Former football player sues Penn State, James Franklin over alleged hazing


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) – A former Penn State football player has filed a federal lawsuit that accuses coaches of retaliating when he reported hazing by teammates.

Isaiah Humphries is seeking unspecified financial damages in the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania. His lawsuit names Penn State University, head football coach James Franklin, and former teammate Damion Barber as defendants.

Humphries alleges upperclassmen including Barber, Micah Parsons, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jesse Luketa “collectively orchestrated, participated in, directed and or facilitated a campaign to harass and haze lowerclassmen members” of the football team as a form of initiation.

Humphries claims he and others were wrestled to the ground by the upperclassmen who then simulated a humping action or other sexual acts, placed their genitals on his face, and threatened to “Sandusky” him.

Humphries alleges members of the coaching staff saw hazing incidents in the football locker room on multiple occasions. He said his father, a former Penn State football and NFL player, also reported the behavior to Franklin and other coaches, but no action was taken to prevent it.

In retaliation, Humphries says coaches required him to participate in athletic drills designed to ensure his failure, used his performance to deny him game time, sought to remove him from the team, and provided negative reviews to other colleges when he decided to leave Penn State.

Other Penn State players conspired to instill fear and anxiety, and Luketa threatened that if Humphries ever visited “his city,” he would make sure Humphries was gunned down upon his arrival, the lawsuit states.

Penn State’s office of sexual misconduct prevention and response investigated an anonymous complaint of hazing in the football program in May. The findings were submitted to the office of student conduct, which sanctioned Barber after determining he committed prohibited behavior, according to the lawsuit.

In a statement, Penn State said the office of sexual misconduct prevention and response and the office of student conduct carried out investigations of Humphries’ claims independent from intercollegiate athletics.

In addition, Penn State police investigated related allegations and forwarded the results of that investigation to the Centre County district attorney’s office. The DA reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued, the university said.

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