In one clause on one page of one document, Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer ripped a scab off the wound the Penn State community has been trying to heal for four years.
In an order in the university’s lawsuit against Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Co., Penn State’s liability insurer, over payment of claims in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, Glazer revealed a shattering allegation Wednesday.
“PMA claims Sandusky committed several acts of molestation early in his career,” Glazer wrote.
The first was a 1976 accusation that a child told late longtime Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno of molestation by Sandusky.
Within short order, the document was discovered by reporters, hit the Internet, the airwaves and newsprint and Happy Valley was right back where it was when Sandusky was arrested in 2011. One difference? When the original indictments were handed down in November 2011, it was a week before the trustees met.
This week, the story broke on the afternoon of the first day of the two-day meeting.
Some of the board members are the same. Some have changed, many specifically because of the fallout of the Sandusky incident, the resulting lawsuits and the $92.8 million in settlements. The new alumni-elected trustees have been adamant that the story was not over.
“My fiduciary duty to this institution does not allow me to sit and do nothing,” trustee Anthony Lubrano told the board Friday. “I am troubled this university is once again unprepared.”
My fiduciary duty to this institution does not allow me to sit and do nothing.
Alumni-elected Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano
In 2011, the allegations gave way to criminal charges that ended in Sandusky being convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse charges in court. Sandusky is seeking a new trial.
Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse crimes in 2012. He is pursuing a new trial.
But the PSU v. PMA case is a civil suit about civil suits. It is a fight between the two camps about who pays for what regarding 32 people who have already settled with the university. The information has already been reviewed and those cases closed.
Lubrano wants to get back into it. He asked the board to release information about the 1976 case.
He wasn’t alone.
Paterno’s wife, Sue, sent a letter to the board, read by trustee Al Lord.
“As we learned yesterday, the dark cloud of the Jerry Sandusky tragedy continues to hang over this institution,” she wrote, saying she was deeply saddened.
“I know we are all better than this,” she wrote. “We cannot allow this situation to be ruled by allegations and speculation. ... I do not fear facts and I know everyone will be better served if the complete story is made public.”
I do not fear facts and I know everyone will be better served if the complete story is made public.
Sue Paterno, in a letter to the Penn State board of trustees
The university released a statement later that did not reveal details but underscored the fact that the claim was just a claim.
“The alleged incidents are based upon the deposition testimony of persons who claim to have been victims of Jerry Sandusky. We note these are allegations, and not established fact. The university has no records from the time to help evaluate the claims. More importantly, coach Paterno is not here to defend himself. Penn State does not intend to comment further, out of concern for privacy, and due to the strict confidentiality commitments that govern our various settlement agreements,” said spokeswoman Lisa Powers.
But it didn’t end there. The situation snowballed on Friday evening as NBC News released allegations that “as many as six” assistant coaches had witnessed Sandusky’s “inappropriate behavior.”
Penn State was swift to respond to that.
“The university is facing and has faced a number of litigation matters and claims related to the Sandusky events. Allegations of various kinds have been made, and will likely continue to be made. The university does not speculate publicly or hypothesize about individual allegations. These are sensitive matters, and we want to be respectful of the rights of all individuals involved. It would be inappropriate to do otherwise,” Penn State said.