Penn State Reaches Tentative Settlements with Several Jerry Sandusky Victims

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2013

Penn State University's Board of Trustees has tentatively authorized a financial settlement with some of the victims who claim to have been sexually assaulted by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

The university disclosed the tentative agreements on Friday, which are subject to final approval from a committee hired by Penn State to handle these matters. The Associated Press first reported on the story. 

The terms of the settlements have not been disclosed. Penn State is a publicly-funded university, and thus subject to open-record laws. It's standard in these cases for parties to sign a confidentiality agreement to keep the individual payments under wraps. 

The total dollar figure is expected to be in the millions for the university to settle all the claims. 

University president Rodney Erickson said in a statement that he's pleased with getting approval from the board of trustees, hoping that the settlement helps all parties move forward. 

"As we have previously said, the university intends to deal with these individuals in a fair and expeditious manner, with due regard to their privacy," Erickson said. 

It is unknown what percentage of the victims Penn State has come to a settlement with. More than 30 people have joined a civil case against Penn State, noting the university's negligence in its handling of Sandusky. 

Sandusky, who served as a Penn State assistant coach under Joe Paterno from 1969-1999, was convicted on 45 of 48 charges relating to the sexual abuse of children over a decades-long period. The 69-year-old coach used Penn State property as a predatory lair, often bringing children into football facilities under the guise of performing charity work for the Second Mile, Sandusky's children's charity. 

Penn State became embroiled in a scandal after e-mail exchanges between high-ranking officials showed a cover-up attempt. Former president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz all allegedly engaged in an attempt to keep Sandusky's abuse a secret after former assistant football coach Mike McQueary went to Paterno and claimed to have seen sexual abuse in a locker room shower.

The scandal led to the dismissal of Paterno, who was at the time the winningest coach in Division I football history and a university icon. He died in January of last year due to complications from lung cancer. 

Spanier, Curley and Schultz all face criminal charges for lying to a grand jury and are no longer with the university in their former capacity. Spanier is still a tenured professor, though he's been on leave throughout the controversy. Their preliminary court date is set for July 29. 

A Penn State-commissioned report by former FBI director Louis Freeh noted that Penn State was negligent and misleading, and the NCAA followed suit by imposing massive sanctions to the football program. Agreed upon last July, the sanctions call for Penn State to pay a $60 million fine, invalidate 111 of Paterno's wins, reduce scholarships and miss bowl games for the next four seasons.

Sandusky was sentenced by the Centre County court to 30-to-60 years imprisonment, which will likely keep him behind bars for the rest of his life. A judge denied Sandusky's appeal for a new trial in January, saying the prosecution's case was not "either calculated to, or did, create in the jurors a fixed bias toward the defendant."

Sandusky is currently being held at Pennsylvania's SCI Greene maximum security prison.


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