STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Lawyers for a young man described in a grand jury report as a victim of sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky said Thursday they settled a legal action regarding a charity’s assets.
Harrisburg attorneys Ben Andreozzi and Jeffrey Fritz said the settlement protected the claim their client plans to assert to the assets of The Second Mile, a nonprofit for at-risk children Sandusky founded in 1977.
“We intend to initiate a civil lawsuit seeking damages from the organizations and individuals responsible for the sexual assaults upon our clients,” the lawyers said in a release. “However, our priority at this time is to support our clients, including Victim No. 4, who will be testifying against Mr. Sandusky at the preliminary hearing.”
Sandusky, 67, has been charged with sexual abuse of eight boys over a 15-year period. His preliminary hearing on 40 criminal counts is scheduled for Dec. 13 at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.
Andreozzi and Fritz said that under terms of the settlement, The Second Mile has agreed to obtain court approval before transferring assets or closing and give their client the ability to weigh in before a judge regarding any distribution of assets.
The Second Mile released a statement calling the agreement a reiteration of its existing legal liabilities and saying it does not include a finding of liability.
The Second Mile said earlier this week that its donors should consider giving money to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the latest sign that the charity may not be a going concern much longer. The Second Mile said its December programs would go on as scheduled, however.
Prosecutors said Sandusky found his alleged victims through The Second Mile, which is based in State College.
Also Thursday, state Rep. Ronald Waters, D-Philadelphia, asked the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare – the agency that licenses programs dealing with youth and children – to provide him with detailed information about The Second Mile’s activities.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson said Thursday the school would conduct a wide-open search for a new football coach, following the dismissal of head coach Joe Paterno shortly after Sandusky was arrested. Paterno has not been charged with any crime, although two other high-ranking administrators, former athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, have been charged with lying to a grand jury and failure to properly report suspected child abuse.
They have denied the allegations and await a preliminary hearing in Harrisburg Dec. 16.
Penn State’s trustees said Thursday they would hold an early morning session on Friday to formally approve decisions made in the immediate aftermath of the arrests of Sandusky, Curley and Schultz.
The conference call meeting at the Nittany Lion Inn in State College begins at 8 a.m. and is open to the public.
Erickson said the university will donate $1.5 million in bowl proceeds to a pair of sex-crime advocacy organizations in the wake of shocking sex-abuse allegations levied against a once-revered assistant football coach.
He said Big Ten bowl revenue, which usually goes back to the athletic department, will go instead to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
“This presents an excellent opportunity for Penn State to raise the national visibility of this issue,” Erickson said. “Our students and fans are focused on a cause to play for, to cheer for.”
In addition on Thursday, Sandusky’s lawyer said he has not discussed pleading guilty with his client and that the former coach continues to maintain he is innocent of the charges against him.
Joe Amendola said Sandusky has never considered a plea in his case and the topic of a guilty plea came up as a “what-if” question from a reporter about potential additional charges.
“My answer to the `what if’ question was analogous to saying, if weather forecasters were predicting a blizzard next week, which they are not, I would have to at least consider the possibility of postponing my scheduled trip to Philadelphia,” Amendola said in an email.
Authorities say the sex abuse allegations were not immediately brought to the attention of authorities even though investigators say high-level people at Penn State apparently knew about at least some of them.
School President Graham Spanier was ousted as a result.