Penn State University has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with a 25-year-old man who was sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky in a campus shower, the man's attorney said.
It is the first of 26 claims to be settled in the Sandusky scandal, with the others expected early this week. The university has approved spending $60 million for the payouts.
The man, known as Victim 5 in court proceedings, was assaulted by Sandusky in August 2001, six months after then-graduate assistant Michael McQueary reported to university officials that he saw Sandusky rape a boy in a campus shower.
Because the assault occurred so soon after the McQueary report and took place on campus, it was considered pivotal in reaching a settlement agreement with other victims, said Michael K. Rozen, a lawyer hired by the university to help settle the cases.
"The pivotal issue from the university's perspective in dealing with the victims is where the incident occurred and when it occurred proximate to the 2001 shower incident," Mr. Rozen said. " 'Number 5' is probably the singular one of the claims that has come to the university's attention where it absolutely, positively could have been stopped."
Neither Mr. Rozen and Philadelphia lawyer Thomas Kline, who represents Victim 5, would specify the amount of the settlement, but Mr. Rozen said it was one of the highest negotiated because of its circumstances.
"There are categories of relative value," Mr. Rozen said. "Within those categories, there is a hierarchy. Certainly, Tom's client, 'Number 5,' sits at the top of the top grouping. There may be one or two other claims up there as well."
The victim met Sandusky through the coach's Second Mile charity in the mid-1990s when he was 7 or 8 years old. The coach took him to more than a dozen Penn State football games. When the boy was 12 or 13, Sandusky exposed himself to him in a Penn State locker-room sauna, then sexually assaulted him in the shower, he testified during Sandusky's trial last year.
The victim did not want to comment on the settlement but was "relieved," Mr. Kline said.
Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.
Mr. Rozen said 26 of the 31 claims, including that of Victim 5, had been tentatively settled. Mr. Kline signed off Friday on the final paperwork, Mr. Rozen said. Other lawyers and their clients have received the paperwork and their sign-off was expected to be imminent, Mr. Rozen said.
Philadelphia lawyer Joel Feller, whose firm represents seven victims, said he expected settlement details to be finished early this week for all seven. He, too, declined to release the amount of the settlements.
"No amount of money is going to take away what these young men are going to have to endure for the rest of their lives," Mr. Feller said. "But they are pleased to have this over with."
Mr. Rozen said there is wide disparity in the amounts of the settlements based on many factors, including severity of the abuse, location, and time.
Under the terms of each settlement, the victims have agreed not to sue Penn State or Second Mile, and cede their right to sue Second Mile to the university, which plans to go to court to try to get the charity's insurer to reimburse the university for some of the claim amount, Mr. Rozen said.
Former university president Graham B. Spanier and two other university officials face trial on charges of failing to report and act on the abuse in the 2001 case.
In the case of Victim 5, the evidence was clear, Mr. Rozen said. He cited the man's court testimony and a psychological evaluation, showing the man had been scarred by the abuse.
Both Mr. Rozen and Mr. Kline previously had participated in high-profile, so-called mass tort cases. Mr. Rozen was involved in the settlements for 9/11 victims; Mr. Kline represented patients in the Vioxx drug case. The Penn State case, though with fewer victims, was challenging in a different way, the lawyers said.
"It was much harder to evaluate injury," Mr. Kline said. "In this kind of case, you're looking into the mind of a victim of sexual abuse."
Mr. Kline said he was impressed with Penn State's desire to do right by the victims. "It convinced me of what the university was trying to say to the victims," he said.