Author Editorial Board

“Could have 100 children abused. Employee gone … Letting sleeping dogs lie may be more helpful … Statute of limitations anyway … Problem that can be controlled … No proof.”

ā€” Excerpts from an unsigned Feb. 23, 1995, page of notes among the Winnetka District 36 personnel records of retired teacher Bill Bricker.

Who wrote those phrases, arguably chilling and soulless? And under what circumstances, exactly? In disclosing them Friday, Tribune reporters Karen Ann Cullotta and Lisa Black called the first phrase ā€” Could have 100 children abused ā€” as inscrutable as it is potentially damning.

The page of handwritten notes erupts, suggestive yet mysterious, from two decades past. It cannot be read as a verdict on Bricker, who is now 94, under home confinement and receiving hospice care in Michigan. He is fighting extradition to Wyoming, where he has been accused of sexually abusing children in 1962, 1968 and 1985. Bricker has not been tried or convicted, and he says he is innocent. We leave adjudication to the courts.

The notes do, though, intensify the focus on Winnetka District 36, which likely is in the early stages of an ordeal that is years from resolution.

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