A now-former Lake County special education paraprofessional has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a physically and mentally disabled student over the span of two years.
In December 2019, Israel Suaste-Gonzalez, 50, of the 19000 block of Cambridge Road in unincorporated Mundelein, was charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, four counts of criminal sexual assault and five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a handicapped person.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Russell Caskey previously said that Suaste-Gonzalez was employed at the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL) Atkinson site, located at 100 South Atkinson Road in Grayslake, from 2016 through 2018.
He worked as a paraprofessional while the victim, only identified as “Jane Doe,” was enrolled at the facility. The adult victim referred to Suaste-Gonzalez as her “teacher” during that time, prosecutors said.
The victim claimed Suaste-Gonzalez sexually molested her multiple times at the school during his two years working with her.
She also told authorities she felt required to be involved because her “teacher” kept telling her to do so, Caskey said.
Suaste-Gonzalez denied the allegations when first interviewed by police, but later admitted to sexually abusing the student on at least five occasions, Caskey said.
On Thursday, Suaste-Gonzalez entered into a plea deal with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Court records show that the man pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sexual assault and in exchange prosecutors dismissed the other charges.
A lawsuit was filed in March 2020 against SEDOL after Suaste-Gonzalez was charged in the case.
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, a Waukegan-based law firm, filed a civil lawsuit in Lake County Circuit Court alleging the school district “recklessly failed” to protect the victim, Jane Doe.
The lawsuit, which is ongoing, alleged SEDOL failed to enforce its policy that male teachers should never be alone with female students, failed to have a sufficient number of personnel on staff, did not adequately train staff about the prevention of sexual abuse and improperly allowed a male to supervise a female student changing her clothes.
“On several occasions, Jane Doe’s teacher asked where Jane and Mr. Gonzalez had been when they were late for the bus. Based on this and other suspicious behavior, SEDOL should have suspected Mr. Gonzalez was sexually abusing our client and done their due diligence,” said Jane Doe’s attorney, Patrick A. Salvi.
“Instead, they recklessly continued to allow our client to be alone with Mr. Gonzalez for prolonged periods of time,” Salvi said.
“Unfortunately, this innocent young lady has suffered severe emotional distress from these horrific acts. We strongly believe SEDOL is responsible for her being victimized,” Salvi added.
Suaste-Gonzalez remains held in the Lake County Jail on a $2 million bond. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 14.