Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Penn State community reflects on Jerry Sandusky verdict, turns attention to civil suits, other investigations

When Greg Leib looked upon his alma mater Saturday, he couldn’t help but wonder what comes next.

Less than 24 hours earlier, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, the man behind Linebacker U, was convicted of sexually abusing young boys, sometimes on campus.

In town visiting his daughter, who is also a graduate and now a medical student at Penn State, Leib was among the many on campus Saturday still trying to process the news.

“It’s been a very long, hard year,” he said. When a Centre County jury handed down its verdict Friday night, after more than 20 hours of deliberations, it closed a dark chapter for the school.

But fallout from the Sandusky case is likely to continue to unfold with expected civil suits and other ongoing investigations.

“I guess there’s part of me that’s looking forward to the legal system doing what it has to do,” Leib said.

Sandusky’s defense attorney, Joe Amendola, previewed what could be next when speaking late Friday to a throng of reporters and sometimes-hostile residents outside the Centre County Courthouse — a possible appeal of Sandusky’s conviction.

Just minutes after his client was taken away in handcuffs, Amendola said there are “a number of issues” that can be a basis for appeal, including the judge’s decision to deny the defense more time to prepare.

Meanwhile, court cases continue for two former top Penn State administrators accused of failing to report what Sandusky did and later lying to a grand jury investigating the abuse.

Tim Curley and Gary Schultz each face perjury charges for allegedly lying about their knowledge of suspected child sexual abuse in a Penn State locker room in 2001.

In November, the university hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate Penn State’s actions in the wake of the allegations.

Emails reportedly uncovered in the Freeh investigation suggest that Curley and Schultz and former Penn State President Graham Spanier thought that it would be “humane” to not alert legal authorities to allegations against Sandusky.

Penn State board of trustees Vice Chairman Keith Masser told the AP in an interview last weekend that he thought Penn State officials had knowledge of Sandusky’s behavior and worked to hide the situation.

Several days later, Masser apologized to the board, saying, “It was inappropriate to make the comments I did.

“I regret saying the things that were reported in the media,” he said. “Though there is still a lot of emotion felt by many, we all need to continue to show restraint, to wait for facts before making conclusions.”

Penn State has said the Freeh report could be released by the fall semester, but civil suits are already on the horizon.

Last week, a 30-year-man told an NBC interviewer on “Rock Center” that Sandusky molested him more than 100 times over four years, starting when he was 10.

Travis Weaver, who was not part of the criminal trial, is among a group of men who came forward with accusations after the indictments.

He has filed a civil suit against Sandusky, The Second Mile and Penn State. Many of the victims in the criminal trial also have civil attorneys, so more such cases could be on the way.

Penn State released a statement late Friday, shortly after Sandusky was convicted , indicating the university would attempt to settle potential civil lawsuits stemming from the criminal case.

The statement said Penn State will “provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the university.”

Other active investigations spawned by Sandusky’s arrest in November also continue.

In February, federal investigators issued a wide-ranging subpoena to Penn State, seeking computer records and other information.

The NCAA and the Big Ten Conference are also looking into the scandal.

On Saturday, acting Penn State Director of Athletics David Joyner issued a statement saying the department hopes “this verdict grants peace to the victims and their families and allows them to move forward in their recovery process.”

“The trust of our community has been broken, but Penn State athletics will move forward to regain that trust, with student athletes serving as the role models we expect them to be, and coaches living by example,” Joyner said in the statement.

Mike Shelley, a graduate student at Penn State, said Saturday that he feels some relief from the Sandusky verdict.

But Shelley added, with “what the university has to face after this, it’s a very small step.”

Shelley, and other students, have expressed frustration that the case, and potential cover-up, have harmed the school’s reputation.

“That’s the most unfortunate thing,” he said. “This is a school of hundreds of thousands of people ... and maybe three or four of five (allegedly) knew.”

Melanie Sessa, 22, of Butler, said the negative attention “angers me as a student.” She said Sandusky doesn’t define the students of Penn State.

“I’ve traveled all over the country this past year,” Shelley said. “That’s all people want to talk about when you say you are from Penn State.

“It’s really frustrating,” he said. “We’re still trying to be Penn State proud. This is still a great university.”

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter

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