Former St. Viator students testify in trial of onetime guidance counselor
A former St. Viator High School student testified Friday that a onetime school guidance counselor sent her text messages describing her as “beautiful” and “awesome,” and suggesting “when you’re older I want to do stuff with you. You can’t tell anyone that.”
It was the first day of testimony in the bench trial of former St. Viator counselor and head boys basketball coach Joseph Majkowski on misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges. Last year, the Arlington Heights resident pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge in exchange for 24 months probation.
He has pleaded not guilty to the current charges.
Majkowski coached basketball at St. Viator for 35 years and was enshrined in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 2012. He stopped coaching in 2011, but remained head of the school’s counseling department until he retired at the end of the 2018-19 school year, according to school officials.
The now 20-year-old college student was a sophomore when she said Majkowski sent her the texts on her personal cellphone, without including her parents in the text chain. The young woman, along with two other female prosecution witnesses, testified texting between students and St. Viator faculty and/or staff was prohibited.
All three said school officials informed students during freshman orientation that any written contact between students and faculty/staff had to be via an email that included parents or guardians.
The young women were all 15 or 16 years old between June 4 and 5, 2019, when they say Majkowski asked for their cellphone numbers and texted them days before the school year concluded and he retired. They testified he praised them, calling them “amazing” and “beautiful”; told them he loved them and hoped they were doing well; and informed them they could contact him if they needed anything.
All three reported the texts to their parents, testifying Friday the communications made them feel “anxious,” “disgusted,” “ashamed” and “betrayed.”
They reported the texts to police, but under cross examination by defense attorney Alfred Stavros, admitted they could not recall if they used those same words when officers interviewed them in June 2019. Those interviews were recorded, Stavros said.
“When you were asked how they (the texts) made you feel, your only answer was uncomfortable,” Stavros told one of the young women, in reference to the interview video which was not played in court.
Under cross examination, that same witness testified she didn’t recall when she told her parents about the text messages. She also said Majkowski never threatened or demanded anything of her.