Lake Zurich football hazing attorney tab nearly $51,000 for one month
Nearly $51,000 in legal work was billed in one month related to allegations of hazing by members of Lake Zurich High School football team last fall, documents show.
Billing for what the Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn law firm of Arlington Heights called a "football hazing investigation" started Nov. 2, according to documents received from Lake Zurich Unit District 95 through a Daily Herald open-records request.
About 235 hours of legal work for November cost $50,635, according to the only available bills sent to District 95. The law firm charged another $215 for travel expenses.
Most of the attorney billing was at $295 an hour. Several sections of the bills provided by District 95 were blacked out, as allowed by state law under attorney-client privilege and other Freedom of Information Act exemptions.
A federal lawsuit filed last week accuses District 95 of allowing hazing and bullying to occur in the football locker room last year. Filed on behalf of two players called Doe Children A and B, the suit alleges the school's sports programs have had hazing rituals and traditions dating to at least 1997, and they were known to coaches well before a football team allegations became public Oct. 27.
School district officials ordered the Arlington Heights law firm's probe because of what they called inappropriate and "egregious" behavior in the football dressing room. Last month, the district released a report from the firm that says, in part, that football team hazing escalated in 2016.
Football players and their parents had to sign a student behavior agreement before a Nov. 5 playoff game against Fenwick High School or be prohibited from participating in the rest of the 2016 season. Lake Zurich lost the game.
Several telephone conferences were part of the Hodges, Loizzi firm's football hazing work that began Nov. 2 and went about five hours. Documents show roughly 13½ hours of legal work was performed Nov. 3.
On Nov. 7, the law firm specified it started to "conduct investigation into hazing incident after football practice." About seven hours of work was billed for that day.
When asked about the one-month, $50,635 legal tab, District 95 spokeswoman Jean Malek said officials examine all actual and potential expenses closely.
"In this case, it is important that the district engaged with Hodges, Loizzi in order to have an independent investigation into what occurred and how the district handled the situation," Malek said. "The result has been a substantial set of recommendations the district looks forward to putting into place to foster a safe and healthy environment for all of our students."
Lake Zurich police announced in December they did not have evidence to pursue charges against any athletes, partly due to a lack of cooperation from witnesses.
Football team bonding rituals over the past 20 years have included players urinating on teammates or placing genitals on their faces without consent, according to the 67-page lawsuit filed last week. The suit also claims the football team has had players force teammates to perform oral sex in past years.
Doe Child A was forced into the Lake Zurich High locker room shower and abused by football teammates in 2016, the lawsuit claims. Doe Child B was sexually abused by another student before 2016 and was targeted in the Oct. 27 hazing, the suit states.
According to the lawsuit, Doe Child A's parents had a telephone conference call about the purported abuse of their son on Oct. 4 with Chad Beaver, who resigned as high school dean and assistant football coach last month. Beaver, who cannot be located for comment, purportedly responded that 14 teammates witnessed what occurred and "even I got peed on in high school."
Citing standard protocol, District 95 officials have declined to comment on the pending litigation.
In addition to Beaver, the District 95 board last month accepted the resignations of head football coach and physical education teacher David Proffitt and athletic director Rolando Vazquez. Beaver's and Proffitt's resignations became effective Jan. 20, while Vazquez remains with the district until the academic year ends.