Harassed: The story of the flasher near Rotary Hill

“Then he started asking me and cat-calling me these really disturbing things. He was asking me things like, ‘Oh, do you like it?’ And [he] described the things he was doing to himself.” ~Maddy Reda, junior

Ana Turner, Business Manager, Opinions Editor

“After it happened, the next day I felt so nervous at school, and I still feel nervous being by myself in public to this day,” junior Angelena Sichelski said. “How could anyone think that it’s acceptable to sexually harass and traumatize young women?”

The “it” she speaks of is when she was sexually harassed by an adult man as she was leaving school.

Sichelski was one of three girls who have been harassed. Her incident happened on Dec. 11, 2017, in the Rotary Hill parking lot, just across the street from Naperville Central.

But her encounter wasn’t the first, nor was it the last. A man thought to be the same man who approached Sichelski harassed another Central student before her and most recently struck again on Jan. 10.

The victim of the first incident in early December declined to provide details about her experience.

Central Principal Bill Wiesbrook was briefed on those events and gave an overview of what happened.

“In the fall, a parent told me that her daughter and maybe a friend who parks in either Centennial Beach or the Rotary lot, encountered a ‘weird’ guy who was sitting on a bench who asked them if he could take pictures of them,” Wiesbrook said.

Since the victim declined to comment, no more is known about her encounter.

Sichelski was the second victim. On Dec. 11, an unusually warm day, Sichelski left the school at approximately 4:30 p.m. after attending an after-school activity. She proceeded to cross Aurora Avenue to get to her car parked in the Rotary Hill parking lot.

“I don’t sit in [my car] for a while,” Sichelski said. “I usually just plug in my phone and get on my seatbelt and go.”

As she was preparing to drive away, a man walked up to her passenger door window with his genitals exposed.

He did not attempt to get in Sichelski’s car, but he did come in reaching distance of her car door handle.

“My first instinct was to go in reverse, slam the gas and get out of there,” Sichelski said. “I almost hit him.”

After calling the police and reporting the incident, Sichelski went to the police station to explain the incident in more detail.

On Jan. 8, the Naperville Police Department called Sichelski’s parents and reported they did not find anything to further their investigation and would not continue to search for the man.

Two days later, on Jan. 10, a man who the police believe to be the same one,  attacked again.

It was another unusually warm winter day when junior Maddy Reda was leaving school around 5 p.m. to head to her car parked in the Centennial Beach parking lot.

As she was walking, she looked up and saw a man near a bench doing something suspicious. He had his pants off and was indecently exposed.

“At first I ignored it because I just thought he was smoking,” Reda said. “But when he turned around he was doing something different.”

Reda then sped up, hoping to exit the situation.

“Then he started asking me and cat-calling me these really disturbing things,” Reda said. “He was asking me things like ‘Oh, do you like it?’ And [he] described the things he was doing to himself.”

Afterward, Reda ran to her car and waited for the police to arrive. Once they arrived and investigated the scene, Reda followed them to the police station to assist in making a composite sketch.

Although both students experienced very similar situations, their experiences afterward differed.

According to Sichelski, when she  reported the indecent exposure to the police, they asked her to keep quiet about the matter.

The next day, a Talk203 newsletter used to inform parents of Central events was sent out. Sichelski was unaware that this would be happening.

“They didn’t tell me anything and I wish they did because going to school and finding out that people are sending pictures of this email about me, even though it’s anonymous, [and] having people question [the harassment] was pretty much just as bad as the experience itself,” Sichelski said. “It was hard to go to anyone about it because I didn’t want to make a big spectacle.”

Following the attack, Sichelski went to Student Services to talk to someone. When she arrived, all of the social workers and psychiatrists were busy and she was sent to talk to the former school resource officer.

“She basically said to me, ‘You’ll get over it,’ and that was all I got,” Sichelski said. “That sucked.”

After school, Sichelski was then informed that her sketch would be shown on an ABC 7 newscast.

“No one told me anything,” Sichelski said. “It was like ‘Oh, keep this private, but we are going to make it public for you.’ It was so frustrating. It felt like ‘Oh, I’m just the 17-year-old girl.’”

Though Reda describes an experience similar to Sichelski’s, her account of what she dealt with afterward differed.

Following her incident, Reda took to social media, where she tweeted out: “If you are walking alone at night from an afterschool activity and you are parked at Rotary or Centennial, be alert and walk with a buddy! A man exposed himself to me and tried to sexually assault me tonight and the police think it is the same one who has done this to other girls.”

The tweet received 51 likes and helped to bring awareness to the recurring harrasment.

The next day, Reda met with James Tanksley, Central’s new school resource officer, to discuss what had happened to her and he outlined steps he told her the police would take to help prevent further incidents.

Reda felt that her concerns were heard.

“The school is doing what it can,” Reda said. “It’s comforting to know that I won’t have to be as scared walking back to my car and others don’t have to worry as much.”

To help prevent further attacks from continuing and to catch the man in question, the Naperville Police Department and Central administration have collaborated on plans to keep students safe.

NPD will provide extra monitoring to prevent the harassment and catch the attacker. In addition to patrolling at their usual times, the police will frequent the Rotary area more than usual. They will also have undercover officers patrol the area.

Central has also created a plan to help make students aware of these happenings. Two days after Reda was harassed,

Wiesbrook made an announcement to inform students of the events happening on Rotary. In addition, Tanksley has also informed the different sporting teams who practice outside around Rotary of the events and have advised them to change their routes.

“I know that this is a very safe place, so I don’t like hearing that some of our students have had these unsafe situations,” Wiesbrook said. “Thankfully no one has been physically harmed, but somebody weird enough to expose themselves and approach our students just across the street concerns me. I hope that soon this ends.”