By Kris Maher (Wall Street Journal)
December 1, 2011
A new accuser surfaced in the Pennsylvania State University child-sexual-abuse scandal, claiming in a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday that former football coach Jerry Sandusky abused him more than 100 times from 1992 to 1996.The lawsuit—the first seeking damages from Mr. Sandusky, the Second Mile charity he founded to help troubled boys, and Penn State—was filed by Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., trial lawyer. Mr. Anderson says his client, a man who isn't identified in the suit, wasn't one of the eight alleged victims named in a November grand-jury report. The suit was filed in state court in Philadelphia.
The attorney general of Pennsylvania has alleged that Mr. Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, sexually abused eight boys he met through Second Mile over a 15-year period, including on Penn State's campus. Mr. Sandusky has said he is innocent of the charges.
Mr. Sandusky's attorney couldn't be reached for comment on the lawsuit. Lisa Powers, director of public information for Penn State, said, "As with any litigation, we are unable to comment on specifics related to the case."
Second Mile said in a statement, "We will review the lawsuit and respond appropriately when we have done so. The Second Mile will adhere to its legal responsibilities throughout this process. As always, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."According to the complaint, the plaintiff met Mr. Sandusky through a Second Mile program when he was 10 years old. The complaint alleges that abuse took place at Penn State and in Mr. Sandusky's home, among other locations, over a four-year period until the boy turned 14.
Mr. Anderson said some of the plaintiff's experiences paralleled those of alleged victims in the grand-jury report and that his client intends to withhold his name from the news media.
"He was recruited by Sandusky as a promising athlete. Then, through the Second Mile, Sandusky began to groom him," Mr. Anderson said.
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from Second Mile, Penn State and Mr. Sandusky. It alleges that the two organizations were "negligent in managing the risk posed to children" by Mr. Sandusky and failed to provide the "duty of care" owed to children in their care.
Robert Reinstein, a law professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, said that Penn State doesn't have sovereign immunity from civil lawsuits because it isn't a state agency. "They're autonomous and operated by their own board of trustees," he said.Mr. Anderson said his client hadn't spoken of the alleged abuse until other stories were made public through the grand-jury report.
"This kid suffered in secrecy and in silence and shame thinking he was the only one and never told a soul until the revelations came out about other kids and a coverup," Mr. Anderson said. "That's what caused him to come forward and break the silence."
In a statement released by Mr. Anderson, the plaintiff said he had never told anyone about being abused by Mr. Sandusky "until the newspapers reported that he had abused other kids." He said, "I am hurting and have been for a long time because of what happened but feel now even more tormented that I have learned that so many other kids were abused after me."
Mr. Anderson said his suit wouldn't interfere with the prosecution of Mr. Sandusky, because the suit is more about illuminating what he called "institutional concealment" at Penn State and Second Mile than punishing Mr. Sandusky. Mr. Anderson said the new allegations have been reported to law enforcement and that he and his client will do everything possible to cooperate with the authorities.
Julie Blackman, a litigation consultant with DOAR Litigation Consulting LLC in New York, said depositions from this case and others could complicate the criminal prosecution. "Any sworn statement that becomes a record can come into play and be complicating," she said.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the attorney general, said, "Given the ongoing nature of our grand jury investigation, we cannot comment at this time."
Ms. Blackman said that she expects more civil suits to follow.
Mr. Anderson is known nationally for using civil suits to win damages for victims of child sex abuse by clergy, a practice he started nearly 30 years ago.