STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Lawyers for Joe Paterno's relatives and the NCAA can have more time to look into newly disclosed allegations about claims of abuse against the late Penn State football coach's former assistant Jerry Sandusky, a judge said Monday.
Judge John Leete is presiding over a lawsuit by the Paterno family against the NCAA. He gave the parties 45 days to explore claims that a boy told Paterno in 1976 he was molested by Sandusky, and that two coaches witnessed Sandusky abusing children in the late 1980s. The information was made public this month when a Philadelphia judge ruled in a lawsuit by Penn State over insurance coverage for Sandusky-related claims.
Penn State's lawyers "will, as appropriate, approach victims in the Sandusky matter to ascertain their willingness to take part in voluntary discovery," Leete wrote after a Monday conference in the case. "The court will take all necessary steps to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of any such persons."
Paterno's relatives have rebutted the 1976 accusation, and an attorney for some Sandusky victims has said it is not irrefutably supported. Also, prosecutors have called the 1980s claims unreliable.
The claims were briefly described in a May 4 order by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer, but there were few details. The Associated Press and three other news organizations filed a request last week seeking to unseal related court records.
The Paternos say the NCAA's use of a Penn State-commissioned report damaged their commercial interests. Two former Penn State coaches, Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are also suing the NCAA, saying the report made it impossible for them to find comparable jobs.
Leete's order said he may adjust a timetable he laid out in March that established deadlines in the case through mid-October.
Messages seeking comment from lawyers for the NCAA and the Paterno family were not immediately returned.
Paterno died in 2012, two months after state prosecutors first charged Sandusky with child molestation.
Sandusky was convicted later that year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence. He has maintained his innocence. A hearing in his ongoing appeals is scheduled for Friday at the courthouse near State College.