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Penn State to pay $60 million to 26 men over Sandusky abuse claims

jerry-sandusky-sentencing.jpg

Oct. 9, 2012: Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pa. (Reuters)

Penn State has announced that it is paying $59.7 million to 26 young men to settle claims of child sexual abuse at the hands of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The university said it had concluded negotiations that have lasted about a year.

The school said 23 deals are fully signed and three are agreements in principle. The school faces six other claims, and the university says it believes some do not have merit while others may produce settlements.

"We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State," University President Rodney Erickson said in a statement released Monday. "We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State."

Penn State said the day Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 of 45 criminal counts that it was determined to compensate his victims.

The settlements have been unfolding since mid-August, when attorneys for the accusers began to disclose them. Penn State followed a policy in which it has not been confirming them, waiting instead to announce deals at once.

The university says the settlements will be funded in part by various liability insurance policies. Officials said they will not be paid for by student tuition, taxpayer funds or donations.

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 and procedures related to children and sexual abuse complaints.

“Over the past year, Penn State has instituted more than 115 changes related to safety, human resources, security, compliance and governance,” the university said in a statement. “Through self-imposed urgency, the Board of Trustees, administration and staff have brought sweeping reform and best practice processes to nearly every aspect of the University's governance and oversight.

Sandusky, 69, has been pursuing appeals while he serves a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence.

Three former Penn State administrators await trial in Harrisburg on charges they engaged in a criminal cover-up of the Sandusky scandal. Former president Graham Spanier, retired vice president Gary Schultz and retired athletic director Tim Curley deny the allegations, and a trial date has not been scheduled.

Eight young men testified against Sandusky, describing a range of abuse they said went from grooming and manipulation to fondling, oral sex and anal rape when they were boys.

Sandusky did not testify at his trial but has long asserted his innocence. He has acknowledged he showered with boys but insisted he never molested them.

The abuse scandal rocked Penn State, bringing down football coach Joe Paterno and leading college sports' governing body, the NCAA, to levy unprecedented sanctions against the university's football program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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