A young man who testified against Jerry Sandusky sued Penn State last Friday, blaming the university for how its top officials dealt with complaints that the former assistant football coach behaved inappropriately with boys.
The lawsuit filed by the person known as Victim 1 at Sandusky’s trial said university officials made deliberate decisions not to report Sandusky to authorities.
Those decisions were “a function of (Penn State’s) purposeful, deliberate and shameful subordination of the safety of children to its economic self-interests, and to its interest in maintaining and perpetuating its reputation,” the suit said. It was filed electronically in Philadelphia state court Friday night, Slade McLaughlin, a lawyer for Victim 1, said.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of 45 criminal counts for sexual abuse of boys, both on and off campus. He awaits sentencing that will likely send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Around November 2009, Victim 1 and his mother reported Sandusky to the boy’s high school and the Clinton County child protective agency. Their complaint triggered the state investigation that last year resulted in charges against Sandusky, as well as Penn State administrators Gary Schultz and Tim Curley.
Schultz, who retired, and Curley, who was placed on leave, were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse. Both deny the allegations and await trial. Famed football coach Joe Paterno was fired. He died in January.
The suit draws heavily from court testimony, grand jury investigations and Penn State’s own investigative report, conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, on Sandusky and how university officials handled the claims against him.
The suit alleges negligence, fraudulent concealment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. It asks for compensatory and punitive damages.
Victim 1 is known as “John Doe C” in the complaint. The suit names no other defendants than the State College university.
University spokesman Dave La Torre said the school has no comment on the pending litigation.
“The university takes these cases very seriously,” La Torre said adding that the current president and board “have publicly emphasized that their goal is to find solutions that rest on the principle of justice for the victims.”
The lawsuit also claimed that a “special relationship” between Penn State and The Second Mile, a Sandusky-founded charity for youth, gave Sandusky a respectable public image and connections that enabled him to perform criminal acts.
It alleges “(Penn State) believed its reputation and economic interests would be adversely impacted if the public learned that a man closely associated with the school’s football program was, in fact, a pedophile.”
The Second Mile’s future remains uncertain, subject to a legal dispute.
According to the lawsuit, Victim 1 met Sandusky about eight years ago, when the boy was 11 and a first-year participant in a camp sponsored by The Second Mile. In his second year, the boy drew Sandusky’s attention and accepted invitations to spend nights at the coach’s State College home and to attend professional sports events, the suit said.
Over a three-year period ending in 2008, the suit said, Sandusky assaulted the boy more than 100 times, including fondling and oral sex. The lawsuit claims Sandusky attacked “numerous victims over a span of 30 years,” but noted that his criminal trial was limited to a 15-year period and 10 victims.
Following Victim 1’s testimony, Sandusky was convicted of all six counts that related to him, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse for instances of oral sex.
The lawsuit said Victim 1 has suffered physical and emotional injuries and will likely need medical and psychological help well into his future.
Another Sandusky accuser has filed a federal lawsuit related to the scandal and a second victim has filed a court notice that he will file complaint. Lawyers have suggested others may take legal action.
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