Swim team hazing lawsuit reaches settlement

Marcantonio withdraws some allegations, defendants apologize for hardship

nsafchazinglhornsby

Former swimmer and University student Anthony Marcantonio filed the suit in response to alleged hazing activities that took place during the summer of 2014 when he was a first-year on the swim team.

Lauren Hornsby | Cavalier Daily

Former members of the University swim team reached a settlement in their hazing lawsuit March 28.

Former swimmer and University student Anthony Marcantonio filed the suit in response to alleged hazing activities that took place during the summer of 2014 when he was a first-year on the swim team.

Marcantonio has since transferred to Northwestern University.

The suit alleged that Marcantonio was forced to participate in activities such as eating a live fish, drinking large quantities of alcohol and touching another team members genitals in an “elephant walk” during the swim team’s “Welcome Week.”

The allegations include charges of assault, battery, false imprisonment, tortious interference with contractual relations, hazing and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The defendants — Kyle Dudzinski, Luke Papendick, Charles Rommel, David Ingraham and Jacob Pearce — deny liability in the allegations brought forward by Marcantonio’s suit.

In a joint statement released by the defendants March 28, the defense maintained their innocence, but admitted that the events of Welcome Week included inappropriate activities.

“The defendants’ actions during the Welcome Week tradition were never intended to harm the plaintiff in this matter or cause distress to him or anyone else,” the joint statement reads. “Nevertheless, the defendants acknowledge that the Welcome Week experience caused the plaintiff hardship and for that the defendants apologize.”

As part of the settlement, Marcantonio withdrew several allegations from the suit.

Among the changes were that the plaintiff was not required to consume alcohol, the plaintiff was not subject to sexual assault or battery and no items were stolen for a scavenger hunt.

The defendants maintain that the Welcome Week activities were voluntary.

“Before Welcome Week began on August 27, 2014, the team captains … told the first-year members of the team about Welcome Week and assured them that participation in the upcoming activities was voluntary in terms of whether they drank alcohol or ate the fish,” the joint statement said.

The joint statement notes that the defendants claim the swim team captains — Dudzinski and Papendick — invited the first-years to come to them if they had any concerns about the activities, although Marcantonio denies this, according to the joint statement.

The joint statement also mentions a University Judiciary Committee investigation into whether Dudzinski had violated the University’s Standards of Conduct against hazing and intentionally or recklessly threatening the health or safety of another.

“After a hearing on March 23, 2015, the UJC found that [Dudzinski] was not guilty of either hazing or intentionally or recklessly threatening the safety of another,” the joint statement read.

The defendants maintain they entered the settlement “solely to avoid further unnecessary litigation costs.”

According to the statement, the terms of the settlement are confidential and nothing further will be said or written by the parties except for what was in the statement and what is expressly allowed in the settlement.

related stories