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Abuse and Racism Accusations Bring ‘#MeToo Moment’ to Northwestern

In lawsuits, former athletes accuse the sports program of having a pervasive culture of hazing and sexual abuse, and two coaches have been fired. Lawyers say more athletes may come forward.

Allegations of hazing and abuse in Northwestern sports come at a time when the university is investing heavily in athletics. Credit...Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It was the sixth lawsuit against Northwestern University in nine days, and the allegations had become, somehow, both familiar and even more appalling.

A young alumnus of the football program, Simba Short, said he had been restrained and sexually abused in a well-rehearsed hazing ritual. That he had witnessed a teammate struggling to breathe after he was sexually abused while being held underwater. That players had been forced to drink until they vomited, and that coaches could have intervened, but did not.

Short’s experiences troubled him so deeply that he attempted to harm himself and was hospitalized in 2016, according to the complaint he filed in Chicago on Thursday — only the latest to allege a pattern of sexually abusive hazing and racism in the university’s sports program.

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