MAINE TOWNSHIP (STMW) — The man soccer players at Maine West High School have come to know affectionately as “Divo” has given up his fight for the job he lost in a hazing scandal at the northwest suburban school district.
The Maine Township High School District 207 school board approved an agreement Monday night with Michael Divincenzo to “conclude the dismissal proceeding and end Mr. Divincenzo’s employment by the school district.”
Under the terms of the deal, Divincenzo will withdraw his request for a hearing, where he was expected to fight for his job, but he’ll continue to receive health insurance coverage until Jan. 31. He also will cooperate in the defense of a lawsuit filed against the school district over the hazing allegations, and he is waiving all claims against the district.
Finally, the school board is conceding that there was no “wrong-doing or improper conduct.”
“There is no payment or other consideration,” school board President Sean Sullivan said at Monday night’s meeting, “except as stated in the agreement.
The school board voted in December to fire Divincenzo, stunning a room full of the former soccer coach’s former students and players who pleaded with the board to let him keep his job.
Divincenzo, a 1994 Maine West graduate, reacted a few weeks later by asking for a hearing where he was expected to fight to keep his job. His career at the district fell apart suddenly last fall when multiple soccer players came forward to say they had been sexually assaulted by teammates under the guise of hazing. They said their teammates pulled down their underwear and sodomized them with finger and sticks.
Des Plaines Police also were told that Divincenzo watched an assault in July, congratulated the victim, welcomed him to the team “and asked him if it was all good.”
Chicago lawyer Tony Romanucci filed a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of two alleged victims who said they had been assaulted in September and a third soccer player who said he was attacked by teammates in a similar way in 2007. A fourth plaintiff claims his pants were pulled down in a locker room by teammates on a baseball team coached by Divincenzo.
When it voted to fire Divincenzo, the board also cited an allegation that he let varsity soccer players dunk “less senior” players’ heads and grab their genitals in a hot tub at a training camp in Wisconsin.
Prosecutors charged six teenagers with misdemeanors after the scandal broke. But Des Plaines Police told the Chicago Sun-Times they originally sought felonies in the case, and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office announced her sex-crimes division would conduct a “top-to-bottom” review. It is still ongoing.
Since then, sources at the Department of Children and Family Services confirmed that the agency had “indicated” — or substantiated — claims of neglect and abuse by Divincenzo. It also indicated claims of neglect against freshman soccer coach Emilio Rodriguez, who is also named in Romanucci’s lawsuit.
Both men have told police they didn’t know about the hazing, according to Des Plaines Police reports. The board voted to fire Rodriguez in January, and he has also asked for a hearing to contest his pending dismissal.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)