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Former Penn State player sues James Franklin and school over alleged hazing

Isaiah Humphries redshirted at Penn State in 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Former Penn State and current Cal defensive back Isaiah Humphries has filed a federal lawsuit against Penn State, coach James Franklin and defensive tackle Damion Barber over allegations of hazing.

Humphries said in his suit filed Monday in federal court that multiple allegations of hazing were reported to Penn State’s coaching staff and that nothing happened. The suit also names Micah Parsons, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jesse Luketa and said the three players “electively orchestrated, participated in, directed and or facilitated a campaign to harass and haze lower classmen members of the Penn State football team including the plaintiff.”

Penn State said Tuesday that it was unable to substantiate any of the allegations in a prior investigation into Humphries’ claims.

Statements from the players named allegedly included “I am going to f--- you” and “I am going to Sandusky you.” The latter is, of course, an alleged reference to former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who is serving a prison sentence on child sexual abuse charges. 

The suit alleges, among other things, that participants in the alleged harassing would place their genitals in the faces of players who were pinned to the floor. 

“On multiple occasions, members of the Pennsylvania State University football team coaching staff observed the harassment and hazing which the plaintiff and other lowerclassmen were being subjected to in the football locker room,” the suit said. You can view it in full here.

“On multiple occasions, the plaintiff reported to members of the Pennsylvania State University football team coaching staff that he and other lower classmen were being subjected to harassment and hazing in the football locker room.”

It also says that the coaching staff ignored the allegations when they were reported.

“Despite the harassment and hazing which was occurring in the football locker room having been reported to defendant coach James Franklin and other members of the Pennsylvania State University football team coaching staff no substantive action was taken by defendant James Franklin or other members of the coaching staff to prevent it.”

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Humphries’ attorney is Steven Marino. Marino is representing a former team doctor in a lawsuit that was filed against the school and names Franklin as a defendant. That August suit on behalf of Dr. Scott Lynch alleges that Franklin pushed Lynch to medically clear players.

Investigation into alleged assaults happened in 2019

Humphries transferred away from Penn State in the fall of 2018. The Texas native was a three-star recruit in Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class.

At the beginning of December, over a year after Humphries said he was transferring, WJAC reported the existence of an investigation into allegations of indecent assaults at the Lasch Building from January 2018 to April 2019. The Lasch Building is named in the suit as a location of the alleged hazing.

From WJAC:

The investigation was primarily fueled, according to a draft police report, by one football player who claimed he was harassed, hazed and assaulted by other players.

Numerous team members, and others associated with the football program, were interviewed and overwhelmingly they disclaimed, or flat out denied the allegations, with most saying it was just locker-room horseplay, or teammates joking around, and they felt that the original complaint came from a player looking for a quick transfer to another school.

No charges were been filed as a result of the investigation and Penn State released a statement citing the lack of charges Tuesday afternoon.

“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 plaintiff’s claims independent from Intercollegiate Athletics,” the statement said. “In addition, Penn State police investigated related allegations and forwarded the results of that investigation to the Office of the Centre County District Attorney. The DA reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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