A Chester County judge says that the whistle-blower lawsuit against Penn State University by one of the key witnesses against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky will move forward.
Attorneys for the university asked that the civil case filed by former assistant football coach Michael McQueary be put on hold while the criminal prosecution of former administrators Gary Schultz, Timothy Curley and Graham Spanier make their way through the system.
But Judge Thomas G. Gavin said Wednesday the whistle-blower lawsuit filed by Mr. McQueary, who lost his job in the fallout of the Sandusky arrest, should go on. The judge wrote that there are no overlapping issues between the criminal and civil cases.
Mr. McQueary testified that while he was a graduate assistant in 2001 he saw Sandusky engaged in sexual activity with a young boy in a Penn State football locker room shower. He claims in his lawsuit against the university that he was fired improperly.
The criminal case is on hold while a judge decides if former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin should be permitted to testify against the administrators.
Among its reasons for requesting the delay in Mr. McQueary's case, Penn State attorneys said the school could be hampered in its ability to respond to the suit because the administrators may invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The university's lawyers also argued that the interests of Sandusky's abuse victims, as well as the criminal defendants, would benefit from a delay.
But Judge Gavin wrote that the administrators cannot assert the Fifth Amendment, saying that "The focus in the criminal proceedings is what defendants knew about Sandusky's improper conduct on the date they appeared before the grand jury or met with investigators, not the reason why McQueary was let go.
"Whether the criminal defendants were truthful in their testimony regarding what they knew about the incident McQueary observed and reported is factually and legally distinct from McQueary's whistle-blower and defamation claims."
Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 criminal counts against him and sentenced in October to 30 to 60 years in prison. He is being housed in protective custody at the State Correctional Institution Greene in Waynesburg.
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620.