Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Attorney says settlement talks close to deal in Penn State civil suits

A civil attorney for one of Jerry Sandusky’s molestation victims said Thursday the first phase of settlement talks with Penn State is finished, and that the sides are now discussing money.

Philadelphia-based attorney Tom Kline, who represents the man identified as Victim 5 in Sandusky’s child sexual abuse trial, gave the update Thursday morning to a throng of media gathered outside the Centre County Courthouse.

Minutes earlier, inside the courthouse, Sandusky’s defense argued a judge should overturn the pedophile’s conviction and grant a new trial because his attorneys weren’t given enough time to prepare.

As the sides wait — likely weeks — for Senior Judge John Cleland to rule on the motions, civil attorneys for Victim 5 and at least 19 other men will continue to talk settlements with Penn State.

“Where we are now is what I would call the brass-tacks part of negotiations,” Kline told reporters and camera crews.

“Phase one was fact gathering,” Kline said. “Negotiators from Penn State looked to determine facts — were these young men injured, was it on Penn State property, was it before or after the now infamous (Mike) McQueary incident?

“That’s done,” he continued. “We’re now getting to the point where we are actually talking about money and talking about whether the case is going to be resolved.”

Penn State previously set a self-imposed deadline to settle claims by the end of 2012, but announced in December it would not meet that goal. Kenneth Feinberg, one of the attorneys Penn State retained in September to settle the claims out of court, said talks will resume this year.

Kline called the university’s initial deadline unrealistic, but said the sides have made progress. Although he declined to provide a specific time-frame for a settlement, he said the sides were “somewhere in the middle” in talks.

“But sometimes the middle to the end is a very long process,” he said. “Sometimes the middle to the end is the harder process.”

Feinberg said last month there had been “excellent progress” in negotiations. Kline seemed to echo that optimism Thursday.

“The tone and the tenor and the context of the negotiations have been most serious and most deliberate,” he said. “Penn State has gone about this with very professional negotiators ... who are very skillful and very experienced.”

Attorneys not affiliated with the case have said resolving the claims and lawsuits could end up costing Penn State tens of millions of dollars. Penn State is already on the hook for more than $80 million in costs that have arisen from the fallout of the Sandusky scandal.

Feinberg said 20 to 25 men are part of the talks, and possibly two or three more will be included if their claims are corroborated.

Attorneys for the victims have said the Freeh report, which concluded senior Penn State leaders concealed abuse allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001, made the university liable for damages.

The senior leaders, ex-president Graham Spanier, ex-athletic director Tim Curley and retired administrator Gary Schultz, have been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Their attorneys have maintained they are innocent and want to fight the charges at trial.

Sandusky is in solitary confinement at the state prison in Greene County, serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for sexually abusing 10 young boys, some on the Penn State campus.