Settlement Talks Underway With At Least 20 Sandusky Accusers
Penn State University has officially begun settlement talks with at least 20 of Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse accusers, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The number of accusers in those talks means that there are more than the double the number of victims that testified during the highly publicized trial, which came to a close this past week when Sandusky was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
The potential settlements are being negotiated with the eight victims that testified during the trial, four additional victims who have came forward in the media, and eight or more that have not yet come forward. The university has not yet begun vetting the settlement claims, according to comments from negotiator Michael K. Rozen in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“All of these claims will be very different from one another factually and potentially legally,” Rozen told the Inquirer. “We’re having lots of discussions so far about how to go about evaluating them.” Rozen and partner Kenneth R. Feinberg were hired to handle all Sandusky-related settlement negotiations. Their firm is no stranger to high-profile cases such as the Penn State scandal, as they previously handled the 9/11 victims compensation fund and the BP Gulf oil spill settlements.”
Discussions with lawyers for the accusers are still in preliminary stages as Rozen and Feinberg continue to work on criteria to evaluate the cases individually.
“Right now, we’re trying to think through how we transparently — both to the claimants and the university — put the claims into some sort of hierarchy,” Rozen said. “Because there’s so much attention being paid to this, we don’t think we can have 20 separate negotiations and 20 separate resolutions.” He added that Penn State University president Rodney Erickson hopes have all of the cases settled by the end of 2012.
“There appears to be an overwhelming appetite on the Penn State side for these claims to be settled,” said Tom Kline to the Inquirer, an attorney who represents the victim identified in as Victim 5 from his testimony as a prosecution witness in the Sandusky trial.
It is unclear how much the university would be willing to pay to any individual victim, though Erickson has expressed that he wants to ensure that all of the accusers receive “fair compensation” from the settlements.
The Board of Trustees will also hold a special meeting on October 26 to authorize a subcommittee to deal with the legal proceedings of the settlement claims.