Penn State trustees clear way for deals with Sandusky sex abuse victims

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 26, 2012 9:14 PM
Penn State trustees clear way for deals with Sandusky sex abuse victims

By Mark Shade

STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Penn State University's Board of Trustees passed a resolution on Friday giving a special committee the authority to approve settlements on the school's behalf with victims of convicted child sex offender Jerry Sandusky.

The resolution passed unanimously, although several board members were not present, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.

Sandusky, 68, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team, is in state prison after being sentenced to 30 to 60 years for his June conviction on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys.

Attorneys working to settle with Sandusky's victims said there could be 20 to 25 claimants. Settlements are easily expected to reach into the millions, analysts have said.

The university's trustees held the meeting in the same hotel that will host Penn State's national conference on child sexual abuse prevention beginning on Sunday.

Lawyers advised the board that the special resolution was not required. But President Karen Peetz said because the potential settlements are "special circumstances," the board would consider the matter anyway.

Ken Feinberg, an attorney who directed the September 11 victims' fund, has been retained along with negotiator Mike Rozen to handle any settlements.

Feinberg said he has no authority to bind Penn State to any settlement and he indicated the university had not disclosed how much money he has to resolve claims.

"Each case stands on its own. Each case will be evaluated on the merits. Each case will either be resolved or not resolved," Feinberg said.

"Penn State will decide for itself in each particular case how much information it needs to evaluate in order to decide whether it is appropriate to try and resolve a dispute," he said.

Rozen said conversations with attorneys for the claimants have been good so far and conducted "in good faith."

(Editing by James B. Kelleher, Ellen Wulfhorst and Lisa Shumaker)