A teacher at Riverside Brookfield High School is on paid leave after he was accused of "grooming" a student athlete and allegedly having a sexual relationship with her while he was a basketball coach at Elmwood Park High School more than a decade ago, according to a lawsuit filed last year in Cook County.
Dallas Till, allegedly convinced the teenager to get an abortion after she became pregnant with his child, the lawsuit said. The former student is now in her 30s.
Till, reached Wednesday afternoon, declined to comment. An attorney for Till, Roy McCampbell, said because the case was pending, he was limited in what he could say.
"We've gone forward to ask to have it dismissed," said McCampbell. "That speaks for itself as to its (lawsuit) validity."
Till was placed on paid leave the week of July 4, 2022, after officials were made aware of the complaint July 1, according to Kevin Skinkis, superintendent of Township District 208.
Till, who is in his 14th year in the district, teaches physical education and driver education, Skinkis said. His current salary is $93,689.
There have been no complaints at the district about him and all background checks were completed when he was hired in 2009, according to Skinkis.
In the suit, filed in June 2021, Till is accused of negligence and sexual battery, and it seeks at least $50,000 for each count. A spokeswoman for the Elmwood Park school district, which is also named as a defendant, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"The school district failed to protect Doe despite years of open and obvious grooming of her by a predator it hired, defendant Dallas Till," the suit said.
Till and the student met in fall 2004, when Doe was a freshman at Elmwood Park and Till began taking a "special interest" in her when she joined the basketball team and he was the coach, the lawsuit said.
They would meet several times a week to work out together and had pet names for one another: Till was "home fry" or "big brother" and she was "small fry," according to the suit.
Once as they were doing situps in 2005, Till said to Doe: "So this is what it's like lying next to you," the lawsuit said, adding that some students overheard Till.
When Doe was a sophomore, she tried to run away from home and Till, who was married at the time to a teacher at the same school, "interceded" and allowed her to stay in his guest bedroom, the lawsuit said.
Till was "overt" as to his attraction to her, according to the suit, which said he also texted her, including ones in which he said he "loved" her.
Till and his wife separated around 2007 and that is when their relationship "accelerated" and they began to have sex "frequently," the suit said.
According to the suit, several people knew what was going on with them, including students and at least three school staffers, including Till's wife, but nobody reported it to the authorities.
"There's allegations that the school district knew about it and didn't report it," Steven Shonder, an attorney for the woman,told the Tribune on Wednesday afternoon.
In Doe's senior year, students on the cheerleading squad took to social media to say that Till was having sex with students, according to the suit.
The school principal, who saw the post, ordered it immediately removed but never reported Till's alleged behavior, the suit said.
"Many Elmwood Park High School students and teachers observed Till's predatory behavior, yet no one took any action to protect Doe," the suit said. "To the contrary, even though school personnel who knew of, or could have discovered through ordinary diligence, Till's illicit conduct, they confronted Doe and "counseled" her that she was not behaving appropriately, while they shielded Till from scrutiny."
In February, 2008, Doe dropped out during her senior year and that summer, when she became pregnant with Till's child, Till allegedly told her he would "commit suicide" if she told anyone and additionally "convinced" her to get an abortion, which she did, according to the suit. Till then "abandoned" Doe, who remains "haunted" by the experience, the suit said.
Richard Blass is an attorney who represented Till during a prior River Grove police investigation probing possible charges involving the same case. None were ever filed.
"If this was legit, police would have charged my client," Blass said.
The civil case is moving forward despite delays because of the pandemic.
"We think we're going to be able to prove the allegations in this case," Shonder said. "We're trying to get justice for this young lady."