November 30, 2011
Penn State has spent the last month in various stages of crisis management, from denial to anger to purging the entire chain of command in the wake of sexual abuse charges against longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Now, inevitably, the university faces its first lawsuit, from a new victim who claims he was abused more than 100 times over five years. From the Associated Press:
The man met Sandusky at age 10 and is now under 30. He is not among the eight victims mentioned in a grand jury report.
The man says Sandusky abused him in a Penn State locker room, on trips to Philadelphia and a bowl game, and at the Sandusky home.
The suit also names the university and The Second Mile charity as defendants. The man says he knew the coach through the children's charity, and that the abuse occurred from 1992 to 1996.
In a statement read by his attorney, the 29-year-old man said "I am hurting and have been for a long time because of what happened, but feel now even more tormented that I have learned of so many other kids were abused after me." The suit does not name ousted head coach Joe Paterno, who has retained an attorney in anticipation of civil suits of this nature.
Sandusky is facing 25 felony counts of deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and indecent assault against at least eight victims over more than a decade. More alleged victims have continued to come forward as the publicity surrounding the case generates new accusations. No new charges have been added to the original indictment.
Along with the Pennsylvania attorney general, a steady drumbeat of news reports over the last month have detailed the missed opportunities by the university to identify Sandusky as a predator, including at least five different instances over a span of 14 years — in 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2008 — in which Sandusky was either accused of or actually witnessed abusing young boys before his eventual arrest. One of those moments was the now-infamous 2002 encounter with then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who says he personally saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in the locker room showers and subsequently reported the incident to coach Joe Paterno the next day.
According to the mother of one alleged victim, Sandusky admitted to showering with her son during a 1998 meeting in which police investigators were listening in another room. According to the grand jury statement, Sandusky told her "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness from you. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." But the investigation that eventually led to Sandusky's arrest wasn't initiated until more than a decade later, when a teenager known as "Victim 1" went to police with his mother in 2009.
The alleged victim who has now filed suit against Sandusky and the university isn't the first to accuse the former coach of abusing him during a bowl trip. Earlier this month, officials in San Antonio said they're looking into bringing charges based on a claim in the grand jury presentment that a boy was abused during a trip to the 1999 Alamo Bowl, Sandusky's final game on Paterno's staff. According to the indictment, "Victim 4" was listed as a member of Sandusky's family party for both that game and the 1998 Outback Bowl in Tampa, and testified that "…Sandusky did threaten to send him home from the Alamo Bowl in Texas when Victim 4 resisted his advances."
An attorney for "Victim 4" said that his client is "more adamant" about testifying against Sandusky after watching Sandusky tell a national television audience that he has never sexually abused underage males. Now 27, Victim 4 says Sandusky began testing boundaries the day they met, when the alleged victim was 12 or 13, and came to play two roles during the boy's teenage years: Surrogate father and molester. He says he was "a fixture" in the Sandusky household, worked out with Sandusky, accompanied Sandusky to charity events and on road trips, and shared hotel rooms and showers with Sandusky, who plied him with cash and gifts as the abuse continued.
Paterno, university president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley have all lost their jobs since Sandusky was indicted on Nov. 5; Curley was also indicted along with another ousted official for perjury and failing to report. Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Penn State Board of Trustees will conduct formal investigations into the university's response to allegations against Sandusky, the latter to be headed by former FBI chief Louis Freeh. Lawyers for alleged victims have moved to keep The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded in 1977 — and from which he allegedly met most of his victims — from dissolving.