Registered Sex Offender Attempts to Gain Entry at Rich East High School

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Police arrested a registered sex offender last week when he showed up at the Rich East High School and asked permission to place posters throughout the school. School was in session.

On Wednesday, September 16, 2009, a man later identified as Mitchell Simon, 44, 12441 S. Justine, Calumet Park, came to the Westwood Circle entrance of Rich East High School shortly after 9:30 a.m. He was carrying posters and cards advertising a football game in Chicago, police said. Simon came to the desk and stated that he needed to post the posters throughout the school, according to police. The Hall Monitor working the desk asked who had given Simon authority to bring advertising materials into the school. According to police, Simon stated that he had talked to the “events coordinator,” and was then advised that there was no position of “events coordinator” at school. Simon then made a call from his cell phone, and, after speaking on the phone, told the Hall Monitor that he needed to see the Principal or Assistant Principal, police said. The Hall Monitor asked for photo identification before he would issue a visitor’s pass. Simon provided an Illinois driver’s license, which was scanned through a security identification system in use at the school. The system immediately informed the Hall Monitor that Simon is a registered child sex offender, and the Hall Monitor called police.

Commander Winfrey arrived and immediately had Simon step outside the school. A LEADS/NCIC check revealed that Simon is in fact a registered child sex offender. As such, he is not allowed to be on school property without prior approval of the Superintendent, according to police.

Simon was asked why he had come onto school grounds. According to police, he stated that he had to deliver and post the Flyers and posters in his possession. He allegedly told them that he believed that since the victim in his original sex case(s) was over nine-years-old, he was not a “pedophile” and therefore could go inside schools, police said.

Commander Winfrey confirmed with school Principal Mark Kramer and Superintendent Howard Hunigan that Simon never contacted either of them in order to obtain permission to enter the school grounds.

Simon was placed under arrest, handcuffed, and transported to the Park Forest police station by Officer DeCault.

Prior to transport, Simon asked what would happen to his vehicle, a rental car in the parking lot. Commander Winfrey informed him that the car would be secured and moved if necessary, and Simon gave commander Winfrey the keys to the car. Inside the car, commander Winfrey found a handwritten list of schools and locations listed as “poster locations.” Rich East was the fourth school on that list, according to police.

Commander Winfrey contacted the Felony Review Unit of the Cook County State Attorney’s Office and spoke to Assistant States Attorney Mike Pedara. After reviewing the facts of the case, ASA Pekara approved one felony count of presence on school grounds by a child sex offender.