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Moffat page disappears from Illinois sex offender information system

The most notorious sexual predator in the history of Chicago’s public schools system has disappeared from the Illinois Sex Offender data base, a Substance investigation revealed.

James Moffat, who was a personal friend of the Daley family when he served as Chicago’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools (Management Services) during the 1970s, was convicted of more than 30 counts of criminal sexual misconduct during a two month trial in January and March 1987. On March 23, 1987, Moffat was convicted of sexual crimes against five victims, four boys and one girl. All of the victims had been students at Kelvyn Park High School, where Moffat served as principal from 1980 until being removed from the school in March 1984 when investigations of allegations of sexual misconduct against him were lodge with both the Superintendent of Schools and with Cook County State’s Attorney (Richard M. Daley).

Despite his political influence, Moffat was finally indicted in 1985. He continued to receive his pay as a Chicago Public Schools administrator throughout the criminal trial.

Moffat was found guilty by Criminal Court Judge Francis Mahon on ten counts of indecent liberties with a child and 13 counts of official misconduct. The crimes involved sexual acts that took place at the school, often during school hours, with all five of the victims.

Moffat’s defense team included Anne Burke, who has since gone on the a position on the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Moffat case was not only important to Chicago because it showed that justice could be done, but also because it showed that with clout some of Chicago’s most powerful citizens could get away with rape — provided that the victims were carefully selected from the least powerful groups in the city.

Throughout the investigation that led to Moffat’s eventual indictment and then through the trial and even up to the sentencing, many of those who supported Moffat were convinced that he would never spend a day in jail because his power and influence were too great. Not only did his defense team consist of some of the most powerful people in Chicago, but Moffat’s supporters went out of their way to intimidate those who wanted him brought to justice.

After the Moffat conviction, Moffat’s supporters continued to hold powerful postiions in Chicago’s public schools and at the school system’s central office. 



Comments:

October 13, 2009 at 10:16 AM

By: Maryuri Brito

OMG!!

This is crazy. I never knew this happened at my school. It leaves me in shock.

September 17, 2011 at 10:33 PM

By: Kevin Carney

Dr. Moffat's supporters

Which of Dr. Moffat's supporters continued to hold powerful positions?

September 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Serial sexual predator (Moffat). Chicago's clout coverups.

The conviction and sentencing of James Moffat took place more than 20 years ago, and the crimes themselves were committed nearly 30 years ago. Most of those who backed Moffat within the system are now either retired or dead. Except as an exercise in history, it's no longer very useful to list all of them (and there were several, who directly or indirectly assisted Moffat, some even after he was convicted and sentenced for his crimes). He had enormous clout, as everyone back then remembers and as I noted in the brief reprise here four years ago that has generated this thread of comments.

Two points are well worth noting in answer to the question.

First, the historical coverup includes most of the education press. Although the most notorious and powerful sexual predator in the history of American public schools was a Chicago superintendent ("Management Support Services" until his 1980 demotion), a man who was found guilty of criminal sexual attacks on five students while he was serving as a high school principal in Chicago, the history has been mostly wiped clean.

A few years ago, when Education Week reprised the problem of pedophiles in public schools, Moffat wasn't mentioned. By "American Education's Newspaper of Record." In fact, it was as if Chicago has never experienced the Moffat crimes, the Moffat investigations, the Moffat trial, and the Moffat convictions.

Given that Moffat was found guilty in criminal court on more than 30 counts involving these crimes, the cover up of the history stands as an amazing achievement, even for Chicago. Most of the more notorious mopes who get caught preying on children in schools (public, private, and parochial) are not serial predators, as Moffat clearly was. And none ever had the enormous power and clout that Moffat had in Chicago, even during the days he was serving as a mere principal of a community high school.

Whenever someone is trying to research these problems, it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn that Chicago Public Schools should have been in the Guinness Book of World Records for Moffat's crimes, both because of the extent of them and because of the powers he possessed during his various jobs.

And we need to assume that these types of crimes will always be with us in public schools — because the schools give potential predators access to children and because certain mindless versions of what makes a "good teacher" reward those who can create the costumes and guises behind which predators lurk. This is one of the reasons for more, not less, regulation of public schools. The proliferation of charter schools — which seem to want to hire young teachers based more on their cost ratios and their ability to spout a mantra about "loving children" and "all children can learn" — should send chills down the spines of anyone who knows what is possible. Deregulation such as we have been seeing with the nation's charter schools is an invitation to pedophiles. We will probably begin seeing the ugly face of this within a few years, just as it took a few years for the true face of the Catholic priests problem to become known, then taken seriously.

One of Moffat's victims by the way, one of the courageous students who testified against him, has been in contact with Substance, but we're not moving forward with that story. That victim recovered from the impact of those problems and is doing well.

But what about Chicago's history, including the Moffat case?

Instead — poof! Disappeared, from history (except in Substance and some yellowing clips in the daily newspapers, which did cover the stories, although not completely as we did).

The second noteworthy fact is, as I noted four years ago in the report that generated this thread of comments, Anne Burke was one of Moffat's lawyers, was present in his defense every day during the trial, and assisted in some of the more vicious cross examinations of the victims. The clout that was on display in that one fact should not be overlooked, especially since Judge Burke went on to help oversee the investigation into sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church before becoming a Justice on the Illinois Supreme Court.

Since we ended our concern with the Moffat case in Substance more than 20 years ago, we've periodically been reminded that Judge Burke's role in covering up for predators largely goes unmentioned in Chicago's peculiar versions of its narrative. I was reminded of all of the Moffat stuff (which I covered many days in court during the trial back then) recently in Chicago City Council, where the most vicious attack on the Chicago Teachers Union from the aldermen came from Edward Burke, alderman of the 14th Ward.

The attitude in Chicago back in 1984 when Substance first heard of the Moffat crimes was that he had too much clout to ever be brought to justice. Thanks to some integrity in the criminal justice system and the courage of the victims who testified, that proved to be false. But it was a harrowing time, since the clout was all on one side, even though the truth was on the other.

Which hasn't changed much since the 1980s, has it?

February 5, 2013 at 1:12 AM

By: Isabel Price

This happened at Kelvyn Park...and we didn't know?

I graduated in 1984 and we never knew this had happened. To be honest I was too excited and having such a party over graduation that I don't even remember seeing the "principal" there!

February 5, 2013 at 3:27 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Sandusky, Moffat carefully picked victims

Most of the students from Kelvyn Park during those years wouldn't have known. Like most middle class predators, Moffat carefully screened and selected his victims. The best recent example is the monster from Pennsylvania, Jerry Sandusky, who set up and entire program for "at risk" boys so he could pick the most likely (i.e., vulnerable and unprotected) victims. Every teacher and principal has access to the information about family crises and other problems that hit children in the course of time, and exploitation becomes easier when the victim is vulnerable.

This is why the screening and professional supervision of teachers and other school workers is to important -- and why corporate "school reform" is doubly dangerous to the most vulnerable children. Just one predator unleashed inside a school is a wolf in the sheep field.

And that's why the form of deregulation so praised about the charter schools has already produced so much predation (by the way, with both male and female predators). If all the silly "vision statement" of a charter school really demands is a belief that "all children can learn", the children are going to be in deep trouble.

February 7, 2013 at 8:26 AM

By: Ronald Kirchens

Why?

Why is it every time you take a picture of an African American woman they either look angry or dumbfounded (ex. Denise Little from public hearing pic and Barbara Byrd Bennett ). I find your portrayal of minority women offensive. I thought you were on our side!

March 2, 2013 at 10:02 PM

By: Hildago Ronicerson-Bordego

KPHS 1982-83

As a student at that time; I can tell you we never heard any of this though possibly some of the reason could be the racial tensions at the school together with a bunch of gang banger from all walks of life. and I was too busy trying to get laid by the HOT 1983 seniors!

October 6, 2013 at 3:44 PM

By: Donna Hansen

KPHS / Dr. Moffat

It was sad,but true the girl it happened to confided in me and I took her to the counselor. People did not know because we were asked to keep it quite so he could not cover it up. The counselor was a smart lady,

October 6, 2013 at 5:48 PM

By: John Kugler

Culture of Corruption

In all my experience with CPS when systemic illicit activity is reported the first response is a cover up, then denial and last it is always to go after the individuals reporting the illegal activity. The culture of corruption at 125 clark st is undeniable and unconscionable to the regular citizen. Hopefully things will change one day as is always promised by successive administrations.

November 28, 2013 at 8:43 PM

By: Jonathan Martin

Richard Wellman

I was a student at Kelvyn from 1973-1977 It was well known that Richard Wellman, a drafting teacher, and Laurence Mack, a music teacher, were preying on young men. I know of at least one victim. It would also not surprise me that much of the technique Moffat used was taught to him by Wellman. After all, I followed the story and even called the States Attorneys Office when the Moffat story broke especially in regards to Moffats comment about "stay away from Wellman because he has aids." Feel free to contact me at the above email address.

September 26, 2014 at 1:31 PM

By: Walter White

NBC movie about Moffat

"Deceived By Trust" is a moment of truth movie that is based on this sexual harassment case involving Kelvyn Wayne High School Principal Dr. James Moffat and Marsha Nizamund, the school guidance counselor. "Deceived By Trust" originally aired on NBC as a Monday night movie but now airs on Lifetime. The real principal's name was changed to Dr. Gordon Powell in the movie.

September 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Moffat

Something else that people should realize is that Moffat continued to receive his pension even after his conviction.

September 30, 2014 at 3:15 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Deceptions in 'Deceived by Trust'

The made-for-TV movie "Deceived by Trust" was about as dishonest a rendition of history as is possible. Moffat's victims included both boys and girls. The movie makes the victim a girl. Moffat's enablers went all the way to the top of Chicago's power structure, some of the most powerful men and women in the nation's third-largest city. "Deceived by Trust" places the story in a mid-sized town in the Northwest. Finally, "Deceived by Trust" leaves out one of the three people most responsible for bringing out the Moffat scandal -- Substance. By the time the Hollywood bug bit some of the people who had helped expose Moffat (and bring him to partial justice), two of them decided to go along with the alterations of history that put them in the Hero's Circle. Accuracy is always more important than flummery. The movie is worth one watching. The 64 articles I wrote or edited for Substance tell the Moffat story accurately and completely.

October 1, 2014 at 10:36 AM

By: Ronda S. Goldman

James Moffat

Is Moffat still alive? If he is, I wonder if he is receiving his pension after being released from prison?

I worked at Clemente H.S. back in the day when some of the teachers from Kelvyn Park H.S. who had testified in his trial transferred there on their own volition or were transferred there by the Board in order to make their lives less stressful.

October 1, 2014 at 11:33 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Sex predators and charter schools -- and deregulation

From the earliest days of Chicago's charter schools, the problems with sex predators have been covered up. While a tiny bit of concern has come out of CPS when the charter schools become blatantly corrupt -- and get into the corporate media regarding their corruption -- as UNO did eventually, there is a bigger problem, and it stems from deregulation itself.

James Moffat continued as a "successful" sex predator in Chicago's public schools because of attitudes during the 1980s and before. One problem was that Moffat was widely known as what used to be called "a ladies man." There was even a story that he had a red light above his office door when he was Deputy Superintendent, a warning that the chief was busy in a certain way and should not be disturbed. So Moffat's treatment of adult women was viewed as a kind of normal thing back then.

The other reason was Moffat's enormous clout. His supposed "friendship" with the Daley family and his high rank created a lot of fear among many teachers and other staff during his most predatory years. Those came after the 1979 financial crisis, when he was demoted to the rank of Principal at Kelvyn Park High School. Moffat and a couple of other top ranking administrators downtown were blamed for the supposed "bankruptcy" of CPS that was unveiled in late 1979 and resulted in the School Finance Authority.

One response to all the scandals in public education was a push for deregulation -- the notion that charter schools can do "better" because they are not subject to so much "bureaucracy" and to those confining union contracts. The deregulation pitch was always filled with falsehoods, but every ruling class has been able to get away with murder once it control the highest levels of communications.

The deregulation of teaching -- and other staffings -- at Chicago charter schools opens the door to lots of Moffats. A teacher who "loves children" can get away, for a time at least, with some really nasty stuff because usually such people, like Moffat, conceal their crimes and work so hard that they are often highly regarded. It's common when sexual predators are exposed -- in schools, in coaching, and in religious activities -- that a large group of people shows up to support the predator(s) and proclaim why they "can't believe it."

For the most part, the crimes in Chicago's charter schools have been covered up, just as the Moffat crimes were covered up for years. We've reported some of them, but not nearly as many as are out there. In the coming years, as the Chicago Board of Education continues expanding charter schools, we are likely to see more and more criminal exposes of charter schools. It took a long long time for the Catholic Church to be exposed world wide for the predatory priests it aided and abetted. As late as ten years ago the coverup of the crimes of the priests was being helped along by Anne Burke (as in Judge Anne Burke, who headed a commission to investigate criminal sexual predation in the American Catholic church). That's the same Anne Burke who was one of the two lawyers who defended James Moffat.

So... the beat will go on.

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