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1st lawsuit filed against Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern leaders stemming from a hazing scandal

by Lucas Garcia
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Northwestern Hazing Scandal Lawsuit

The first legal action in relation to a hazing scandal at Northwestern University has been initiated by a former football player. This lawsuit, which targets ex-coach Pat Fitzgerald along with other university officials, originates from alleged incidents that led to Fitzgerald’s dismissal.

John Doe, the plaintiff’s pseudonym used in the case, lodged his complaint at the Cook County Court in Chicago on Tuesday. He accused Fitzgerald, Northwestern University’s President Michael Schill, the board of trustees, and athletic director Derrick Gragg of not only allowing but also covering up instances of sexual abuse and racial discrimination.

John Doe, a member of the university’s football team between 2018 and 2022, is represented by the Salvi Law Firm based in Chicago.

Attorney Parker Stinar, in a conversation with The Big Big News, highlighted that the problem was not limited to a single individual or team. It involved a culture accepted across various sports teams, including both male and female teams, implying a corrupted athletic department.

The lawsuit describes scenarios of naked players in locker rooms coercing freshmen to also undress and perform multiple acts. Fitzgerald is also blamed for fostering a racist culture, pressuring players of color to alter their appearance and behavior to align with the so-called “Wildcat Way.”

Regarding the case, Northwestern spokesperson Jon Yates declined to delve into details due to the ongoing litigation but emphasized the university’s dedication to student welfare and immediate action in response to the hazing complaints in November 2022.

Bryan Harlan, Fitzgerald’s agent, and Dan Webb, Fitzgerald’s lawyer, refused to comment on the matter.

Further legal actions from various law firms representing former football and baseball players, as well as athletes from other sports, are anticipated. The recent disclosures leading to Fitzgerald’s dismissal and the resultant backlash against the university’s initial reaction have prompted at least eight former Northwestern football players to engage lawyers.

Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney, and the Chicago-based Levin & Perconti law firm revealed on Monday that they had discovered numerous instances of abuse within the Northwestern football program. They also indicated that more athletes are planning to join the lawsuit, and the case could extend to other college athletic programs.

A press conference is slated for Wednesday morning in Chicago, which will include Crump, ex-Northwestern athletes, and lawyers from Levin & Perconti. Crump is known for representing the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others in prominent civil rights cases.

Attorney Stinar has represented victims in previous cases of abuse, including those against the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

He expressed his disgust that such conduct persisted into 2022, assuring that those who were complicit or silent will be held accountable.

Northwestern University may eventually join the roster of American universities forced to make substantial payments following accusations of sexual misconduct.

Fitzgerald, who vehemently denies knowledge of the hazing, was terminated following a university investigation that substantiated hazing claims by 11 current or former players. These allegations ranged from enforced participation to sexualized acts of a degrading nature.

After initially being suspended, an article in The Daily Northwestern featured accusations from a former player detailing specific hazing instances and implying that Fitzgerald may have been cognizant of the incidents.

Attorney Stinar condemned Fitzgerald, alleging that he was aware of the sexual harassment, discrimination, and hazing, and allowed it to continue for years.


You can follow Larry Lage on Twitter at https://twitter.com/larrylage


For more on college football: https://bigbignews.net/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Northwestern Hazing Scandal Lawsuit

Who filed the first lawsuit related to the hazing scandal at Northwestern University?

The first lawsuit related to the hazing scandal at Northwestern University was filed by a former football player, referred to as John Doe in the legal documents.

What are the accusations made against Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern University’s leadership in the lawsuit?

The lawsuit accuses Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern University’s President Michael Schill, the board of trustees, and athletic director Derrick Gragg of allowing and covering up incidents of sexual abuse and racial discrimination.

Which law firm is representing the plaintiff in this case?

The plaintiff, identified as John Doe, is being represented by the Chicago-based Salvi Law Firm.

What specific incidents are alleged in the lawsuit?

The lawsuit describes incidents where naked players in locker rooms coerced freshmen to undress and perform various acts. It also alleges that Fitzgerald fostered a culture of racism, forcing players of color to change their hair and behavior to conform to the “Wildcat Way.”

Are more lawsuits expected to follow this one?

Yes, more lawsuits filed by multiple law firms on behalf of former football and baseball players, as well as athletes from other sports, are anticipated to follow.

What actions did Northwestern University take in response to the hazing allegations?

Upon receiving anonymous hazing complaints in November 2022, Northwestern University initiated an immediate investigation with an independent investigator. They have taken several subsequent actions to eradicate hazing from their football program, with further actions expected in the coming weeks.

What was the outcome of the university’s investigation into the hazing allegations?

Following a university investigation, allegations of hazing by 11 current or former players were found to be substantiated. The charges included “forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature.” As a result, Fitzgerald was fired from his position as the football coach.

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