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Key witness says he lied about seeing Josh Pastner grope Oro Valley woman
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security guard claims he was offered money

Key witness says he lied about seeing Josh Pastner grope Oro Valley woman

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner directs his players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Clemson, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

A security guard who said he saw Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner grope an Oro Valley woman has recanted his statement, saying that the woman and her fiancé offered him money to lie.

Pastner filed a lawsuit against Oro Valley’s Ron Bell and Jennifer Pendley in January, saying they tried to blackmail him. In February, Bell and Pendley filed a counterclaim in which Pendley accused Pastner — a former Arizona Wildcats player and assistant coach — of sexually assaulting her once and groping her multiple times.

They said Pastner grabbed Pendley’s rear end inside Georgia Tech’s basketball arena in November 2016, an incident that they say was witnessed by a security guard later identified as Christopher Meegan.

However, Meegan recently admitted in a deposition that he never witnessed any assault. The security guard said Bell and Pendley offered him a portion of their anticipated settlement to lie to attorneys.

A recently filed court document says Meegan also lied to an independent investigator hired by Georgia Tech to look into the allegations. The investigator cleared Pastner of any wrongdoing in June, saying that none of the allegations against him were credible.

“The security guard testified under oath that Bell and Pendley asked him to lie about witnessing the fake assault and that Bell offered to give him a portion of the lawsuit settlement proceeds if he would tell the lie to Bell’s and Pendley’s attorneys,” Pastner’s attorney, Scott Tompsett, said in a news release.

Days after the results of the independent investigation were released, Bell and Pendley’s Tucson attorneys asked to be removed from the case. Pastner’s attorneys then asked a Pima County judge to dismiss the case, citing recorded jailhouse conversations between Bell and Pendley in which they appear to admit fabricating the sexual assault claims.

Bell was in Pima County jail for a little more than 30 days before he was extradited to Georgia. During that time, the couple exchanged 247 phone calls and 37 video chats.

In their motion to dismiss the case, Pastner’s attorneys said the couple failed to comply with discovery deadlines and asked the court to impose undisclosed sanctions. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday.

Pendley’s attorney, Brian Weinberger, said in court documents that the couple has complied with all discovery requests.

He said they have also produced a key piece of evidence that the couple’s previous lawyers said they were denied access to.

In the counterclaim, Bell and Pendley said they have a T-shirt with Pastner’s semen on it from the night of the alleged assault. While Bell was in jail, the couple told their lawyers that the T-shirt was in a safe deposit box and only Bell had access to the key.

Pastner’s lawyers have asked the court permission to depose one of the couple’s previous attorneys, Paul Gattone.

Pastner’s lawyers say that Bell and Pendley used Gattone to commit fraud — and that Bell recently sent Gattone a text message that said the couple never claimed the T-shirt had semen on it.

The Star reached out to Weinberger on Friday, but he declined to comment, citing his schedule.

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at cschmidt@tucson.com or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlincschmidt

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