James Franklin

Penn State football coach James Franklin 

STATE COLLEGE — A former Penn State football player says in a lawsuit filed Monday that he was violently hazed by four teammates and head coach James Franklin allowed the hazing to continue.

Isaiah Humphries, who left Penn State's program in November 2018 and transferred to the University of California, claims he and other teammates were harassed by upperclassmen during their time on campus. He filed the suit on Monday in U.S. Middle District Court in Harrisburg.

Penn State University, Franklin and Damion Barber, a current Penn State player, are named as defendants in the suit. The lawsuit also names current Penn State players Micah Parsons, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jesse Luketa for hazing Humphries.

Penn State University released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

“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.”

The suit alleges that Barber, Parsons, Gross-Matos and Luketa "collectively orchestrated, participated in, directed and or facilitated a campaign to harass and haze lower classmen members" of the team, including Humphries.

The suit claims the upperclassmen told the younger players "I am going to Sandusky you," in reference to former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted on dozens of counts of rape and sexual abuse. The suit claims Barber, Parsons, Luketa and Gross-Matos would wrestle players to the ground and place their genitals on the underclassmen's bodies.

Franklin, the suit alleges, acted "negligently, carelessly, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly and breached the duty of care owed" to Humphries by permitting the hazing and failing to protect the players.

The suit was filed by attorney Steven Marino.

Page 26 of the 55-page lawsuit states Penn State University’s Office on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response “undertook a formal investigation in connection with the May 22, 2019, report of incidents of prohibited conduct.”

The lawsuit states Penn State University Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response employee Yvette Wilson investigated the May 22, 2019, report and submitted the results of the investigation “for review and processing as appropriate.”

Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct charged Barber, and page 27 states Barber “was determined by the Pennsylvania State University Office of Student Conduct to have committed prohibited behavior in violation of the Pennsylvania State University Student Code of Conduct and sanctioned.”

Humphries’ lawsuit alleges the hazing was reported to Franklin and others on Penn State’s coaching staff and “no substantive action was taken by defendant James Franklin or other members of the coaching staff to prevent it.”

It also claims neither Franklin nor other Penn State football coaching staff members “reported the prohibited conduct to the appropriate individuals of offices.”

Humphries is the son of former Penn State defensive back Leonard Humphries.

Bill Bowman writes for The (Sunbury) Daily Item, which, like The Meadville Tribune, is owned by CNHI. Elton Hayes reports on Penn State University for CNHI.

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