Pennsylvania State University and its former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky were sued by an unidentified man who claims Sandusky sexually abused him more than 100 times over four years.
The plaintiff sued today as a John Doe in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, saying he met Sandusky through the Second Mile youth charity at the age of 10 and was sexually abused from 1992 to 1996. The abuse occurred in and out of Pennsylvania, including on university property, according to the complaint. Second Mile, which Sandusky founded, is also a defendant.
Sandusky, 67, was charged this month with 40 criminal counts tied to the alleged sexual molestation of eight boys from 1994 to 2009. He has denied wrongdoing. The plaintiff in today’s suit, the first against Penn State stemming from the Sandusky case, accused Second Mile and the university of negligence in failing to protect children from sexual abuse.
“I don’t want other kids to be hurt and abused by Jerry Sandusky, or anybody like Penn State to allow people like him to do it -- rape kids!” the accuser, who is about to turn 30, said today in a statement. “I never told anybody what he did to me over 100 times at all kinds of places until the newspapers reported that he had abused other kids, and the people at Penn State and Second Mile didn’t do the things they should have to protect me and the other kids.”
Joseph Amendola, an attorney for Sandusky, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment on the suit.
Lisa Powers, a spokeswoman for the State College, Pennsylvania-based university, declined to comment on the suit, saying the school hadn’t received the court documents.
“We will review the lawsuit and respond appropriately when we have done so,” Eric Herman, a spokesman for Second Mile, said in an e-mail. “The Second Mile will adhere to its legal responsibilities throughout this process. As always, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
Plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Anderson, whose St. Paul, Minnesota, law firm specializes in sex-abuse cases, said his client isn’t one of the alleged victims listed in a Nov. 5 grand jury report against Sandusky.
Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier were fired after the release of the report, which said school officials were aware of Sandusky’s conduct as early as 1998. Spanier and Paterno haven’t been accused of criminal wrongdoing.
Two other officials of the university, athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, have been charged with perjury and failing to report allegations of sexual misconduct against the former assistant coach. They have denied the charges.
Today’s complaint is the second this month against Second Mile, the foundation for needy children Sandusky started in 1977. Another alleged victim sued on Nov. 23 seeking a court order freezing the charity’s assets for potential civil claims related to Sandusky’s conduct. The organization has asked the court to dismiss the case, saying it lacks any factual basis.
Pennsylvania prosecutors allege that Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for Penn State’s Nittany Lions, used Second Mile to find victims and exploited his access to university sports facilities.
One witness cited in the grand jury report was a graduate assistant who said he saw a late-night assault involving a 10-year-old boy in March 2002 in the locker room of a football building on the university campus.
The graduate assistant reported the incident to Paterno, according to the grand jury report. Paterno testified he wasn’t aware of specific details of the attack and referred the matter to university officials because Sandusky was no longer a member of the coaching staff.
The lawsuit will pressure Penn State to devise a legal strategy, said Joseph Musso, an attorney with Ashcraft & Gerel LLP in Virginia, who has been blogging about the case. Evidence rules in civil cases in Pennsylvania are “pretty broad” and could permit the introduction of information such as a 1998 report of an investigation by university police into allegations against Sandusky, Musso said.
“They’re going to have to come up with their theories of defense earlier on,” Musso said in a phone interview.
The university, which is conducting its own internal investigation, has rebuffed media requests for details of the 1998 investigation. In that incident, the mother of a child identified in the grand jury report as Victim 6 accused Sandusky of inappropriate behavior when he showered with the boy in a university locker room.
Detectives from the police departments of Penn State and State College investigated and the local district attorney declined to file charges, according to the grand jury report. The 1998 investigation produced a report of more than 100 pages, according to the complaint filed today.
Penn State may want to settle if there are concerns that the information being sought could be damaging to the school’s reputation, said Wesley Oliver, an associate professor at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“That’s something their lawyers will have to decide,” said Oliver, who teaches criminal law. The judge in the case could also limit or gag disclosure of material exchanged during the so-called discovery process, he said.
The case is Doe A v. The Second Mile, 1111002968, Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.
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