Pennsylvania State University was accused of negligence and reckless oversight in a lawsuit filed by a victim of convicted sex offender and former coach Jerry Sandusky.
The unidentified 18-year-old, who testified against Sandusky, accused the university of intentionally concealing multiple episodes of sexual abuse by the former assistant football coach and enabling him to molest many young boys on the college campus, according to a complaint filed yesterday in state court in Philadelphia. The complaint was filed after hours and couldn’t be confirmed in court records.
“Penn State knew or should have known of Sandusky’s dangerous and unnatural sexual proclivities, his sexual activities with children and the significant risks he posed when allowed to be in close proximity to children,” Slade McLaughlin and Michael Boni, attorneys for the victim, said in a copy of the complaint posted on the website of McLauhlin’s law firm.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June on 45 criminal counts tied to abuse of boys over a 15-year period, including all six counts related to a boy identified as Victim 1, the plaintiff in the suit against the school. Sandusky is awaiting sentencing.
“The university takes these cases very seriously but cannot otherwise comment on pending litigation,” David La Torre, a Penn State spokesman, said in an e-mail. The school’s president and board of trustees “have publicly emphasized that their goal is to find solutions that rest on the principle of justice for the victims,” he said.
Sandusky began spending time on a regular basis with Victim 1 in the summer of 2005, according to the complaint. The boy spent nights at Sandusky’s home and traveled with him to professional sporting events including football and baseball games in Philadelphia, according to the complaint.
Sandusky also coached the boy’s high school varsity football team and had “unfettered access to the school” as a direct result of his “exalted” status at the university, according to the complaint. Sandusky abused the boy more than 100 times from 2005 to 2008, according to trial testimony and the complaint.
The case against Sandusky led to the firings of university President Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, who headed the football program at Penn State for 46 years. Paterno died in January.
Two other Penn State officials are charged with lying to a grand jury about a 2001 sexual assault incident involving Sandusky and a boy in a football locker room shower and failing to report it to authorities. A January trial is scheduled in that case, against Timothy Curley, Penn State’s athletic director at the time of the allegation, and Gary Schultz, a former vice president in charge of university police.
A $6.5 million university-commissioned investigation by Louis Freeh, a former federal judge and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, concluded that school officials hid critical facts surrounding Sandusky’s abuse in order to avoid bad publicity. Victim 1’s lawsuit cites both the Freeh report, published last month, and testimony from Sandusky’s trial.
Penn State’s concealment of Sandusky’s “sociopathic pedophilia” allowed him to exploit his affiliation with the university and his celebrity status at the school to solicit donations for the Second Mile charity, according to the complaint.
Sandusky used the charity he founded in 1977 to recruit and groom his victims. Second Mile, which served children with physical, emotional and academic needs, announced in May that it would close and transfer its assets to a Houston-based nonprofit.
The victim’s case is John Doe C v. Pennsylvania State University, 120704291, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County (Philadelphia)