A Chicago man was sentenced Wednesday to 11 years behind bars for sexually assaulting his young relative during a remote learning class on October 15, 2020.
The man is identified as 21-year-old Catrell Walls, the Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday, noting Walls pleaded guilty to a felony sexual assault charge.
Due to a plea agreement, a pair of additional felony counts was dropped along with an unrelated weapons case.
A mugshot of Walls was posted online Thursday:
A Chicago man was sentenced to 11 years behind bars after he was caught on camera sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in front of other first-graders during a remote learning class in 2020.— Paul Kang (@LPaulKang) August 17, 2023
Catrell Walls, 21, pleaded guilty to a felony sexual assault charge for the Oct. 15,… pic.twitter.com/nPYVfaLmXy
The AP report continued:
The assault took place at a home from which the girl was participating in class remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, prosecutors said. During a break, the teacher asked students to mute themselves and turn off their cameras. The girl muted herself, but she did not turn off the camera, and the teacher witnessed the assault, prosecutors said.
The educator notified the principal, who then contacted the victim’s family, law enforcement, and officials with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
When the child’s father, the principal, and the school’s chief executive officer arrived at the residence to interview the victim, she explained what happened.
The girl, who at the time was enrolled at Bronzeville Academy Charter School, also reportedly said it had happened during a previous encounter, the AP article stated, adding the suspect was taken into custody and the child transported to a hospital to be checked.
A few days after the incident, CEO of Chicago Public Schools Dr. Janice Jackson said, “This situation is definitely disturbing, something that has been unsettling to me personally since I heard about it.”
“But I also think it just makes me even more committed to seeing our kids back in school under the watchful eye of their teachers who care for them deeply,” she added:
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) describes child sexual abuse as “a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor,” adding that “A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, period.”
The organization named some forms of the abuse as exhibitionism, fondling, intercourse, sex with a minor, or “any other contact of a sexual nature that involves a minor.”
It is important to note that WeProtect Global Alliance released a report in October 2021 showing child sexual abuse grew alarmingly during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, according to Breitbart News.
“According to the Alliance’s Global Threat Assessment 2021, pandemic lockdowns and social distancing produced a dramatic increase in Internet use by children, which in turn led to a surge of online exploitation,” the outlet said.