A former high school soccer coach has sued his former employer, Loyola Academy, in Cook County Circuit Court (Illinois) after it fired him after he allegedly made “inappropriate comments” to players, charges that he was later absolved of.
Plaintiff Craig Snowier claimed administrators at the school inflicted “humiliation and emotional and physical distress” upon him through their “wrongful, reckless and malicious conduct.” The defendant “submitted false and defamatory statements to DCFS (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services) … without reasonable cause to do so, in reckless disregard for the truth of the statement and without providing Snowier an opportunity to defend himself.” This cost him not only his high school job, but a position coaching a select team. He is seeking more than $250,000 in damages.
The incident leading to the controversy occurred on May 7, 2018 when a parent complained that her daughter had quit playing soccer because of inappropriate sexual comments made by Snowier. The school’s principal spoke to several players, who confirmed the offending comments, but did not report any inappropriate physical contact.
On the advice of the school’s attorney, the administrators began the process of firing the plaintiff, according to the complaint. The administrators went on to inform the girls varsity soccer team that “they had fired Snowier for abusing them for years and they were sorry that Loyola had not done anything,” according to the lawsuit.
Further, they sent the following email to the team’s parents:
“As I am sure you can appreciate, we are unable to share any further details regarding the circumstances which led to this development. Please rest assured that, as always, the best interest of our student athletes was our primary consideration in decisions that have been made. You should also know that we have asked Mr. Snowier to refrain from any future communication with our students and our parents.”
In addition, the principal allegedly contacted a DCFS hotline to report that the 24 girls on the team may have been subjected to sexually explicit comments and that some had reported seeing pornographic images on his mobile phone, according to media reports. Complicating matters for the defendants, at the time, was the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, which requires school administrators to be mandatory reporters if they have a reasonable suspicion that a minor child may have been abused. Snowier claims in his lawsuit that he was never accused of any criminal sex offenses, which would be a trigger for such reporting.
The DCFS and police investigation would seem to bear that out as Snowier was absolved of such conduct.
Nevertheless, the local media has reported that some players told detectives that Snowier made comments, such as: “if she parties and whether she is a ‘slut, ‘” remarked on their “bra size,” and kept a “Hot Moms List.”
The lawsuit alleges two counts of defamation — per se and per quod — one count of false light and one count of tortious interference with existing and prospective business relations. It can be viewed here: https://www.scribd.com/document/409995045/Craig-Snower-vs-Loyola-Academy-Cook-County-Case-No-2019-L-5034#fullscreen&from_embed