According to the Chicago Tribune, on May 9, 1994, a group of fourth graders at Fuller school on the south side of Chicago accused their substitute teacher of sexually molesting them. By that afternoon the school board promised to bring in counselors for the children. By evening the story was all over the news broadcasts.
But the next day police investigators came and interviewed fourteen of the children, and authorities determined the charges were false. Apparently the children made their false accusation because the substitute teacher threatened to report their unruliness.
One radio announcer reported that one child had promised to give classmates a dollar if they would join in the lie.
Speaking to this problem, Jackie Gallagher, a spokeswoman for the teachers union, said, “[Sexual abuse charges] are one of the hazards of the profession—a new one. Kids get sharper. It is akin to putting glue on a teacher’s chair twenty years ago.”
The teachers union president said that exonerating the teacher doesn’t always make everything better. “What usually happens,” he said, “when a person is accused of this kind of thing, is they’re exonerated by the board publicly but then later, quietly, they’re let go.”
Slander is a vicious crime that does lasting harm.