Sandusky victims expect to settle sex abuse claims
HARRISBURG — Penn State may never be able to fully shake off the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, but news that one victim has settled and other claimants soon may follow marks a legal milestone after almost a year of negotiations.
Attorney Tom Kline said on Saturday that a 25-year-old suburban Philadelphia man known as “Victim 5” in court filings had completed the agreement with the university, the first to come to terms with the university that had employed Sandusky as an assistant football coach.
Another attorney, Mike Boni, one of four lawyers collectively representing 10 claimants, including the young man whose complaint triggered the Sandusky criminal investigation, said Sunday that those claims were also close to being resolved.
“I’d be troubled if it didn’t happen this week,” Boni said. “We’re not signed off, but we’re close.”
Another lawyer, Jeff Anderson, said his two cases are not that near to being resolved.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Anderson said on Sunday. “If somebody’s talking about they have deals done, it’s not us.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Saturday that 26 of 31 claims are close to being settled, which would validate the strategy used by Penn State to compensate Sandusky’s victims, said Richard Serbin, an Altoona lawyer who has represented sex abuse victims for 25 years.
“I would be very surprised if any of these cases ends up in trial,” Serbin said. “They may end up going forward in litigation, but that does not mean they will not be resolved before getting to the courthouse steps.”
Penn State announced a year ago — the day Sandusky was convicted of 45 criminal counts — that it hoped to compensate his victims fairly and quickly. Penn State’s trustees have authorized about $60 million to be used for settlements.
The deals appear to be coming together as three former school administrators await trial for an alleged cover-up and other actions after getting complaints about Sandusky. A district judge recently ruled there was enough evidence to send the cases against former President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley to county court for trial. All three deny the allegations.