Penn State is paying for the alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky to receive counseling under a program that an outside company will run.
The university announced Wednesday that it has a contract with Praesidium Inc., an Arlington, Texas-based abuse risk management company, to receive the calls of alleged victims and put them in contact with counselors in their areas.
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Praesidium’s job will be walking the alleged victims through the process.
“This is a way for those who may have been abused by Jerry Sandusky to seek free, confidential counseling,” Powers said. “The university will pay for the counseling.”
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Powers said those seeking counseling will not have to provide proof of their claims. Instead, Praesidium will ask them whether they believe they are an abuse victim of Sandusky and a few other questions, “but no one will be asked to prove anything and there is no investigation.”
“Our goal is to help as many people as we can who may have been affected, and to do it in a way that is as painless as possible for those people,” she said in an email.
The counseling will be provided by counselors outside the university, and the university won’t know who is receiving the services.
University leaders have said that they want to help the alleged victims of the former Nittany Lions football coach. Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys, and the university is the target of a number of investigations into how it handled the situation. Sandusky maintains his innocence.
At the trustees’ January meeting, Chairwoman Karen Peetz said the university would help the alleged victims, including paying for their health care and counseling.
University trustee Mark Dambly, who is chairman of the board’s newly formed outreach and community relations committee, said the university made a commitment to helping those who may have suffered abuse.
“We do think it’s an important step to meeting not just the commitment we made, but to helping everyone in the healing process,” Dambly said.
In a news release announcing the services, the university said it “is providing notice to affected individuals of these free services.” Powers said the university has been contacted by the attorneys of some of the alleged victims.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Penn State hadn’t reached out to State College attorneys Andy Shubin and Justine Andronici, who are representing multiple alleged victims. Shubin said he hopes the counselors are local and qualified to provide support to male survivors of sexual abuse as well as their families.
“I would hope these are people who have intimate knowledge of our community,” he said.
Those who want to receive counseling as well as alleged victims’ families and friends can call Praesidium at 888-961-9273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. CDT reporter Mike Dawson contributed to this report.