Daily file photo by Maia Spoto
Evanston has retained local law firm Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter to investigate allegations of misconduct among lakefront staff, the city announced Tuesday.
The firm will investigate the allegations, which were first brought to the city in summer 2020, and the city’s response, as well as provide recommendations on moving forward.
The allegations come from a petition authored by four women employed by the city, which was obtained by WBEZ. The claims include an allegation that a lifeguard, who was 18 at the time, was raped by an older employee who served as a manager.
Dozens of residents spoke in support of the 56 lifeguards and beach workers who signed the petition during City Council on Monday. Speakers called for accountability among lakefront supervisors at high levels of city government, as well as a thorough investigation into rape culture within all spheres of the city’s social infrastructure.
Prior to appointing the outside investigator, the city implemented immediate sexual harassment training, fired one of the two men named in the petition and appointed a city employee to serve as a liaison for complaints from lakefront staff. According to WBEZ, the second man accused of sexual misconduct resigned last month.
The move to enlist an outside investigator is in line with calls from some community members, including the Community Alliance for Better Government, a local government accountability group.
In the release, the city said the firm has “extensive experience investigating workplace harassment and counseling clients, including government entities, on strategies to combat such issues.”
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— Evanston residents speak out in solidarity with lakefront employees alleging sexual misconduct
— Evanston’s top HR official suspended after allegations of widespread sexual harassment among beach staff
— Evanston to hire outside firm to investigate response to sexual harassment allegations