A man whose testimony helped convict former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexually abusing boys has become the first victim to reach a financial settlement against the university and will receive several million dollars, according to media reports.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and Associated Press said the plaintiff, known as Victim 5, and lawyers representing Sandusky signed off on the deal Friday. Victim 5’s attorney, Tom Kline, did not immediately respond to an email from the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, but AP reported that his client expected to receive the money within a month.
Kline said the victim, who is now 25, was relieved. He would not divulge the details of the settlement, one of 26 civil suits filed against the university in the wake of the explosive case that rocked one of college football’s most storied programs.
Sandusky, 69, was convicted in June 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse and is serving a 30-to-60-year sentence in a Pennsylvania prison. He continues to insist he is innocent, but the university set aside $60 million to cover payouts to victims in civil cases arising from the criminal trial.
Once a cherished member of the Penn State community, Sandusky was found guilty of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Prosecutors said Sandusky used a charity for at-risk youth he had founded, the Second Mile, to lure his victims with promises of tickets to football games and access to the players they idolized.
The case led to the ouster of Penn State’s longtime head football coach, the late Joe Paterno, and the firing of its president, Graham Spanier. An investigation by the university found that Paterno and other top school officials had turned a blind eye to reports years earlier that Sandusky had abused children, sometimes at the university’s football training facility.
According to a grand jury report, Victim 5 met Sandusky through the Second Mile in 1995 or 1996 and was subsequently invited by the coach to a Penn State football game. As the months went by, Victim 5 said he was invited to several more games with Sandusky, who he alleged would put his hand on his leg while they drove.
The victim testified in Sandusky’s trial that years after they had met, when he was 12 or 13 years old, the coach exposed himself to the boy in a Penn State locker room and sexually assaulted him in a shower on campus.
Michael K. Rozen, a lawyer hired by Penn State to deal with the civil claims, said Victim 5’s case was considered one of the most serious because of its timing: It occurred after a graduate assistant had told school officials that he had seen Sandusky raping a boy in a university shower room.
“It absolutely, positive could have been stopped,” Rozen told the Philadelphia Inquirer of the assault against Victim 5.