Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Board: Mike McQueary's potential lawsuit baseless

DUNMORE — When former Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary testified last month at Jerry Sandusky’s trial, he said he wanted his job back because he thought he had done a good job.

He was put on administrative leave in November, and 180 days later, he gave the university notice that he was thinking about filing a whistleblower lawsuit against it to get his job back.

But on Friday, one board of trustee member said a potential suit from him lacks legal standing.

“We do not believe Mr. McQueary’s claims have any legal merit,” trustee Ira Lubert said, while updating the board on legal matters.

McQueary testified at Sandusky’s trial last month, saying what he thought what he witnessed in 2001 was “extremely sexual” by the sounds he heard although he didn’t see Sandusky actually having sex with the boy. The boy has yet to be identified and Sandusky was acquitted of the most serious charge from that incident. The scathing report on Thursday from Louis Freeh condemns university leaders in the way they handled that report as well as another one.

McQueary hasn’t yet filed a formal complaint outlining his reasons for the suit and the damages he expects. At trial, McQueary said he filed the notice, or a writ of summons, on the 180th day after he was put on leave, which preserves his right to sue.

The Lasch Football Building, the site of some of Sandusky’s sexual assaults against boys, will be remodeled because of the crimes committed there.

University spokesman David La Torre said the university’s plans to renovate the building were drawn up shortly after Sandusky’s arrest in November. But the plans can’t move forward until all legal proceedings in the case are over.

Sandusky retired in 1999 and was given access to football facilities as part of his retirement deal.

The university soon will reach out to the victims’ attorneys to discuss “facilitated claims resolution,” Lubert said Friday in his legal update to the board. That means they’re looking to settle potential lawsuits out of court and out of the public eye.

So far, the university is facing three pending civil suits filed by victims in Philadelphia. Several attorneys for the victims in the grand jury investigation have indicated they’d sue.

And the university has been notified by another attorney that it could be sued in court.

On Thursday, several victims’ attorneys said the Freeh report makes the university liable. One attorney said he expected to seek punitive damages and another said Penn State was reckless.

Lubert said state and federal investigations into Sandusky are being conducted by grand juries, which means they're being handled in secret.

Little is known about a federal investigation into Sandusky. The university received a wide-ranging federal subpoena in February.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment Friday.

The board of trustees approved the hiring of an inhouse attorney who will start work on Monday.

Stephen Dunham, most recently general counsel at Johns Hopkins University, replaces Penn State’s former general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, who left the university June 30.

Dunham said “Penn State is unquestionably one of the great public universities in the county,” even in the face of the challenges it faces regarding the fallout of the Sandusky abuse scandal and the Freeh report.

Freeh said in comments Thursday after releasing his report that Baldwin’s counsel to the university regarding the Sandusky case was “seriously deficient.”

Dunham thanked trustees for their support and confidence.

“I believe serving as general counsel of a major American university is the best legal job in the country,” Dunham said.

New trustee Anthony Lubrano called Dunham “a welcome addition.”

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT