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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Civil rights attorney Crump set to announce another suit against Northwestern over alleged hazing

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump was set Monday to announce another lawsuit against Northwestern University over hazing allegations in its athletic programs, with the latest suit touted as containing “damning new details” of sexual hazing and abuse in its football program.

Crump and other attorneys were expected to join former Northwestern quarterback Lloyd Yates in discussing the lawsuit’s filing Monday afternoon in Chicago. A news advisory says the complaint will allege “negligence, willful and wanton disregard for player safety and well-being” among other claims.

Yates is among more than 15 men and women who have retained Crump and the Chicago-based Levin & Perconti law to seek damages against Northwestern due to its hazing scandal.

“With damning new details, the complaint provides example after example of the vast, homoerotic and violent nature of the sexual hazing and sexual abuse in the Northwestern football program,” the law firm’s advisory states.

The new suit follows the filing of at least three other lawsuits against Northwestern over the alleged hazing and the firing of football coach Pat Fitzgerald. He was fired after a university investigation found allegations of hazing by 11 current or former players, including “forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature,” said school President Michael Schill.

One lawsuit accuses Fitzgerald of enabling a culture of racism, including forcing players of color to cut their hair and behave differently to be more in line with the “Wildcat Way.”

Fitzgerald, who led Northwestern for 17 seasons and was a star linebacker for the Wildcats, has maintained he had no knowledge of hazing. Fitzgerald said after being fired that he was working with his agent, Bryan Harlan and his lawyer, Dan Webb, to “protect my rights in accordance with the law.”

The hazing allegations have broadened beyond the school’s football program as attorneys said last week that male and female athletes reported misconduct within its baseball and softball programs. They also suggested that sexual abuse and racial discrimination within the football program was so rampant that coaches knew it was happening.

Crump’s advisory for Monday’s news conference states that the suit will identify “one Northwestern football coach who allegedly witnessed the hazing and sexual conduct and failed to report it.”

Northwestern has been added to a long list of American universities to face a scandal in athletics and may eventually join the trend of making large payouts following allegations of sexual abuse.

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips, who has been named as a defendant for two of the lawsuits along with other university leaders in their oversight roles, has said he never “condoned or tolerated inappropriate conduct” against athletes while he was Northwestern’s athletics director.

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