NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CN) – A Tennessee mother claims in court that her son’s wrestling coach sent her sexually harassing text messages and then bullied the boy when she refused his advances.
Marcy Hillis enrolled her son Evan Tru Moore at Blackman Middle School in Rutherford County, Tenn., for the 2015-2016 school year, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Nashville federal court.
The boy’s wrestling coach was John Heath, who is named as a defendant in the complaint along with Rutherford County, its school board and sheriff’s department, and the Rutherford County School Resource Officer Association.
Hillis claims Heath, who is also a school resource officer, asked for her cellphone number to contact her about wrestling. However, she says he developed “lustful feelings” toward her and began texting her for nude photos.
“After two hours of convincing Marcy to send topless photos, Officer Heath concedes for the time being that he will not harass her again, ‘Ok forget it. I won’t bother u again with it. Just think u are sexy that’s all. I will stop,’” the complaint states.
But Hillis claims the harassment didn’t stop there. He allegedly called her “one of [his] smoking ass hot mommas” and texted her again between Nov. 2 and Nov. 5, 2015, saying “R u ever gonna send me a pic” and, “Don’t you think I have earned one.”
“While the continued harassment is unwelcome, Marcy is scared to say anything to the school or sheriff’s department for fear of retaliation against Tru both at school and on the wrestling team,” the lawsuit states. “This fear is validated by Officer Heath’s actions to Tru and Marcy once he realizes that Marcy will not be sending naked photos nor engaging in any sexual behavior.”
Heath allegedly began holding Hillis’ son out of wrestling matches and mocked and harassed him in front of his teammates.
“Officer Heath does not act this way towards Tru when he believes that Marcy would possibly send him naked photographs or engage with him sexually,” the complaint states. “It is only after he realizes that will not occur when he begins treating Tru this way. Further, he does not treat other wrestlers in the same manner.”
Hillis’ son quit the wrestling team in January 2016 due to Heath’s alleged behavior toward him. She says her and her son have both undergone psychiatric therapy because of the ordeal.
Hillis alleges a violation of her due-process rights for Rutherford County’s failure to take reasonable steps to minimize the risk that students like her son would be bullied and verbally and mentally abused.
She seeks $1 million and is represented by William Hicky in Nashville.
A spokesman for Rutherford County Schools said the district does not comment on pending litigation, choosing instead to respond through the judicial process.
Heath did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment sent to an email address listed on a wrestling club Facebook page.