Pennsylvania State University agreed to settle the first of 31 suits filed in the sex-abuse scandal involving ex-football coach Jerry Sandusky, with about 25 more set to settle, lawyers in the resolved case said.
The settled complaint involved a 2001 locker-room shower assault on a 13-year-old boy known in court documents as “Victim 5,” according to the plaintiff’s attorney, Tom Kline, of Kline & Specter PC in Philadelphia. He declined to disclose the amount of the settlement.
The case was considered key to resolving other suits because it concerned an assault that occurred months after the university received and failed to act on an eyewitness account of an another shower-room attack by Sandusky on what appeared to be a 10-year-old boy, Kline said yesterday in a telephone interview.
“If Sandusky had been stopped in his tracks in February, then this incident in October involving Victim 5 would not have occurred,” Kline said.
Kline and Michael Rozen, of Feinberg Rozen LLP, an attorney hired by Penn State to help resolve the cases, said that with the Victim 5 settlement concluded they expect agreements to be reached soon in 25 other cases.
“I think everything will play out in the next days or weeks,” Rozen said.
The university considers two or three others cases to be without merit and a few more will require lengthier negotiations and possibly litigation, Rozen said.
Penn State approved spending about $60 million for claims in the cases, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The Victim 5 settlement was earlier reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer and described as a “multi-million dollar” agreement.
Sandusky, a longtime assistant to legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno, was convicted in June 2012 of sexually abusing children and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Sandusky met the boys he abused through the Second Mile, a charity he founded for needy children, according to testimony at his trial.
The settlement is structured to protect the university against further claims by the victim while providing “an open road for Penn State to go back after their insurers, the Second Mile foundation and Second Mile insurers,” Kline said.
Three former university officials, including ex-president Graham Spanier, ex-athletic director Timothy Curley and Gary Schultz, retired vice president in charge of university police, were ordered last month to stand trial on criminal charges they conspired to cover up the sex abuse allegations against Sandusky.
The three men allegedly kept silent on abuse claims against Sandusky, including the account of February 2001 incident.
Kline said Victim 5, who is now 25-years-old, may be called as a witness in the criminal proceedings.