Settlement Reached in UVa Swim Team Hazing Lawsuit - Higher Education

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Settlement Reached in UVa Swim Team Hazing Lawsuit

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by Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ― A former University of Virginia swim team member and five upperclassmen who he said subjected him to hazing have reached a confidential settlement that withdraws some of the more egregious allegations, according to a statement issued Tuesday by attorneys.

The agreement resolves a federal lawsuit that was filed in U.S. District Court by Anthony Marcantonio in June 2015 after he said the five subjected him and other incoming team members to hazing during the start of the 2014-15 academic year.

Full terms of the agreement were not released. The five issued an apology.

Marcantonio said he was ostracized by the team when he reported the hazing to his coach and administrators. He ultimately left U.Va.

Besides Marcantonio’s lawyers, the statement announcing the resolution was issued by attorneys for former U.Va. swim team members Kyle Dudzinski, Luke Papendick, Charles Rommel, David Ingraham and Jacob Pearce.

Although the five denied many of the more serious allegations spelled out in Marcantonio’s lawsuit, they acknowledged in the statement that they participated in a swim team tradition at U.Va. that “included inappropriate words and actions.”

Among the allegations that Marcantonio spelled out in his lawsuit and the defendants denied:

  • He was forced to drink alcohol; instead, he consumed 2 gallons of a nonalcoholic beverage.
  • He was subjected to sexual assault or sexual battery.
  • He was locked in a bathroom.

Marcantonio also said he was forced to eat a live goldfish and subjected to sexually explicit questions. Neither of those claims was withdrawn, according to the statement.

In his lawsuit, Marcantonio said he was brought to an off-campus address known as the “swim club” where he and other first-year students were subjected to hazing during the team’s “Welcome Week” at the start of the semester.

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The tradition ended in the wake of Marcantonio’s lawsuit. The five upperclassmen said their actions were not intended to “harm the plaintiff in this matter or cause distress to him or anyone else,” the statement said.

“Nevertheless, the defendants acknowledge that the Welcome Week experience caused the plaintiff hardship and for that the defendants apologize,” the statement added.

The five also said that the activities that Marcantonio and others were subjected to were “voluntary in terms of whether they drank alcohol or ate the fish.”

The two sides parted ways on whether Marcantonio was subjected to threats or harassment. He claims he was; they deny it. The five denied any liability as a result of their actions.

Attorneys for both sides said full terms of the agreement will remain confidential and they would have no more to say about it.

A spokesman for U.Va., Anthony P. de Bruyn, said the university would have no comment.

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