Football Player Sues Wheaton College for Neglect After Hazing Incident Left Him Naked In Field

The sign on the campus of Wheaton College display's the Illinois evangelical institution's motto.
The sign on the campus of Wheaton College display's the Illinois evangelical institution's motto. | (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Christoffer Lukas Müller)

Former Wheaton College football player Charles Nagy is suing the Illinois evangelical institution and accusing school officials of neglect after five teammates abducted him from his dorm room, tied him up, put a pillowcase over his head and left him naked for hours on a baseball field of a nearby elementary school.

After police issued felony charges to the accused players last September for the incident that allegedly took place in March 2016, Nagy recently filed a lawsuit in state court accusing school officials and head coach Mike Swider of ignoring the common practice of hazing that he says exists within the school's Division III football program.

The lawsuit claims that the school has done nothing to stop the team's longstanding tradition of hazing "by the practice of 'kidnaping' within the football program" and highlights another instance in the past 10 years where a similar crime occured.

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The lawsuit states that the coaches and school administrators either "knew or should have known" about the team's history of hazing freshmen players or players new to the team.

Nagy is seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages and legal costs.

"These young, stupid kids thought it was perfectly all right to go do that. And that encouragement came right from the coaching staff," Nagy's attorney, Terry Ekl, said, according to the Daily Herald. "We're going to put Wheaton College under a microscope and see that they've turned their back on many serious cases of hazing and hold them responsible to a large extent for what happened."

In a statement, the school acknowledged the lawsuit but has denied the allegation that the school has enabled an environment of hazing.

"We can confirm that Wheaton College has been named as a defendant in civil litigation regarding a March 2016 incident. We take the allegation that any member of our community has been mistreated in any way to be a matter of grave concern," the schools statement reads. "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."

The Wheaton College statement concluded that the school is "committed to providing Christ-centered education in a positive environment for every student."

In the March 2016 incident, Nagy says that he had his hands and feet tied with duct tape and suffered two torn labrums. Additionally, he wasn't the only person who suffered that night. Nagy said that another player was dumped on the baseball field in a similar fashion and they weren't found until the classmates of the other player came looking for him.

The five players charged in the case are center Kyler Kregel, defensive lineman James Cooksey, offensive lineman Benjamin Pettway, defensive lineman Noah Spielman and linebacker Samuel TeBos.

The lawsuit states that the school, "by and through its duly authorized agents and/or employees," did not act when it saw Nagy being carried out of his dorm building while being bound, hooded and struggling.

The lawsuit also accuses the school of failing to train security personnel to properly handle suspected criminal activity and that the school failed to screen people entering the dorm buildings or leaving the dorm buildings "with instrumentality of criminal conduct."

The lawsuit also accuses the school of "failing to meaningfully investigate" the students involved in prior hazing allegations and "deliberately failing to meaningfully discipline" students involved in prior hazing incidents.

Additionally, Nagy claims that school deliberately failed to halt the "hazing practice within the football program as evidenced by the long history of hazing" and deliberately failed to enforce its anti-hazing policy.

The school has been accused of "willful and wanton conduct."

"There are two very disturbing things here. There's the one thing that the kids thought this was OK to do. And then there's the reason they thought it was OK," Nagy's attorney Pat Provencale told ABC News. "These young men would never have thought something like this was OK unless it was well-established and accepted within the program."

Provencale explained that although the lawsuit only seeks an excess of $50,000, that is the amount required by Illinois law in an initial filing of this kind of matter.

He stated that the lawsuit will later be amended "to include compensatory and punitive damages." The lawyer opined that when the legal battle comes to a close, he "would not be surprised" to see the the total grow north of $1 million.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith Follow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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