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Police Officer Now Implicated In Sexting Principal Scandal

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Deer Path Middle School principal John Steinert pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge in 2009. (Credit: Gurnee Police)

Deer Path Middle School principal John Steinert pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge in 2009. (Credit: Gurnee Police)

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Alleged inappropriate sexual comments from a Lake Forest police officer have resulted in him being reassigned while an investigation is conducted.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the recipient of the comments is the same college intern who received prurient text messages from the principal of Deer Path Middle School in Lake Forest, in what has become a scandal in the local school district.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

The officer himself was assigned to Deer Path Middle School, from which principal John Steinert resigned on Sunday. Steinert had pleaded guilty to harassing the 22-year-old female college student in 2009, but the case was reopened when the Chicago Tribune learned of information that was redacted in the original police report on the incident.

Lake Forest officials said at a community meeting Monday that as part of the investigation into the sexting case, the young woman told police the officer “began asking her questions about what kinds of guys she liked, pornography and sex toys,” according to a police report. “She said she became uncomfortable and changed the subject.”

Officials say there is no evidence that the officer committed a crime, but the Lake Forest Fire and Police Commission will determine whether any other action should be taken.

“The City of Lake Forest and the Police Department take any allegations of misconduct very seriously,” Lake Forest Mayor James Cowhey said during a city council meeting Monday night.

On Monday, angry parents at a community meeting demanded to know why School District 67 Supt. Harry Griffith and other school board members failed to follow up with police after Steinert’s guilty plea two years ago.

Gurnee Police Cmdr. Jay Patrick said police never heard from the school district after Steinert pleaded guilty.

Patrick said it would have been a simple request for the district to get access to more detailed information that would have made clear the sexually explicit nature of the unwanted messages to the intern.

Griffith has rejected calls for his resignation, saying if he knew then what he knows now, he would have handled it differently.

The young woman was an intern with the Lake Forest Police Department when Steinert used his school-issued cell phone to send her a picture of his penis, and leave voice mails and texts that suggested sex acts he wanted to perform with her, according to reports last week.

A representative of the Illinois State Board of Education confirmed Monday that it will begin a review of how this matter was investigated by Lake Forest School District 67 officials from the beginning.

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