Penn State Sex Scandal–Civil Lawsuits Next

The November 5, 2011 sexual abuse charges against former Penn State defensive coach Jerry Sandusky have thrown the renowned institution into utter turmoil, and cost several people their jobs, including legendary coach Joe Paterno. Additionally, the school president Graham Spanier has been ousted, and athletic director Tim Curley and finance chief Gary Schultz may be facing perjury charges as a result of their testimony before the Grand Jury. Curley and Schultz’ potential legal problems stem from the testimony of assistant coach Mike McQueary, who testified before the Grand Jury that he informed Paterno that he had observed Sandusky raping a ten year old boy in the school locker room in 2002. Paterno then reportedly informed Schultz and Curley about the incident. Schultz and Curley denied that they knew anything about the rape, and claim they had only been informed of “inappropriate conduct” and “horseplay”. Prosecutors and the Grand Jury did not believe that Curley and Schultz’ denials were credible.

In reviewing the 23 page indictment, it is readily apparent that several defendants will face civil lawsuits by many, if not all of the eight alleged victims (identified only by numbers 1-8) who have alleged that Sandusky assaulted them over a 15 year period, and there are allegdely another ten victims coming forward . Penn State has numerous reasons for concern as to its liability. There is testimony that as early as 1998, the school was on notice that Sandusky was observed showering with young boys in the school locker room. Sandusky has acknowledged this fact, both in earlier statements that he gave to one of the victim’s parents, to the prosecutors, local detectives, and most recently, through his attorney Joe Amendola in an interview with CNN on November 14, 2011.

Although clearly inappropriate, showering with ten year old boys may not necessarily be a criminal act (it may be an assault depending on the remainder of the evidence), but this knowledge certainly placed Penn State on notice in 1998 that Sandusky’s conduct needed to be monitored and his access to school facilities restricted. Sandusky apologized to the mother of one of the children that he showered with while two detectives were listening in on the conversation. Surprisingly, this incident was apparently turned over to local police and to the prosecutors, who declined to file charges at that time. Importantly, however, Sandusky was allowed to continue using school facilities unfettered for several more years after the 1998 incident. If Penn State would have prohibited further access to Sandusky in 1998, the 2002 purported rape could not have occurred on school grounds. Allegedly, the 2002 rape observed by McQueary and reported to Paterno was never brought to the attention of local police and child welfare agencies.

In addition to Penn State and its officials, there will be civil cases against the Second Mile, a group Sandusky founded for foster children in 1977 to purportedly help underprivileged athletes. In light of recent disclosures and allegations, that motivation can certainly be held up to some scrutiny. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who initiated the investigation of Penn State when he was attorney general, has requested that the authorities investigate Second Mile. The CEO of Second Mile, Jack Raykovitz, resigned to the Charity’s Board on November 13th. It is a virtual certainty that Second Mile will be sued by many of the victims charging that Second Mile failed to supervise Sandusky’s relationship with the participants of the foundation.

Second Mile has admitted that they were informed of at least two incidents of Sandusky’s inappropriate conduct, but they dispute that they received the details of the 2002 rape observed by McQueary. Raykowitz claims that he received a report that an employee observed Sandusky in the shower with a young boy, but denies that he was notified of the rape. Amazingly, Raykowitz, along with Curley, Schultz and even Paterno, seemed to believe that this conduct did not justify taking some action against Sandusky, even if that response was simply to prohibit Sandusky from further access to school facilities. This is evidence that is going to be hard for the various defendants to convince a civil jury to disregard, and defense attorney Mr. Amendola is kidding himself if he believes that a jury will accept that Jerry was “just a big kid” who liked to give bear hugs, snap towels and joke around with kids—while naked in the shower with ten year old kids and no one else around?

The Grand Jury also noted that the ’98 showering incident was reported to Penn State’s attorney, Wendell Courtney, who was alleged to also be the attorney for Second Mile at that time. Courtney denies that he worked for Second Mile in 1998, and also denies ever informing Second Mile administrators what he knew of the police investigation. There certainly appears to be a pattern with McQueary, Curley, Schultz, Raykowitz, and Courtney, of having at least some knowledge of inappropriate conduct by Sandusky with children and no one taking responsibility to bring this conduct to an end.

Finally, in 2008, When Sandusky informed Second Mile that he was being investigated for another incident with a young boy, his access to school facilities was restricted, and Sandusky suddenly resigned from Second Mile in 2009 to “devote more time to my family and personal matters.” Notably, Sandusky was a top defensive coach for a hugely successful football program whose coaching abilities were well regarded, yet after his sudden retirement in 1999, no one ever offered him a coaching job anywhere else.

In this writer’s opinion, Penn State and Second Mile are likely meeting with their attorneys to plan defense strategy and confirm their insurance coverage for incidents of sexual abuse. These parties should be very concerned that they have sufficient insurance coverage and that their coverage is not subject to disclaimers for intentional conduct, as many such policies are.

If you or a loved one is the victim of any form of abuse, subject to medical malpractice, or seriously injured in an accident, contact the Westchester County Personal Injury Attorneys online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free initial consultation with an experienced trial attorney to discuss your case in detail.

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