Joliet West High School acting band director Phillip Maro's online photos and comments about his attraction to women's footwear, especially shoes worn by cheerleaders, has prompted one mother to question whether he should be working with students.
Maro, 24, has posted messages and pictures under at least a dozen psuedonyms, including sexycheerleaders12, shoeslover88 and cheerlover56.
In one profile at www.findoms.com, Maro identified himself by name and photo, saying he has a "huge foot/sneaker fetish" and listing his fetishes as "sneakers, Ugg boots and feet." Depending on the site, he alternately makes reference to his age, hometown and/or affiliation with Eastern and often lists the other psuedonyms he uses.
In many of his comments, he encourages women to post photos of their footwear—especially Ugg boots, Keds sneakers and "cheer" shoes—and comments on shoe-related photos and topics he likes.
Since Joliet Patch started trying to reach him Wednesday, many of the profiles, photos and comments have been removed.
"I have many fetishes and I think that's why I can't stay away. I see a girl wearing cheer shoes, or I just see a sexy girl wearing any piece of clothing or shoes, that gets my blood boiling, and I'm drawn in. High heels, high heel boots, Keds, various athletic sneakers accompanied with leggins and great legs, and I'm hooked."
Joliet Township School District 204 Supt. Cheryl McCarthy and Joliet West Principal Teresa Gibson did not return several phone calls. School board President Jeff Pierson said he was aware of the situation but declined to comment other than to say it was "under review."
Maro also declined to discuss it.
"Honestly, this is a ridiculous story. I have no comment," he said, when contacted Saturday.
There is nothing illegal about the photos or comments posted by Maro, a Homer Glen resident who appears to have become active online while earning a music education degree at Eastern Illinois University. He graduated magna cum laude in 2012.
However, one parent said his attraction to cheerleading shoes, in particular, makes him a bad choice to work with high school students. The woman, who has asked to remain unnamed because her children are District 204 students, tracked down many of the sites and pseudonyms used by Maro.
"I have given you the information I have in hopes that it will help you get it to the proper people so that Mr. Maro can get the help he needs," she wrote in an email to Patch.
However, Maro often makes references to his girlfriend/fiance and on one site defended his affinity for shoes as a quirky interest rather than something unseemly or unhealthy. After suggesting readers check out a shoe site in a "random" post on The Fierce Board site in December 2012 and being criticized by other posters for promoting his "fetish" on a site that can be accessed by children and teens, he wrote that it's all "double standards and stereotypes."
"Just like some girl who post a bunch of pics of Justin Beiber with his shirt off obsessing over it, or anybody for that matter, or a girl who posts million pics of One Direction, saying, "OMG I'm gonna marry Harry Styles!", I post about stuff that turns me on. It aint hurting anybody, it's funny to a lot of people (i.e. almost 450 followers), and I've met some cool people thru my Instagram/twitter journey. So, just bc somebody likes something that may seem weird or repulsive to you, don't judge a book by its cover bc society tells you that you should."