Pennsylvania State University has signaled its intention to sue Jerry Sandusky’s former children’s charity, years after the school paid more than $93 million to settle claims from 32 of the former assistant football coach’s accusers.
But with the Second Mile shuttered in the wake of the child sex assault scandal that followed Sandusky’s arrest, it remains unclear just how much money a lawsuit might help the school recover.
At last count, about $750,000 in assets remained in the charity’s coffers — handed over to the Attorney General’s Office as part of a dissolution process that began in October 2012.
Penn State raised the possibility of litigation in a filing Friday in Centre County Court. The document preserved the university’s right to sue but offered no hint of the grounds for any potential lawsuit.
Still, Penn State’s lawyers have suggested that they could seek to recoup some of the steep costs the school incurred in responding to the scandal. That bill has included tens of millions of dollars in NCAA sanctions and legal fees on top of the settlements with victims.
The Second Mile should have shouldered more of that burden, wrote Penn State lawyer Joseph O’Dea in court papers last year in legal wrangling surrounding the charity’s closure.
“The Second Mile … knew or should have known of facts that reasonably suggested that Sandusky was sexually abusing and/or endangering children,” he wrote. “As a result of the Second Mile’s … inequitable and unjustified refusal to accept responsibility for Sandusky’s conduct and the harm to the children, the university paid more than its share of the amounts necessary to settle the claims of the victims and alleged victims of Sandusky who participated in the Second Mile’s programs.”
A vocal group of university trustees and supporters has questioned why former executives of the Second Mile, where Sandusky groomed many of his victims, did not face criminal repercussions while three former Penn State administrators — including ex-president Graham B. Spanier — were sentenced to jail for failing to act on signs of the former coach’s abuse.
An internal probe the charity launched to examine conduct fizzled out when the Second Mile shut its doors in 2012.
But testifying at Spanier’s trial in March, Second Mile former president and CEO Jack Raykovitz spoke publicly for the first time about the Sandusky scandal. He maintained that he had no reason to suspect anything untoward about the former coach’s relationships with the charity’s young clients.
When he learned in 2001 that Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant with the Penn State football program, had reported witnessing a sexual act between Sandusky and a child in a campus locker room shower, Raykovitz said that he took action by checking with the university administrator who was handling McQueary’s report.
“He told me it had been investigated and nothing inappropriate was found,” Raykovitz said. He also testified that he also advised Sandusky to no longer shower in the nude with boys, given concerns about child sexual abuse nationally.
“I told him to wear trunks,” Raykovitz said.
Sandusky founded the Second Mile in 1977 and remained active in the organization even after he retired from its day-to-day operations in 2010. He is serving a prison term of up to 60 years while continuing to appeal his conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse.
Staff writer Susan Snyder contributed to this article.