A fifth plaintiff joined the lawsuit against Maine Township High School, its principal, Audrey Haugan, and two former coaches, Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez. The suit alleges that the five soccer players were sexually assaulted during hazing rituals that date back to 2007.
According to court documents, the players were held down by teammates, stripped of their pants and sodomized by fingers and foreign objects at the behest of the fired coaches. Divincenzo and Rodriguez not only “ordered and witnessed” these actions, they conspired with Principal Haugan to cover up their actions. The suit alleges that “[t]he team’s coaches have sanctioned these rituals, while other school officials — including Maine West’s principal — turned a blind eye toward the abuse, even after the abuse was reported to them.”
At a press conference, one parent recounted that, when she went above Haugan’s head, the school superintendent — who is not named in the suit — told her “that in order to be sexual assault there needed to be sexual gratification and I was wrong. I told him that my son was pinned down, pants ripped off exposed, boxers completely ripped off, in my opinion that’s a sexual assault.”
The suit also alleges that the coaches routinely used threats of further sexual assaults to “motivate” players. Divincenzo routinely informed them “that he would have older players sodomize the younger players if ‘they did not start to communicate.'” The Maine Township High School Board fired Divincenzo on November 19, 2012, after allegations of the abuse arose. Rodriguez remained on staff until January 29 of this year.
The families are seeking damages for willful and wanton conduct, emotional distress, and reimbursement for medical and legal expenses.
[“Soccer Players Running After The Ball” on Shutterstock]