CHICAGO (CBS) — A former kindergarten teacher is accused of sexually abusing students at school.
His alleged victim is fighting for justice and sharing her story with CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini. She does not want her name used, we will call her Jane Doe 1, but she does want her message shared about speaking out about abuse.
“I still have nightmares,” said Jane Doe 1, who was 5 years old when she said her kindergarten teacher Roberto Aguilar sexually abused her.
She is now in her 20s and still waiting for justice. When she sees her former teacher’s picture, in jail garb, she says she feels, “anger; disgust.”
Jane Doe 1 says she has vivid memories of Aguilar’s pattern of abuse. She said he would start by playing a movie for the rest of the class. Then he would cover all the classroom windows.
“He asked me to go under his desk. It was a wooden desk,” she said.
She says he would have a bottle of bubbles waiting for her to play with, and then the abuse would happen.
“And then he unzipped his pants,” she said. “It was throughout the whole school year, multiple times.”
Aguilar quickly resigned from his teaching position at Woodbine School, in Cicero’s District 99, at the end of the school year in 2002.
“My innocence, my trust” – Jane Doe 1 said Aguilar took this from her.
Being so young and from a deeply religious family, she said she grew up feeling shame – as if she was to blame, “because you are supposed to be pure and I felt like I wasn’t.”
She was in fourth grade when she first told her parents what happened. Together, they went to the school district and the Cicero Police Department, but Aguilar was long gone. He had moved to the Dominican Republic and was not tracked down for questioning by police.
“They just kind of put my case in a box and just forgot about it,” Jane Doe 1 said.
The school district failed to trace other students from that same kindergarten class, to find out if there were any other accusers. Jane Doe 1 said she thought there could be more victims.
As the years went by, Aguilar returned to the United States. Since his passport was never flagged as a man wanted for questioning, he easily entered the country and found work with children again.
Attorney Katherine Cardenas, representing Jane Doe 1, sued Cicero School District 99. Cardenas said the district never checked Aguilar’s background and the reasons for long gaps in his work history.
“We truly believe his abuse did not end in the 2001 and 2002 school district calendar year,” said Cardenas who believes there could be other victims.
There is at least one other alleged victim. We will call her Jane Doe 2. She did not come forward until high school. She wrote a school essay describing the abuse she says she suffered by Roberto Aguilar under that same desk.
“There was one time I was under the desk,” said Jane Doe 2. “There was one time, where he had me on his lap.”
She said never knew about the other Jane Doe. After Jane Doe 2 came forward in 2013, and her story was so similar to Jane Doe 1, the Cicero Police Department got an arrest warrant.
They found Aguilar working around kids again at a Seventh Day Adventist Church in California. The police report from the day he was arrested said he was the “pastor”.
District 99 officials declined to do an interview. Attorney Katherine Cardenas said she was able to question them.
“So I questioned them, ‘Why didn’t you do anything when you found out you had a predator in your school’,” said Jane Doe 2. “And they said, ‘He had already left, so there was nothing for us to do’.”
Cardenas said there is a name for what happened in this case.
“There’s a term in the educational system called, ‘passing the trash,’” she said, “and so when a school district has an idea that someone has been sexually abusing children the proper method is to do an investigation. But oftentimes, unfortunately, no investigation is done that way the school district can claim ignorance.”
Aguilar still sits in jail today, seven years after his arrest, awaiting his criminal trial. While the two little girls now women, and one with a daughter herself, await justice.
Jane Doe 1’s daughter is about the same age as when she was abused. Sending her to school is difficult.
“It’s very scary to think that I have to leave her alone with it. Somebody that I don’t know,” said an emotional Jane Doe 1
The civil trial for Jane Doe 1 resulted in a verdict against the school district. Jane Doe 2 settled her case against the district shortly afterwards, earlier this year. No one from the Seventh Day Adventist Church would comment about his prior employment there.
Cicero School District 99 released the following statement:
“While we cannot comment on specific situations that occurred over two decades ago, please be advised that student safety is always of the highest priority. The District takes seriously the responsibility to ensure all students are safe at all times. We continue to maintain practices to ensure student safety and always follow all policies and legal requirements when hiring our employees. We are dedicated to ensuring our students learn in the safest environment and are able to continue to ignite the road to excellence in all their endeavors.”