Documents to be released in Sandusky sex abuse case

A Philadelphia judge has ordered the public release of sealed documents from a lawsuit that could reveal details about a claim that a boy told Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that Jerry Sandusky had molested him.

6/10/16 CBS/AP

A Philadelphia judge has ordered the public release of sealed documents from a lawsuit that could reveal details about a claim that a boy told Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that Jerry Sandusky had molested him.

Judge Gary Glazer said Thursday that the records will be made public in a month, granting the request for access to the filings made by The Associated Press and other news outlets.

Glazer disclosed the Paterno-related claim last month when he ruled in a dispute between Penn State and its insurer over payments to those with claims of abuse by former Paterno assistant Sandusky.

He also wrote that the insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Co., had evidence one assistant coach saw “inappropriate contact” between Sandusky and a child at the university in 1987 and a second “reportedly witnessed sexual contact” between Sandusky and a child the next year.

Penn State said Friday it was pleased that Glazer would protect the alleged victims’ privacy and confidentiality. The judge said their names and any other identifying information will be blacked out.

The decision was issued hours after Glazer presided over a hearing during which Penn State’s lawyer argued victims should be spared any further trauma and embarrassment and urged the judge to meet with them before deciding to unseal the documents.

“Under the state and federal constitutions and the common law, the public’s right of access to civil court records, and the public’s continued concern regarding the unfortunate events underlying this coverage action, weigh heavily in favor of unsealing the record,” Glazer wrote.

The records set for release include expert reports that evaluate the reasonableness of the settlements and analyze the insurer’s potential responsibility.

Paterno said before he died of lung cancer in 2012 that the first time he received a complaint against Sandusky was in 2001.

Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers told PennLive.com last month there is no evidence to corroborate the claim and that Paterno never covered up Sandusky’s actions.

“Through all of this review there has never been any evidence of inappropriate conduct by coach Paterno,” Sollers said. “To the contrary, the evidence clearly shows he shared information with his superiors as appropriate.”

Penn State president Eric Barron wrote the university community in May that he was “appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment” following Glazer’s disclosure of some allegations made against Paterno and some of his assistants.

“All too often in our society, people are convicted in the court of public opinion, only to find a different outcome when all the facts are presented,” he wrote.

Barron said those allegations, and others raised in some news reports in recent days, are “unsubstantiated and unsupported by any evidence other than a claim by an alleged victim.”

“Coach Paterno is not alive to refute them. His family has denied them,” Barron said.

Some of the press reports, he said, “should be difficult for any reasonable person to believe.”

Barron said few crimes are as heinous as child sex assault, and the university is committed to prevention, treatment and education.

But he said he had “had enough of the continued trial of the institution in various media.”

Sue Paterno, who has defended her husband’s legacy and said the family had no knowledge of new claims, also called for an end to what she called “this endless process of character assassination by accusation.”

Penn State has confirmed paying $92 million to settle 32 civil claims of abuse at Sandusky’s hands, going back to 1971.

Sandusky maintains his innocence and is appealing a 45-count conviction for abuse of 10 boys.

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