Judge adds $5M to McQueary’s $7M verdict against Penn State

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

HAR­RIS­BURG >> A for­mer Penn State as­sis­tant foot­ball coach’s treat­ment by the school af­ter Jerry San­dusky was ar­rested en­ti­tles him to more than $12 mil­lion, a judge said Wed­nes­day in a rul­ing that sub­stan­tially in­creased last month’s jury award.

Judge Thomas Gavin ruled in fa­vor of Mike McQueary’s whistle­blower claim , adding more than $5 mil­lion to the $7.3 mil­lion jury verdict for defama­tion and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“Only when the ‘San­dusky Mat­ter’ be­came pub­lic was Mr. McQueary sub­jected to dis­parate treat­ment and ad­verse em­ploy­ment con­se­quences,” Gavin wrote. He said the de­ci­sion to or­der McQueary to keep out of ath­letic fa­cil­i­ties af­ter plac­ing him on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave with pay in Novem­ber 2011 “was the equiv­a­lent of ban­ish­ment.”

The judge said McQueary was hu­mil­i­ated in sev­eral re­spects, in­clud­ing “be­ing told to clean out his of­fice in the pres­ence of Penn State per­son­nel, an ac­tion that sug­gests he had done some­thing wrong and was not to be trusted.”

McQueary has tes­ti­fied that in Fe­bru­ary 2001 he re­ported to then-head coach Joe Paterno and to two high-rank­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors that he had just seen San­dusky, at the time re­tired as the school’s de­fen­sive foot­ball coach, sex­u­ally abus­ing a boy in a team shower. Those of­fi­cials did not con­tact po­lice, but when in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­gan look­ing into new com­plaints about San­dusky nearly a decade later, some­one sug­gested they interview McQueary.

McQueary has tes­ti­fied he heard sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive sounds when he went into the locker room late on a Fri­day night, then saw San­dusky abus­ing the boy in the shower. He did not phys­i­cally in­ter­vene but said the two sep­a­rated and he left the ath­let­ics fa­cil­ity, highly dis­turbed by what he had wit­nessed. He con­tacted Paterno the next morn­ing.

Gavin con­cluded that Penn State re­tal­i­ated against McQueary. He said the univer­sity has never pub­licly ac­knowl­edged that McQueary’s re­ports to Paterno, ath­letic direc­tor Tim Cur­ley and vice pres­i­dent Gary Schultz were done fol­low­ing the school’s pol­icy.

“Such recog­ni­tion would have gone a long way to­ward re­duc­ing the op­pro­brium vis­ited upon him and the re­sult­ing hu­mil­i­a­tion he suf­fered,” Gavin wrote.

McQueary has been a par­tic­u­lar tar­get for crit­i­cism over the past five years as strong feel­ings about the San­dusky scan­dal have di­vided the univer­sity com­mu­nity. He has not been able to find a job, ei­ther in the coach­ing field or even en­try-level re­tail po­si­tions. He had been mak­ing $140,000 as an as­sis­tant foot­ball coach. He was ter­mi­nated when his con­tract ex­pired in June 2012.

San­dusky was con­victed of sev­eral crimes over the shower en­counter McQueary wit­nessed, though he was ac­quit­ted of the most se­ri­ous charge, in­vol­un­tary de­vi­ate sex­ual in­ter­course.

A spokes­woman for Penn State said the school was re­view­ing its op­tions. Mes­sages left for McQueary and his lawyer, El­liot Strokoff, were not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

McQueary’s law­suit in­cluded claims for defama­tion, mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion and vi­o­la­tions of le­gal pro­tec­tions for whistle­blow­ers. Jurors in the trial, held last month in the court­house near Penn State’s cam­pus, awarded him $7.3 mil­lion for defama­tion and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Gavin’s rul­ing, which per­tained to the whistle­blower part of the case, granted McQueary nearly $4 mil­lion in lost wages. The judge also said he felt the jury’s de­ci­sion was “in­suf­fi­cient and not bind­ing,” so he added $1 mil­lion in noneco­nomic damages.

McQueary will also get a bonus is­sued to other coaches for the Ticket City Bowl he missed af­ter he was sus­pended, as well as his le­gal fees and costs.

San­dusky, 72, is serv­ing 30 to 60 years in state prison and is pur­su­ing ap­peals.

The judge said McQueary was hu­mil­i­ated in sev­eral re­spects, in­clud­ing “be­ing told to clean out his of­fice in the pres­ence of Penn State per­son­nel, an ac­tion that sug­gests he had done some­thing wrong and was not to be trusted.”

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