Oro Valley couple files sexual assault lawsuit against former Wildcat Josh Pastner

Paul Gattone, attorney for Ron Bell and Jennifer Pendley, speaks after filing a sexual assault...
Paul Gattone, attorney for Ron Bell and Jennifer Pendley, speaks after filing a sexual assault lawsuit against Georgia Tech head basketball coach Josh Pastner on Thursday, Feb. 8. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Updated: Feb. 8, 2018 at 4:41 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story features graphic allegations and descriptions.

An Oro Valley couple has filed a lawsuit against Georgia Tech's Josh Pastner, claiming sexual assault and sexual battery by the head basketball coach.

The suit, which can be read HERE, was filed by Ron Bell and Jennifer Pendley in Pima County on Thursday, Feb. 8.

The move comes less than a month after Pastner filed a defamation lawsuit against Bell and Pendley, also in Pima County.

In the counter lawsuit, Bell and Pendley claim Pastner sexually assaulted Pendley in February 2016 when he was head coach at Memphis.

On Thursday, Pendley said she has not yet reported the allegations to authorities but is considering filing a police report.

Pastner allegedly masturbated in front of Pendley and tried to force her to give him oral sex. According to the lawsuit, Pastner then told Pendley not to tell anyone because he "knew very powerful people who would make Pendley's life a living hell."

Bell and Pendley claim in later encounters, including in 2017 when Pastner was at Georgia Tech, he would "pinch Pendley's butt and fondle her."

Pastner's attorney Scott Tompsett issued a response to Thursday's lawsuit. It can be read below.

This is in response to the false and malicious claim Jennifer Pendley made today against my client Josh Pastner.

Josh sued Jennifer Pendley and Ron Bell last month because of their months-long attempt to defame and extort him, and because we anticipated they would not stop, but instead would continue their malicious lies. Thus, today's filing by Ms. Pendley is not a surprise.

There was no sexual assault. It is a lie. Josh never acted improperly with Ms. Pendley. Never.

In fact, contrary to the claim she filed today, for two years after Ms. Pendley alleges the first assault occurred, Ms. Pendley continued to proactively and enthusiastically initiate communication and contact with Josh and his wife, visiting their home, giving gifts to their children, attending games, and publicly expressing positive statements about Josh and his character. We have dozens of text messages and emails from Ms. Pendley to Josh and his wife which refute Ms. Pendley's claims and prove Josh did not do any of the things Ms. Pendley now claims he did.

As detailed in our Complaint (a copy of which will be redistributed to media outlets), Mr. Bell and Ms. Pendley began alleging assault only after their two-month long scheme to blackmail Josh by claiming he knowingly participated in NCAA violations failed. Their false claims of assault are a last-ditch effort to continue an extortion and blackmail scheme that failed.

Our Complaint shows that Mr. Bell is a career criminal with multiple felony arrests and convictions, and a long history of dishonest and antisocial behavior. And as the Complaint explains, it was Mr. Bell – not Ms. Pendley – who first alleged that Josh assaulted Ms. Pendley.

Since filing the Complaint, we learned of an Oro Valley Police Department Report from last year showing that the police investigated concerns that Mr. Bell was abusing Ms. Pendley and keeping her from leaving the home they share. The police response was prompted by friends of Ms. Pendley who reported Ms. Pendley told them she was "in fear of her life" and that Mr. Bell "is physically and verbally abusive." According to the Report, Ms. Pendley told police that she had not been fully free to leave the home when she wanted. The Report also states that Ms. Pendley told the police Mr. Bell doesn't always let her speak to her family. A copy of the Report is attached.

As the Complaint shows, Mr. Bell has a long history of abusive, manipulative and controlling behavior toward women. Mr. Bell's ex-wife sought a protective order because Mr. Bell "threatened to have [her] beat up to the point of drinking through a straw for 6 mos." A former girlfriend of Mr. Bell resorted to calling friends to rescue her from the house she shared with Mr. Bell because Mr. Bell would not let her leave.

We are confident evidence will show Mr. Bell has been similarly abusive, manipulative and controlling of Ms. Pendley, and the truth about the abusive and dysfunctional relationship between Mr. Bell and Ms. Pendley, and the nefarious reasons for their malicious lies about Josh, will be fully revealed in court and before a jury.

Their own families do not even support them. Mr. Bell's mother said every word out of her son's mouth is a lie. Our Complaint explains how Mr. Bell falsely accused his own mother of sexually abusing him when he was a boy, and how Ms. Pendley backed up and participated in Mr. Bell's lie. Mr. Bell's father had to obtain a protective order against Mr. Bell. We've been told Ms. Pendley's family has effectively stopped communicating with her and we understand her family fully supports Josh's lawsuit against Ms. Pendley.

In this era of women courageously coming forward to report valid claims of sexual assault and harassment, we are saddened and outraged that Mr. Bell and Ms. Pendley have concocted a malicious lie to blackmail and to harm a family that showed only compassion toward them.

Josh will continue to prosecute his legal claims against Mr. Bell and Ms. Pendley, and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in their investigations of the couple.

Scott Tompsett

Owner, Tompsett Collegiate Sports Law

In Pastner's lawsuit filed in January 2017, the coach accused Bell and Pendley for defamation, inflicted emotional distress, conspiracy, blackmail and extortion.

Bell and Pendley both denied the allegations in Pastner's suit on Thursday.

According to the lawsuit, Bell and Pendley "began a malicious campaign to defame Pastner, and to extort and blackmail Pastner" by threatening to release accusations the lawsuit contends are "false and patently untrue."

Some of the accusations against Pastner are related to suspensions announced in November of two Georgia Tech players, Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson. Okogie and Jackson were suspended for six and three games, respectively, for accepting benefits - including flights provided by Bell in violation of NCAA rules.

Overall, Georgia Tech determined Jackson and Okogie received apparel, meals and transportation valued at less than $525 and less than $750, respectively.

In November 2017, Bell told CBS Sports he provided the benefits, including flights to Arizona for the two players. Bell said Pastner was aware of the trip, something the coach has denied.

Pastner and Bell first met more than 10 years ago when Pastner was an assistant coach at the University of Arizona. Pastner played at UA from 1996 to 2000 and was a Wildcats assistant from 2002-2008. He was head coach at Memphis from 2009 to 2016 and spent the last two years at Georgia Tech.

According to a USA Today report, the two grew close in 2013 after Pastner helped Bell get through a bout with cancer.

Bell began attending games and hanging around Pastner's programs in Memphis and then Georgia Tech.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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