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August 18, 2013

Lawyer says first Penn State abuse claim settled

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A man who was sexually abused by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has become the first to settle a civil claim against the university, the man's attorney said Saturday.

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported that the young man known as "Victim 5," who testified at Sandusky's criminal trial last year, settled for several million dollars.

Attorney Tom Kline confirmed the deal in an email to The Associated Press but did not immediately provide any other details.

The paper reported the deal is the first of 26 settlements expected soon among 31 young men who have pressed claims over the actions of Sandusky.

The Inquirer said it had interviewed Kline on Friday along with Michael Rozen, one of the lawyers brought in by Penn State to resolve the civil claims.

Rozen told the paper that Victim 5's case was considered to be more serious than others because his abuse occurred in August 2001, months after top school officials were informed by a graduate assistant that he saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in a team shower.

"The pivotal issue from the university's perspective in dealing with the victims is where the incident occurred and when it occurred proximate to the 2001 shower incident," Rozen told the paper.

A spokesman for the university declined comment on the deal Saturday, saying the school "continues to make progress on multiple settlements."

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.

Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence for child molestation and related offenses.

Penn State's trustees authorized some $60 million in settlements last month.

Victim 5 was among eight young men testified at Sandusky's trial last year about abuse that included grooming, fondling, oral sex and anal rape, including incidents on school property.

Sandusky spent three decades at Penn State under former head coach Joe Paterno. He met some of his victims through The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk youth he founded in 1977 and continued to operate after he retired from Penn State in 1999.

A 1998 complaint about Sandusky showering with a boy — one of those who testified against him — was investigated by university police but no charges were filed. A graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, witnessed a different incident in the team shower in 2001 and notified Paterno and other high-ranking school officials, but police were not called.

The response of university leaders, including Paterno, was heavily criticized in a report commissioned by the school last year. Paterno died in January 2012, but criminal charges for an alleged cover-up are pending against three others: former president Graham Spanier, retired vice president Gary Schultz and retired athletic director Tim Curley. All three deny the allegations.

Penn State had fostered an image of a model football program under Paterno, whose statue outside the football stadium was taken down after the scandal broke.

The school has spent nearly $50 million on the Sandusky scandal, not including any payments to the victims and accusers.

 

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