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Former Penn State Football Player Accuses James Franklin, Players Of Hazing In Lawsuit

Update 5:15 p.m.: Penn State spokesperson Lisa Powers said that the university conducted “extensive interviews” regarding the allegations against James Franklin, and the university didn’t learn “any information that would substantiate” those claims. Powers also said that “no claims of hazing were substantiated against anyone” in this case.

Additionally, Powers wouldn’t confirm the exact reason for Damion Barber’s one-game suspension, which he served against Idaho on August 31, She said that discipline for individual students is “generally confidential” based on US federal law.

Update 3:30 p.m.: Penn State has released a statement in response to Isaiah Humphries’ lawsuit, which you can read below:

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 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.  

Penn State University

Original Story: Former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries filed a federal lawsuit against Penn State, head coach James Franklin, and defensive lineman Damion Barber for alleged hazing Monday.

Defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and linebackers Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa were also named in the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday. The lawsuit accuses them of “collectively orchestrating, participating in, directing, and/or facilitating a campaign to harass and haze lowerclassmen members of the Penn State football team.” Humphries transferred to Cal last offseason.

Penn State’s Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response investigated the case, and Damion Barber was punished as a result. The lawsuit doesn’t specify exactly how Barber was punished, but he missed the Nittany Lions’ week one contest against Idaho due to a violation of team rules.

The lawsuit’s accusations include the four players performing sexual acts in the locker room and saying things like “I am going to fuck you,” “I am going to Sandusky you,” and “This is Jerry.” Additionally, Humphries said the upperclassmen intended on making him and other new players “their bitch because this is a prison.”

All of the reported hazing in the lawsuit, which also includes actions such as stealing underclassmen’s clothing, took place in the Lasch Building, on-campus dorms, or “other places in Centre County,” according to the lawsuit.

Other players on the team allegedly “conspired to instill anxiety, fear, and panic” in Humphries as retaliation for reporting the hazing. Luketa allegedly threatened to have Humphries shot and killed if he ever entered “his city” in Canada.

Humphries claims that this hazing directly caused him to transfer to Cal. According to the lawsuit, the safety reported the players’ actions to James Franklin, but the head coach and members of his staff failed to report it and took “no substantive action…to prevent it.”

Humphries also alleges a series of retaliation efforts from the coaching staff as a result of his complaints. Such efforts included his athletic performance being “overly and unfairly scrutinized,” him being denied “necessary medical accommodations” for anxiety and narcolepsy, and the staff giving negative reviews to prospective colleges recruiting Humphries once he decided a transfer.

Additionally, the suit suggests the staff pushed to remove Humphries from the program with the excuse of a medical retirement.

We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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