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October 29, 2013 Tuesday
NEWS; Pg. 3A
|Sandusky victims get $59.7M;
Penn State settles with 26 claimants in sex-abuse case
John Bacon, USA TODAY,
Penn State will pay $59.7 million to 26 sexual-abuse victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the school said Monday.
The terms of the settlements include confidentiality agreements, the school said in a news release. Of the 26 settlements, 23 are signed and three are agreements in principle, with final documentation expected within the next few weeks.
Sandusky has admitted showering with the boys but has vigorously denied wrongdoing. He has been pursuing appeals while serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence.
"The Board of Trustees has had as one of its primary objectives to reach settlements in a way that is fair and respects the privacy of the individuals involved," Keith Masser, chair of the Board of Trustees, said in a statement. "This is another important milestone in accomplishing that goal."
University President Rodney Erickson called the agreements "another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State."
Harrisburg lawyer Ben Andreozzi, who represents nine of the victims, said he was pleased with the settlements. "Obviously, no amount of money can compensate for what these young men have gone through, but Penn State has given them the resources -- financially and counseling -- they need to help them recover."
Andreozzi said he has three more victims he has yet to present to Penn State because "it's not a good time" in their treatment.
No settlements will be funded by student tuition, taxpayer funds or donations, the university said. Expenses not covered by insurance are expected to be funded from interest revenues related to loans made by the school.
Penn State has rejected some of the six remaining claims as being without merit and has engaged others in possible settlement discussions. Penn State has spent more than $50 million on other costs related to the Sandusky scandal, including lawyers' fees, public relations expenses and adoption of new policies.
The abuse scandal rocked the university and the state. Joe Paterno, the school's iconic head coach, was fired shortly after Sandusky was charged in 2011. Paterno died in January 2012, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Sandusky, 69, was convicted in June 2012 of 45 criminal counts involving abuse over a 15-year period. Several young men testified that Sandusky would shower with them, grope them, and in some cases have oral and anal sex with them.
In July, a Pennsylvania judge ordered three former Penn State officials, including ousted former president Graham Spanier, to stand trial on criminal charges related to an alleged coverup that temporarily shielded Sandusky from law enforcement scrutiny.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson
October 29, 2013