UVa Hazing Case Defendants File Official Responses To Civil Suit

Retta Race
by Retta Race 15

September 11th, 2015 ACC, College, News

The five former University of Virginia men’s swim team members involved in the civil lawsuit brought by former teammate Anthony Marcantonio regarding alleged hazing in 2014 have now officially filed responses to the charges.

According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Kyle Dudzinski, Luke Papendick, Charles Rommel, David Ingraham and Jacob Pearce have asked that the case be dismissed from federal court due to failure for the plaintiff to ‘state claims which relief could be granted’, as well as the plaintiff’s failure ‘to provide sufficient facts for most, if not all, of the 10 counts he asserts against them.’

In his statements formally brought forth this past June, Marcantonio detailed several incidents involving a series of hazing activities within the University of Virginia swimming team, some sexual in nature, which he alleged were performed under threat of retaliation from teammates for non-compliance.

Per Marcantonio, he and other first-year swimmers arrived at what is called the “Swim House” and were “blindfolded and subjected to false imprisonment, forced drinking (of beers, liquor, milk and prune juice), verbal abuse, forced sexual contact and a variety of intimidation tactics — including the threat of forced sodomy — at the hands of the five upperclassmen.” (Daily Progress).  Marcantonio claimed that he and others were also “told to chew live goldfish and grab one another’s genitalia” and were asked sexually explicit questions regarding themselves, as well as members of Virginia’s women’s swimming squad.

The defedants’ official responses refute each charge brought against them, indicating that the activities were indeed tradition and a means to welcome new members of the team into its ‘close-knit culture’.  Reads Ingraham’s response to Marcantoio’s claims, “he [Marcantonio] voluntarily incurred those risks through his enthusiastic participation in the events. … He was free to leave at any time. He elected to stay.”  The response continued that the ordeal’s “sole purpose was to enhance the competitive excellence of the team and build the intense esprit de corps necessary for success at the most elite level of college swimming.”

The formal response from Pearce also points to the issue of all being voluntary, reading “The plaintiff voluntarily participated in all events, including consuming a small fish. The plaintiff voluntarily consumed milk and prune juice, filled out a questionnaire with embarrassing questions, answered questions from other swimmers and voluntarily engaged in the events. As a result, plaintiff either assumed the risk, or was contributorily negligent.”

The responses also explain that the team captains specifically stated that the events were optional and any first-year members could simply choose not to participate without fear of any adverse consequences. For example, Ingraham’s states that he “denies being aware of any threat to Marcantonio’s safety, denies ostracizing Marcantonio and denies that Marcantonio’s swim career was destroyed by the defendants.”

Marcantonio was a freshman on the team last year, but has since transferred to Northwestern to continue his career. Several of the five defendants have also transferred to different schools – Luke Papendick and Kyle Dudzinski will compete for Michigan.

Marcantonio’s legal counsel maintains the belief that a jury will find in their client’s favor, fueled by the fact that the University did indeed suspend all five of the swimmers back during the 2014 season, the time in which the alleged incidents occurred.

The trial dates are set for September 19th-23rd in Charlottesville, Virginia. A response to the motions for dismissal will most likely be brought forth by Marcantonio’s camp in the coming weeks.

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I Feel Hazed
8 years ago

Yalls comments and rants are hazing my eyes…

8 years ago

I hope in the wake of this that both high school and college coaches take note. Team building and camaraderie absolutely should not be built around drinking games, vulgarity, and peer pressure. It should be made clear by coaches that a zero tolerance policy exists for this – and hard decisions will probably need to be made to set an example when it happens. Parents – teach your kids better. I tell my kids – when you go out in the world you represent our family, the values we stand for and the parents who raised you. You also represent your club team and the coaches who molded you. You know the right thing to do, please do not cast… Read more »

8 years ago

Judging by all the down votes, it seems like there are a lot of pro-hazing, pro-a**hole swim fans here. How sad. You don’t have to agree with the legal proceedings to recognize how screwed up the five defendants are.

Gina Rhinestone
8 years ago

What chance has a shy person got in swimming at college level? They must suffer enormously at the hands of group brutes like these . Why can’t people let others mix with their group occasionally without owning them & demanding subservience ?

God help you if you are a loner & need a swim scholarship .

8 years ago

its crazy to see all these downvotes for these sensible comments. humanity fails again..

8 years ago

“The sole purpose was to enhance the competitive excellence of the team and build the intense esprit de corps necessary for success at the most elite level of college swimming.” What a load of garbage. Stupid ideas like this are probably one of the reasons why none of us have ever heard of these swimmers. They never got close to being “Elite” because they were too busy eating live goldfish and threatening each other with sodomy. This is the complete opposite of an elite program…..and I say that even though I am a huge fan of the University.

Reply to  Billabong
8 years ago

very well said! ever heard of ryan lochte or MP being even a little rude to anybody? its simply not professinal and doesnt help anybody

8 years ago

I wonder how each school/team is prepared to handle when these athletes cross paths at Big Tens or any other meets?

Reply to  stoobie
8 years ago

I assume they would just avoid each other on deck. Meets (especially Big 10s) should be crowded enough that they can avoid contact.

Gary Teeksy
8 years ago

Under the Virginia anti-hazing statute, the voluntary participation of the victim is no defense. That is the case in most states. These guys just lost their case.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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