The eight children who former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is alleged to have abused over a 15 year period may not be his only victims. Pennsylvania police said that have been “very busy” receiving phone calls about more potential victims of sexual abuse by Sandusky on Thursday.
Attorney General Linda Kelly gave out the phone numbers for the district attorney’s office and for the state police at a press conference earlier this week. She appears to be laying the “broad parameters of a civil suit” that is certainly troubling for Penn State University. Sexual abuse victims can potentially charge that the university had “ample warning” about Sandusky yet did little or nothing about him and even provided “the means” for him to “perpetuate these acts,” says Matt Casey, name partner of the Philadelphia plaintiffs firm of Ross Feller Casey L.L.P.. Penn State knew that a “dangerous condition existed on its premises,” but did not takes steps to prevent it. Other lawyers also described Penn State’s liability as serious:
“I think they are liable. They may not be liable if this activity occurred outside the confines of the university premises, but from what I understand, he [Sandusky] was given wide access to a lot of facilities,” said Sol Weiss, a partner in the prominent Center City [Philadelphia] plaintiffs firm Anapol Schwartz.
“It is a big exposure,” Weiss said.
Weiss, whose firm has filed a class action on behalf of youths illegally sentenced in the Luzerne County judicial scandal, likened Penn State’s legal liability to that of the Roman Catholic Church, which has been slammed with huge verdicts and criminal prosecutions for failing to root out sexual abuse by priests.
Penn State’s exposure could be in the millions of dollars. The abuse is alleged to have occurred at Sandusky’s State College home, as well as in university facilities and on college football trips. San Antonio police are also investigating reports of Sandusky molesting a boy there in 1998, during a team trip to the city.
Two university officials, athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, university vice president for finance and business, have been charged with failure to report the abuses — multiple reports of sexual misbehavior — and with lying to a grand jury. They have stepped down from their positions at the university.
Wednesday saw the Board of Trustees firing legendary football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier. Both had been informed about “alarming information” on at least one occasion.
Paterno has not been charged with any crimes and is described as a cooperating witness. He has reportedly been in contact with a prominent Washington criminal defense lawyer, J. Sedgwick Sollers, who once represented President George H.W. Bush in the Iran-Contra affair. Paterno has not yet retained a lawyer or met Sollers but will likely face civil lawsuits by Sandusky’s alleged victims and their families.
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