A look at Penn State scandal legal fallout after 5 years
HARRISBURG — It’s been nearly five years since retired Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on child molestation charges, and earlier this month he testified as he seeks to have his 45-count criminal conviction overturned. The scandal has produced new state laws regarding child abuse, millions in civil settlements to his victims and significant changes to Penn State’s policies and procedures.
An update on the status of the various legal proceedings that remain pending:
COMMONWEALTH V. SANDUSKY
Sandusky testified in his latest appeal, which is confined to allegations of newly discovered evidence, constitutional violations or ineffective counsel. He has already lost direct appeals to the state Superior and Supreme courts. The current appeal has delved into decisions after his 2011 arrest to waive the preliminary hearing, give a television interview and not to take the stand on his own behalf. It also has aired questions about the identity of a key figure known as Victim 2, and about leaks of information regarding the grand jury that investigated him. The judge has not said when he will rule. If Sandusky wins, he could have charges dismissed or get a new trial. If he loses, he could ask the state appeals courts to review such a decision. Federal courts also could provide him another avenue of appeal. In the meantime, he is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence and is kept largely segregated from other inmates at Greene State Prison.
Three former university administrators are awaiting trial in Harrisburg on criminal charges related to their handling of complaints about Sandusky. A lengthy dispute about the actions of the university’s then-top lawyer when the men were facing a grand jury investigation has dragged on for years, delaying the case against former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley. As a result, some of the more serious charges against them were dismissed by Superior Court in January , a decision prosecutors did not appeal. A senior judge was recently appointed to take over, as his predecessor battled a fatal illness, and the prosecution and defense attorneys are now wrangling over pretrial issues. No trial date has been set.
MCQUEARY V. PENN STATE
A defamation and whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State by Mike McQueary, a former graduate assistant on the coaching staff, is now scheduled for trial at the county courthouse near State College in October. The judge earlier this month ruled against the university’s argument the case should be put on hold while the administrators’ criminal trial proceeds. McQueary, who has testified he saw Sandusky sexually abuse a boy in a football team shower in 2001, was put on administrative leave shortly after Sandusky’s arrest and then terminated from the football program right after Sandusky was convicted.
PATERNO V. NCAA
A lawsuit by the family of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno against the NCAA, has morphed over time, and in its current form it includes a claim that college sports’ governing body damaged the Paterno estate’s commercial interests by its reliance upon a university-commissioned report into how Paterno, who died in 2012, and the three administrators handled the Sandusky scandal. Two former members of the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff, Paterno’s son Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are also suing over the NCAA’s use of the report, saying they have not been able to find comparable work as a result. The judge earlier this month ruled on dozens of disputes about what information the plaintiffs can get from the university to prepare for trial.
SPANIER V. PENN STATE
Spanier filed an 81-page lawsuit in February that claims the university violated a separation agreement by making critical comments about him and by not adequately providing him with administrative support. That case remains in the preliminary stages.
SPANIER V. FREEH
Spanier also sued former FBI director Louis Freeh , his law firm and Freeh Group International Solutions in February, saying the 2012 university-commissioned report by a team that Freeh led defamed him. It also alleges interference with business relations. That case is also in the preliminary stages.
PENN STATE V. PENNSYLVANIA MANUFACTURERS’ ASSOCIATION INSURANCE
The university lost a key decision earlier in May, limiting its coverage for Sandusky-related claims. Court records from that litigation disclosed publicly the university has paid settlements based on abuse allegations that date to 1971 and to 1976, and that the 1976 accuser says he reported abuse to Joe Paterno but was ignored. The insurance dispute remains pending in Philadelphia court.