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Teacher had '01 reprimands
A longtime South Berwyn School District 100 band teacher charged last week with sexually abusing five students was twice reprimanded in 2001 for "inappropriate touching" of students, but school officials never notified police or the state's child welfare agency, authorities said Monday.
Robert Sperlik Jr., 45, of the 2300 block of Westover Avenue in North Riverside was ordered held without bail Jan. 17 on five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, one count of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of kidnapping that allegedly took place between 1999 and 2001, said Cook County state's attorney's office spokesman Tom Stanton.
Sperlik taught in the district for almost 18 years.
"There will probably be more charges and more victims," said Berwyn Public Safety Director Frank Marzullo. "We are conducting interviews on a daily basis with possible victims."
Marzullo said a parent contacted police and filed a complaint on Jan. 12. The next day, Berwyn police arrested Sperlik in his North Riverside home and removed a computer and other property.
Sperlik later admitted in writing that he touched 11- and 12-year-old female students after tying and duct-taping them to desks in classrooms at Irving and Pershing Elementary Schools during school hours, Marzullo said. "He received gratification by watching them tied up," he said.
Authorities said the kidnapping charges were a result of Sperlik restraining the students, all of whom were under 13.
Marzullo said there are witnesses to the incidents but declined to say whether Sperlik is accused of abuse during regular class hours or at some other time during the school day.
Sperlik, one of two district band teachers, was assigned to teach at six of the district's seven schools, said Karen Uhren, director of human resources and public information for District 100. Sperlik also taught band at Morton West High School in Berwyn, officials said. A Morton West spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Marzullo said Berwyn police found two letters of reprimand from District 100 officials in Sperlik's personnel file that date from 2001. "There are letters from back then stating `quit doing inappropriate touching,'" he said.
Illinois Department of Child and Family Services spokeswoman Diane Jackson said Monday the agency was not notified in 2001 of any internal District 100 investigation of Sperlik. The agency is investigating after last week's charges, she said.
Uhren, the district spokeswoman, declined to comment on why district officials did not notify authorities of the reprimands. Under state law, school, health and social work officials are required to report allegations of sexual assault of a minor.
Uhren said the school district placed Sperlik on administrative leave Jan. 16 and launched its own investigation. Early last week, District 100 officials sent a letter to parents that said an unidentified teacher had been placed on administrative leave after authorities received unspecified allegations about him. Since then, district officials have not communicated with parents about the charges against Sperlik or about the district's investigation.
"If it was happening since 2001 and nobody did anything, I'd be hot," said Anthony Baldassano, 39, whose son is a Pershing student. "I think there should be [another] letter sent out."
Outside the classroom, Sperlik was a regular musical performer at Circle Theatre in Forest Park, where last spring he was the percussionist in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."
Sperlik, who authorities said had no previous criminal record, remains in custody at the Cook County Jail.
He will appear for a preliminary hearing Feb. 9 at the Maywood branch of Cook County Circuit Court.