Penn State confirms $59.7 million in settlements with 26 men claiming abuse by Jerry Sandusky

mdawson@centredaily.comOctober 28, 2013 

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    What they said

    “We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State. We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State.” — President Rodney Erickson

    “The board of trustees has had as one of its primary objectives to reach settlements in a way that is fair and respects the privacy of the individuals involved. This is another important milestone in accomplishing that goal.” — Board Chairman Keith Masser

    “Our community can honor the courage and strength these young men demonstrated by prioritizing the safety of our children and focusing energy, resources and public discourse on prevention and treatment.” — victims’ lawyer Andrew Shubin

— Penn State has paid $59.7 million in out-of-court settlements to 26 men claiming they were abused by former football coach and convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the university reported Monday.

Penn State reviewed claims brought by 32 men, and 23 of those have been signed, the university said. There remain three settlements in principle and the documentation will be finalized over the next few weeks, the university said.

Some of the remaining six claims were rejected because they were found to be “without merit,” the university said.

“We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State,” President Rodney Erickson said in a statement. “We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State.”

The announcement Monday was the first and apparently last official word from the university about the specific details in the Sandusky settlement process, which was authorized in July during the board of trustees meeting.

University officials have said they would only release the amount of the combined settlements once they were finalized, though trustee Ted Brown later said $60 million was the amount approved for all settlements combined.

The university said the agreements were reached over the past few months. The university retained the New York law firm Feinberg Rozen to negotiate the settlements.

Board Chairman Keith Masser said the trustees wanted to reach settlements in a way that was fair and maintained the privacy of those involved.

“This is another important milestone in accomplishing that goal,” he said.

Penn State said liability insurance policies are expected to cover the settlement amounts and the legal defense against the claims brought against the university, employees and trustees. The university said any expenses that are not covered by the insurance will be paid from interest on loans the university made to other units on campus.

The terms of the settlements are confidential, and the university said they contain a release of all claims against the university and other parties.

Penn State has retained the right to sue The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded and that state prosecutors have said he used to find young boys to molest.

It has not been released how much the individual claimants received. Lawyers for the claimants have said the settlements contain a nondisclosure agreement forbidding them from disclosing how much their clients were paid.

The nearly $60 million in settlements will be reflected in the university’s audited financial statements for 2013-14. The board of trustees’ audit and risk committee will meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday to review 2012-13 audited financial statements, according to a legal notice.

Sandusky was convicted last summer of 45 counts of child abuse and has served so far one year of his 30-year minimum sentence. His defense attorney unsuccessfully appealed to the state Superior Court and plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Among the men whose claims have been signed and settled is Victim 2, the young man at the center of a 2001 incident in a campus locker room that ultimately cost head coach Joe Paterno his job. Matt Sandusky, an adopted son of Jerry Sandusky who said his adoptive father molested him, also settled, lawyer Andrew Shubin said.

Shubin, who represents several young men who testified against the former coach at his trial last year, said his clients will continue to be haunted by the abuse.

“Lawsuits and civil settlements, although necessary and important, will do little to heal an abuse victim’s pain or lessen their daily struggles,” he said. “Our community can honor the courage and strength these young men demonstrated by prioritizing the safety of our children and focusing energy, resources and public discourse on prevention and treatment.”

One of the claimants, Victim 6 from the grand jury presentment against Sandusky, is suing Penn State in federal court. Penn State asked the judge for a stay until criminal prosecutions against three Penn State administrators have been resolved, but the young man’s lawyers are fighting the university’s attempt to put a hold on the case.

A spokeswoman for the legal team representing Victim 6 declined to comment.

The $59.7 million spent on settlements combined with the millions Penn State has paid in legal and consultant fees, plus the first $12 million toward the $60 million NCAA fine, pushes the cost of the Sandusky scandal to $110 million.

When factoring in the remaining $48 million Penn State has to pay as part of the NCAA fine, the cost balloons to $158 million.

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