Penn State football player denies sexual hazing allegations brought against him in lawsuit

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Damion Barber

A Penn State football player accused in a federal lawsuit of sexually hazing a former teammate denied the “broad, bald” allegations lodged against him.

Junior defensive tackle Damion Barber joined coach James Franklin and the university in asking a federal judge to throw out the lawsuit filed by former Nittany Lion Isaiah Humphries.

Humphries alleged Barber was among a group of four players who orchestrated a campaign to haze underclassmen as a form of initiation into the team’s program.

The allegations include Humphries’ former teammates stealing clothes, simulating humping actions, grabbing the genitalia of others and placing their genitals on others while naked in the Lasch Building showers.

Barber “is not aware of, never witnessed any, and did not participate in” any initiation rituals to become or remain a member of the football team, his attorney Anthony De Boef wrote in his response filed Tuesday.

Isaiah Humphries

The allegations outlined in Humphries’ lawsuit were investigated by the university’s sexual misconduct and prevention office, which received an anonymous complaint six months after Humphries transferred to the California Golden Bears.

The complaint was not submitted by Humphries. It was submitted by someone else who reported the “harassment and victimization” of a second football player, Humphries’ attorney Steven Marino said in March.

Barber admitted he was charged with violating the harassment clause laid out in the university’s student conduct policy, but said his actions were not directed at Humphries.

The investigation found Barber did not haze anyone, De Boef wrote in his 20-page response.

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna’s office also investigated Humphries’ claims, but Cantorna said the evidence garnered from that investigation “did not meet the high threshold necessary to file criminal charges and prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.”

James Franklin

Franklin and the university in March asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed because the alleged hazing was carried out by the “least senior members” of the team and was not facilitated by either Franklin or the university.

The 10-count lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages.