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Judge Denies BC Swim and Dive Members Anonymity in Court Proceedings

Judge Diane Freniere denied the request of the 37 members of Boston College men’s and women’s swim and dive to maintain anonymity in their lawsuit against the University.

“On totality of the circumstances presented, the court declines to find the plaintiffs’ allegations are sufficient to oversee the public interest in disclosure,” Freniere wrote in the decision.

The student-athletes are suing BC for allegedly imposing an unjustified suspension after recent hazing allegations. Their calls for an injunction to lift the team’s suspension still await Freniere’s decision.

Boston College had filed a motion opposing the plaintiffs’ request for anonymity on Monday, and Freniere issued her ruling against the use of pseudonyms on Wednesday.

Regina Federico, the program members’ attorney, argued in Middlesex Superior Court yesterday to let the students-athletes use pseudonyms. Federico said if the program members had their names attached to the lawsuit, it would affect their abilities to attend graduate school and get jobs in the future, as well as cause mental distress.

“They will be required to talk about this in any graduate school applications or employment applications … and will fill them with shame and distress,” Federico said at the hearing yesterday.

Freniere acknowledged the pain the student-athletes said they experienced after the allegations surfaced. But, she said the need for anonymity does not outweigh the public interest of disclosure.

Freniere also noted that this is already a widely public case. She said that the names of the plaintiffs are listed in the swim and dive roster and easy to find.

“The realities of media and social media in 2023 have surely played a role in the plaintiffs’ desire to appear in pseudonym,” Freniere wrote. “However, the allegations in this case have been extensively covered by the print, video and social media establishments.”

The plaintiffs did not cite sufficient evidence that having their names disclosed would harm them further, Freniere said in the decision.

“Relative to any worsening of harm due to the disclosure of plaintiffs’ names, the court notes that in their individual declarations each plaintiff expressly or inferentially denies any participation in the alleged that led to the team suspension,” she wrote.

October 25, 2023