Bill comes due in Penn State scandal

Bill comes due in Penn State scandal

Ensnared in litigation, Penn State is trying to free itself from a child sexual-abuse scandal involving a former football coach.

It was clear from the moment the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case became public in 2011 that civil lawsuits or the threat of them would cost Penn State University a fortune.

The final bill came closer to being resolved this week when Penn State announced that it will settle claims from 26 of Sandusky's victims for $59.6 million. The settlement does not include claims from six other Sandusky victims whose cases are still pending.

But the exorbitant cost serves as another reminder just how far circumstances can go astray when people in important positions avert their eyes to possible criminal misconduct.

Indeed, the entire disgusting mess has produced a nightmare of civil and criminal litigation that is a long way from being over.

Three former Penn State officials, including the university's former president, face criminal charges in connection with their failure to take official action when Sandusky's misconduct was brought to their attention. The university also plans to pursue civil litigation against its own insurers, who have sought to deny responsibility for liability for Sandusky's misconduct.

The pivotal date in the Sandusky case was August 2001. That's when former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Mike McQueary made a late-night visit to the team locker room and said he saw the now-imprisoned Sandusky sodomizing a child in the shower.

Rather than report what he saw to campus police, McQueary made the fatal mistake of telling Penn State head coach Joe Paterno what he saw. Paterno reportedly told his superior about what McQueary told him and took no further action. Neither did anyone else, and as a result, Sandusky continued to molest children for years until his behavior fell under suspicion.

After Sandusky's indictment two years ago, victims started coming out of the woodwork, including Sandusky's adopted son Matt.

There are three areas of claims. They include children who were victimized before 1998, the first time Sandusky became the subject of a criminal investigation; those between 1998 and the 2001 incident witnessed by McQueary; and those that occurred after McQueary reported what he had seen.

Obviously, Sandusky molested children for many years before he became the subject of suspicion. The outrage in this case is that he continued to operate as before even after people had reason to suspect misbehavior and did nothing.

Why they did nothing when all they had to do was pick up the phone and call the police will be an eternal mystery.

Perhaps they simply didn't believe someone as respected as Sandusky could be a child molester. Perhaps they didn't want bad publicity to fall on Penn State and its venerated football program. Whatever they were thinking, the consequences have been calamitous.

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