Board of Trustees

In ‘important step,’ Penn State OKs some settlement offers to Sandusky abuse claimants

The bell and Old Main on the Penn State campus on Saturday, June 23, 2012.
The bell and Old Main on the Penn State campus on Saturday, June 23, 2012. CDT file

Penn State on Friday authorized university lawyers to extend settlement offers to some of the men claiming they were abused by convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

Penn State said the offers were recommended by the board’s legal subcommittee of the legal and compliance committee. The subcommittee’s recommendations came after discussions June 25 and Friday morning during confidential meetings.

Penn State will not say exactly how much the settlement offers will be, only that they are “within a range of dollar values.” The university has said the only number it will release about the settlements is the cumulative amount of their value.

The university did not say how many claimants would be offered settlements.

The university retained the law firm Feinberg Rozen to mediate the settlement process, which had been going on since last year and went well past the university’s self-imposed, but ultimately unsuccessful, deadline of the end of 2012.

President Rodney Erickson said the settlement offers was “yet another important step” toward resolving the claims by those who said they were abused by Sandusky.

“As we have previously said, the university intends to deal with these individuals in a fair and expeditious manner, with due regard to their privacy,” Erickson said in a statement.

None of the agreements have been signed and delivered, and Penn State said there will be no further comment until the settlements are finalized. The university expects that finalization to take a few more weeks, according to a news release.

Trustee Ira Lubert, who chairs the board’s legal and compliance committee, said the settlements were reached on a number of “existing claims.” He said the committee had the authority to OK the settlements by itself, but its members thought it important that the trustees approve it during a public meeting.

There was no discussion after Lubert’s briefing.

One of the claimants who will be offered a settlement is the young man from last summer’s Sandusky trial who testified as Victim 5.

“This is one more positive step in the resolution of the claims of the many young men who were abused by Jerry Sandusky,” said the young man’s civil lawyer, Thomas Kline, who declined further comment.

On the stand, Victim 5 said he went to a workout with Sandusky at a campus football facility and was coaxed into showering with Sandusky. He testified the experience was “uncomfortable” and never contacted Sandusky again.

The university hopes to conclude the process in the next several weeks, according to a news release.

The university’s mediators, Ken Feinberg and Michael Rozen, have been involved in negotiating claims with 30 men and their civil lawyers.

For Penn State, the announcement comes on the day one year ago that the Freeh report was released, shocking the university community with a scathing conclusion that former senior officials hid abuse allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.

Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in a state prison in Greene County. He was convicted last June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.