Tech coach Josh Pastner alleges defamation in civil suit against Ron Bell

Credit: Robert Franklin

Credit: Robert Franklin

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner has filed a civil suit in Arizona against Ron Bell, who provided impermissible benefits to two Tech basketball players in violation of NCAA rules and then claimed that Pastner was aware of the actions and encouraged the rule breaking. In the suit, filed in the state’s superior court, Pastner alleged that Bell and his girlfriend Jennifer Pendley defamed him and attempted to extort and blackmail Pastner and his family.

Pastner also filed an injunction against harassment Bell in superior court, which was granted. It bars Bell from contacting Pastner and his wife, Kerri, and orders him not to go to or near the Pastner home or to Tech’s campus.

According to a statement from Pastner’s attorneys, “Ronald Bell and Jennifer Pendley have threatened Josh and his family on numerous occasions, falsely alleging that Josh was aware of NCAA violations and in violation of NCAA rules and, when the threat of exposing these false NCAA violations did not result in a monetary payout for Mr. Bell and Ms. Pendley, they moved on, more incredulously, to falsely claim that Josh had assaulted Mrs. Pendley on multiple occasions. Their release of information that they knew was materially false, inaccurate and misleading, has done great harm. Their allegations are fabricated and false.”

Pastner has made little comment of substance on the matter since Tech basketball players Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson were first withheld from competition and then suspended by the NCAA, but privately has been caused considerable stress by the matter. He released a statement along with his attorneys.

"I am disgusted and devastated by the actions of two individuals to whom I showed compassion. My family and I are victims of fraud and extortion and to 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."

Pastner went on to say that he had no knowledge of the violations involving Jackson and Okogie and that “any assertion or allegation suggesting otherwise is simply false.”

Reached early Saturday, Bell called Pastner’s statements “100 percent false.”

Pastner’s attorneys filed a 47-page complaint Friday with the Superior Court of Arizona in Pima County (where Bell and Pendley live, in Oro Valley) that details what they lay out a case that Bell:

^ has a "long history of criminal conduct and antisocial and dishonest behavior";

^ duped Pastner into friendship by identifying himself as a cancer victim (they claim he is not);

^ turned on Pastner in October 2017 in part because of a dispute with a team staffer;

^ ultimately attempted to use the benefits that he provided to Okogie and Jackson as leverage in an attempt to extort Pastner.

The statement from Pastner’s attorneys described Pastner as a “an unfortunate victim in an elaborate and mean-spirited campaign to harm him and his family.” It also stated that Bell and Pendley “have zero credibility in making allegations against Josh and we will not allow the reputation and character of Josh to be called into question by these individuals.”