practices of sexual abuse of minor female students at ETHS.”

In January, ETHS/District 202 reached a $100,000 settlement to improve existing programs “that address sexual assault awareness, reporting, and prevention” in a lawsuit charging sexual abuse by a against former drama teacher in the 1970s and 1980s. The school denied officials knew of the abuse and admitted no wrongdoing.

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