CHICAGO (CBS) — A convicted sex offender was found working among students at Lake Park High School in Roselle.
Now, the woman he was convicted in 1992 of abusing has broken her silence to CBS 2.
The woman says the school’s decision to bring back all three people involved in Frank Battaglia’s role as a volunteer high school football coach sends a clear message that this wasn’t taken seriously. She said she feels that decision, made after the investigation, condones the behavior that changed her life.
Nearly 30 years have passed. Debbie Sciortino was 14 years old. Now, she’s speaking out, saying, “I want people to know I do exist.”
“My childhood was, I believe it was taken from me,” Sciortino said.
Sitting with CBS 2’s Tara Molina on a park bench Friday, she said the sexual abuse she experienced then, at the hands of a trusted coach at her high school, never left her.
“I lost my father so … I felt he wanted to help me,” Sciortino said about Battaglia.
Battaglia was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in 1992 for his crimes against her in 1991.
He served no time, only two years of probation.
Because of the law back then he didn’t have to register as a sex offender.
And he still managed to get back on high school football fields.
“I continue to be a victim because of what he is getting away with today,” Sciortino said.
Fenwick High School’s football coach was just fired last week for allowing Battaglia to coach three years ago without submitting a background check.
The same thing happened at Lake Park High School, where the district said via statement: “Varsity Football Coach, Chris Roll, failed to follow the required criminal background process and directed an assistant coach to remove the volunteer coach from the list of names submitted to Human Resources for a background check.”
Chris Roll is out as head coach, but he was back at school Friday, still teaching.
And he wasn’t alone.
The investigation revealed the athletic director “questioned Roll mid-season regarding the volunteer coach’s identity, he failed to require a criminal background check.”
And the principal “neglected to report a conversation mid-season in which he was told that the volunteer coach had a background which could prevent him from working with student athletes.”
They were both back at school Friday.
All three received written reprimands from the superintendent. But the victim doesn’t feel like that’s enough.
“I don’t believe for one second that any of them are being held accountable for what they did.”
Lake Park High School administrators denied an interview request, but a spokesperson said they stand behind the choice of disciplinary action and never intended to minimize the pain of sexual assault. They also said the district will “review its current process and the status of those individuals currently volunteering to ensure this process was completed.”
Read the full statement from Lake Park High School District 108 below:
Lake Park High School District 108 Releases Football Investigation Findings
The Lake Park High School Administration initiated an investigation after it received a report that a volunteer varsity football coach had a criminal record based upon a 1992 sex offense. The School District requires head coaches to submit their team’s coaching roster, including all paid and volunteer coaches, to the Human Resources Department for a criminal background check before the coach begins their coaching duties.
The District’s investigation determined that Head Varsity Football Coach, Chris Roll, failed to follow the required criminal background process and directed an assistant coach to remove the volunteer coach from the list of names submitted to Human Resources for a background check. As a result, the volunteer coach was never subject to the District’s required criminal background process.
Based upon the investigation findings, the Administration has removed Chris Roll from the Head Varsity Football Coach position and will recommend disciplinary action be issued by the Board of Education.
In addition, Athletic Director Pete Schauer and Principal Dominic Manola are also to be disciplined. After Schauer questioned Roll mid-season regarding the volunteer coach’s identity, he failed to require a criminal background check based upon Roll’s response that the volunteer coach had limited involvement coaching and interacting with players. Manola neglected to report a conversation mid-season in which he was told that the volunteer coach had a background which could prevent him from working with student athletes.
Dominic Manola, Chris Roll, and Pete Schauer will return to their administrative and teaching positions effective Friday, November 8, 2019.
The Administration and Board of Education intend to take any additional steps necessary to ensure that the required background procedures are strictly followed to protect the safety of students participating in the District’s athletic and extracurricular programs.