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Burr Ridge taxpayers question timing of lawsuit

Spiro Lempesis previously worked at Burr Ridge Middle School. | Bill Dwyer~Sun-Times Media
Spiro Lempesis previously worked at Burr Ridge Middle School. | Bill Dwyer~Sun-Times Media

BURR RIDGE — A lawsuit filed last week accuses a former teacher and coach at Burr Ridge Middle School of sexually abusing a student. It also claims that the school and school district were negligent in not protecting the child.

“I think we live in a very litigious society,” said Burr Ridge resident Kim Wenkus, who questions the decision to sue the current administration over an incident that occurred so long ago.

Robert Rosario, whose daughter graduated from Burr Ridge Middle School this year, had not heard of the lawsuit or of Lempesis, but said he considers the school a safe place for his child.

Jamie Janusz said she remembers Lempesis but did not know him. Her son, who attended Burr Ridge Middle School during Lempesis’ tenure, could recall no incidents involving Lempesis and also had very little recollection of the teacher and coach, Janusz said.

By suing the district, the accuser is in essence also suing the homeowners, said resident Laurie Chang. Although her children do not go to District 180 schools, her tax dollars do, and some of those dollars could be needed to defend the district in court.

“I’m not happy about it, at all,” said Wenkus, who moved to the district years after the accused teacher was gone.

She said tax dollars should be used to educate children, not to fight legal battles.

Chang also moved to District 180 after Lempesis had left the district. She expressed surprise and concern at the length of time between the alleged abuse and the filing of the lawsuit.

“I don’t want to minimize what he possibly went through,” Chang said.

But she said the years since the alleged incident and the inclusion of the school and school district as defendants cause her to question whether money is a motivator.

“You always go for the deep pockets,” she said. “I’m not saying it didn’t happen.”

Wenkus said while she was shocked to hear the allegations made by Lempesis’ accuser, she also was disturbed that her teenaged children were not.

“They tell me it’s just the way things are,” Wenkus said. “In my mind, I just think it’s incredulous that this kind of stuff happens more and more often.”

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