Arrest of UM Homosexual Pedophile Rocks Chicago Gay-rights Activists
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By Lisa Black, Tribune staff reporter. Freelance reporter Barbara Bell contributed to this report
October 14, 2004
The arrest of a teachers union president and gay rights advocate indicted Wednesday on charges he tried to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex shocked his Evanston neighbors as well as people working to dispel stereotypes linking homosexuality and pedophilia.
Parents of children at Kingsley Elementary School in Evanston have had a wide range of emotions, from shock to anger to confusion, since Robert Carroll's arrest. Carroll, 54, was well-respected as a teacher and an active member of his church and well-known as the father of two adopted children, parents said.
"These kinds of situations certainly are not helpful to us," said Rick Garcia, political director of Equality Illinois, a gay rights organization based in Chicago. "No doubt there will be those who point to these allegations to affirm their position that gay men are a threat to children. We know that these are isolated cases."
Charged last month with two counts of indecent solicitation of a child, Carroll was suspended without pay by Evanston-Skokie School District 65, according to a school official. The district will await the outcome of his court case before deciding whether to fire him, officials said.
. . . gays are sensitive to public reaction, leading one teachers organization that works to improve school environment for gays to issue a statement quickly after Carroll's arrest.
The Chicago chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network "expresses its deep disappointment that a gay adult in the school community has been charged with pedophilic intent," according to the statement signed by Richard Rykhus, the organization's co-chairman. "We decry the actions of any individual who threatens the physical safety or emotional well-being of youth."
Laurel Latimer, whose two daughters attend Kingsley, said she believes that parents of boys are having a harder time coping with the news about Carroll.
Parents were already worried about unrelated reports of a man trying to lure boys into a car in their neighborhood, said Latimer, who heard the concerns at a PTA meeting.
"Then the Carroll story hit, so for boys it was on the radar screen of a few parents," Latimer said. "Parents of boys seem to be a lot hotter on what's going to happen to this guy than I am."
Some leaders of the teachers union proposed a resolution calling for Carroll to resign the presidency, but the members declined to take action during a meeting Tuesday, said newly elected Vice President John Lalley.
Carroll has moved out of the home he shares with his partner and two children while the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigates.
The family was profiled in news articles beginning in 1999 after the couple filed discrimination complaints against the United Methodist Historic Campground in Des Plaines.
They said the campground refused to rent them a cabin because of their sexual orientation. The Chicago Human Rights Commission is expected to rule on the lawsuit in December, according to Dobbs.
Although the criminal charge should not factor into the commission's ruling, it won't help the case either, he said.
"These are still allegations," said [Caroll's attorney Kenneth Dobbs], who said he is as baffled as anyone by the situation. "No one has seen the evidence yet."
Copyright 2004, Chicago Tribune
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