Penn State could be on the hook for more than $100 million in legal exposure in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case, the Philadelphia Inquirer
The $100 million in legal exposure does not include the money Penn State will spend for its own legal defense or the damage to Penn State’s reputation, the Inquirer reported.
A report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh into what Penn State officials knew about the Sandusky scandal and whether they tried to cover it up found senior leaders disregarded the safety and welfare of Sandusky's victims.
After an eight-month inquiry, Freeh’s firm produced a 267-page report that concluded that Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno, President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, and vice president Gary Schultz "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."
"This is a lot worse than what I anticipated," Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago-based securities litigator, told the Inquirer. "The risks for Penn State in going through discovery and leaving a decision in the hands of a jury could be cataclysmic."
Freeh said officials had opportunities in 1998 and 2001 to step in. Sexual abuse might have been prevented if university officials had banned Sandusky from bringing children onto campus after a 1998 inquiry, the report said. Despite their knowledge of the police probe, Spanier, Paterno, Curley, and Schultz took no action to limit his access to campus, the report said.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts for abusing 10 boys. The scandal led to the ouster of Paterno and Spanier.
"I don't see in the long run any viable defense of Penn State, and it will be very interesting to see what they knew and when they knew it," Steven Wigrizer, a lawyer with the Center City firm of Wapner Newman Wigrizer Brecher & Miller, told the Inquirer.
"The biggest problem for Penn State is the length of time in terms of knowledge that people and higher-ups at Penn State had with respect to Jerry Sandusky," Stoltmann told the Inquirer. "If there was knowledge about Sandusky for a year or two, that would be one thing. It's another thing if the conduct has taken place for longer than a decade. Jurors tend to get outraged the longer things like this go on."
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