Penn State seeks to halt suit by Sandusky whistleblower

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 16, 2012 5:24 PM

By Mark Shade

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A lawyer for the witness who caught former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky naked in a shower with a boy asked a judge on Friday to let his whistleblower lawsuit against the university go forward, saying his constitutional rights should not be delayed.

The university is seeking to put on hold the lawsuit by Mike McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback who told then-head coach Joe Paterno that he spotted Sandusky in the shower with the boy, and then sued the university after he was fired as an assistant coach following Sandusky's arrest a year ago.

McQueary's account of the decade-old incident had been kept quiet by the university. Once revealed, it fueled criticism that Penn State shielded Sandusky in order to protect the university's multimillion-dollar revenue from the football program.

"Every man for an injury done him ... shall have remedy without sale, denial or delay," McQueary's attorney, Elliot Strokoff, said at a hearing at the Centre County Court of Common Pleas on Friday, quoting the Pennsylvania constitution.

Judge Thomas Gavin said he would decide whether to grant the university's request for a stay within two weeks.

At Friday's hearing, Penn State attorney Nancy Conrad said there were seven reasons pointing "overwhelmingly in favor of a stay," including the overlap in the civil complaints filed by Sandusky's victims and the criminal proceedings awaiting three former Penn State officials: Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.

Spanier, the university's former president; Curley, the former athletic director; and Schultz, a retired vice president, all face criminal cover-up charges.

All three were scheduled to undergo a preliminary hearing December 13.

Sandusky, 68, received a 30- to 60-year sentence after his conviction for sexually molesting 10 boys over 15 years. Sandusky, who is housed in a maximum-security prison, has maintained his innocence and vowed to appeal.

Conrad on Friday also argued that McQueary was unharmed financially.

"What about his reputation has been ruined?" Gavin asked.

"No economic harm has been established," Conrad responded.

Curley, Spanier and Schultz are expected to invoke their Fifth Amendment protection if they are required to testify in McQueary's lawsuit before their criminal proceedings end, the attorneys said.

(This story corrected name of court in the fourth paragraph)

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Leslie Adler)