Penn State Seeks to Dismiss Hazing Lawsuit

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Former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries filed a lawsuit against the school and head football coach James Franklin in which he alleged he had been hazed and harassed while with the team.

Now, Penn State and Franklin are asking a U.S. District Court do dismiss the case, calling Humphries’ allegations an “implausible theory,” according to The Morning Call

Humphries claimed that players — including some still on the team and named in the lawsuit — wrestled him to the floor and made sexual gestures and referencing former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is currently in jail for child sexual abuse. Humphries suggested that the hazing was part of an “initiation,” committed by upperclassmen. 

The Morning Call reports that part of the motion to dismiss relies on the fact that some of the players named in the suit — current players Micah Parsons, Jesse Luketa, and former player Yetur Gross-Matos — were not upperclassmen at the time of the alleged incident. A fourth player currently on the team — Damion Barber — was also listed on the lawsuit as a defendant. 

The motion to dismiss claims that neither PSU or Franklin violated any hazing law — not the one on the books at the time of the alleged incident, nor the one signed by Pennsylvania’s governor in October 2018. 

“Even with the benefit of an expanded definition of hazing under the Piazza LAw, Humphries still fails to assert that he was ‘hazed,’ ” the motion to dismiss says. “A person may be guilty of hazing under the Piazza LAw when he ‘forces’ a student to engage in prohibited conduct ‘for the purpose of initiating, admitting or affiliating’ or ‘continuing or enhancing’ a student’s status in an organization. As set forth above, Humprhies’ four classmates cannot have plausibly engaged in any such conduct because they were lower classmen, not ‘upperclassmen.’ ”

Humphries, a freshman on Penn State’s 2018 team, transferred to Cal the following year.

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