CHICAGO (CBS) — Former junior high basketball coach Cara Labus is charged with molesting former students. Her case, back in court Monday, keeps dragging.
For her alleged victims, so has the pain.
They claim school officials failed to protect them.
A decade later they are still fighting to put school districts on notice.
It’s been almost five years since Labus was charged, and it’s been more than 10 years since the alleged abuse began. Then Labus was a basketball coach at Orland Park’s Jerling Junior High School.
“Swooped in, started grooming my client, ultimately sexually abused her,” said attorney Gene Hollander.
Labus faces seven counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for the two cases. Although the abuse allegedly began in 2008, she wasn’t charged until victim Jane Doe came forward in 2015.
“When she was ready to deal with it, she went to the Orland Park Police Department and made a complaint,” Hollander said.
While Labus’ criminal case drags through the courts, a civil case sits on hold.
In it Hollander alleges then district superintendent Dennis Soustek was made aware of the abuse by a former district official but chose only to call Labus and tell her to stop it.
“No complaint was made to the Orland Park Police Department. More importantly, Soustek never call up DCFS and reported the allegation as he was required to do,” Hollander said.
He said the abuse went on for three more years.
“It’s alarming because here you have the head of the school district, who is a trained, mandated reporter who never made a complaint,” he said. “Had a complaint been made, an investigation would have taken place, and theoretically the abuse would have stopped.”
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov left a message with District 135 for comment. None was given.
She also spoke with victim Jane Doe, now in her 20s, who doesn’t want to be identified, but said, “I have a difficult time trusting others, dealing with intense anxiety, PTSD and depression” from the alleged abuse.
Regarding Labus, the alleged victim said, “I think society puts gender into play, and I think because she’s a woman, it might be she won’t get as much punishment. So I’m just looking for as much justice as I can get.”
Hollander said the civil lawsuit is also about sending a message to all school officials to put students first and report possible abuse.
Kozlov also let messages with Labus’ attorney and Soustek but those calls were not returned.