Judge denies Penn State request to delay Sandusky victim’s lawsuit

mdawson@centredaily.comNovember 12, 2013 

OldMain

The Penn State University Old Main building, October 28, 2013.

NABIL K. MARK

  • KEY POINTS

    Other Penn State and Penn State-related cases in the Sandusky fallout:

    •  Former assistant coach Mike McQueary has a whistle-blower and defamation lawsuit going against Penn State. The sides are in the discovery phase.

    •  The family of Joe Paterno and some supporters are suing the NCAA to overturn the sanctions imposed on Penn State. A judge is weighing whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue.

    •  Former Penn State president Graham Spanier has filed notice of his intent to sue Louis Freeh. Spanier hasn’t filed a complaint yet but is asking a Centre County judge to stay the lawsuit until his criminal prosecution is finished.

    •  Penn State alumnus Ryan Bagwell is pursuing an open-records case against Penn State under the state Right-to-Know Law. Bagwell made an open-records request for the emails former education secretary and trustee Ron Tomalis had with Louis Freeh, and now Penn State is challenging that.

    •  State Sen. Jake Corman sued the NCAA in Commonwealth Court to stop the $60 million NCAA fine from being spent outside the state. Earlier this year, the court struck down the NCAA’s motion to dismiss it.

Penn State came up empty again in its latest request to delay the lawsuit the university is defending against the young man known as Victim 6 from the Jerry Sandusky case.

The university is now 0-3, as U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody denied its latest motion for a stay late last week. Penn State argues it will be disadvantaged in defending itself because witnesses Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier are on trial for perjury and related charges and have said they will not help the university during the discovery phase of the lawsuit.

Brody’s order says Victim 6 “has already waited a long time for justice and would be burdened with further delay.” Brody denied the motion without prejudice, meaning the university can ask for a stay again.

The judge also struck down the university’s request for a protective order to stop a litany of discovery requests initiated by the young man’s lawyers. Among their 33 separate discovery requests, they want every single document former FBI director Louis Freeh reviewed as part of his investigation for Penn State’s board of trustees.

They want more university-held documentation, too: the names of everyone Freeh interviewed, the entire police file about the investigation into Sandusky showering with their client in 1998, and every single document the university gave to the grand jury investigating Sandusky and three ex-administrators.

Penn State also asked the judge to consider a stay on the entire discovery process because of the nature of items requested.

But Brody said Penn State’s “blanket” request has not shown her enough to stop the whole discovery process from continuing. However, Brody said Penn State can ask for stays when specific issues arise.

The plaintiff in the case is the young man who testified at Sandusky’s trial last summer that he felt “violated” after the coach coaxed him into a shower in 1998. He was 11 at the time, and his mother is the one who reported the incident to Penn State police.

The incident was investigated, but the case was not prosecuted in 1998 after it was reviewed by then-Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar.

The case got new life in 2011 after state authorities charged Sandusky stemming from the allegations in the 1998 police report. But the former assistant coach was acquitted of the most serious charge from that incident, indecent assault, at the trial last summer.

The young man filed a suit in January, claiming that Penn State “turned a blind eye” to Sandusky’s actions years ago, and that caused him to suffer from distress and humiliation.

If or when the lawsuit goes forward, it could shed new light on some still curious pieces of the Sandusky scandal puzzle.

For instance, the young man’s lawyers told Penn State they want depositions of certain people central to the 1998 Sandusky incident, such as Karen Arnold, the retired Centre County assistant district attorney on the case; John Seasock, a therapist who was brought by Centre County Children and Youth Services to evaluate the boy after the report in 1998; former Penn State police chief Thomas Harmon; and retired detective Ronald Schreffler.

Penn State denies the allegations, but the university has had little success in the case so far.

The judge has denied two requests for a stay and she denied a motion to reconsider one of those decisions.

Last week, though, she did give Penn State a small victory when she dismissed one count of vicarious liability, which refers to a supervisor being held liable for a subordinate’s actions. Brody said she found no evidence in the lawsuit that Penn State employed Sandusky to be a child molester and that the count did not apply in the case.

Penn State will pay $59.7 million to 26 men who agreed to settlements with the university. Victim 6 was not among those who settled.

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