The lawsuit was filed against the school by Isaiah Humphries and his family. Humphries is a defensive back who accepted a scholarship to the university in 2018. While he was enrolled at the school, he claims that the upperclassmen players—led by standout players Damion Barber, Micah Parsons, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jesse Luketa—orchestrated the hazing of younger athletes.
Per the lawsuit, the older players treated the locker room like a "prison." They allegedly made the incoming players their "bitch," and would reportedly subject the younger athletes to sexual hazing, telling them that they were "going to fuck" them. They even referenced disgraced Penn State coach and convicted rapist, Jerry Sandusky, in their threats by saying "I'm going to Sandusky you."
According to the suit, the hazing wasn't just verbal. Humphries claims that players would hold younger classmen down against their will while another player would "present his penis close to the face of the lower classman and stroke his genitalia simulating the action of ejaculation." Some upperclassmen would put their penis on the "buttocks" of lowerclassmen and "stroke and again simulate masturbation." Often times, the player would be naked. They also reportedly grabbed lower classmen by the genitals.
Humphries and his father say they reported the hazing to head coach James Franklin and other Penn State coaches. They accuse the coaching staff of not taking the complaints seriously and even retaliating against Humphries for reporting the incidents. He eventually transferred schools before filing the lawsuit.
When the school learned of the lawsuit in April of 2019, it launched an investigation into the football operations. According to the local NBC-affiliate, players on the team were interviewed by Penn State. They claimed that it was merely locker room horseplay that was blown out of proportion by Humphries because he was looking for a "quick transfer." One of the players even took to a lie detector test that he passed.
Humphries is suing the school, Franklin and Barber for "negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress," while Barber is being sued for assault and battery.
Penn State released a statement regarding the suit. "The University has established processes in place for responding to claims of potential misconduct," the statement reads. "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."