5 Merchant Marine Academy athletes sue to graduate amid probe

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Lawsuits have been filed after several members of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's soccer team were told they will not be graduating with their class.

Seven seniors on the team were told they can't graduate on Saturday because of a sexual harassment probe.  Five of them are now suing for permission to graduate, according to court documents. 

The lawsuits were filed Monday and Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

The court documents do not indicate any allegations of sexual harassment.  However, they do mention alleged hazing of a freshman on the team during the trip to Rhode Island for a game in September. 

According to Newsday, the superintendent at the school sent an email to students last week about the suspensions.  He said the transportation department inspector general is investigating.

Congressman Tom Suozzi, whose district includes the academy, told Newsday, "Either they're doing a better job, and people are feeling more comfortable to report incidents of sexual harassment, or they haven't addressed the problem in a serious way and they are just giving lip service. Either way, it's a serious issue."

The revelations come as the military academy has struggled with prior allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and bullying.

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