Penn State Hazing Lawsuit

Tanya Simon
January 20, 2020

In a federal lawsuit filed against Franklin and current Penn State player Damion Barber on Tuesday, former Nittany Lions defensive back Isaiah Humphries claims he transferred to the University of California, Berkeley because of incessant and overtly sexual hazing, which included upper classmen shoving their bare genitals into the faces and backsides of their younger teammates. The abuse took place on campus and was witnessed by coaches who did not intervene, according to the lawsuit.

"Jesse Luketa threatened that if (Humphries) ever visited "his city" in".

A former Penn State football player claims in a lawsuit that Nittany Lion players hazed him and other younger teammates by imitating sexual acts in the shower and invoking Jerry Sandusky's name.

Penn State Health, a university-affiliated medical group also named in the lawsuit, responded with a statement in August.

The player also alleges that he was told the locker room was "a prison", that he was called "their bitch", and that newer players were threatened and told things such as, "I am going to f*ck you" and "I am going to Sandusky you ..."

Penn State officials said the university's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and the Office of Student Conduct, which are both independent of the athletic department, and Penn State police investigated Humphries' allegations. When he chose to transfer from the program, Penn State coaches gave negative reviews of Humphries to their colleagues at college programs he was considering transferring, Humphries contends.

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According to the lawsuit, the safety reported the players' actions to James Franklin, but the head coach and members of his staff failed to report it and took "no substantive action...to prevent it".

The lawsuit says the hazing "served as a form of initiation into the Penn State football program".

Humphries said that Penn State players planned and conducted a campaign to harass and haze the underclassmen on the football team.

When Humphries began exploring transfer options, Franklin's staff allegedly provided negative reviews about his performance to prospective programs as another form of retaliation, the lawsuit alleges. It also accuses Barber of assault and battery, and all named defendants of negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The school added that they related its investigation to the local district attorney, but that office did not file charges. It is not clear, however, what specific student conduct rule violation he was charged with. Humphries claims he was asked to do impossible conditioning drills and slandered when he tried to transfer out of the program.

A message seeking comment was left for the plaintiff's lawyers, Steven F. Marino and Joseph Auddino of Philadelphia.

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