A woman filed a lawsuit against Northwestern baseball player Chad Readey, alleging violations of the Illinois Gender Violence Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from what she says were incidents of sexual harassment and abuse going back to the time the two were students in junior high and at Homewood Flossmoor High School in suburban Chicago.
The woman, who filed the complaint in Cook County, Ill., under the pseudonym “Jane Doe,” alleged numerous incidents of inappropriate and non-consensual sexual touching by Readey over the course of several years, including his touching her thighs and buttocks without her consent while the pair was still in junior high school. According to the complaint, Readey’s behavior worsened on a school bus ride when both students were in high school, claiming:
“Ms. Doe stated that, during their sophomore year, on or about Fall 2018 – Spring 2019, when she was just 15-years old, she clearly instructed Chad Readey to stop touching her. In response, he grabbed her breast without her consent. Ms. Doe told Homewood-Flossmoor officials that she believed this conduct was sexual assault.”
While Doe did not report Readey’s alleged behavior to school officials, the lawsuit claims she did speak about his “hypersexualized” interactions with her, which left her “uncomfortable and scared,” to friends and family. However, as the suit goes on to allege, when Doe was a high school student, officials at HFHS summoned her to the office, telling her that an investigation into Readey’s behavior had been opened after eight current and former students made social media allegations claiming that Readey had a history of sexual harassment and assault of other students.
Deadspin was able to verify a letter from HFHS to Readey’s parents dated Sept. 18, 2020, which states:
“As you are aware, eight former and current students made social media posts directed at Northwestern alleging your son, [Readey], has a history of sexual assault and sexual harassment that has been reported to HFHS District No, 233, but has not been addressed.”
The letter goes on to lay out the reasons the school found no evidence of misconduct by Readey, reading in part:
“(T)wo years prior, during [Readey’s] sophomore year, [Readey] allegedly touched a female student’s breast over her clothing on a school bus. The student did not report the incident when it happened, but did report the incident nearly a year later to a teacher who then met with the student and her school counselor. At the time, the student told the teacher and counselor that the issue had been resolved a year ago and that she did not want further investigation into the matter as there had been no further incidents or concerns related to this student. During the IB investigation in 2019 2020 (sic), the allegation of [Readey] touching a woman’s breast over her clothing during her sophomore year was raised by one of the IB women who was a friend of the woman involved, The woman involved was not an IB student and was not automatically part of the investigation, but was called into make a statement about the bus incident and [Readey] was given an opportunity to respond. [Readey] admitted to touching the student’s breast over her clothing during a lapse of judgement (sic) while they were riding a shuttle bus together, and when she objected to him touching her, he stopped and there have been no further incidents in the past two years.”
HFHS then closed the investigation without taking disciplinary action against Readey.
However, Doe’s complaint sets forth multiple instances of alleged abuse by Readey during their Drivers’ Education class together in the Fall of 2018 and Spring of 2019, including Readey asking to “finger” her, Readey grabbing a pencil out of her hand and pulling her hand onto his genitals, and Readey unzipping her hoodie without consent to “see if she was wearing anything underneath.” Doe claims she finally summoned the courage to stand up to Readey on the school bus, telling him, “You are not allowed to touch me. In response, the complaint alleges that Readey said, “Okay,” and then proceeded to grab Doe’s breast over her clothing and without her consent.
After students began posting about allegations against Readey on social media and directly emailing Northwestern, Readey hired an attorney to respond to their claims. The lawsuit alleges that the lawyers “sent threatening letters to [Readey’s] classmates, demanding retractions.” Per the lawsuit, Doe did not participate in the social media campaign against Readey, but received notice on December 14, 2022, that Readey intended to name her as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit he filed in Cook County, presumably due to her cooperation with HFHS in the investigation into the allegations against Readey. Deadspin was able to view the letter from Readey’s attorney informing Doe that she was to be added as a defendant to Readey’s defamation claim, which was filed in September of 2022. In that lawsuit, Readey alleges that multiple students, both named and unnamed, conspired to ruin his reputation and his relationship with Northwestern by concocting false incidents of sexual harassment and abuse, stating “vicious and demonstrably false statements were made about Readey; namely, that he committed ‘multiple sexual assaults,’ when in fact there were none.”
The woman’s complaint alleges that “despite admitting to sexually assaulting Ms. Doe — both to the school, as well as in his own defamation complaint against others — Chad Readey has now returned, years later, to intimidate Ms. Doe and her parents via his lawyers, with threat to add her as a defendant to his defamation lawsuit.”
“We look forward to deposing Homewood-Flossmoor officials to find out how they define consent, and why the school chose not to punish its star athlete despite complaints from numerous female students,” Tamara Holder, Doe’s attorney, told Deadspin.
“Ultimately, we intend to shine a light on how young women are silenced at an early age and how schools are complicit in sexual violence against young women.”
Deadspin reached out to both Readey’s attorney and Northwestern University for comment. At the time of publication, we had not received a response.
[Update]: After this story went to publication, Northwestern University advised Deadspin that the school could not provide comment.
Chad Readey’s attorney, Victor Henderson, provided Deadspin with the following statement Wednesday evening:
“For over two years, Chad Readey has been the victim of a vicious, coordinated effort to assassinate his character based on falsehoods, eliminate his college possibilities, and destroy his future. Lies alleged about Chad have already been retracted, and a subsequent investigation concluded there was no merit to any accusation against him. Unfortunately, the damage to his reputation remains, and these latest fabrications only cause further harm. Since these accusations were made publicly and still live on social media, we had no choice but to pursue legal action to continue to clear Chad’s name. We will not sit by and allow such damaging falsehoods to keep circulating.”