Penn State University is looking to settle its Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse lawsuits out of court. In fact, late last year we wrote that, considering the damning information revealed—and being revealed—to which the Sandusky phase has given rise, some legal experts told the Associated Press that Penn State might consider reaching out to victims in an effort to avoid lawsuits.
“Our hope is that we can settle as many of those that arise without taking the victims through the litigation process,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson recently told Tribune-Review editors and reporters.
Retired Penn State football defensive coordinator and founder of the now-defunct Second Mile charity, Jerry Sandusky, was charged and convicted of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Of the original 52 counts filed, four were dropped, and Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of the remaining 48 on June 22: Eight counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, seven counts of indecent assault, one count of criminal intent to commit indecent assault, nine counts of unlawful contact with minors, ten counts of corruption of minors, and ten counts of endangering the welfare of children. Now, facing a maximum of 442 years in prison, with a speculated minimum of 60 years, convicted child sex offender Sandusky will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Meanwhile, Sandusky could also face federal charges in Texas and Florida and, said TribLive, Penn State could face civil lawsuits and millions of dollars in liability from Sandusky’s alleged victims. “We don’t know what the number (of lawsuits) is likely to be. We don’t know when they’ll be filed, but we’ve said all along we want to do the right thing for the victims,” Erickson said.
Erickson, the former provost, was named university president on November 11 after university trustees fired long-time President Graham Spanier and the school’s legendary head football coach, Joe Paterno, said TribLive. This, following a grand jury presentment charging then-key university administrators, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, with perjury in an alleged cover-up. Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz continue to maintain their innocence; Paterno has since died.
Meanwhile, Erickson said Penn State is seeking to become a national center for child abuse prevention and detection and has retained a firm to provide free counseling to those who allegedly suffered abuse from Sandusky, wrote TribLive. Penn State also just donated $2.6 million in football bowl revenue toward abuse prevention, which includes $1.1 million to the Center for the Protection of Children at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and $1.5 million to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Penn State also created the Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment.
A continuing external investigation, conducted by Louis Freeh, a former FBI director, has prompted changes including broadened and repeated background checks on all Penn State employees and expanded child abuse recognition and reporting training, including training for campus volunteers, wrote TribLive. Penn State hired a coordinator to manage its Clery Act (a federal law governing campus crime reports) compliance and is seeking an oversight officer to manage the 100 or so university officials who must comply with an array of safety measures. This position, said Erickson, will report to the board of trustees.