By Jenn Miller
An attorney representing a man who says he was a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky has filed a lawsuit against Penn State, Sandusky and his charity, Second Mile.
Attorney Bret Southard of Williamsport filed the lawsuit Aug. 18 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on behalf of plaintiff “D.F.,” who says as a child he was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Sandusky.
Southard alleges Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children dates as far back as the 1970’s and Penn State University failed to properly report incidents of abuse, including an alleged incident in 2000 when a janitor reportedly witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy on campus. Southard argues had Penn State and Second Mile properly reported the abuse, his client would not have fallen victim to Sandusky.
Sandusky, now a convicted pedophile, is serving 30 to 60 years in state prison. In 2012, a jury found him guilty on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Some of the crimes occurred on Penn State’s campus.
Sandusky is also the founder of Second Mile, a non-profit outreach organization targeting at-risk youth. Some of Sandusky’s victims participated in Second Mile events and programs, including “D.F.” The suit claims Sandusky “recruited, groomed and coerced” the victim throughout the years the victim attended Second Mile programs.
The lawsuit alleges that in 2008 or 2009 Sandusky picked the victim up from his home to take him on a shopping spree and while in the car forced the victim to engage in a sexual act. Afterward, Sandusky bought the victim various items, including Nike shoes.
The suit claims that on Aug. 20, 2008, Sandusky picked the victim up at his home, drove him to the Penn State-Coastal Carolina University football game “providing excellent, expensive seating” before leaving in the third quarter. Sandusky then allegedly took the victim to Sandusky’s home and forcibly raped the child.
Sandusky allegedly threatened to harm the victim and the victim’s family if he reported the abuse, the suit says. “Plaintiff, because of his age, was too afraid and heeded defendant Sandusky’s threats,” the complaint says.
The plaintiff alleges Penn State and Second Mile failed to take any action to prevent placing children in danger while Sandusky was an employee or agent for both entities.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges a janitor witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a shower at Penn State’s Lasch Building in 2000, following Sandusky’s retirement from the university and eight years before Sandusky abused “D.F.”
According to the lawsuit, the janitor reported the incident to janitorial staff, “however, no action was taken by defendant Penn State to investigate or determine if defendant Sandusky had molested others prior to 2000.” The suit also alleges janitorial staff members were “encouraged not to report or investigate the incident any further.”
The lawsuit also refers to the 2001 incident in which former assistant football coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Sandusky showering and engaging in abuse with a child in the Lasch Building – which happened at least six years before Sandusky allegedly abused “D.F.”
The suit claims while the university removed Sandusky’s privileges to the Lasch Building’s locker room, the university and Second Mile failed to make a report regarding the sexual abuse and failed to take any further action to limit Sandusky’s access to minor boys “knowing that he had sexual illegal tendencies around minor boys.”
“Neither of the defendants contacted the law enforcement agencies to determine whether defendant Sandusky had a prior criminal record of the heinous acts committed dating back to the 1970’s and numerous minor boys would not have been sexually assaulted by defendant Sandusky including plaintiff,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit claims the university’s failure to notify law enforcement of the incident witnessed by McQueary placed “D.F.” “in a dangerous position by being allowed to be alone with defendant Sandusky.”
“Had defendant Second Mile and defendant Penn State acted responsibly in confronting defendant Sandusky as to the allegations of sexual molestation, plaintiff may not have been sexually assaulted by defendant Sandusky,” the complaint says.
Additionally, while Central Mountain High School restricted Sandusky’s access to the campus following a complaint of abuse by a student’s parent, the lawsuit alleges Penn State and Second Mile never restricted Sandusky’s access to children, despite multiple accounts of abuse.
The complaint says the victim has suffered physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and humiliation, loss of life’s pleasures, emotional distress, loss of self-esteem and he continues to incur costs for medical and psychological treatment.
The victim is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
So far, Penn State has reached monetary settlements with 26 victims for a total of $59.7 million.
Penn State declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. Second Mile could not be reached for comment.