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Investigation did not substantiate Penn State hazing allegations, DA says

Mark Wogenrich
The Morning Call (TNS)
Isaiah Humphries

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – An investigation into hazing allegations within the Penn State football program made by a former player produced no charges, the Centre County District Attorney said.

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna issued a statement Thursday to address the allegations in Isaiah Humphries’ federal hazing lawsuit filed this week. Humphries, a former Penn State player now at the University of California, alleged that he was subjected to physical and verbal hazing and harassment from other players. Humphries also alleged that Penn State head coach James Franklin and other staff members were aware of the hazing but did not take “substantive” action.

Earlier this week, Penn State also said that investigations by two university offices did not substantiate claims against Franklin or the program.

On Thursday, Cantorna said that police interviewed witnesses who were present in the Lasch Football Building at the time of the allegations. Police also interviewed other students and staff members, Cantorna said.

More:Former Penn State football player files hazing lawsuit against James Franklin, other players

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More:Five teens charged with second-degree rape in connection with football hazing incident

Penn State head coach James Franklin leads his team onto the field for an NCAA college football game against Indiana in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Nov.16, 2019. Penn State defeated 34-27. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

That investigation did not “substantiate the serious allegations made,” Cantorna said.

“What I mean by that is, the evidence to date does not meet the high threshold necessary to file criminal charges and prove them beyond a reasonable doubt,” Cantorna said.

Humphries’ suit consists of eight counts, including violation of Pennsylvania’s 2018 anti-hazing law, assault and battery, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Humphries’ suit said that players made sexual references and gestures, wrestled him to the floor and referenced Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach imprisoned for child sexual abuse.

Franklin and current player Damion Barber are named in the suit as defendants, along with the university. Three other players are listed in the suit but not named as defendants.

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Here is Cantorna’s full statement:

It is the policy of the Centre County District Attorney’s Office not to release information concerning ongoing criminal investigations or investigations that resulted in a decision that charges should not be filed. Nonetheless, this statement will briefly address questions arising from the allegations presented in Isaiah Humphries’ recent filing in Federal Court.

As previously reported in the press, in April of 2019 a report was received by the Centre County District Attorney’s Office alleging that serious crimes of a sexual nature had occurred in the Lasch Building. An investigation into these allegations was conducted and witnesses were identified who would have knowledge or evidence regarding the events. Police interviewed these witnesses, along with other university students and staff. These investigative reports have been reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office.

As of today’s date, the investigation does not substantiate the serious allegations made. “What I mean by that,” said District Attorney Bernie Cantorna, “is the evidence to date does not meet the high threshold necessary to file criminal charges and prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.” Based on this review, criminal charges have not been filed. Individuals who have information they wish to report regarding the allegations can contact the Centre County Detective at the District Attorney’s Office.