Mother says school covered up sex assault of 8-year-old daughter

An Illinois mother claims her daughter was sexually assaulted at Whiteside Elementary School in St. Clair County.

BELLEVILLE, ILL. - An Illinois mother claimed her 8-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted at Whiteside Elementary School in St. Clair County.

She claims her daughter was attacked by an older kid during a summer program, but officials dismissed the incident as a “kissing game.”

“I've been a complete mess my anxiety is through [the roof]. I mean, I'm hurt,” said LeCretia Springfield the mother of the girl.

Springfield sent her 8-year-old daughter to a summer school program at Whiteside.

Everything seemed to be going well, Springfield said, although she remembers a worker saying her daughter was involved in a “kissing game” and that it had been addressed.

Then, weeks later, another school worker secretly approached her.

“'I probably shouldn't tell you this, I could lose my job. My heart's been heavy,'” quoted Springfield as she relayed what the worker told her.

She said something bad had happened to Springfield's daughter. When Springfield asked her daughter about it, she broke down in tears.

“She said the girl had been putting her tongue in her mouth and her hands in her pants,” said Springfield.

Springfield claimed her daughter was too afraid to tell anyone.

When she confronted the principal, Springfield said the "kissing game" story changed.

“He said 'I don't know all the details,' but he proceeded to tell me that 'I am aware that your daughter was sexually assaulted five weeks ago,'” said Springfield.

Since then, Springfield claims no one at the school will talk to her about exactly what they knew or when.

So we contacted Peggy Burke, the superintendent of Whiteside School District 115.

“During our summer camp program, the end of the summer, there was an incident involving some inappropriate contact between students,” said Burke.

Burke told 5 On Your Side Investigates parents were notified specifically about what happened, but that she would not tell us exactly what was said to them.

“I can't give you specifics, that I can't, so I can't really give you specifics at all,” Burke said.

“I know that she's been touched," Springfield said. "I'm mad. I'm hurt and something needs to be done.”

Burke claims Whiteside School District 115 reported the incident to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services.

Burke says they are also cooperating with law enforcement after Springfield filed police reports.

Springfield wants to transfer her children to another school district but has yet to hear from authorities if that can occur.

Superintendent Peggy Burke provided the following written statement. 

I want to take this opportunity to inform our district parents and stakeholders of an alleged student-on-student incident that occurred over this past summer during the course of the district’s SOAR program.  Out of concern for the students’ privacy, I cannot provide any details of this incident, other than confirm that no staff members were accused of any misconduct.  This is strictly a student matter.  School district administration reported the incident to DCFS and the district is cooperating with DCFS and local law enforcement with their investigation of this matter.  The school district takes seriously all allegations involving students.  Providing a safe and secure learning environment for your children remains our number one priority, and we will do everything we can to ensure your children’s safety while in our care.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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