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Former Fencer Sues Penn State Coach Wes Glon For Alleged Abuse

Zara Moss, a former Penn State fencer, is suing Penn State and its fencing coach, Wes Glon, after Glon and the university allegedly neglected abuse toward female fencers within the program.

The suit, filed on Monday in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania, accused Penn State of violating Title IX guidelines and neglecting to meaningfully investigate reports of abuse within the fencing program. Glon, meanwhile, is accused of subjecting female fencers, including Moss, to physical, verbal, and psychological abuse.

Moss, who arrived at Penn State during the 2017-18 academic year, says Glon regularly criticized her appearance and levied sex-based insults in her direction “at every opportunity.” Court documents allege that Glon physically assaulted her when he made her fence “without equipment” and struck her as she “sobbed and pleaded with him to stop.”

The federal lawsuit also alleges that Robert Boland, Penn State’s athletic integrity officer, acknowledged similar reports received about Glon’s conduct but did not seriously investigate claims of abuse.

“Wes’s conduct towards women fencers was no secret,” the lawsuit reads. “Penn State athletic directors and administrators knew about or had observed Wes’s egregious behavior towards female fencers. But Wes’s prestige, influence, and connections were more important to Penn State than protecting its athletes.”

Following abuse suffered within the program, Moss now says she suffers from an eating disorder, body dysmorphia, as well as panic attacks and general anxiety, according to court documents.

As a sophomore, according to court documents, Moss underwent an operation on her ankle and gained weight during her recovery, which was stunted when she was coerced into a quick return. Later, Glon allegedly said she performed “better when she was skinny.” The suit claims Glon only commented on female student-athletes’ weights.

Glon also suggested that Moss “needed a boyfriend” when her performance suffered following his alleged abuse. He also accused her of faking injuries, including chronic wrist and leg pain that was later diagnosed as chronic compartment syndrome — a documented condition that worsens when athletes engage in intense and repeated exercises.

Following her diagnosis, university doctors warned Moss that she could sustain permanent nerve damage if her condition was left untreated. Glon, meanwhile, allegedly said she was cleared to practice.

Moss returned to Boland, Penn State’s athletic integrity officer, to report misconduct in April 2021, according to court documents. She was asked to provide other names to “corroborate her reports.” As a result, the suit says, Glon allegedly suspended one named individual for lying about injuries. He told the team that the allegedly suspended fencer had quit on their own power.

According to her lawsuit, Moss claims Boland nor the university contacted her again.

Following abuse allegedly sustained at Penn State, Moss “will likely never fence competitively again.” The suit claims she had “a clear path” to the Olympics but now can’t pick up a saber without having a panic attack.

“After fencing for Penn State, Zara did not know who she was anymore,” court documents read. “In short, Zara’s two loves — fencing and Penn State — broke her.”

Through the lawsuit, Moss seeks monetary damages that would be determined through a trial. The suit also asks the court to order Penn State to perform “a thorough investigation” into Glon’s past and current treatment of female fencers within the program.

In November, Glon was reinstated following an unrelated interim suspension. He was accused of allegedly failing to report sexual misconduct allegations levied against a former assistant coach.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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