Law­suit against PSU in San­dusky case go­ing to trial

For­mer as­sis­tant coach Mike McQueary seeks more than $4 mil­lion in whistle­blower suit

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Mark Scol­foro

BELLE­FONTE >> A law­suit by a for­mer Penn State coach whose tes­ti­mony helped con­vict fel­low as­sis­tant Jerry San­dusky of be­ing a sex­u­ally vi­o­lent preda­tor goes to trial Mon­day over al­le­ga­tions that the univer­sity de­famed him and wrongly re­fused to re­new his con­tract.

Mike McQueary, now 42, played quar­ter­back at Penn State be­fore be­com­ing a mem­ber of Joe Paterno’s coach­ing staff.

But he be­came best known as the as­sis­tant who went to Paterno in 2001 to re­port see­ing San­dusky, then a re­tiree with gym priv­i­leges, sex­u­ally mo­lest­ing a boy in the team shower. San­dusky was not ar­rested un­til a decade later, lead­ing to ac­cu­sa­tions of a high-level coverup.

Nine women and three men were cho­sen for the jury last week. Both sides will make open­ing state­ments Mon­day.

McQueary was sus­pended with pay from the foot­ball pro­gram in 2011, when the first charges were brought in the case. Fol­low­ing San­dusky’s con­vic­tion in 2012 on charges of abus­ing 10 boys, McQueary learned he was ef­fec­tively be­ing ter­mi­nated from his $140,000-a-year job.

He claims in his whistle­blower law­suit that he was re­tal­i­ated against for help­ing pros­e­cu­tors, wrongly mis­led by high-rank­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors who first heard his story in 2001, and de­famed.

His own role in the scan­dal has also drawn scru­tiny be­cause he did not phys­i­cally in­ter­vene in the sex­ual as­sault of the boy, and be­cause he didn’t go to the po­lice.

McQueary went to Paterno’s home a day after the shower in­ci­dent to dis­cuss what he had seen. Paterno alerted Tim Cur­ley, the ath­letic di­rec­tor at the time, and Gary Schultz, a vice pres­i­dent at the time, and McQueary met with both of them about a week later.

Paterno’s han­dling of the com­plaint was even­tu­ally cited by trus­tees as one of the rea­sons for his fir­ing in late 2011. Paterno died a few months later.

In his law­suit, which seeks more than $4 mil­lion, McQueary claims Cur­ley and Schultz wrongly led him to be­lieve that they con­sid­ered it a se­ri­ous mat­ter and that they would re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately.

As a re­sult, the law­suit claims, McQueary “has been la­beled and branded as be­ing part of a cover-up,” mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for him to find work as a foot­ball coach.

He also claims he was de­famed by a news re­lease is­sued by Gra­ham Spanier — Penn State pres­i­dent at the time — on the day San­dusky was charged, ex­press­ing full sup­port for Cur­ley and Schultz, who both had also been charged crim­i­nally for not reporting the abuse claim and other of­fenses.

The law­suit says Spanier’s state­ment and com­ments he made a few days later to ath­let­ics staff “clearly sug­gest” McQueary had lied be­fore a grand jury and to po­lice. Spanier is also ac­cused of fail­ing to prop­erly re­port sus­pected abuse and en­dan­ger­ing chil­dren. He is await­ing trial.

It ap­pears from court doc­u­ments that nei­ther Cur­ley nor Schultz will an­swer any ques­tions if called to tes­tify in McQueary’s law­suit. Both in­voked their Fifth Amend­ment right against self-in­crim­i­na­tion when at­tor­neys sought to ques­tion them dur­ing the pre­trial phase of the case.

Spanier has not said whether he would tes­tify.

McQueary has al­ready told his story to a grand jury, at a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing and at San­dusky’s 2012 trial.

San­dusky, 72, is serv­ing a 30- to 60-year sen­tence at a prison in south­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. He main­tains his in­no­cence.

Dur­ing the San­dusky trial, McQueary gave this ac­count on what he wit­nessed:

En­ter­ing the locker room, he heard show­ers run­ning and “smack­ing sounds.” In a mir­ror, he saw San­dusky stand­ing be­hind a boy whose hands were against the shower wall. He turned to see di­rectly that San­dusky had his arms around the boy’s mid­sec­tion, tes­ti­fy­ing it “was sex­ual, it was wrong, it was per­verse.”

He be­came alarmed, flus­tered and shocked, slam­ming shut his locker. He then saw that San­dusky and the boy, es­ti­mated at ages 10 to 12, had be­come sep­a­rated.

He did not say any­thing to San­dusky or the boy. In­stead, he went to his of­fice and called his fa­ther, who ad­vised him to come to his home to con­vey what he had seen. Early the next day, he con­tacted Paterno.

Asked dur­ing the trial whether he called po­lice, he replied that he felt that he had be­cause Schultz had an over­sight role with cam­pus po­lice as vice pres­i­dent for busi­ness and finance.

It was only an anony­mous email sent to the dis­trict at­tor­ney in Novem­ber 2010 that led in­ves­ti­ga­tors to first ap­proach McQueary in the case.

San­dusky was con­victed of 45 counts, in­clud­ing four that in­volved the shower en­counter: in­de­cent as­sault, un­law­ful con­tact with mi­nors, cor­rup­tion of mi­nors and en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of chil­dren. He was ac­quit­ted of the most se­ri­ous charge re­lated to the in­ci­dent McQueary wit­nessed, in­vol­un­tary de­vi­ate sex­ual in­ter­course.

The iden­tity of the boy, called Vic­tim 2 in court records, re­mains in dis­pute. A man who said he was Vic­tim 2 reached a set­tle­ment with the univer­sity, but the lead pros­e­cu­tor at San­dusky’s trial said in court re­cently he does not be­lieve he was the per­son McQueary saw in the shower.

The crim­i­nal case against Spanier, Cur­ley and Schultz is still pend­ing.

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