Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said Thursday that an investigation into allegations of hazing by Penn State football players named in a federal lawsuit did not result in the filing of criminal charges.
“As of today’s date, that investigation does not substantiate the serious allegations made,” Cantorna said in a statement he read at his office in Bellefonte, Pa.
“What I mean by that is, that the evidence doesn’t meet the high threshold of filing and proving criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on that review, no charges have been filed.”
Cantorna said the statement was issued to address questions arising from a civil suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg by former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries. He claimed that he was the victim of hazing and harassment, some of it sexually suggestive, by his teammates in 2018, his only year at the university.
Humphries named head coach James Franklin, whom he alleged did nothing to stop the hazing, and defensive tackle Damion Barber as defendants in the lawsuit. He accused three other teammates – linebackers Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos – of taking an active part in the hazing.
Franklin has not commented on the lawsuit.
The alleged harassment included underclassmen’s being told, “We’re going to Sandusky you,” a reference to disgraced former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who is in prison on multiple child sexual-abuse convictions. Humphries charged that the players he named in the suit would wrestle other players to the ground and “simulate a humping action” or shove their genitals in the other players’ faces.
The university said in a statement that its police department forwarded results of its investigation into the claims to the District Attorney’s Office. Cantorna said his office was notified in April 2019 of “serious allegations of crimes of a sexual nature” taking place in the Lasch Football Building and looked further into them.
“Witnesses were identified who had knowledge or evidence or information regarding those events,” Cantorna said. “Police interviewed those witnesses along with other university students and staff.”
After reviewing reports of the investigation, Cantorna decided no charges would be filed. But he did not completely close the book on the matter, saying that anyone with information regarding the allegations could call his office.
“These are very serious allegations,” he said.
The university said its Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and the Office of Student Conduct investigated Humphries’ claims independent of the athletic department. It said, “No claims of hazing were substantiated against anyone.”