Former member accuses teammates of hazing

Original: The Cavalier Daily August 15, 2015

The lawsuit filed by a former University student and swim team member who alleges he was hazed by other members of the team has been scheduled for trial in September 2016.

This is an unusually long wait for a trial, University Law Professor John Jeffries said, but could be attributed to the judge’s discretion.

“It seems to me unusually long,” he said. “There must be some factors that the judge thinks justifies the delay.”

The former student, Anthony Marcantonio, reported in the suit filed this summer that he and other first-year swimmers were subjected to a number of hazing activities, including false imprisonment, forced drinking of beer, liquor, milk and prune juice, verbal abuse and forced sexual contact all under the threat of retaliation for noncompliance.

The suit names his former teammates Kyle Dudzinski, Luke Papendick, Charles Rommel, David Ingraham and Jacob Pearce as defendants, listing their actions “outrageous and intolerable.” The five men were suspended from the swim team for the fall semester on Oct. 22 due to violations of University policy and athletic department rules.

The University addressed its investigation last fall in a statement to The Cavalier Daily, saying it looked into all claims against the defendants and subsequently created new educational programs.

“The University took prompt action to provide support services to the affected students, review the conduct, and impose discipline for violations of University policy and athletic department codes of conduct,” the statement read. “The University also implemented additional educational programming related to the issues of hazing and enhanced monitoring of team conduct to assure the effectiveness of these measures.”

The University is unable to release specifics of the individual punishments because of federal law, according to the statement.

The suit against the five students also claims that first years were told to chew live goldfish, grab one another’s genitalia and frequently asked sexually explicit questions about themselves and members of the University’s women’s swim team. One of the first-years allegedly suffered an eye injury when a glass bottle was smashed on the ground.

First-year swimmers also received threatening and derogatory emails from a joint account the defendants created under the username, “Mr. Mean,” according to the suit. It also claims that emails directed the first years to go on a scavenger hunt where they were told to steal things from another teammate, a retail store and the University.

The men’s swimming coach, Augie Busch, and Dean of Students Allen Groves were both informed of the hazing by Sept. 9, the suit says — once the defendants discovered Marcantonio went forward with his testimony, they “ostracized and threatened” him. Busch then asked Marcantonio to swim only when the other team members were not present as he could not guarantee his physical safety.

Marcantonio later voided his contract with the team and left University. According to the suit, his swim career was “destroyed.” He has since transferred and now swims for Northwestern University.

Marcantonio is seeking punitive damages from the defendants in addition to suing them on counts of assault, battery, false imprisonment, hazing, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference with a contract and two counts of conspiracy to commit these acts.

Pearce and Rommel continued swimming with the University after their suspensions and made career-best times at the ACC championship meet. Dudzinski, Ingraham and Papendick did not continue swimming with University but Dudzinski and Papendick have both transferred to the University of Michigan and will swim with the team there.

Marcantonio, Busch and defendants could not be reached for comment.

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