The lawyers for a Jerry Sandusky abuse victim who is suing Penn State want to get their hands on the millions of documents Louis Freeh collected and reviewed in publishing his scathing report last summer.
The lawyers 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.
The demands are among 33 specific requests for records in the discovery phase of the federal lawsuit brought against Penn State by the young man known as Victim 6 from the Sandusky case. The demands have raised red flags in Old Main, as university lawyers are responding by asking a federal judge to put a hold on the litigation while the criminal cases against the ex-administrators play out.
Last week, lawyers for Penn State asked U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody to stay the lawsuit, saying the records the claimant wants could hurt both the university and the criminal cases that are headed to trial in Dauphin County.
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Penn State says it will be hurt because two of its former administrators, former president Graham Spanier and former athletic director Tim Curley, will not participate in the discovery process.
“It would be highly prejudicial to force the university to proceed with litigation and respond to discovery that directly implicates Messrs. Spanier, Curley and (Gary) Schultz, when at least two of the three are unwilling or unable to participate in this civil suit,” Penn State’s lawyers wrote in their request. “Because discovery cannot proceed efficiently and totally without the involvement of the criminal defendants, it makes little sense to keep this case active.”
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is the young man who testified at Sandusky’s trial last summer that he felt “violated” after the coach coaxed into showering with him after a workout 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, and mystery surrounds the reason why because the district attorney at the time, Ray Gricar, disappeared in 2005 and was never heard from again.
The young man filed a suit in January, claiming that Penn State “turned a blind eye” to Sandusky’s abuse years ago, and that caused him to suffer from distress and humiliation.
Penn State denies the allegations, but the university has not had any success so far in this case, as the judge rejected a previous attempt for a stay. The court order kept the door open for Penn State to ask again for a delay when the risks were more pressing.
The risks are “imminent,” Penn State’s lawyers said in the court request.
Penn State offered an alternative if the judge denies the stay, saying the university would like a protective order forbidding any discovery requests that include written materials and depositions.
Penn State’s argument in favor of a stay references other civil suits brought by Sandusky abuse claimants against the university. Penn State told the judge that all lawsuits have been stayed, and a federal judge in Harrisburg recently denied lifting a stay at the request of the claimant.
The university has approved spending $60 million for out-of-court settlements with the claimants, though Victim 6 is apparently not one of the more than dozen men whose claims have been resolved.
If or when the lawsuit goes forward, it could shed new light on some still curious pieces of the Sandusky abuse puzzle.
For instance, the young man’s lawyers told Penn State they want depositions of certain people central to the 1998 Sandusky incident. In a letter to the university, they listed Karen Arnold, the retired Centre County assistant district attorney on the case.
The lawyers also want a deposition of John Seasock, a therapist who was brought by Centre County Children and Youth Services to evaluate the boy after the report in 1998. Seasock found no signs of abuse, according to the report. But that conflicted with the conclusion from the boy’s psychologist, who said Sandusky’s actions were like those of a pedophile.
The list of to-be-deposed figures in the Sandusky case also includes retired Penn State police chief Thomas Harmon and retired detective Ronald Schreffler.
The lawyers also want records that already have been released — notes that Gary Schultz took on May 4, 1998, after hearing of the Sandusky shower incident. The notes were found in Schultz’s office by his assistant, and they were used in the Freeh report and presented at his preliminary hearing in July.
Spanier, Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges that they lied to the grand jury investigating Sandusky and tried to block law enforcement from investigating the claims. Their lawyers have vowed to fight the charges at trial.