The Penn State University scandal involving the sexual abuse of children by the one-time assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky could result in the school paying millions to settle personal injury lawsuits. So far, three civil lawsuits have been filed against Penn State, charging that the school was negligent by failing to protect the children on its premises.
More specifically, a spokesman from the PSU Board of Trustees said last week that the civil lawsuits allege “negligence, negligent supervision, premises liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to endanger children.” He said at least one other lawsuit is expected to be filed soon, also in Philadelphia.
The spokesman said that PSU has every intention to “offer all plaintiffs an opportunity to resolve claims against the University in a fair manner, through a process of facilitated claims resolution.” This announcement does not come as a surprise as it is likely that the school will want to settle the lawsuits are quickly and as confidentially as possible.
The civil lawsuits were announced just a day after an official report led by a former FBI director was released detailing that Penn State officials covered up Sandusky’s sex crimes for 13 years, showing little concern for the children who were victimized. This report could be used as valuable evidence in the civil lawsuits against the University.
A Drexel University law professor with a reported 22 years of experience in the Pennsylvania court system said that any trial lawyer representing the victims would likely start with this report as a roadmap. The professor said the report “lays out various statements, emails and seems to point out logical inconsistencies, even if it doesn’t actually call [Penn State officials] liars.”
At the end of June, Sandusky was convicted on 54 counts relating to child molestation charges.
Source: Huffington Post, “Penn State Facing Civil Lawsuits For Failure To Report Jerry Sandusky’s Sexual Crimes,” July 13, 2012; Huffington Post, “Penn State Lawsuits Likely After Freeh Report Traces Cover-Up,” Alyssa Creamer and Anna Susman, July 13, 2012