by Geoff Rushton
Penn State intends to sue The Second Mile, the now-defunct charity for at-risk youth founded by Jerry Sandusky.
The university on Friday filed to issue writs of summons for The Second Mile and its former executive director, Jack Raykovitz. The documents do not indicate specifics of the planned lawsuit or the amount being sought.
Penn State has handed over more than $92 million in civil settlements to 32 individuals who said they were sexually abused by the former football assistant coach, and the terms of those settlements prohibited the plaintiffs from suing The Second Mile. The university, of course, also has been subject to a bevy of other lawsuits, sanctions and media attention in the more than five years since Sandusky was arrested and convicted on child sexual abuse charges
The charity where most victims and accusers say they first encountered him, however, has largely escaped such liability and widespread scrutiny. An announced internal investigation by former Philadelphia district attorney Lynne Abraham faded away with no report. Federal investigators looked into The Second Mile, but no charges were ever filed. And last year, the organization formally dissolved.
In March 2016, a judge gave The Second Mile permission to dissolve. By that point it had already sold off most of its assets and transferred others to another organization, Arrow Child & Family Ministries. Penn State didn’t object to the dissolution, but
Its remaining assets of about $750,000 were turned over to the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, with 120 days given for claims to be filed before the assets were distributed to other charitable organizations. Prior to Sandusky’s arrest on child sexual abuse charges in 2011, the organization had about $9 million in assets.
Penn State filed a proof of claims in July 2016 stating that it “is entitled to contribution from The Second Mile and its insurers for a fair share of the $92 million that is attributable to The Second Mile’s wrongful conduct.”
Second Mile board members have claimed that they were unaware of allegations about Sandusky until he was removed from an active role with the organization following the 2008 complaint that ultimately triggered a grand jury investigation.
Raykovitz, meanwhile, has contended that in 2001 former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley informed him that someone had seen Sandusky in a locker room shower with a boy and was uncomfortable with the situation. That was the 2001 incident reported by Mike McQueary that was at the center of the case against Curley, former vice president Gary Schultz and former President Graham Spanier.
Curley and Schultz both pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and Spanier was convicted on the same count. Spanier is appealing and Schultz and Curley are serving two and three-month sentences, respectively, in county jail.
Raykovitz testified at Spanier’s trial in March that Curley never told him of any allegations that the incident was sexual, as McQueary contends he reported. He said he spoke with Sandusky afterwards and told him that he should wear swim trunks in the future if he showered with someone after working out.
He also said that as soon as The Second Mile was contacted in 2008 by Clinton County Children and Youth Services about the complaint from the teenager who would later be known as Victim 1, Sandusky was removed from all programs.
In its filing last year, Penn State said the organization and Raykovitz “knew or should have known of facts that reasonably suggested that Sandusky was abusing and/or endangering children.”
“The Second Mile was in a position to prevent and stop Sandusky from meeting, grooming and attacking children who had been entrusted to the care of The Second Mile, but negligently failed to do so,” the university’s attorneys wrote.
Penn State also claimed contractual indemnification. According to the 2016 filing, from 1990 to 2011 the university and The Second Mile entered into contracts for The Second Mile to host summer camps for children on the Penn State campus. Penn State wrote that an indemnification provision in which The Second Mile agreed to hold the university harmless for any claims arising from the agreement was included in those contracts.
Because of that, Penn State argued, The Second Mile is contractually required to indemnify the university for a portion of the claims related to Sandusky’s abuse of children who were participants in the camps.
Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 on 48 counts related to child sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in state prison. He has continued to appeal the conviction through the Post Conviction Relief Act.