After an emotionally charged trial, a federal jury found Monday against a former Lincoln Park High School principal who claimed she was wrongfully fired by Chicago Public Schools nearly three years ago amid a student sex scandal. was given and maligned.

The jury of five women and three men deliberated for nearly 2 1/2 hours before awarding the defendants — the Chicago Board of Education, former CPS CEO Janice Jackson, and two other administrators — and the plaintiff, John Thuet. no harm.

Thuet, 38, held her hands together and showed no outward reaction as the verdict was read in the courtroom of US District Judge Gary Feinerman. Afterward, he stood and hugged a handful of supporters in the courtroom gallery, including a woman who wiped tears from her eyes.

In an emailed statement, Thuet’s attorneys, Matt Ryan and Terry Campbell, said that although they are disappointed by the verdict, Thuet is “grateful” that Jackson and other CPS officers “had to admit, under oath,” that Thuet Never been accused of engaging in any sexual misconduct or retaliating against anyone.

“They take comfort in the fact that there is now a public record of those facts, so they can no longer be tainted by allegations that were not about them,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the CPS released a written statement thanking the jury and saying, “It is time for all parties to move forward and put this episode behind us.”

“We believe (the jury) reached the correct conclusions and observed that CPS put the interests of its students first and spoke truthfully about the nature of the issues facing Lincoln Park High School at that time,” CPS wrote in the statement. Of.”

stems from the six-day trial Thuet’s trial Claiming that he was denied due process, he was discredited by his January 2020 dismissal for intentionally causing emotional distress, which came weeks after claims came to light that a student in Detroit Was sexually assaulted on an unauthorized overnight boys’ basketball trip. Other, unrelated claims of misconduct by staff members followed.

Thuet’s lawyers said the damage to his reputation from his ouster has prevented him from working in academia and since his dismissal, he has resorted to driving for Uber Eats and learning to code for work.

In opening statements last weekThuet’s attorneys told jurors that Jackson prompted the district to use “fire, scapegoats, tar and feathers” to save face for Thuet. Newly Created Student Safety Officewhich Jackson launched after the Tribune released his “Betrayal” series Regarding the sexual abuse of hundreds of CPS students and the district’s repeated failures to protect children.

Meanwhile, CPS lawyers argued that Thuet failed to take accountability for his actions or act on the “hundreds of hours of training” he received in properly reporting misconduct.

A key witness at the trial was Jackson, who testified that it was the right call to fire Thuet and that a series of public statements he later authorized about the decision were true.

“I will not hold anything back,” Jackson told the jury on Wednesday during often-controversial questioning by Thuet’s attorney.

Jackson also took on some of the more vocal parents on the local school council for ignoring the “health and well-being” of student victims in favor of protecting the careers of adults. In a previous swearing-in, Jackson said that the parents were “acting like fools.”

“I think the behavior of the parents, not all but many of them, was completely unacceptable,” said Jackson, who left CPS in 2021 and now heads the scholarship program Hope Chicago.

The trial was largely limited to the potential damages surrounding Thuet’s firing by Finerman and its justification by CPS, not the underlying allegations of student behavior.

Finerman told jurors at the start of the trial that two students “engaged in a voluntary sexual act” in a Michigan hotel room during a weekend trip to the Motor City Roundball Classic tournament in December 2019. The act was video recorded and shared without a student’s consent. , Finerman said.

Another basketball player reported an unsubstantiated version of events to his father, claiming that two other players also had sex with a student that night without his knowledge.

The Tribune had previously reported that CPS’s Office of Student Protection had found “insufficient evidence” to support that player’s allegation, but reported the two were “present” during the sex act.

When the district announced the removal of Thuet and his assistant principal, Michelle Broomfield, about a month after the Detroit trip, they cited “multiple allegations of serious misconduct involving the athletics program” at Lincoln Park High.

Although in many cases the district did not specify against whom the claims were made, the district has stated that school officials did not protect whistleblowers or handle allegations of sexual misconduct with the utmost seriousness or proper protocol, and that they are working with families were dishonest.

In her opening statement, CPS attorney Susan Best said Thuet did not immediately call OSP or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services after learning of the incident, as was required. He also did not act fast enough to protect the whistle-blowing student on the team, whom Best said eventually moved out of state after being threatened by fellow and former students after the incident.

Despite the limited nature of the claims in the trial, some of the testimony became heated.

During Jackson’s testimony on Wednesday, Thuet’s attorneys showed jurors angry emails sent by Lincoln Park High School parents to Jackson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the wake of his firing, which included an allegation that the school’s Leadership was unfairly “distorted” by the district “in what appears to be a test pilot for a new CPS policy.”

Jurors also noted public comments from angry parents at a February 26, 2020, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, when a series of speakers demanded that Thuet and others be reinstated immediately.

Jackson testified that while Thuet had clearly done some good work and was well liked, his failure to adhere to his training was inexcusable.

“I will never fire a principal without any reason,” she said. “Mr. Thutt failed incredibly on many occasions to protect students. … Both things can be true. You can be likeable and also incompetent.”

Jackson also defended authorizing his communications team to provide “background” information to reporters as the scandal continued to mushroom, leading to news articles saying the CPS had “fully substantiated” the allegation. that Thuet and other school leaders had “fostered a culture dangerous to students,” among other violations.

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Jackson said of the statements, “I assumed they would be damaging to her, but they were also factual, so we weren’t saying something we didn’t know was true.”

The first witness at the trial was Thuet himself, who said he first learned of the possible misconduct allegation on the basketball team on December 31, 31 days after the Detroit trip, and reported it to a higher-ranking official in the Office of Student Protection two days later. . ,

Thuet testified that when OPS officers called him on 2 January he did not request further action. He gave them more details after a personal meeting with the whistleblower. He said that he also personally counseled the affected students.

As the matter became public, Thuet was preparing to interview with LPHS’s local school council for a contract position as principal. On January 27, Laura Lemmon, chief of CPS Network 14, which oversees LPHS, wished her well and provided feedback on her preparation. But by January 31, he had informed Thuet at the downtown meeting that he had been terminated.

Thuet said he was “in complete shock” and “I thought I was going to lose everything.” He said he was struggling to explain the situation to his eldest son. As a result of his termination, he was put on CPS’ do not hire list and barred from volunteering at CPS, including as his son’s volleyball coach.

There are at least two other federal cases pending against CPS related to the athletics uproar, involving former girls’ varsity basketball coach Larry Washington and boys’ varsity head coach Pat Gordon.

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