Chicago Park District CEO Mike Kelly resigns on the same day Mayor Lori Lightfoot publicly calls for his ouster

Mike Kelly, Chicago Park District CEO, resigned Saturday. This was more than a full year after Kelly first heard about the widespread sexual abuse allegations against lifeguards.
Kelly sent the Tribune a letter of resignation he had written to Avis LaVelle, Park District Board president, Saturday. It stated that his departure was immediate.

He wrote that it was an honor to serve as the steward of this remarkable organization for the past ten year. Serving Chicagoans for 27 years has been a privilege. I have always acted in the best interest of our patrons as well as our employees.

Kelly was forced to resign the day after Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago, released a statement calling on Kelly's immediate resignation following Friday's emergency Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners Meeting. Lightfoot, who was not open to the public, urged Kelly's removal.

Lightfoot stated that the culture of sexual abuse and harassment in the Districts Aquatics Department's lifeguard program, as well as the lack of accountability or urgency from the Superintendents when new facts are discovered, was unacceptable. According to me, it's time for new leadership.

Friday's meeting of the Park District board saw an hour-long presentation by an outside counsel. It focused on various personnel and employment issues. However, no action was taken. LaVelle, president of the board, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Michele Lemons, Park District spokesperson, wrote that Michael Kelly has resigned as General Superintendent and CEO of Chicago Park District.

Kelly was named by Rahm Emanuel, the former mayor of Rahm, in 2011. He led the agency at the time when the scandal was first reported by WBEZ on April 1. The victims claimed that there was a misogynistic culture at city beaches and pools, which included minor sexual assault and retribution to those who reported the abuse.

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WBEZ reports that Kelly was informed about the first allegation in February 2020, but didn't forward the complaints to inspector general until mid March. Recent calls for Kelly's resignation were made by several aldermen, including Lightfoot, who cited the inaction against the troubling allegations.

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The Chicago Park District watchdogs' office has been the center of complaints about retaliation for the misconduct. Nathan Kipp, deputy inspector general of agency, stated that he was placed on indefinite suspension because he pursued this investigation with zeal.

Kelly announced that since the investigation into sexual misconduct in the parks district started, more than 40 employees from the Beaches and Pool Unit have been disciplined for sexual harassment. This includes nine employees allegedly involved in sexual misconduct and abuse at the parks district, as well as two high-ranking managers.

Six employees were fired, six resigned and others received written reprimands. A supervisor was suspended, then resigned on Monday following an investigation that included screenshots of text messages describing inappropriate communications and choking between him and an ex-employee.

Kim Foxx, Cook County attorney, stepped up her investigation into Park District's scandal and publicly called for victims to contact her office.

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated that Mike Kelly was first made aware of allegations of sexual misconduct at the Park District. It took 20 months.