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Sexually Abused Children In United Airlines Mentoring Program Will Finally Have Their Day In Court

April 5, 2014 - A Federal Bankruptcy Judge Has Ruled That the alleged victims of sexual abuse during a United Airlines mentoring program in Chicago in the 1990s can proceed with a civil action against the airline in state court. 

Seven male adults who participated in a United Airlines mentoring program as children claim that they suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of a mentor, Marvin Lovett, who they thought would help them obtain college scholarships. The Attorney representing the alleged victims, Lyndsay Markley, believes that the number of victims could actually exceed 25. 

The abuse started when the plaintiffs were 6th and 7th grade students at James Weldon Johnson Elementary School in North Lawndale, Chicago and continued until they were between 16 and 17 years old. 


All of the plaintiffs encountered Lovett after being selected by him to join a United Airlines' college scholarship program called the 'United Airlines Believers Program'. Lovett's role was United Airlines' Project Coordinator for the program. 

One of the Believer's Program participants, Sylvester Jamison, shot Lovett to death in his apartment. Jamison was 17 at the time when he shot Marvin Lovett, 38 in his home in Harrison on April 7, 2000. Jamison, told police that Lovett had sexually abused him since elementary school. 

Harrison Area Detective Cmdr. Rich Kobel said Lovett had known Jamison since 1996 and invited him to his apartment for a visit. During the visit Jamison pulled a .25-caliber handgun and shot Lovett twice in the head. Kobel further reported the police retrieved adult videos, 140 tapes in Lovett home depicting sexual acts involving underage boys in the Believers program. Jamison was identified as one of the teens in the videos. The sexually abuse boys never knew they were being recorded until police showed them tapes.



The airline shut down the mentoring program and failed to deliver on its promise to provide full college scholarships. Despite United Airlines' claim to have no notice of Lovett's conduct, at least one concerned parent claims to have complained to the airline about his behavior toward the boys as early as 1996 or 1997. It appears that United Airlines chose to ignore these complaints.

Markley, said "So far, United Airlines has buried its head in the sand and taken no responsibility for what happened during the Believers Program. I'm determined to see that the victims get the justice they deserve."

"This program was meant to improve the lives of disadvantaged children not degrade them in the worst way possible. Many of the victims eventually found the strength to come forward after watching the Pennsylvania State University/Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal unfolded in 2011." After receiving the go ahead in federal court on March 19, 2014, Markley is preparing to file the victims' lawsuit in Cook County State Court.
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