Amended lawsuit: Maine West principal didn’t act
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN AND JON SEIDEL Staff Reporters January 19, 2013 11:01AM
Maine West principal Audrey Haugan
Updated: February 21, 2013 6:43AM
If the principal of Maine West High School had taken action years ago, other students might have been spared a humiliating hazing assault, according to a lawyer who has filed an amended lawsuit against the school district.
The lawsuit, originally filed in November, alleges four young men were assaulted and hazed while athletes at the school. It was amended last week and now more strongly points the finger at Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan.
The lawsuit, which previously claimed Haugan knew that in 2008 baseball players had pantsed a younger player, now adds that she took no action against the coach, Michael Divincenzo.
“Haugan either misrepresented or withheld information about ongoing sexual abuse and hazing,” Chicago attorney Tony Romanucci said. “Her further inactivity to prevent hazing caused [two students] to be harmed in the manner outlined in the complaint.”
Haugan declined to comment when reached Friday. So did the Maine Township High School District 207 spokesman, who said attorneys had not yet evaluated the amended complaint.
The new version of the suit also says that three other unnamed school staffers — the dean of students, the head of special education and the school’s social worker — were told about the 2008 incident in which a baseball player known in the suit as “John Doe D” had his pants torn off by older players, according to the lawsuit. Divincenzo allegedly directed the players to participate in the “hazing ritual” and “idly stood by,” according to the lawsuit.
That student ended up transferring to another high school.
The new version of the complaint removes freshman soccer coach Emilio Rodriguez from that count.
Rodriguez declined to comment when reached Friday.
Haugan was also removed from one of the counts. A previous version of the lawsuit alleged she knew about a 2007 incident in which a former soccer player alleges older players sodomized him with fingers and foreign objects.
The former player, identified as John Doe C in the lawsuit, told the Sun-Times exclusively in December he didn’t tell anyone about the assault.
“I felt ashamed,” he said. “Strongly ashamed.”
In September 2012, multiple students were allegedly assaulted in a similar fashion, according to the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of two of those students and their families.
A current dean of students reported that incident to police days after it allegedly occurred, according to police reports.
Haugan reported to police a similar incident that allegedly occurred July 2012. She reported Divincenzo allegedly watched that assault occur and congratulated the student, according to Des Plaines police reports.
Divincenzo has made no public comment despite several requests from the Sun-Times, but police reports show he and Rodriguez have denied any knowledge of the alleged hazing.
The school board last month voted to fire Divincenzo and the coach has made a formal request for a hearing where he’s expected to protest the charges the board made against him.
Meanwhile, the district is expected to hire in the next few weeks an attorney to conduct an independent investigation into the hazing claims.