CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s a hazing cover-up at Wheaton College.
That’s the allegation in a lawsuit filed Friday against the Christian school and members of the football team.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the victim’s attorney claims the cover-up started with the head coach.
“The focus of the lawsuit is the culpability of Wheaton College,” says attorney Terry Ekl who represents the alleged victim.
Six months after five former Wheaton College football players were charged with felonies for an alleged hazing incident, they and Wheaton College are now on the civil hot seat.
The school and four of the five players are named in this lawsuit, filed by alleged hazing victim Charles Nagy.
It describes the graphic nature of the alleged incident and blames Wheaton College for letting it happen.
“There is a culture of hazing at Wheaton College that’s been going on for decades,” says Ekl. “Everybody knows about it, including the football coaches. And they encourage it.”
The lawsuit alleges head coach Mike Swider deliberately tried to cover it up.
Within a day after Nagy was bound with duct tape, thrown in a car, assaulted and dumped in an off-campus field.
“He had the players responsible together, coordinate their stories and to begin to try to talk Nagy out of pursuing this matter. And we can prove those things,” says Ekl.
Wheaton College spokesperson Latonya Taylor says “we strongly deny that the college has allowed a permissive environment of hazing or violence, and are confident that it will not be found to have legal responsibility.”
She stresses a committment to Christ-centered education.
“I think they’re hypocrites,” says Ekl.
Ekl says he is currently in settlement talks with the fifth player but could add him to the lawsuit later.
The five players are still facing criminal charges of aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint.