1st lawsuit filed in sex abuse case embroiling Penn State
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In the first of an expected avalanche of civil lawsuits, a State College man has accused former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of molesting him more than 100 times in a four-year period when he was a boy.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court, identifies the victim only as "John Doe A." It also names as defendants the university and The Second Mile, the nonprofit founded by Mr. Sandusky to work with children.
The suit said the boy was 10 when he met Mr. Sandusky in 1992 as a participant in The Second Mile's programs. It said Mr. Sandusky abused him "on multiple occasions and at multiple locations within Pennsylvania and outside of Pennsylvania; in the facilities of Penn State, particularly the football coach's locker room; at times within Philadelphia County; at facilities out of state connected with a Penn State bowl game; and at the Sandusky home."
It said Mr. Sandusky threatened the boy and threatened to harm his family if he told anyone about the abuse.
Mr. Sandusky was charged last month with 40 counts of sexual abuse against eight other children. Two top Penn State administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, face charges of failing to report abuse and perjury. All three men have asserted their innocence.
Drawing on the grand jury presentment, the suit contends that Mr. Sandusky "molested multiple victims through his activities with Second Mile and Penn State" going back to the 1970s and that "his molestation was enabled by the negligent oversight of Sandusky by Second Mile and Penn State."
In a statement separate from the lawsuit, "John Doe A," now a 29-year-old State College resident, said he never told anyone of the alleged abuse until hearing news accounts of the criminal charges.
"We have not seen the civil suit," Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said.
Mr. Sandusky's attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
The suit asserts that Penn State and The Second Mile knew or should have known about Mr. Sandusky's purported history of sexual abuse and failed to do anything to stop him.
In accordance with Pennsylvania's civil court rules, attorney Jeffrey R. Anderson asked the court to award his client unspecified damages in excess of $50,000. Lawyers are not allowed to make specific damage claims in civil complaints, only to state whether their claim is above or below that threshold.
"Our goal today is to bring this forth, put some light on it and also put some heat on it," Mr. Anderson said at a news conference.
State prosecutors allege Mr. Sandusky used The Second Mile to meet the eight boys he is charged with molesting from between 1994 and 2009.
Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz have been charged for failing to report one purported instance, when it was allegedly brought to their attention in 2002. A graduate assistant said he saw Mr. Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the football locker room showers.
Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz maintain they were not told a sexual assault had occurred, a claim backed by the university's former president Graham B. Spanier and ousted head football coach Joe Paterno.
Penn State's board of trustees fired Mr. Spanier and Mr. Paterno in the wake of the allegations and placed Mr. Curley on administrative leave pending the resolution of his criminal case. Mr. Schultz has retired.
Legal experts have predicted that both the university and The Second Mile could face dozens of suits as the scandal continues to unfold.
Mr. Anderson and co-counsel Marci Hamilton have a long history of trying civil sexual abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church. They are currently involved in more than a half-dozen suits against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
First Published December 1, 2011 12:00 am