Another battle is developing in the whistle-blower lawsuit former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary is waging against the university.
In court documents filed Friday, McQueary’s lawyer challenged the university’s version that his client was let go after his contract ended June 30, 2012, and was not renewed. The lawyer, Elliot Strokoff, demanded proof at trial.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson first went public about McQueary’s contract last summer when he he answered a reporter’s question at a news conference.
Earlier this month, a lawyer for Penn State raised the matter in the hope of casting doubt over the crux of McQueary’s claims — that he was let go because he cooperated with state authorities investigating child abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.
McQueary’s lawyer said his client was a fixed-term employee for a short period — from March 1 to Dec. 31, 2004 — and after that, McQueary “continued to be employed by (Penn State) with no specified ending date.”
McQueary was placed on administrative leave with pay effective Nov. 11, 2011, as the Sandusky scandal erupted on campus. Penn State officials at the time said it was because he was the target of a death threat.
In McQueary’s original whistle-blower lawsuit, he included as an exhibit an undated and unsigned letter he received about his being placed on administrative leave. It reads, in part: “Your fixed-term contract is scheduled to end on June 30, 2012, and it has not been determined whether there will be a new contract at this time.”
McQueary’s lawyer is challenging Penn State about the death threat, too, saying he has not found any evidence about it through his investigation.
McQueary was the star witness at the Sandusky trial last year, when he testified he saw the former defensive coach in a shower with a young boy in February 2001. McQueary was adamant the two were having sex.
But, as McQueary contends, it was his cooperation with authorities — testifying at the trial and several court proceedings, including a grand jury in Harrisburg —that led to his dismissal. His lawsuit, which also accuses former university president Graham Spanier of defaming him, seeks to recover $4 million in lost wages and other punitive damages.
Last month, out-of-county Judge Thomas Gavin denied Penn State’s attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.