News, Culture & Society

Georgia Tech basketball coach files suit against Ron Bell

Georgia Tech’s head basketball coach filed a civil lawsuit Friday in Arizona against a longtime friend and his girlfriend, claiming they defamed and blackmailed him.

John Pastner filed the lawsuit against Ron Bell and Jennifer Pendley after Bell alleged that the 40-year-old coach knew Bell was giving two of his players impermissible benefits and that Pastner sexually assaulted Pendley.

The lawsuit, obtained by USA Today, accuses Bell and Pendley of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting and injurious falsehoods and attempts to blackmail and extort Pastner and his family. 

In November Bell gave an interview with CBS in which he admitted to providing extra benefits to two Georgia Tech players, Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson in violation of NCAA rules, and said Pastner knew and encouraged it in hopes it would keep the players happy. 

Then in December Bell accused Pastner of sexually assaulting his girlfriend, Jennifer Pendley, in a phone call with NCAA investigators looking into the impermissible benefits, the lawsuit states. 

Pastner immediately denied those claims, and his attorneys said the allegations of assault are ‘fabricated and false.’   

John Pastner (pictured January 2017) filed the lawsuit against Ron Bell and Jennifer Pendley after Bell alleged that the 40-year-old coach knew Bell was giving two of his players impermissible benefits and that Pastner sexually assaulted Pendley

Bell claimed that Pastner told him to give his players impermissible benefits and then told NCAA investigators that Pastner sexually assaulted his girlfriend Jennifer Pendley, according to the lawsuit. Pendley and Bell are pictured together  

Bell claimed that Pastner told him to give his players impermissible benefits and then told NCAA investigators that Pastner sexually assaulted his girlfriend Jennifer Pendley, according to the lawsuit. Pendley and Bell are pictured together  

‘I am disgusted and devastated by the actions of two individuals to whom I showed compassion,’ Pastner said in a statement about the lawsuit. 

‘My family and I are victims of fraud and extortion and the extent to which these individuals have gone to harm us is truly unfathomable. I absolutely and unequivocally never assaulted or harassed Ms Pendley and I am truly sickened by these false claims. 

‘Upon learning of the allegations, I immediately informed law enforcement and officials at Georgia Tech.’ 

Pastner and Bell became friends more than 10 years ago when Pastner was the assistant coach at the University of Arizona. Then in 2013 the pair began exchanging emails and established a close relationship. 

Bell has publicly said that Pastner’s emotional support during his battle with cancer saved his life.

During their friendship, Pastner let Bell have access to his teams at both Memphis and Georgia Tech.

But in exchange for that access, Pastner claims he told Bell to follow all NCAA rules and guidelines in his interactions with players. 

In the lawsuit Pastner provides written correspondence in which he tells Bell not to give his players anything without asking him first so it can be cleared by the school’s compliance office.  

Josh Okogie

Tadric Jackson

In November Bell gave an interview with CBS in which he admitted to providing extra benefits to two Georgia Tech players, Josh Okogie (left) and Tadric Jackson (right) in violation of NCAA rules, and said Pastner knew and encouraged it in hopes it would keep the players happy

Pastner and Bell became friends more than 10 years ago when Pastner was the assistant coach at the University of Arizona. Then in 2013 the pair began exchanging emails and established a close relationship

Pastner and Bell became friends more than 10 years ago when Pastner was the assistant coach at the University of Arizona. Then in 2013 the pair began exchanging emails and established a close relationship

During their friendship, Pastner let Bell have access to his teams at both Memphis and Georgia Tech. But in exchange for that access, Pastner claims he told Bell to follow all NCAA rules and guidelines in his interactions with players, according to the lawsuit 

During their friendship, Pastner let Bell have access to his teams at both Memphis and Georgia Tech. But in exchange for that access, Pastner claims he told Bell to follow all NCAA rules and guidelines in his interactions with players, according to the lawsuit 

One of the emails, which Bell sent Pastner on September 28, 2017, references the FBI’s investigation into college basketball and Adidas, saying in part: ‘Your honesty and willingness to always follow the rules is one of the things I admire about you most.’ 

Days after that email, Pastner says he and Bell got into an argument. 

Bell was upset over a ‘petty dispute’ between he and Pastner’s administrative assistant about T-shirts he made for the coaching staff on Pastner’s 40th birthday, according to the lawsuit. 

Then on October 2 Bell ‘began sending text messages and calling Pastner’ to complain that he’d sided with his assistant over him, and started threatening Pastner and saying that he would expose NCAA violations, according to the lawsuit.  

Pastner said that he then turned that information to his compliance staff, resulting in players Okogie and Jackson being suspended for the first six games of the season.

Bell allegedly told the players not to tell Pastner about the ‘impermissible benefits.’ 

The lawsuit also claims that Bell spoke with Pastner’s agent Joey McCutchen on November 9 and said he wouldn’t give Georgia Tech’s attorneys damning information about Pastner if the coach ‘would agree to settle things amicably by paying Bell for the time Bell claimed he had worked for Pastner and the Georgia Tech men’s basketball program.’ 

The lawsuit also claims that Bell spoke with Pastner's agent Joey McCutchen on November 9 and said he wouldn't give Georgia Tech's attorneys damning information about Pastner if the coach 'would agree to settle things amicably by paying Bell for the time Bell claimed he had worked for Pastner and the Georgia Tech men's basketball program'

The lawsuit also claims that Bell spoke with Pastner’s agent Joey McCutchen on November 9 and said he wouldn’t give Georgia Tech’s attorneys damning information about Pastner if the coach ‘would agree to settle things amicably by paying Bell for the time Bell claimed he had worked for Pastner and the Georgia Tech men’s basketball program’

The school’s attorneys met with Bell on November 10 at his home in Arizona, and then NCAA investigators spoke with Bell on December 6, according to the lawsuit.  

At that time he allegedly ‘refused to discuss with the NCAA any details of his allegations that Pastner was involved in or knew of’ and instead accused Pastner of sexual assault. 

The NCAA shared the topic of the phone call with Georgia Tech’s outside counsel. 

‘On information and belief, Bell became irate and angry with the NCAA enforcement staff representatives, demanded an apology, and made threatening statements that caused the NCAA enforcement staff representatives to end the call, cease contact with Bell, and decide that it would be unsafe to send an NCAA enforcement staff representative to Arizona to interview Bell in Person,’ the lawsuit states. 

Pastner’s attorney also listed disturbing incidents in Bell’s past – including a 2005 order of protection filed against him by his ex-wife for physical and mental abuse and the 15 incidents at his home in Arizona which police had to respond to between July 2015 and April 2017. 

The lawsuit also alleges that Bell threatened two Memphis basketball staff members, one former and one current, who told Pastner that Bell was planning on going on a radio show hosted by Gary Parrish to speak about the supposed NCAA benefits. 

The staffers claim Bell told them he knew people related to Mexican drug lord El Chapo and told someone ‘to go to Memphis and do a “hospital job” on the current Memphis staff member.’

Georgia Tech University sent Bell a letter of Dissociation and a no trespass order on  December 11.  

On November 30 Pastner met with NCAA enforcement staff in Atlanta, providing them with cell phone records and text messages, according to the lawsuit. 

‘For more than three months, Josh has been in constant communication with law enforcement on this matter and will continue to do so,’ the coach’s attorneys said in a statement. 

‘We have shared with them the voluminous evidence of the varied extortion attempts and harassment, including phone calls, emails, text messages and witness testimony. 

‘Josh has also been fully cooperating with an NCAA review of the allegations, including being completely transparent in his interview with the enforcement staff as well as producing documentation to support his testimony.’



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Do you like it? Share with your friends!


Comments are closed.