CHICAGO (CN) – A high school basketball star claims he suffered “unfathomable abuse, harassment, and even torture” at the hands of the Romeoville High School athletic director and basketball coach, and that the coach stalked him and his family after he transferred to another school.
Devon Hodges sued Valley View Community Unit School District 365U, Romeoville High School athletic director James Boudoris, and its head basketball coach Jeffrey Bambule, in Federal Court.
Hodges says his nightmare began when he transferred from Romeoville to Bolingbrook High School in November 2009. Both schools are part of the Valley View School District, about 35 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.
Hodges claims he “played and displayed tremendous prowess in high school basketball.” But he says he “endured unfathomable abuse, harassment, and even torture throughout his high school years, all over basketball and its attendant greed and idolatry which infects and infests high school officials to the hurt of the students.”
The complaint does not elucidate its allegation of “torture.”
Hodges says the date of his transfer “is when plaintiff’s nightmare began, as RHS coaches (including Bambule and Boudoris) desiring to have plaintiff remain playing basketball for RHS, sought to compel that to happen (or else retaliate against plaintiff and his family for transferring to BHS).
“In November 2009, plaintiff began hearing from students at RHS that RHS head basketball coach Bambule was badmouthing him to other people (including students) for having transferred to BHS.
“Also in November, 2009, plaintiff’ step-father was informed that defendants Bambule and Boudoris were planning to force plaintiff to return to RHS by beginning an investigation and fabricating a charge that plaintiff did not legally reside in the BHS district.”
Among other things, Hodges says, “Bambule and/or Boudoris would drive past plaintiff’s home to check on who lived there, and to check on whether plaintiff’s home was for sale.”
He claims that Bambule “who expressed intent to ‘get’ (retaliate against) plaintiff for ‘leaving’ RHS, threatened to call defendant IHSA against plaintiff.”
The IHSA is the Illinois High School Association, which is not listed as a defendant in the 11-page complaint.
Hodges says the IHSA did investigate his residency, and his mother provided it with proof of residency.
He adds: “Someone from RHS made harassing prank calls to the plaintiff’s family in November 2009, continuing until January 2010, and Bambule harassed plaintiff through third parties (by texting and speaking to such third parties) due to him attending and playing basketball for BHS.
“Bambule also harassed plaintiff’s mother regarding another student who stayed temporarily with her and the family; a student over whom she had obtained guardianship at the time.
“Plaintiff’s mother filed a complaint with defendant Valley View and the Superintendent in November 2009, and defendant IHSA convinced plaintiff’s mother to withdraw the complaint by urging that the district would come under scrutiny, and the basketball program would be shut down for 90 days, if she did not withdraw the complaint.
“Plaintiff’s mother only agreed to withdraw the complaint on the condition that Bambule and Boudoris would promise to leave plaintiff alone, ceasing from driving or riding past his home, texting and questioning his friends, prank calling, attacking plaintiff’s character, and other such acts of harassment.
“Bambule and Boudoris agreed to said conditions, and plaintiff’s mother withdrew the complaint in November 2009.
“However, Bambule did not keep his end of the bargain; he continued to badmouth plaintiff, even telling other students that plaintiff is ‘stupid’ because he had been in special education classes and had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Not only was this information leaked, but plaintiff’s family was informed that banners, posters, shirts, etc. were going to be made suggesting plaintiff was stupid, dumb, and in special education, which would be on display for the annual Romeoville and Bolingbrook Boys Rival Game. The posters, banners, and such were being made in the classroom of Bambule.”
Hodges says his mom notified a school district investigator, who told her “that there was to be nothing of the sort made at all.”
He claims Bambule “continued texting and speaking with friends and acquaintances of plaintiff, digging for information about him and his residency, and badmouthing him.”
The complaint continues: “Bambule even stalked plaintiff and his family, showing up at a basketball tournament in Indiana in which plaintiff was a player, having no good reason to be there, and walking past plaintiff while he was in the lay up line.
“The stalking continued as an assistant coach under Bambule (Pat Porter) drove past plaintiff’s home unnecessarily on one occasion.” (All parentheses in quotations as in complaint.)
Hodges’ mother reopened her complaint against Valley View in August 2010, and also spoke with the Will County sheriff and district attorney’s office. He says he, his mother and stepfather met on Aug. 12, 2010 with Bambule, Boudoris and the Romeoville High School principal, to discuss the stalking and other incidents. But he says: “The meeting was a sham: the RHS principal refused to acknowledge plaintiff’s mother’s earlier complaints, and refused to believe that Bambule and Boudoris were guilty of any wrongdoing.”
Finally, Hodges says, his mother transferred his guardianship to her husband’s grandfather, who lived in Bolingbrook, but the school district “refused to honor this, and forced plaintiff to attend school at RHS, where as expected he was harassed routinely.”
Hodges seeks damages for retaliation and constitutional violations. He is represented by Jason Craddock.