Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Judge rules in favor of The Second Mile’s petition

Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse for a hearing in Bellefonte on Oct. 29, 2015.
Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse for a hearing in Bellefonte on Oct. 29, 2015. Centre Daily Times, file

A judge has ruled in favor of The Second Mile’s petition to dissolve its assets, turning them over to Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office.

The Second Mile attorney Howard Rosenthal said in a hearing Thursday that the actions of founder Jerry Sandusky rendered it nearly impossible for The Second Mile to continue.

The children’s charity was founded by Sandusky in 1977, more than 20 years before he retired as the Nittany Lions defensive coordinator and 35 years before he was convicted on 45 counts of various child sexual abuse charges. Sandusky’s victims came from the ranks of the at-risk boys being helped by the charity.

The organization has about $750,000 in assets, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Rosenthal argued that Sandusky’s actions affected volunteers and funding, making the organization inoperable, and that transferring The Second Mile’s funds would be the best use of them.

The process of dismantling the charity began in October 2012. Over the next several years, some of the assets, including intellectual property, cash, computers and The Second Mile’s endowment fund, were turned over to another service organization, Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

In 2015, Warren and Forest counties Senior Judge William Morgan allowed the sale of 60 acres of The Second Mile-owned property in Patton Township for $1.05 million.

Before ruling in favor of dissolving The Second Mile, Morgan questioned liability and outstanding insurance claims against the organization.

Rosenthal assured the court that the outstanding claims against The Second Mile could be pursued, even after the dissolution of the organization.

According to Attorney General’s Office assistant press secretary Jeffrey Johnson, that is true, but there is a timeline. Claims against the defunct organization’s assets will need to be filed within 120 days.

The state agency’s involvement in the case is simple, he said.

“Our role in the process is to ensure charitable assets are used properly,” Johnson said.

“This approved dissolution is the final step of a plan that was announced several years ago when the organization determined it could not continue providing services to children in need. As we complete this final step, and as it has been throughout this process, our thoughts, prayers and continued concerns are with all of those affected especially the victims and their families,” said The Second Mile’s David Woodle in an email.

Penn State has been a co-defendant with The Second Mile in a number of lawsuits brought by victims since the scandal broke. The university has settled more than two dozen cases, spending in excess of $60 million.

Last month, the university filed a document in the case, not opposing the dissolution but making another point.

“The university hereby states that in addition to filing claims for indemnification against The Second Mile and/or its insurers, the university also may file other claims against those entities and/or against officers or members of the board of directors. ... The university reserves all rights with respect to all of the claims it may file against these entities and individuals,” Penn State attorney Alexander Bilus wrote.

Jalelah Ahmed: 814-231-4631, @jalelahahmed