PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Having just suspended its softball team for hazing, Saint Joseph’s University faces a new federal complaint from a woman who says the abuses she suffered made her suicidal.
Jane Doe, as she is identified in the May 18 complaint, says the Catholic university’s softball team scouted her in high school and that she arrived on campus as a freshman for the fall 2013 with an athletic scholarship.
Team coach Terri Adams and others allegedly assured Doe that the school followed Jesuit traditions, and placed family and schoolwork before softball.
Upperclassmen nevertheless quickly informed Doe of a weeklong hazing rite, a process that commenced with “letters … filled with inappropriate sexually charged harassment and designed to terrorize and intimidate the new members of the team explaining they were ‘scum’ and ‘low level swine’ who must endure the coming harassment in order to be considered actual members of the team.”
Each of the eight angry letters closes with an odd exclamation, such as “I like to twist titties” or “I queef during squats.”
One letter allegedly warned the freshmen to keep the hazing secret. Doe quotes it as saying, “never allow anyone in an authoritative position in the university of your friends know what you are doing or why you are doing it. This is between the softball team and the softball team only!! If you break this trust you will suffer the worst of all consequences. [Head Coach] Terri has sexy facial hair!”
Doe says the grueling seven-day experience involved upperclassmen forcing her to simulate sex with other members of the team, drink Jell-O shots despite the fact alcohol could interact dangerously with her medications, declare her own worthlessness, and “answer sexual questions and tell sexual stories.”
“One particularly degrading act that plaintiff recalls involved calling an upperclassman named by the nickname ‘Jersey Gem’ and performing a sexually lewd dance referred to as a ‘Jersey Turnpike’ in front of this upperclass member of the team,” the complaint says. “The term ‘Jersey Turnpike’ refers to a sexually lewd act involving bending over ‘doggie style’ in front of another person and simulating intercourse.”
The initiation week came to an abrupt halt, however, when the administration found out, according to the complaint.
Despite this development, there was allegedly no formal investigation into the hazing that year.
Doe says Adams actively abetted the team’s conduct by “calling plaintiff ‘Sippy’ and/or ‘Sippy Shit in Pants’ explaining that plaintiff was worthless and was no better than ‘shit in pants.'”
When the next crop of freshmen arrived in 2014, Doe says the upperclassmen informed her and the other sophomores “that their initiation and hazing was picking up where it left off from their freshmen year as the prior year’s initiation had ben interrupted.”
Doe allegedly was anointed with more demeaning names and forced her to again perform simulated sex.
“By the Spring of 2015, the situation at SJU was completely intolerable to plaintiff who was having increased depression and suicidal thoughts,” the complaint says.
Doe allegedly dropped out of school that semester, the same time that news reports about hazing at St. Joseph’s promoted the school to open a formal investigation.
“Teammates and coaches assumed Plaintiff was the source of these reports and Plaintiff began to be retaliated against by members of the team who made threatening comments to her, including threats that members of the team would rip her head off and shove a softball down her throat,” the complaint says.
Doe seeks punitive damages for violations of Title IX, retaliation, negligence, emotional distress, breach of contract and other claims. She is represented by attorney Derek Jokelson.
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