The Penn State football program was forever stained by Jerry Sandusky. Even the once-great Joe Paterno's legacy was tarnished forever for the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the college football world in which Sandusky, who for 30 years worked as an assistant coach, was found guilty on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Sandusky is rotting in prison, Paterno died in 2012, and it seemed as if the Penn State Nittany Lions had put all that in the past and turned the page under current head coach James Franklin -- even if an alumni wrote a racist letter criticizing a player's dreadlocks this past season. Despite PSU averaging more than 10 wins per season over the last four NCAA seasons, that doesn't appear to be the case.
Former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries is suing the university, claiming older players routinely hazed younger players with unwanted sexual contact and made threats like "I am going to Sandusky you."
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the lawsuit was filed against Penn State, Franklin and defensive tackle Damion Barber in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Other Nittany Lions players named for hazing allegations are linebackers Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos.
Penn State Hazing Allegations
In the lawsuit, Humphries claims these older players told younger teammates they were going to make them "their b****" and that PSU was a "prison." In addition to threatening lower classmen by saying things like "I am going to f*** you" and "I am going to Sandusky you," Humphries claims upperclassmen initiated unwanted sexual acts and physical attacks in ways such as:
- upperclassmen would wrestle underclassmen to the ground and place their genitals on their faces
- upperclassmen would hold down underclassmen and hold their genitalia to their faces, simulating the action of ejaculation
- an upperclassman would put his penis on the buttocks of underclassman and simulate masturbation, sometimes while showering in the locker room
- upperclassmen would grab underclassmen by their genitals
- upperclassmen made threats in reference to Jerry Sandusky, which Humphries claims took place at football facilities, a dorm and other locations in Centre County.
All of these allegations would obviously violate Penn State University's code of conduct, which states that no form of hazing is allowed.
"The University has established processes in place for responding to claims of potential misconduct," Penn State said in a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "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."
Humphries said he and his father reported the football hazing allegations to Franklin and the coaching staff but nothing was done about it.
However, Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response launched an investigation and found that Barber violated school rules by hazing players on the football team. The player was suspended for the Nittany Lions' first game in 2019 for a "violation of team rules," though it was never reported what rules he broke.
According to The Washington Post, university police turned over results of their investigation to the local district attorney, who declined to prosecute.
Humphries, whose father Leonard Humphries played for Penn State, was a safety for Penn State who came to the school as a three-star recruit in the 2018 class. The former player didn't see any action in 2018 and transferred to California the following season.
According to USA Today, Humphries' attorney is Steven F. Marino of Philadelphia. Marino is also representing a former Penn State team doctor who is suing the team.
Humphries' ex-teammates named in the lawsuit as hazing leaders are some of Penn State's top players. Parsons is one of the top outside linebackers in the country and was the Defensive MVP of the 2019 Cotton Bowl. Gross-Matos was voted All-Big Ten in 2018 and 2019.
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