Blog Entry

Loophole could limit civil suits against Penn St.

Posted on: November 12, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 11:17 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

According to a report on, the way Pennsylvania state law is written, many of the alleged victims in the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault case may not be able to file a lawsuit against Penn State or other defendants -- and their age may be the reason.

According to Pennsylvania state law, plaintiffs over the age of 20 may only file lawsuits in cases of sexual abuse that involved "forcible compulsion," which may exclude some of the lesser charges Sandusky currently faces -- regardless of their ages at the time of the alleged assaults. Seven of the eight alleged victims are now over the age of 20.

Here's more from the report: 

Shanin Specter, a litigator in Philadelphia who has been contacted by the family of one of the alleged victims, said the loophole could eliminate some of the victims as viable plaintiffs.

Specter said his firm will meet with the young man and his mother early next week to begin exploring legal options. He said he was contacted last week by the mother, whose son is one of eight alleged victims listed in the grand jury presentment against Sandusky.

"There's no doubt Joe Paterno will be sued and it will be left up to the discovery process to determine his liability," Specter said. "There are a lot of victims who suffered damages, and I expect that some number of defendants will be obligated to pay a lot of money."

Specter said he expects all of the men cited in the grand jury presentment will face lawsuits for any role they played in not reporting the alleged crimes to authorities. 

It's important to note that at this point, regardless of Specter's certainty on the issue, no civil suits have been filed yet. That's obviously subject to change over the coming weeks and months, but until those theoretical suits do (or don't) get filed, there's no way to address what effect the statute has on any complaints.

It was announced on Friday that Joe Paterno had retained criminal defense lawyer Wick Sollers in this matter, even though Paterno is not facing charges and was described as not being a target of the investigation by Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly

Sandusky faces 40 charges of varying severity related to the sexual assault of minors, up to and including rape, after alleged incidents that occurred from 1995 to 2009.


Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:44 am

Loophole could limit civil suits against Penn St.

Don't confuse the LEGAL requirments with the MORAL responsibilty. Yes, LEGALLY, Paterno did what was minimally asked of him. However, moral responsibility required more. Thats where the CIVIL lawsuit would stick. Was he grossly negligent in basically ignoring what was occuring on Penn St campus. And yes, inculded who you wish with that. The AD, Univ President, etc, etc...

Civil cases aren't bound by the burden of proof required in criminal cases. The lawauit(s) would come and most like be very successful. Even against Paterno. As for your "legal bearing"  Its simple: knowing what had already been reported to him in 1998&2002, why allow Sandusky to contniue to use Penn St facilities for the foundation up to a few weeks ago? Unless there is some absolutely amazing answer, Paterno and the rest are going to be paying a TON of money out to victims(if the loophole is closed that is).

Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:38 am

Loophole could limit civil suits against Penn St.

Joe's assistant came to him and told him he saw Sadusky raping a boy in the shower.  That is not what Joe reported to the school and it appears he did little to follow up on the issue.  Then he allows the coach to keep coaching as if nothing happened.  To say that this is a "witch hunt" against Jo Pa seems like a stretch to me.  I'm pretty sure if someone I trusted reported that to me I would have been pretty serious about investigating the issue...  not just sweeping it under the rug and moving on business as usual.  He made a huge mistake and it cost him his job and reputation.  I'm not saying he is a bad person or did this intentionally, but he failed to handle it and now he will have to face the consequences.

Since: Oct 10, 2011
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:38 am

Loophole could limit civil suits against Penn St.

Homer Simpson what is your view on this development?

"Stupid Pennsylvania state law!"  

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: November 13, 2011 10:59 am

Don't blame Joe, either

Joe trusted a friend.  This friend fooled not only Joe, but everyone around him for over thirty years.  Joe's only real "crime" here was not being a mind-reader.  As for the victims, everyone who ever went through his program who wants some money will say they were molested, too.  Every "attaboy" smack on the butt will turn into "fondling," every hand on the shoulder will turn into "coercion" or "sexual harassment," 
Really, though, anything done on the PSU facilities should be covered in their liability insurance.  Suing individuals won't work, because there isn't enough money to go around for all of the people who will come forward.  Sadly, those who come forward with false accuastions will only trivialize the pain of the victims.  
Ultimately, all the witch hunt has accomplished is to add Joe Paterno and a bunch of administrators to the long list of Jerry Sandusky's victims.   It hasn't made any of the victims feel any better.  It didn't erase what Sandusky did.  And it is still making the abuse victims relive their pain every day another reference appears in the media.  
I guess the upside is that it gave the torch and pitchfork crowd another reason to feel self-righteous and pompous.  Another day, another bonfire. 

Since: May 11, 2008
Posted on: November 13, 2011 10:35 am

this just in...

don't blame the victims.

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: November 13, 2011 10:34 am

Loophole could limit civil suits against Penn St.

A lawsuit wouldn't stand against JoePa, but nice try. I see the vultures are still circling here in the CBS Court... I mean forums. He followed policy. No matter how much a judge may not like to, he would throw it out because really, what legal bearing would you base your lawsuit on. You'd be filing a lawsuit just because you could.

Since: Oct 15, 2009
Posted on: November 13, 2011 9:02 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Oct 15, 2009
Posted on: November 13, 2011 8:56 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jan 26, 2009
Posted on: November 13, 2011 8:51 am

Loophole could limit civil suits against Penn St.

and major blame goes to the parents that let there children hang out with a 50 year old man and not get the least bit curious

Since: Sep 1, 2007
Posted on: November 13, 2011 8:51 am

Loophole could limit civil suits against Penn St.

Sandusky should be left an extra sheet in his cell so he can do himself what needs to be done.

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