A lawsuit filed this week on behalf of former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries alleges that Penn State and head coach James Franklin ignored “violent, sexual hazing” that took place within the program.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, names Penn State, Franklin and defensive tackle Damion Barber as defendants while identifying other players as ringleaders of the alleged hazing.
According to the complaint, the alleged hazing involved participants exposing themselves and placing their genitalia on or near victims’ faces or bodies. Victims also allegedly had their clothes stolen, and were wrestled to the ground and “humped.” One eye-popping detail included players telling underclassmen, “I’m going to Sandusky you,” in reference to ex-PSU assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of child molestation.
The Post-Gazette reports that the alleged hazing was witnessed by some members of the coaching staff, and that both Humphries and his father, another former PSU player named Leonard Humphries, voiced concerns to coaches, including Franklin. Those complaints were ignored.
The suit claims that Humphries was retaliated against for complaining about the hazing. Since making the claims, Humphries has transferred to the University of California.
The behavior Humphries alleges in the suit represents a breach of PSU’s code of conduct, prohibiting all forms of hazing.
In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Penn State said that it had investigated and found that “no claims of hazing were substantiated against anyone.”
“The University has established processes in place for responding to claims of potential misconduct," the statement said. "In accordance with our processes, the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and the Office of Student Conduct carried out investigations of the plaintiff’s claims independent from Intercollegiate Athletics. In addition, Penn State police investigated related allegations and forwarded the results of that investigation to the Office of the Centre County District Attorney (DA). The DA reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued.”