The City of Evanston today released an independent report into allegations of sexual misconduct among city lakefront staff that sharply criticizes some city workers and makes numerous recommendations for policy changes.

The report from the law firm of Salvatore, Prescott, Porter & Porter criticizes former Human Resources Manager Jennifer Lin for failing to inform City Manager Erika Storlie of the scope of the problems at the lakefront and for failing to investigate the issues.

It also criticizes then Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway for failing to alert the city manager’s office “of what was going on in his shop.”

Hemingway resigned on Monday. Lin left her city job several months ago.

The report finds no failings in the actions of the law department, then headed by the now interim city manager, Kelley Gandurski.

And it finds “no basis to conclude” that then City Manager Erika Storlie had complete information about the petition in which lakefront employees reported instances of sexual harassment and failed to act on it in 2020.

The report also makes several policy recommendations, including

  • Increase supervision of the lakefront.
  • Overhaul the hiring and training system that has historically favored male lifeguards.
  • Standardize lifeguard beach assignments.
  • Build clear human resources policies and consistently administered traiing for seasonal lakefront staff.
  • Establish a clear application, hiring and training process for lakefront employees.
  • Formally prohibit the use of physical training as discipline or punishment.
  • Revise human resources investigation practices and ensure that investigations are handled by trained investigators with adequate capacity.
  • Adopt stronger and more formal systems for documenting and tracking employee complaints.

In a press release, the city said it “takes responsibility for this situation and is committed to implementing the changes necessary to ensure that nothing like this occurs in the future.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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