Priests, Pedophiles and Penn State

Aug. 6, 1999 AP file photo, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, right, poses with his defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky

Out of Florida comes a $100M verdict against a priest for sexual abuse of a child. Of that, $90M is punitive damages. Will that money ever be collected? No. Does it matter?

It certainly matters if you are Penn State, reeling from news this week that Jerry Sandusky, one of its football coaches, was arrested on multiple counts of sexual assaults on children. There seems to be little point recounting the burgeoning scandal and its awful claims here, as so many others are already doing, and I try not to write “me too” kinds of posts. But you would have to be living under a rock not to know that legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired in the immediate aftermath, as was the school’s president, Graham Spanier.

But one day you can bet some of these victims — and no one knows how many will claim to be — will come forward and sue the school for not doing more to bar Sandusky from the school grounds and alert the police after finding out about the allegations.

The issues will be, as they so often are, what did school officials know about the assaults and when did they know it? And, what did they do about it and when did they do it?

Even if Sandusky were to prevail on the criminal charges — a concept few bother to talk about as everyone just assumes he is guilty — it seems unlikely that those saying they were victimized would just fade away. and it seems that one day a jury, or many juries, will be asked to answer questions similar to this:

Was Penn State negligent in failing to report Jerry Sandusky to the police?

Was that negligence a substantial cause of injury to this victim?

Did Penn State act with a reckless disregard for the health, safety and well-being of those on campus by failing to report Sandusky to the police?

So that Florida verdict against a priest is important, as it is one barometer of how society feels about these types of issues. And that means bad, bad news for Penn State, for many years to come.

See also, with timeline and citations to Pennsylvania law:  Can Sandusky’s Sexual Abuse Victims Sue Penn State? (Max Kennerly @ Litigation and Trial)

 

Tags:


The New York Personal Injury Law Blog is sponsored by its creator, Eric Turkewitz of The Turkewitz Law Firm. The blog might be considered a form of attorney advertising in accordance with New York rules going into effect February 1, 2007 (22 NYCRR 1200.1, et. seq.) As of July 14, 2008, Law.com became an advertiser, as you can see in the sidebar. Law.com does not control the editorial content of the blog in any way.

Throughout the blog as it develops, you may see examples of cases we have handled, or cases from others, that are used for illustrative purposes. Since all cases are different, and legal authority may change from year to year, it is important to remember that prior results in any particular case do not guarantee or predict similar outcomes with respect to any future matter, including yours, in which any lawyer or law firm may be retained.

Some of the commentary may be become outdated. Some might be a minority opinion, or simply wrong. No reader should consider this site (or any other) to be authoritative, and if a legal issue is presented, the reader should contact an attorney of his or her own choosing for advice.

Finally, we are not responsible for the comments of others that may be added to this site.