(CBS) — Former Chicago Bear Desmond Clark says he wants to set the record straight about the misdemeanor charges he faces in a northern suburb.
Clark tells CBS 2’s Jim Williams the charges followed years of racial abuse his son suffered at high school.
The racial abuse started, Desmond Clark says, shortly after his son started Vernon Hills High School in 2012.
“His freshman year … he was singled out by another student and called the N-word,” the former athlete says.
It continued through the years, according Clark.
“A student comes over to him and tells him that his family hangs from trees in his front yard,” he says.
The former Bears tight end said he and his wife first dealt with it privately, with the school.
The breaking point followed a rally for the Blackhawks Stanley Cup championship. Clark says his son and other students drank beer there, violating the school’s code of conduct. As a result, Clark’s son was denied a chance to perform at a lip-synch contest. Those who did perform were not allowed to even recognize him in the audience, Clark said. When his son protested that decision, a school administrator allegedly said, “If he wants to act like a criminal, he can get out.”
Clark and his wife confronted the administrator. He says there was profanity but they did not threaten anyone.
On Friday, the Clarks reported to the police station and were charged with disorderly conduct; Mrs. Clark faces assault charges.
“I think it’s important for me as a father to stand up for my son and stand up for my wife,” Desmond Clark says.
Clark says he’s lived in Vernon Hills for 10 years and the incidents at the school don’t reflect the north suburb overall.
School officials initially declined to comment, then issued a written statement.
“In recent days, the parents involved in this situation have raised concerns in the media about how their child was treated by students and staff at (Vernon Hills High School) over the past few years. As any parent would expect the school to do, VHHS took those concerns seriously at the time they were raised, and addressed them accordingly,” the statement said in part.