Penn State University, football coach James Franklin and player Damion Barber are being sued by a former player who claims he was subject to violent hazing while part of the football program.
Ex-player Isaiah Humphries claims the hazing was sexual, including the threat, “I’m going to Sandusky you,’’ according to a complaint filed in U. S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania Monday.
Three other Penn State players, Micah Parsons, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jesse Luketa, were named in the complaint as participants in the alleged hazing.
Matt Miller of Penn Live first reported the news Tuesday.
The 46-page complaint, filed by Humphries’ attorney Steven Marino of Philadelphia, includes claims that players wrestled underclassmen to the ground, placed their genitals on the underclassmen, simulated sexual acts and, among other taunts, told the underclassmen they, “wanted to make them their bitch because this is a prison.’’
Humphries’ attorney, Marino, also represents former Penn State team doctor Scott Lynch, who filed a lawsuit against the university and Franklin in August of last year.
“This wasn’t just kids playing around in a locker room,’’ Marino said Tuesday in an interview with KDKA radio in Pittsburgh.
“It was pervasive, it was emasculating, it was misconduct, and this kid was not protected.’’
Barber, who had been a teammate of Parsons at Harrisburg High School, was suspended for a violation of team rules for Penn State’s 2019 season opener with Idaho.
Humphries, a defensive back, was part of Penn State’s recruiting class of 2018. Although the suit refers repeatedly to abuse of “underclassmen,’’ Parsons and Luketa were also members of the class of 2018.
A former Penn State football team physician is claiming in a lawsuit that football coach Jam…
Humphries’ father, Leonard, played football and Penn State and spent one year in the NFL.
The lawsuit claims the hazing was witnessed by coaches, who did not intervene. Complaints about it, from Isaiah and Leonard Humphries, to Franklin were ignored, the suit claims.
The suit further claims that Humphries was forced to participate in punitive drills, “to justify an opinion that (his) performance was not sufficient to award him a game playing opportunity,” Marino wrote.
Humphries left Penn State in December of 2018 and transferred to the University of California. He was one of 22 Penn State players to enter the NCAA transfer portal after the 2018 season.
Humphries sat out this season at California in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
The suit claims Luketa was sanctioned by Penn State’s student conduct office over the summer after he threatened that if Humphries “ever visited ‘his city’ (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), he would make certain that (Humphries) was gunned down upon arrival.’’
In response to the suit, Penn State University issued the following statement Tuesday:
“The university has established processes in place for responding to claims of potential misconduct in accordance with our processes the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and the Office of Student Conduct carried out investigations of the plaintiffs 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 Center County District Attorney. The DA reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued.’’
Penn State made another statement Tuesday evening, saying it conducted extensive interviews as part of an investigation of the hazing allegations.
“No claims of hazing were substantiated against anyone,’’ according to spokesperson Lisa Powers.