WBND-TV, ABC-57 [South Bend IN]
November 1, 2021
By Melissa Hudson
Three former St. Joseph High School volleyball players are suing the school, two administrators, their former coach and the Diocese of Fort Wayne South Bend for failure to protect the girls from their coach’s sexual misconduct, according to a lawsuit filed by the players.
Identified as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, the former players are seeking damages for negligence, negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress, Title IX, and negligence per se. Two of the players are also seeking damages alleging defamation.
The lawsuit alleges former girls varsity volleyball coach Justin Cochran committed sexual misconduct with some of his players and that school officials covered up the allegations.
The school’s former athletic director and its principal are the administrators named in the suit.
Cochran resigned from the high school after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in 2018, the suit alleges.
Cochran allegedly sent sexually explicit Snap Chat messages to at least one teen on his team, sexualized others and spent time with them alone outside of school settings, the suit alleges. It also alleges they blamed the victims and called it “girl drama.”
The suit accuses school officials and the Diocese of not protecting the girls and failing to do a background check on Cochran.
We have reached out to the school, the Diocese and Cochran for comment. We have not received responses, but will update the story when they issue a statement.
An interview with Melanie Sakoda, a Sexual Abuse Survivor Support Coordinator for SNAP, is available that discusses these allegations made against Cochran and St. Joseph High School. See also.
Read the lawsuit here.