SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Three former student athletes at Saint Joseph High School filed a lawsuit yesterday claiming the school, diocese and school officials ignored and covered up a sex scandal involving former volleyball coach, 32-year-old Justin Cochran.
Among other things, the 40 page lawsuit claims Cochran sent pictures of his genitalia to multiple high school girls, described the size of his penis and talked about “sexual escapades” to the students. There are also alleged instances of actual sexual contact with one 16-year-old volleyball player.
The lawsuit alleges athletic director Deb Brown, Principal John Kennedy and the Diocese at large did little to nothing in the way of investigating or stopping Cochran’s unwanted sexual behavior toward the children.
According to the lawsuit, Cochran was an assistant varsity coach prior to the 2018-2019 school year, when he was promoted to the head coach position. There were already concerns about his behavior around the girls prior to this and several parents raised concerns directly with Cochran at a meeting in July of 2018.
“Cochran stated to the parents at that time that ‘the age of consent in Indiana is 16,’ and in response, the parents replied that was not the case when he was in a position of authority, power, and influence over them.” The court documents read.
The documents also allege little to no concern shown by athletic director Deb Brown, who would constantly describe the issues as “girl drama.” And, would force girls complaining about the unwanted behavior to have 1-on-1 sit down meetings with Cochran. Parents were not allowed to attend.
“A seventeen (17) year old was tasked by the adult athletic director to handle issues of inappropriate behaviors, including sexual and/or grooming behaviors, on her own, directly with the person complained of.” One section of the court documents read.
The allegations also include acts of retaliation and bullying toward the girls for reporting the unwanted and “grooming” behavior. Principal John Kennedy is also accused of downplaying the accusations.
“Kennedy… informed Jane Doe 1 and her mother that grooming is not a crime and is
not reportable. Additionally, he insisted that the rumor of a sexual relationship
between a coach and student is not reportable, because they did not bring him proof,
even though they were bringing him the statement of another student stating that
one existed. Kennedy also referenced liability and risk to Cochran’s reputation and
career, and implied this was possible defamation.” The lawsuit reads.
It also appears Cochran was driving the volleyball team via a bus with a suspended license. Something Cochran is accused of bragging about to the players.
Nearly three months after the first meeting with parents, after the season had ended, Cochran resigned as the varsity head coach.
“No reason was given, such as his multiple Safe Environment policy violations, reckless driving, or suspended driver’s license. The lack of transparency perpetuated blame and harassment of the Plaintiffs. Some of the worst retaliation came thereafter.” The documents allege.
None of the allegations were reported to the Department of Child Services by the school, diocese or officials. The parents eventually made the reports themselves.
After leaving Saint Joseph High School, Cochran went on to become the head coach of the Bremen High School Volleyball team.
You can read the entire lawsuit below:
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