An article in the Tucson Citizen, May 18, 1994, about a teacher in Chicago tells a frightening cautionary tale. An extract follows:

Fourth-grader Pays Peers to Testify Against Teacher

(Classmates get $1 each for falsely accusing the man of molesting them.)

CHICAGO– When 11 fourth-graders accused their substitute teacher of molesting them, authorities were ready to believe them. Even the teacher agreed that children so young rarely lie about such things. This time, they did lie — prodded, police say, by a classmate who had offered them $1 apiece to accuse the teacher falsely.

“What’s so scary — and so sad — is that you’ve got 9-year old kids sophisticated enough to know they can get a teacher by saying he fondled them,” Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Jackie Gallagher said. “You just don’t want to think that our little kids who you’re still reading nursery rhymes to are figuring they’re going to stick it to their teacher.”

Albert Thompson told police his class at Fuller Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side became unruly during his May 9 assignment. He said some children ran out of the classroom, and he had to stand by the door to keep others inside. When Thompson threatened to report their misbehaviour, a 9-year-old girl offered to pay 10 classmates — nine girls and a boy — $1 each if they joined her in claiming that Thompson fondled them, police said.

Thompson, 43, never was charged. Police cleared him after some of the children made inconsistent statements and one admitted they had made up the story to get him in trouble. The 9-year-old also recanted, police said.

But he hasn’t gotten another teaching assignment. “We’re in a society where you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Thompson said yesterday. Political correctness and children’s rights “override my rights,” he said.

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