(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — A former member of the University of Virginia men’s swimming team filed a lawsuit against five teammates, claiming he feared for his life because their hazing was so extreme.
Anthony Marcantonio, 19, left the team over what he claims was horrific hazing.
“Systemic, threatening, degrading, humiliating and violent hazing” by upperclassmen cost him his swim career at the university, according to Marcantonio’s lawsuit, which was filed June 22 in federal court in Charlottesville.
The suit claims the upperclassmen berated and assaulted Marcantonio and other new team members in August 2014, during a period known as “Welcome Week.” One of the new team members allegedly sustained an eye injury during the activities, and allegedly told by one of the upperclassmen to lie if questioned about the injury, according to the lawsuit.
“They threatened him with sexual violence of a very awful variety,” attorney John Markham said. “They were locked into a bathroom and told to drink vast quantities of alcohol. They were imprisoned in the bathroom.”
The team’s head coach, Auggie Busch, questioned Marcantonio after learning of the alleged hazing, according to the lawsuit, but the documents allege that when teammates found out, they saw Marcantonio as “a rat,” and “from that time forward, [the] plaintiff’s swim career at UVA was ruined.”
After the alleged hazing was reported, UVA suspended the upper classmen for the rest of the semester, and none of them ever rejoined the team, with two transferring to different schools, according to the university.
One of the parents of the upperclassmen told ABC News on behalf of all the defendants that they have not yet been served so they can’t comment on the suit.
“These issues are not new,” the parent, requesting anonymity, said. “They were internally investigated by the University of Virginia and handled appropriately.”
The university told ABC News in a statement that it investigated the allegations and “took prompt action to provide support service to the affected students.”
The lawsuit is seeking damages of more than $75,000, but the exact amount has not been disclosed. Marcantonio’s attorney says the suit is intended to prevent hazing and ensure student-athletes never have to live in fear.
Marcantonio has since transferred to Northwestern University and joined the men’s swimming team there.
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