HARRISBURG, Pa. – A lawyer brought in by Penn State to help resolve civil claims with former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse victims said Monday he expects 25 of 31 to be settled by the end of the week.
Attorney Michael Rozen said "the overwhelming majority" of the eight young men who testified against Sandusky last year are among the 25. A 25-year-old man from suburban Philadelphia, a trial witness referred to as "Victim 5," became the first to finalize a deal on Friday.
Rozen said all of the deals include provisions to give the university the right to pursue claims against the university's insurer, The Second Mile charity founded by Sandusky and The Second Mile's insurer.
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in state prison for child sexual abuse. Witnesses testified that he met victims through The Second Mile, an organization established to help at-risk children that ran camps and offered other services.
Rozen said the "value" of the claims depended in part on whether they happened after 2001, when top-ranking school officials were told by a graduate assistant about Sandusky with a child in a team shower, or before 1998, the earliest documented example of a Sandusky complaint.
"It's what did Penn State know and what duty did they have?" Rozen said. "What did they know, when did they know it, and what duty — if any — did they have to act, and to what extent?"
He said claims for abuse before 1998 also may fall outside the statute of limitations that put time limits on how long victims have to sue.
Although some lawyers have said they were interested in settlements that require Penn State to make changes that might prevent such abuse from re-occurring, Rozen said those matters have been eclipsed by the widespread reforms the university has adopted or begun since an internal report made a series of recommendations last summer.
"I don't think anybody could reasonably or rationally question the university's commitment to doing things differently in the future," Rozen said. "This was about trying to redress harm caused to young men by this really bad person, Sandusky."
He declined to say how much the 25 cases are settling for, or provide a range of the settlements. Earlier this summer, the Penn State trustees authorized some $60 million to fund the settlements.
Penn State declined to comment on the Victim 5 deal this weekend, saying only through a spokesman that the school continued to make progress on multiple settlements.