Lawsuit against PSU in Sandusky case going to trial
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 cover-up.
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-ayear 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.