An insurance company attempting to avoid paying out Penn State’s settlements for Jerry Sandusky victims claims that Joe Paterno knew about Sandusky’s abuse as early as 1976, according to a court ruling issued today citing allegations made by the insurance company.
As first reported by PennLive, the story has been covered by the national media to varying degrees of damnation over the last hour. Penn State agreed to pay out more than $60 million in settlements to Sandusky’s alleged victims, including, as we learned today, victims as far back as 1976. Penn State was engaged in a lawsuit with Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Co. (PMA), which the university apparently had a contract with, to force them to pay for the settlements. PMA provides risk management and corporate insurance to large clients.
The court ruled (mostly) in favor of PMA, partially because Philadelphia Civil Judge Gary Glazer determined Penn State was “more than negligent” in allowing Sandusky’s conduct to occur. There has been no word if Penn State plans to appeal the ruling, but it seems likely that they would considering the sum of money at stake.
The ruling also alleges that two other Penn State assistant coaches and the Athletic Director at the time knew of separate abuse incidents in 1987 and 1988.
Here is the relevant section of the court order including PMA’s allegations:
Sandusky was employed by PSU as an Assistant Football Coach and Assistant Professor of Physical Education from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. PMA claims Sandusky committed several acts of molestation early in his career at PSU: in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s head Football Coach Joseph Paterno, that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky; in 1987, a PSU Assistant Coach is alleged to have witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and a child; and also in 1988, a child’s report of his molestation by Sandusky was allegedly referred to PSU’s Athletic Director. There is no evidence of these incidents ever went up the chain of command at PSU.
Of course, we cannot independently confirm the claims of the insurance company. None of the incidents mentioned in this this section of the court document were litigated when Sandusky was convicted of molesting ten children in 2012, although Penn State did pay civil claims to the alleged victims cited above. You can make your own judgement about what this paragraph in the ruling means (we won’t make the judgement for you without evidence, as some outlets have.)
“Over the past four-and-a-half years Joe Paterno’s conduct has been scrutinized by an endless list of investigators and attorneys,” Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers, said in a statement obtained by PennLive.
“Through all of this review there has never been any evidence of inappropriate conduct by Coach Paterno. To the contrary, the evidence clearly shows he shared information with his superiors as appropriate.”
“An allegation now about an alleged event 40 years ago, as represented by a single line in a court document regarding an insurance issue, with no corroborating evidence, does not change the facts. Joe Paterno did not, at any time, cover up conduct by Jerry Sandusky.”