Twenty-five men who claimed they were abused by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky have settled lawsuits totaling millions of dollars with the university, a lawyer for Penn State said today.
The university's attorney said that 25 suits had been settled out of 31 total that had been filed. The school has settled with nearly all of the individuals who testified against Sandusky at his sex abuse trial in June 2012.
Among the settlement deals was one with Sandusky's adopted son, Matt Sandusky, and more than a dozen additional victims who had not come forward with their allegations during Sandusky's trial.
Matt Sandusky had defended his adopted father against sex abuse claims until midway through his father's trial, when he abruptly told the prosecution that he had, in fact, been abused and was willing to testify about it.
Matt Sandusky then joined 30 others in filing suits against the university. In the suits, the men argued that Penn State had failed to put a stop to Sandusky's behavior and put other children at risk.
Jerry Sandusky was the longtime defensive coordinator at Penn State and ran a charity for underprivileged children, the Second Mile, in his spare time. Prosecutors said Sandusky used the Second Mile to find and groom victims of his sex abuse, whom he would bring to Penn State football games and facilities, where he molested them.
He was convicted in June 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Philadelphia-based attorneys Joel Feller and Matt Casey represented seven of Sandusky's victims, including Matt Sandusky and three men who testified at the trial, and said today that they had finalized their settlement agreements with the university.
"Despite the settlements, my life will never feel 'back to normal,'" the man known as Victim 7 said in a statement released by Casey and Feller. "If I had the power to go back in time and not ever meet Jerry Sandusky, I wouldn't hesitate."
Michael Rozen, a New York-based attorney hired by the university to help negotiate the lawsuits, and the attorneys representing the victims declined to discuss the exact dollar amounts in the settlements.
Rozen told ABC News that the university tried to finish all of the negotiations at the same time. The accusers were generally separated into three groups, those who said they were abused before1998, between 1998 and 2001, and after 2001, and the settlements reflected the university's responsibility in each of those periods.
|"Despite the settlements, my life will never feel 'back to normal.'"|
"The range of resolution dollars varied on those factors. Every lawyer representing a claimant was well aware of those different stratifications, and accepted there are real differences between and among those claimants," he said.
The time frames relate to when Penn State employees and officials were first made aware of Sandusky's behavior.
In 1998, a child known as Victim 6 told his mother that Sandusky had showered with him and made him feel uncomfortable, an allegation that led police and child welfare authorities to investigate Sandusky and led Penn State officials to ban Sandusky from having children on school property.
In 2001, assistant coach Mike McQueary said he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a shower on campus.
McQueary told head coach Joe Paterno what he saw, who in turn sent word of the incident up his chain of command to athletic director Tim Curley, vice president of finance Gary Schultz, and eventually university president Graham Spanier. None of the men reported the incident to police, resulting in criminal charges of failure to report child abuse against Curley, Schultz, and Spanier. Paterno was never charged, and died in 2012.
Rozen said that of the remaining six claims against the university, three have not presented enough credible evidence to suggest Sandusky abused them, one is close to settling, one is already in the process of being litigated in federal court, and one is close to being filed in federal court.
Rozen said that many of the men who came forward with lawsuits had not had their allegations vetted by law enforcement agencies, but that the university tried to verify the claims as much as possible.
Part of the settlement included leaving open the possibility that Penn State could recover some of the costs for the settlements from the Second Mile, Rozen said.