CHICAGO - Cook County prosecutors say a South Side man sexually assaulted his 7-year-old cousin in a disturbing attack that was witnessed by the girl’s teacher and classmates during an e-learning session earlier this week.
A judge denied bail Saturday for 18-year-old Catrell Walls, who faces a felony charge of predatory criminal sexual assault following the encounter that was allegedly caught on video from a West Chesterfield neighborhood home during a break in the girl’s online class Thursday afternoon.
The microphone was muted on the girl’s computer but the camera was on as a handful of other students were logged in to the Google Meets session, prosecutors said during Walls’ bail hearing.
The teacher was working on a different computer during the pause in class when she heard two other students say, “What is going on? What is happening?” according to prosecutors.
When the teacher opened the screen back into her online class, she saw the 7-year-old girl with her pants pulled down and Walls forcing her to perform oral sex, prosecutors said.
The teacher reported what she saw to the school’s principal, who called the girl’s family, Chicago police and authorities from Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, prosecutors said.
The girl, who is Walls’ cousin, had been staying at their grandmother’s home during the school day.
When the girl’s father, principal and the school’s chief executive officer went to the home to ask the girl about what happened, she initially said Walls “just hit her,” prosecutors said.
But when the principal spoke with her away from the family, the girl allegedly described a sexual assault and said it had happened before, prosecutors said. The girl was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital for examination.
Walls was arrested and the next day, during an interview with detectives, allegedly admitted to what the teacher and students had seen on video, as well as other assaults of the girl since she turned 6.
Prosecutors said Walls broke out in tears and told officers, “I don’t know why, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
The 18-year-old had been out of jail on bond following a previous felony charge of unlawful use of a weapon, prosecutors said.
Walls is a senior in high school and has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which impairs his ability to control his impulses, his defense attorney said.
“This ongoing history of assault, for approximately a year, according to the victim, leads me to believe this is not something that will just stop because I have ordered it to,” Judge Charles Beach said. “This history and his actions from this case lead me to believe that he is a threat to an individual and the community as a whole.”
Walls is due back in court Nov. 21.
Last month, while a Milwaukee Public Schools class was being held via remote learning, a fatal shooting occurred in a 9-year-old student’s home.
In August in Indiantown, Florida, a teacher at Warfield Elementary watched a 10-year-old cover girl cover her ears as a domestic altercation unfolded in the girl’s home. She muted the girl before the girl’s screen darkened. The girl’s mother was shot repeatedly, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, and later died at a hospital.