Former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Mike McQueary, whose graphic testimony against Jerry Sandusky made him a central figure in the child sex abuse scandal, filed a lawsuit against Penn State University Tuesday alleging his cooperation with investigators led to his suspension and eventual firing.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas, Mr. McQueary also contends the university defamed him and that officials lied to him. He is seeking $8 million plus reimbursement for legal fees and other benefits he lost when he was suspended from his coaching job.
University spokesman David La Torre said Penn State had no comment, but confirmed Mr. McQueary's contract ended with the university June 30.
Mr. McQueary told authorities he witnessed Mr. Sandusky, a former assistant football coach convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, sexually assault a boy in locker room showers on campus in February 2001, testimony that made the coach a star witness for the prosecution in the case.
But while he helped convict Mr. Sandusky, he was widely criticized for not reporting what he saw to police. Instead, he waited a day and told then-head coach Joe Paterno and two university administrators, he testified to the investigating grand jury that ultimately indicted Mr. Sandusky.
The two administrators, retired vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, contradicted Mr. McQueary when they were grilled by the grand jury, saying he never went into detail about what he witnessed between Mr. Sandusky and the boy.
Both face trial on perjury charges, for allegedly lying in their grand jury testimony.
The suit claims Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz misrepresented themselves when they told Mr. McQueary, then a graduate assistant coach, that they would properly investigate his report. They also never went to police.
In the suit, Mr. McQueary said the university cast him as a liar and made him a "scapegoat" when then-President Graham Spanier pledged his "unconditional support" of Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley in a statement following their arrest in November 2011.
Following the arrest of Mr. Sandusky, Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley, Mr. McQueary was told to leave town for the weekend and then later was suspended with pay. When asked if he had been negligent in his duties, university general counsel Cynthia Baldwin replied: "No one is accusing you of being negligent at all," according to the suit.
But Mr. McQueary was barred from coaching for the remainder of the season and lost many of the privileges that came with his job, including use of a car and a bonus when the team qualified for a bowl game. His base salary last year was $140,000.
According to the suit, he learned he had been terminated in a news conference delivered by new Penn State president Rodney Erickson on July 5.
Mr. McQueary called this treatment "discriminatory" and alleged it stemmed from his testimony against Mr. Sandusky and because he expected to be "a key prosecution witness" against Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz, according to the suit. Being barred from his coaching duties led him to be "ostracized and isolated" and caused him "distress, anxiety and embarrassment," the suit states.
Neither Mr. McQueary nor his family could be reached for comment. His attorney, Eliot A. Strokoff, could not be reached for comment.
Jury selection for Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz's trial is set to begin Jan. 7. Martine Charles, a spokeswoman for the pair's attorneys, said they had not yet reviewed the suit.education - state
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2533. Twitter: @MoriahBee. First Published October 3, 2012 4:00 AM