UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Penn State could soon be paying out millions of dollars to victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky after disclosing Friday it had tentative agreements with some of the young men who say he sexually abused them.
The school does not plan to comment on specifics until the deals are made final. University president Rodney Erickson called getting approval for settlement offers “another important step toward the resolution of claims from Sandusky’s victims.”
“As we have previously said, the university intends to deal with these individuals in a fair and expeditious manner, with due regard to their privacy,” Erickson said in a statement issued after the university’s Board of Trustees approved a settlement resolution.
Sandusky, 69, was convicted a year ago of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including violent attacks on boys inside school facilities. He is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term and maintains he was wrongfully convicted. He is pursuing appeals.
More than 30 claimants have come forward with sexual abuse allegations involving the longtime assistant to late coach Joe Paterno.
The deals will be limited to a range of dollar values and subject to final approval by a committee empowered by the board to handle the claims. A university spokesman said the school plans to release the total amount it pays to settle lawsuits but will not provide amounts for individual cases.
Sandusky’s arrest in November 2011 touched off a massive scandal that led to the dismissal of Paterno, then Division I football’s winningest coach, along with criminal charges against other high-ranking school officials and ultimately NCAA sanctions that included stripping Paterno of 111 victories.
Board chairman Keith Masser said it was part of getting past the scandal and the collateral damage it has done to the university.
“We’re just chipping away at getting these issues behind us,” Masser said.
Legal experts say the “value” of a child sexual abuse claims depends on several factors, including the victim’s age and the nature and frequency of the abuse.