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Former Blue Band Majorette Sues Penn State For Harassment & Bullying By Former Coach

A former Penn State Blue Band majorette is suing the university for failing to protect her from alleged harassment and bullying endured by former majorette coach Heather Bean.

Kaitlyn Wassel, a 2022 graduate and former Blue Band majorette, filed a complaint Wednesday stating Penn State did nothing to prevent Bean from bullying, fat-shaming, and harassing Wassel during her career as a majorette from 2018 to 2022 which led her to attempt suicide. Wassel is accusing the university of Title IX and Equal Protection Clause violations.

The complaint stated several majorettes filed complaints with Blue Band Director Dr. Gregory Drane and the Title IX and Ethics offices before and during Wassel’s majorette career to no avail.

According to the complaint, Bean forced Wassel to wear a uniform that was too small to encourage weight loss.

“Although the team had a seamstress, Bean prohibited Kaitlyn and other majorettes she viewed as large or heavy from having their uniforms, purposefully chosen by Bean to be ill-fitting, alternated or exchanged so they would fit,” the complaint read. “Bean weaponized Kaitlyn’s uniform fit to humiliate and embarrass her for not being thin or small.”

Despite Wassel growing four inches, she wasn’t allowed to swap her uniform throughout her four years on the team, the complaint said. The former majorette ultimately developed an eating disorder as a result.

Bean’s reported harassment continued when Wassel was sexually assaulted by a student on campus and reached out to Bean for assistance to report the incident, but the coach instead called Wassel a “slut” and “whore,” despite her role as a mandated reporter, according to the complaint. Bean also allegedly blamed a team lice infestation on Wassel because she was a “whore.”

Bean reportedly continued to bully Wassel by telling her the rest of the majorette team “hated her” and “didn’t want her there,” and Bean only organized team photos for when Wassel wasn’t present, among other harassment over four years.

Wassel attempted to commit suicide in the spring of 2021, which required hospitalization, and she needs treatment and medication for panic attacks, insomnia, and intrusive thoughts today.

Despite a formal complaint filed regarding Bean’s leadership, the university couldn’t corroborate the letter because of a lack of witnesses. Penn State later shared it couldn’t discipline Bean because she resigned unprompted.

Wassel is seeking compensatory damages in the filing.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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