Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said Thursday that a criminal investigation conducted in April 2019 does not substantiate allegations made this week by a former player of hazing within the Penn State football program.
“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,” Cantorna said at a brief news conference at Centre County Courthouse. “Based on that review, criminal charges have not been filed. These are very serious allegations. If there are individuals who have information regarding them they can contact the Centre County detective and the Centre County district attorney’s office.”
On Monday, former Nittany Lions player Isaiah Humphries filed a federal lawsuit against the university, coach James Franklin and ex-teammate Damion Barber. The suit alleges that Humphries was subject to hazing brought on by Barber, linebacker Micah Parsons, defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and linebacker Jesse Luketa and that the coaching staff was aware of it and did not protect Humphries.
The allegations include instances when the named players collectively orchestrated, directed and facilitated a campaign to harass and haze underclassmen on the team. The hazing alleged in the suit includes the participants stating that they intended to make the underclassmen “their b—- because this is a prison.” The participants allegedly referenced former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky — who is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term for sexually abusing children — by saying, “I am going to Sandusky you.”
The alleged actions included wrestling underclassmen to the ground while maintaining restraint, simulating a “humping” action; wrestling underclassmen to the ground while another participant placed his genitals on the face of underclassmen; and instances of the participants placing their genitals on the buttocks of the alleged victims and stroking their genitalia.
Penn State released a statement Tuesday, making note of its own investigation into the allegations and emphasizing that charges were not filed.
“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,” the school said. “In addition, Penn State police investigated related allegations and forwarded the results of that investigation to the Office of the Centre County District Attorney. The DA reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued.”
When asked for comment on the allegations involving Franklin, a Penn State representative told ESPN that “based on extensive interviews, we did not learn of any information that would substantiate the claims.”
When asked for comment regarding the hazing allegations, the representative said “no claims of hazing were substantiated against anyone.”
Cantorna said his office received the report in April 2019 and the investigation was conducted along with the Penn State police.
“The investigation into those allegations was undertaken,” he said. “Witnesses were identified who would have knowledge or evidence and information regarding those events. Police interviewed those witnesses along with other university students and staff. These investigative reports have been reviewed by our office.”