williams — A former Penn State football player claims that in 2018 he was subjected to hazing and harassment by four teammates an average of two to three times a week for nine months.
According to our news gathering partners at Penn Live, Isaiah Humphries makes the allegations in an amended complaint — his third — that was filed Friday in U.S. Middle District Court in his lawsuit against the university, coach James Franklin and former teammate Damion Barber.
Judge Matthew W. Brann had threatened to dismiss the case if an amended complaint was not filed by Friday that addressed defects in the earlier complaints.
Unlike the earlier complaints, this one details Humphries’ accusations against teammates Micah Parsons, Yetur Gross-Matos, Jesse Luketa and Barber. Only Barbour is a defendant in the case.
Humphries, who transferred to the University of California after the 2018 season, says in the lawsuit that he has “record evidence” documenting that he was victimized by Parsons on March 26, 2018 in the Morgan Academic Center on campus.
He also claims to have evidence of being victimized by Gross-Matos on Feb. 18, 2018, in the Beaver Hall room of a female student-athlete and of another football player being hazed and harassed by Barbour on March 29, 2018, in the Lasch Building.
His alleged June 14, 2018, hazing by Barber and Luketa was heard by his father, Leonard, because it occurred while he was talking with him by phone, the complaint states.
The revised complaint also details what Humphries contends was inaction by coaches when he and his father told them he was being targeted by Barber, Parsons, Gross-Matos and Luketa.
He cites assistant coach Timothy Banks telling him in April 2018 to be ready in the classroom and the field the next day with no more drama.
The lawsuit claims that assistant coach Terry Smith, after being told about the hazing and threats from Luketa responded by telling Humphries he needed to stop acting as if he was affluent, refined and sophisticated.
The suit claims in June 2018 the alleged hazing twice was reported to Franklin, first by Humphries’ father and then by Humphries. It also was reported to an assistant coach, the document states.
That assistant, Dwight Gault, responded “that boys will be boys” and Humphries should “man up,” the complaint says.
Humphries accuses Franklin and the coaching staff of retaliating against him for reporting the hazing by:
The new court filing says the following incident occurred on March 26, 2018
Humphries was awakened by Parsons throwing water on him in the Morgan Academic Center and responded by throwing a bottle of Gatorade back. Parsons then punched Humphries in the face with a close fist, grabbed hold of his neck and began choking him, the filing claim. Fearful he would be unable to defend himself, Humphries brandished a knife, the complaint says. Neither player suffered substantial injury. Humphries says he told Franklin about the incident and his fear of Parsons later that day. He said the coach’s response was that he expected players on his team to fistfight and take a beating rather than brandish a knife.
During a meeting in the Lasch building with Franklin and members of his staff two days later, the coach is alleged to have told Humphries “you should have just gotten your ass beat and not pulled a knife.”
Humphries claimed he was punished in the form of additional workouts dubbed the “dawn patrol,” according to the court complaint.
As the result of the university placing Parsons on conduct probation from May 21 through Dec. 31, 2018, Humphries claims Barber, Gross-Matos and Luketa orchestrated a concerted effort to ostracize him from the society of the football team, the complaint states
In an effort to overcome Penn State’s contention that universities do not owe adult students a duty of care absent exceptional circumstances not present in this case, Humphries cites comments by Franklin during the recruiting process. They include statements referring to the team as family and a promise to do his best to protect his safety and welfare and advance his academic and athletic careers.
Humphries has said in court filings that the reason he transferred was that he was unable to defend himself against the harassment and hazing by certain players and unwilling to withstand the inaction and retaliation of the coaching staff.
He alleges in the complaint that Barber, Parsons, Gross-Matos and did the following to him and certain other players:
Humphries claims he was referred to as “this is Jerry” in reference to former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who was convicted of child sex abuse.
Barber, a Harrisburg resident who transferred to Austin Peay earlier this year, has in court documents likened what happened to Humphries as locker room horseplay.