Scripps News spoke with attorney Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit against former Northwestern University head football coach Pat Fitzgerald and other Northwestern school leaders.
The lawsuit alleges Fitzgerald knew of and enabled hazing that "included forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature, in clear violation of Northwestern policies and values."
Crump told Scripps News his firm represented "13 former college athletes at Northwestern University who were victims of hazing and physical assault, and some of them sexual assault, that we believe stemmed from the culture that existed at Northwestern University. We want to try to set a precedent where this is not allowed at other universities."
"It was civil rights [abuse] in the purest sense," Crump said. "They were forced to participate in humiliating activities that were both physically abusive and severely psychologically traumatic."
Crump said some plaintiffs said they had been subject to abuse as much as 10 years prior. He said some of those involved were minors at the time.
"The coaches knew that there was a culture that existed of this hazing and this humiliation, this retaliation, as well as this sexual abuse that was going on. It's hard to fathom that coaches didn't know what was going on in their own programs," he said.
The lawsuit comes a week after Fitzgerald was fired, following additional allegations of hazing that were published in Northwestern's student newspaper.
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