CHICAGO (CN) – High school soccer coaches stood by as older players beat and sodomized younger players in hazing rituals that the coaches “ordered and witnessed,” parents claim in court.
Parents John and Jane Doe sued Maine Township High School District 207, its principal Audrey Haugan, freshman soccer coach Emilio Rodriguez and varsity coach Michael Divincenzo, in Cook County Court. Their child, Doe Child, was a student at Maine West High School in Des Plaines.
“In September 2012, Doe Child was one of several minors who was subjected to physical and sexual assault while a member of the Maine West High School soccer team as part of hazing rituals that were ordered and witnessed by several coaches,” the parents say in the lawsuit. “Pursuant to this ritual, Doe Child was ‘rewarded’ for making the varsity boys’ soccer team in the following ways: more senior members of the team grabbed him, forced him down to the ground, and physically and sexually assaulted Doe Child. These hazing rituals are a form of bullying and for years have been part of the culture of the Maine West soccer team. The 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. Indeed, Doe Child is only one of many students who have been physically and sexually assaulted.”
The Does claim that during one soccer practice, Divincenzo, 37, threatened the team “that he would have older players sodomize the younger players if ‘they did not start to communicate.'”
The complaint continues: “On or about September 26, 2012, during soccer practice, defendants Rodriguez and Divincenzo ordered the team to do a ‘campus run.’
“After defendants Rodriguez and Divincenzo ordered the ‘campus run,’ a number of Doe Child’s teammates grabbed Doe Child and then sexually assaulted and battered him.
“On or about September 26, 2012, Doe Child’s teammates performed the following acts, while defendants Rodriguez and Divincenzo idly stood by:
“a. tore off Doe Child’s pants and underwear;
“b. pushed Doe Child down to the ground;
“c. shoved Doe Child’s face in the ground/dirt;
“d. held Doe Child down so that he could not resist;
“e. struck Doe Child on his head, torso, back, arms and legs;
“f. grabbed Doe Child’s testicles with their hands; and
“g. sodomized Doe Child with their fingers and other foreign objects.”
At least two other team members were also battered and sexually assaulted that day, the Does claim.
“Following the September 26, 2012 occurrences, the state’s attorney’s office and Des Plaines Police Department conducted hundreds of interviews and reviewed thousands of documents as part of an investigation into the hazing culture at Maine West,” the complaint states.
“On May 15, 2013, defendant Divincenzo was indicted on one count of hazing, three counts of battery, and four counts of failing to report abuse as mandated by law as a teacher and coach.”
The Does seek damages for willful and wanton conduct, emotional distress and reimbursement of medical expenses.They are represented by Antonio Romanucci and Rebekah Williams with Romanucci & Blandin.
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