Some disturbing allegations have been brought to light by court records involving an IT specialist who is currently on leave from his job at Indian Trail Academy in Kenosha. Michael Russell was placed on administrative leave from Kenosha Unified School District 108 days ago on February 27, 2023. According to a district spokesman, this leave was due to misconduct allegations. A KUSD insider said that the allegations were related to sexual harassment or touching, but KCE cannot confirm this because KUSD Superintendent Jeff Weiss doesn’t want students, staff, or the parents of the students to know the truth.
KCE has learned recently that Russell is a prominent member at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in North Chicago. Tamara Coleman, the current Executive Director at the Shalom Center and previous KUSD Board President, is also a member of the congregation per our source, who is close to the church. Coleman’s husband, Reverend Michael Coleman, is the assistant pastor of the church. Our source tells us that Coleman helped Russell obtain this position at KUSD. Our source also told us that Tamarra Coleman, and her husband Michael Coleman, were aware of serious allegations of sexual assault at their church. We reached out to Coleman and asked her if she knew this man, was aware of these allegations, and if she helped him get his job. She told us that she was unaware of the allegations, that she couldn’t help anyone get a job at KUSD, but ignored the question about if she knows Russell. We asked a few more times. She refused to answer. Coleman claimed that in her position as a school board member, and later, as its president, she can’t help people get jobs at KUSD is disingenuous at best. We finally confronted Coleman with what we knew and finally admitted she knew Russell, but said “Unfortunately me knowing a person from the community does not mean I know their personal business.” Our source then told us that not only does she know Russell, but Russell is married to Coleman’s sister. We took to Facebook and seemed to confirm this allegation. Coleman stopped communicating with us and lawyered up.
KCE’s source also told us that there was a pending civil case in Lake County, Illinois. We obtained the complaint in the docket. A young woman filed suit against Mt. Sinai Baptist Church and Michael Russell on May 14, 2021, more than two years ago. The woman, alleges in the suit that Michael Russell groomed and sexually assaulted her at the church, starting in 8th grade (2009) and lasting until 2013, one year after he was hired by KUSD. According to the complaint, the two had sexual intercourse during this time frame. The complaint further alleges that “the sexual nature of the relationship between [Russell] and the minor plaintiff became widely known in and around the Church. [The Church] did nothing to protect the minor plaintiff from the continuing and repeated sexual abuse at the hands of the defendant, Michael Russell.” The suit claims that Russell was employed by the church and the church failed to properly supervise Russell and left him alone with children. The complaint also mentions other juveniles that made similar allegations against Russell, but were ignored by the church. Our source also told use that Russell was fired from his previous job at Abbott Laboratories for sexual harassment. We are unable to verify this allegation. Mt. Sinai ignored our request for comment.
We have repeatedly asked KUSD Superintendent Jeff Weiss (D) why he ignores allegations of sexual assault/harassment, but he ignores our requests for comment.
A Kenosha Police spokesman has told KCE that Weiss has not asked for a law enforcement investigation involving Russell. KCE is told that the Lake County, IL sexual assault civil case is headed to trial.
Our source had the following to say and we decided to publish his/her quote:
“The story of Michael Russell is a cautionary tale for all of us. It reminds us that we must always be vigilant and take action when we suspect that someone may be a danger to others. We must also be prepared to hold those in positions of power accountable for their actions, no matter how difficult it may be. In the end, it is the safety and well-being of our communities that must come first.”
Other KUSD Employee Updates
Melvin Tart, who is accused of texting sexual content to an underage student is still employed by KUSD, but is on an “approved leave,” per a district spokesperson.
Joseph Pitts, Jr, a Counselor at LakeView High School, who was accused of repeatedly texting a student and later having a sexual relationship with her after she graduated is no longer employed by the district.