ZION, Ill. (CBS)– The principal of an elementary school in Zion is now charged with sexually assaulting a student more than ten years ago while he worked in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
According to court records, Curtiss Tolefree Jr., 42, was charged with three counts of felony sex assault by school staff and two misdemeanor counts of exposing genitals to a child. The complaint was filed in Wisconsin court last Friday.
Tolefree is the principal of Beulah Park Elementary in Zion and was placed on administrative leave Monday.
The allegation first surfaced a year ago, and CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli spent the day Tuesday digging into why it took a whole year to remove Tolefree from the school.
Tolefree’s accuser is a former high school student at another school in Kenosha. She was a junior at Bradford High School in Kenosha in 2008, when Tolefree was the dean of students there.
The woman told investigators she got into a lot of trouble as a student, and was often sent to Tolefree’s office. She said that’s where the two became close.
She told police they had sex in his office just about every day during her junior year, and sometimes he would even call her out of class to come to his office. She also told investigators the encounters not only happened in his office, but at his house, hotels, and even in his sport-utility vehicle.
The accuser said she and Tolefree lost touch when he accepted a new job at Washington Middle School in Kenosha.
According to Kenosha police, Tolefree has been summoned to court and is scheduled to appear on Jan. 2.
Tolefree was hired as the principal at Beulah Park in July, and parents want to know how the district could have hired him when he was already under investigation in Wisconsin.
In a letter from the superintendent of Zion School District 6, parents were told the district was just notified about the allegations against Tolefree only on Monday. That was despite the fact that prosecutors said it all happened a year ago.
“None of these school systems are doing enough background checks on these teachers, or anybody else that works for them,” said Steven Proctor, who has two children at Beulah Park Elementary. “Do something about it. Check everybody. Triple check them. Go state-to-state. Go out of the country if you have to. You’d better do something, because if something happens to my kid, we’re going to have a problem at this school.”
According to court documents, in October of last year, the now-grown woman told police about what she claims Tolefree did to her during high school. A month later, Kenosha police notified the Kenosha school district.
But by then, Tolefree had been gone for several months. He’d left to take a job in the Zion school district.
And when Zion did a criminal background check, they found nothing because he hadn’t been charged.
Tolefree was out on bond Tuesday. CBS 2 went to Principal Tolefree’s house on Tuesday, but no one answered the door.
The superintendent of Zion Elementary School District 6 released a statement to the school community and said there is no indication that the alleged criminal conduct involves District 6 students.
“District 6 stands ready to fully cooperate with law enforcement with respect to this matter, but to date, due to the current information indicating no involvement of District 6 or its students, the District has had minimal involvement in the criminal investigation,” the superintendent said in the written statement.
District 6 also said it conducts fingerprint-based background checks, and checks state and national sexual and violent offender registries as part of the hiring process.