LAKE PARK FOOTBALL PROBE FOCUSES ON CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER WHO BECAME VOLUNTEER COACH
November 1, 2019
Bob Smith, Robert Sanchez
Lake Park High School officials have confirmed that their internal probe into the Lancers football program focuses on how a man convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in the early 1990s ended up as a volunteer offensive line coach with this year's team.
The volunteer coach, Frank J. Battaglia, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a girl between the ages of 13 and 16 in 1991 while she was a student at the former Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison.
Court records show Battaglia, now 72, pleaded guilty Sept. 15, 1992, to one count and was sentenced to 24 months of probation, ordered to pay $5,016.87 in restitution and ordered not to have contact with the girl or her family. He also was ordered not to coach school athletics during his probation.
His probationary period ended in November 1993 -- earlier than originally ordered. The law at that time did not require him to register as a sex offender because he was not considered a habitual offender. That law was changed in 1993, but it was not retroactive, authorities said.
His name does not appear on the Illinois sex offender registry.
Officials apparently became aware of Battaglia's background last week. Since then, head football coach Chris Roll has been indefinitely suspended, and Principal Dominic Manola and Athletic Director Pete Schauer have been placed on administrative leave.
Battaglia also is no longer with the team.
Meanwhile, a group of Lake Park High School parents say they will meet this weekend to plan how to put pressure on the District 108 school board to reinstate Roll as head coach.
Parent Tim Denman, who has a son on the team, said supporters want the school board "to make the correct decision." He said parents have been led to believe Battaglia was properly vetted and there were no indications of previous wrongdoing.
Battaglia joined the program this year. The Daily Herald could not reach him for comment, but he told the Chicago Tribune he was recruited to help and was never required to fill out any paperwork about his background.
That claim appears to be at the heart of the school's internal probe, based on a news release issued this week.
"The district requires criminal background checks and fingerprinting of all volunteers involved in co-curricular programs, which includes all athletics and activities," the District 108 release said. "Head coaches and sponsors are required to submit a roster of volunteer and paid coaches to the Human Resources Department and Athletic Department authorizing criminal background checks.
"However, the district cannot proceed with a criminal-background check of a volunteer if the head coach or sponsor fails to submit the name of the volunteer."
An Addison woman, Debbie Sciortino, posted on Facebook this week that she was Battaglia's victim.
"I was only 14 years old when I was his victim. Thirty years later he's still around children! Unacceptable on every level, when will he be stopped?"
Later that day she posted, "We pressed changes (sic) 30 years ago when I was the victim -- he's still allowed around kids, makes me sick."
Battaglia told the Tribune he pleaded guilty in that case because he didn't want to expose his family or the school to negative publicity if the case went to trial.
Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Please visit our website at www.crimevictimscenter.org for news, information and resources in your community.
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