The lawyer representing a 25-year-old man who became the first to settle a civil suit against Penn State arising from sexual abuse committed by its former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, says more settlements are imminent in the coming days.
Thomas Kline, who represented a man known in court documents as Victim 5, said Sunday there were 25 more cases to be settled following the wrap-up of his client's on Friday. "It's my understanding that documents have been sent out or are on their way to the lawyers of other Sandusky victims. I would expect the entire process to be completed in days or weeks, not months," he said.
Under terms of the deal between Victim 5 and Penn State, the amount to be paid by the university cannot be divulged. But Penn State has set aside $60 million to settle the 26 cases that were filed against it after Sandusky's criminal trial ended in conviction last year, meaning each victim could receive about $2.3 million if the amount were divided equally.
Victim 5's case was considered pivotal and especially significant because of the timing of the sexual assault against the plaintiff. It occurred several months after school officials had been told of an alleged rape by Sandusky of another boy in a Penn State locker room shower, meaning it might have been prevented had officials acted on the earlier tip.
During Sandusky's criminal trial, Victim 5 testified tearfully that the ex-coach molested him in a locker room shower at Penn State in 2001, when he was 13, and forced the boy to put his hands on the older man's penis. Like several other witnesses, Victim 5 said Sandusky had befriended him through the former coach's charity, the Second Mile, which was supposed to help at-risk youth.
The settlement calls for Victim 5 to drop litigation against Second Mile and the estate of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired as a result of the scandal. Kline said that made the deal a win for Penn as well as for his client, because the university could try to recoup money it paid to victims from Second Mile and others.
"Penn State now has a clear and open freeway to pursue those claims and predictably will get back a lot of the money that is paid to claimants like Victim 5," he said.
A Penn State spokesman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in Pennsylvania and continues to proclaim his innocence. Paterno died in January 2012, two months after being fired by Penn State's Board of Trustees as a result of the Sandusky scandal.
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