A star South Carolina high school running back has sued his former school, alleging players from Allendale-Fairfax High assaulted him this summer as part of a hazing ritual condoned by coaches.
Shakur Chisolm and his parents named Allendale County School District, Allendale-Fairfax High School, football coach Eddie Ford and others as defendants in the lawsuit they filed on Monday.
They requested an unspecified amount to be determined by a jury that would cover Chisolm’s medical bills, along with things like emotional distress and mental suffering from the incident.
Chisolm alleged 15 teammates used ‘open hands, closed fists, boxing gloves, belt buckles’ and other objects to hit him in August at a school-sponsored football camp, according to the complaint.
The senior running back transferred from Barnwell to Allendale-Fairfax before the camp began.
Chisolm played at Barnwell (pictured, No 21) before transferring to play at Allendale-Fairfax
The 17-year-old’s lawsuit said the assault took place with the full consent of Ford and that the head coach and other members of the coaching staff orchestrated the hazing ritual.
Chisolm’s lawsuit alleges it’s a longstanding ritual in Allendale-Fairfax football that newcomers and freshmen were to be ‘get got,’ which his complaint said ‘consisted of being beaten and subjected to systematic and humiliating hazing in various forms by a number of current players and upperclassmen on the team.’
The transfer student ran from his teammates and banged on the coaches’ doors and asked them to help stop the attack on himself and another player, Demitrius Drayton, the complaint said.
While Chisolm hid from his teammates, he allegedly heard Ford tell the offending players, ‘Did y’all find him yet … I thought I gave y’all enough time to get him,’ according to the suit.
Chisolm was caught and beaten.
He was able to get away, the suit said, and left the complex where he called his parents and a friend to pick him up.
When Chisolm returned to get his belongings, Ford and Allendale-Fairfax guidance counselor and assistant football coach Cody Brandyburg asked Chisolm not to report the incident.
‘I have five kids to feed and I am trying to build a state championship football team,’ Ford told Chisolm, according to the lawsuit.
Chisolm’s father, Clifford, got a call from superintendent Williams, who asked that he not talk to law enforcement until the district and high school had the chance to investigate.
The suit said the school district and high school had an anti-hazing policy.
Chisolm, who is over six feet tall and weighs 185 pounds, withdrew from Allendale-Fairfax following the incident and transferred to Williston-Elko High.
He has been recruited by some of the biggest names in college football after rushing for nearly 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns this season in only seven games for his new school.
The rising star was named the Academy Sports player of the week after rushing for 285 yards and scoring four touchdowns on only carries during a game in late September.
He said afterwards: ‘Everything is going so fast, but for me it seems like everything is going so slow because I’ve been doing it for so long.’
Chisolm’s attorney, Fatima Zeidan, said his client, who is second in the state in rushing yards this season, has found Williston-Elko to be a supportive new family.
But to those who think his football success this season means his complaints are overblown are mistaken, ‘things like this never go away,’ said Zeidan.
His new coach at Williston-Elko, Derek Youngblood, said his program emphasizes player safety and that coaches should protect their players, according to WRDW.
He said: ‘It’s our job as coaches to love our kids and not put them in harms way.
‘It’s pretty simple here we’re a sports team and that’s what we’re focused on.
‘We’re not ever going to do anything that we feel like might put a child’s safety in jeopardy.’
The State Law Enforcement Division was also called in to investigate the incident.
Attorney Justin Bamberg, a state representative also representing Chisolm and his family, said they have received no notice that local school leaders took any steps following the incident.
Bamberg said Chisolm wants to share his story so similar incidents don’t happen again.
School Superintendent Leila Williams did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.