Fired counselor who wrote sex book: ‘I’m a good guy’
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org October 8, 2012 1:50PM
Former Rich Central girls basketball coach Bryan Craig sits in his attorney's office while talking about his future in Chicago, IL on Monday October 8, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 10, 2012 6:15AM
Bryan Craig, the former Rich Central High School guidance counselor and girls varsity basketball coach who was fired after writing a racy and sexually explicit self-help book, said he is the victim of an injustice.
He said 99 percent of those who know him would classify him as a good guy, that he had to be treated for depression after being fired, that his book was not meant to degrade women, and that he is considering becoming a psychologist.
Craig, sitting with his attorney, made the assertions Monday during an interview with the SouthtownStar.
Craig, who was fired Sept. 18 for writing the book “It’s Her Fault,” is suing Rich Township High School District 227 for $1 million in federal court, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated.
The lawsuit asks a jury to award Craig money for attorney fees and to “compensate him for the injuries he suffered.” Craig, 33, also is appealing his firing before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations board.
“I never thought, and I still don’t think, I did anything wrong,” Craig said. “I was concerned how people who don’t know me would look at me, but I wouldn’t say I was scared.”
The book’s aim, Craig said, is to “empower women” and let them know how men think so they can get the upper hand in their relationships with men. He started writing the book at the beginning of the year, working on it at home and while traveling, and he self-published it in July.
“I wanted adults to read it because I’ve seen countless examples of how relationships go wrong,” Craig said.
Although Craig said his authoring the book was separate from his work at the school, he admitted he sold the book to some teachers while on school property. But he expected fewer than 100 people to read it. He doesn’t know how many copies have sold because the self-publishing company only reports book sales to him every three months.
Still, Craig said he was surprised by the interest in the book and the initial media reports about it, which he said distorted his message.
The book includes graphic descriptions about his opinions on vaginal differences between women of different races and said “the easiest kill for a man is through the young lady with low self-esteem.”
Craig said the vaginal descriptions were not from his own experience but were things men and women told him during his life. The descriptions were part of a chapter about cheating, variety and “how men think.”
“Biology is biology,” Craig said. “This is more biology than sexuality. It’s part humor and not meant to degrade women.”
Craig said the line about “the easiest kill” for men being a woman with low self-esteem was part of a chapter that helps women build their self-esteem so they can avoid the wrong men.
Craig’s attorney, Stephen Richards, compared Craig’s authorship to Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, who mockingly suggested the impoverished Irish sell their children as food for rich people.
“I think it has a satirical bend and anyone who can read it can tell,” Richards said. “It’s telling men to lie to their wives about how good their cooking is.”
Richards said that if parts of Craig’s book degraded women, then Kylie Gregor — a Rich Central language arts teacher who edited the book — would have removed them.
When the content of Craig’s book started to draw media attention, Craig said the teacher’s union initially supported him.
“When it started, the union was like, ‘Hooray, we’re going to fight for you,’ ” Craig said. “That dwindled and they pressured me to resign. I considered it at first, and then I talked it over with my family and they said, ‘Definitely not.’ They brought me back to reality.”
When he didn’t resign, the District 227 board fired Craig, who had been with the district since 2004 and was tenured.
“I was upset that they didn’t consider the hundreds of students I helped that went to college, the hundreds of students I’ve helped through grief and anxiety, the thousands of students and parents I’ve had positive interactions with,” Craig said. “It appeared they judged everything based on the book, and I have my First Amendment rights to write the book.”
Craig insisted the book — and not the whole of his disciplinary record — was the reason he was fired.
Craig was suspended for five days in 2010 for referring students to a private tutoring company — for which the company was to compensate him — and in 2009 was reprimanded by a principal after a man showed up at school, caused a disturbance, and said Craig was having a relationship with his wife, a school cafeteria worker, according to a SouthtownStar review of district records.
Craig insisted that the cafeteria worker and his wife were friends and it shouldn’t have escalated to that point.
“It was blown far out of proportion,” Craig said. “I was providing advice for a staff member and (her husband) thought it was something different.”
As far as referring students to a private tutoring company, Craig said he “didn’t know it was a big deal like it was.”
Craig said his psychologist had to treat him for situational depression after his firing.
“Two days were like horribly sad,” Craig said. “Sleeping at night was rough. I came to grips with it, but I’m still surprised by it.”
Craig said his wife, 11/2-year-old son, 4-year-old daughter and 16-year-old nephew — of whom he is legal guardian — supported him throughout the process.
Craig said he was shocked that a district employee who recently delivered the contents of his desk to him was escorted by an armed guard. He also is distraught that he can’t talk to students anymore, which makes it tough for him when he drops off his nephew at Rich Central.
“I’m a good guy,” Craig said. “Ninety-nine percent of the people who know me will tell me that I’m a good guy.”
Another change: Craig’s main source of income now is his work as a bouncer at a Chicago strip club, a side job he referenced in the book.
“Initially, it was for day care money,” Craig said. “Now it’s for everything.”
Working at the door is a natural fit because of his counseling background, he said.
“I’m balancing moods,” Craig said. “Me being welcoming, it becomes a more civil environment for when people come inside.”
Craig said he would return to Rich Central as a guidance counselor if he could. Meanwhile, he is considering going back to school to earn a doctorate degree so he can open a private psychology practice.
“My history and standards have always been positive,” Craig said. “I’ve always been a leader. I’ve always been positive. My image overall has been one who helps. With me writing a book, I never thought that image was changeable.”