There has been a lot of forwarding momentum in recent months in the lawsuits against Penn State regarding the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky. The former assistant football coach will effectively spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of 45 criminal counts related to sexually abusing dozens of young boys.
Although Sandusky acted alone, plaintiffs and others have alleged that athletic department staff and top university officials knew about the sexual abuse but failed to report Sandusky to police. According to USA Today, Penn State recently agreed to pay $59.7 million to settle claims made by 26 of Sandusky’s victims.
The Sandusky scandal and Penn State’s role in it have already cost the university more than $50 million. These costs include public relations expenses, attorney fees and the implementation of policies and procedures to better respond to any sexual abuse complaints in the future; especially allegations involving child victims.
The nearly $60 million settlement that will be paid to 26 victims may not be the end of the university’s costs. There are about six claims that are still remaining; and although some have been dismissed as unmerited, others could result in future settlements.
Additionally, Penn State’s former president, vice president and athletic director will face repercussions beyond just losing their jobs. All three are facing serious criminal charges including failure to report suspected child abuse and perjury.
It is not always easy to do the right thing. But in cases like this involving sexual abuse of young children, it is simply inexcusable that those with the power to intervene stood by and effectively did nothing to stop it. If university officials kept quiet in an attempt to avoid an expensive scandal, their decision was obviously a huge miscalculation.
Source: USA Today, “Penn State to pay $59.7M to 26 Sandusky victims,” John Bacon, Oct. 28, 2013