Substitute Teacher Allegedly Groped Himself in Front of Students on First Day at School

A Chicago Public Schools substitute teacher was charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a child after students accused him of groping himself in front of them while in a classroom.

James Ruml, 29, was substituting for a writing class on November 16 at Walt Disney Magnet School when prosecutors said he allegedly "leaned back in his chair, stretched his legs wide open and began touching his genital area," the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Assistant State's Attorney Anthony Garcia said that three 11-year-old students reported Ruml, according to CWBChicago. Garcia said one of the students first noticed the teacher's pants "were poking from his genital area."

During the alleged genital touching, Garcia said the children said that Ruml was "moaning and laughing," the local news outlet said. Though he would occasionally stop and look around, he reportedly continued to touch himself, staying clothed through the entire incident.

According to the Sun-Times, Ruml eventually stopped, got up, walked to a corner of the classroom then continued touching himself again. Two days later, the children reported the incident, at which point the school called the police.

Paul Ruskis, principal of the 1,500-student school, said in a note to parents that the alleged incident happened on Ruml's first day at the school, the Associated Press reported.

CWBChicago said authorities interviewed the students in December, with the Sun-Times adding that Ruml turned himself in on Thursday. On Saturday, his bail was set at $75,000 and the judge banned him from having contact with anyone under age 18, the Sun-Times reported. He is scheduled to appear in court on February 3.

Joseph Cavanaugh, Ruml's attorney, told the Sun-Times that there were no allegations of Ruml exposing himself or trying to touch the students. He also added that Ruml had been a substitute with Chicago Public Schools for three years prior to the alleged incident.

The Children's Center for Psychiatry, Psychology and Related Services, based in Florida, reported in 2017 that sexual abuse from educators was on the rise. It cited evidence compiled from Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation, which found that 3.5 million students between eighth and 11th grade—almost 7 percent of people in this age group across the country—reported having sexual contact with an adult, most often a teacher or a coach.

When widening the parameters to other types of sexual misconduct, like being shown pornography, the figure increased to 4.5 million—or about 10 percent—the report said.

Cavanaugh and the Walt Disney Magnet School did not immediately respond to Newsweek's requests for comment.

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A Chicago Public Schools substitute teacher was charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a child after students accused him of groping himself in front of them while in a classroom at Walt Disney Magnet School. Stock Image/Getty Images