Pennsylvania State University sued its insurance carrier in state court on Tuesday, asserting that the company was not honoring its obligation to cover legal claims stemming from the conduct of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted last year of sexually abusing boys. The Associated Press reported that the university’s complaint said the institution had been sued or contacted by more than two dozen claimants, but that the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Company had not provided the required coverage for those claims. A spokeswoman for the company told the AP that it would not comment on the lawsuit.
Pennsylvania State University
Members of Pennsylvania State University’s Faculty Senate have weighed in with a suggestion for how the university can improve its much-criticized governance: Put a couple of us on the Board of Trustees.
That recommendation came in a report issued on Monday by a senate committee that spent nearly a year studying the structure and practices of Penn State’s board. The report argues that the current method of selecting trustees is “anachronistic,” and it says the board would benefit from adding two tenured professors, elected by the Faculty Senate, as voting members.
The committee also recommends reducing the size of the board from 32 members to 22; prohibiting political officeholders from serving as trustees; and continuing to ask the president to serve as an ex officio member.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and a stinging report from Louis J. Freeh, the former FBI director, Penn State’s trustees have received plenty of advice on how to revamp their governance. But as the Associated Press points out, the Faculty Senate report may offer the first public suggestions to come from current university employees.
Pennsylvania’s auditor general, Jack Wagner, on Wednesday called on Pennsylvania State University to reform its governance structure in the wake of the Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, recommending that the university reduce the size of its Board of Trustees and remove its president as a member of the governing body. Mr. Wagner laid out more than two dozen recommendations in a 124-page report that addresses what it identifies as deficiencies in the governing board’s structure. The document expands on some of the recommendations Mr. Wagner made in July, and is meant to accomplish other goals besides those outlined in Louis J. Freeh’s scathing report, which implicated top Penn State officials in the scandal. The auditor’s report acknowledges that its proposals cannot make another Sandusky scandal impossible, but it says the changes could “reduce the potential for breakdowns to remain undetected and will add needed transparency to this flagship public university.” In a statement cited by the Centre Daily Times, the university said it “welcomes” Mr. Wagner’s findings and will “conduct a thorough review.”
Pennsylvania prosecutors on Thursday filed several felony charges against Graham B. Spanier that accuse the former president of Pennsylvania State University of conspiring with subordinates to cover up child-abuse allegations in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Mr. Spanier maintains his innocence, and his lawyers blasted the state attorney general’s accusations. But some observers remain surprised at the rapid fall of one of higher education’s most prominent figures. Here’s a look at what they’re saying in light of the latest developments.
For more on this story, see this Chronicle article.
[Updated (11/1/2012, 12:50 p.m.) to include details from the attorney general's announcement.]
Graham B. Spanier, the former president of Pennsylvania State University, has been indicted on five charges related to the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, the state’s attorney general announced at a news conference on Thursday. The charges against the former president, who was forced out last year as news of the scandal unfolded, include one count of perjury, two counts of endangering the welfare of children, and two counts of criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies that are each punishable by up to seven years in prison. Prosecutors also added to the criminal charges against Gary C. Schultz and Timothy M. Curley, the Penn State administrators who are awaiting trial in January on perjury charges, according to The Patriot-News. At the news conference, the attorney general, Linda Kelly, called the Penn State officials’ actions a “conspiracy of silence.”
Moody’s Investors Service on Friday downgraded Pennsylvania State University’s long-term credit rating, anticipating that lawsuits stemming from the Sandusky sex-abuse scandal could have “substantial” consequences for the university’s finances. The ratings agency lowered Penn State’s $893-million in debt to Aa2, the third-highest of its 10 categories, from Aa1. The move also “reflects governance and institutional-culture challenges facing the university,” the agency said, noting that it could take the university a long time to embrace the recommendations outlined in Louis J. Freeh’s damning report that implicated top Penn State administrators in the scandal. Penn State’s new rating has a stable outlook, the agency said, because the university is likely to continue enjoying favorable student demand, donor support, and a strong research operation. In a written statement, the university said it took the downgrade seriously, though officials were not surprised by the move.
A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday sentenced Jerry Sandusky, the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach who was convicted on 45 counts related to child sex abuse, to 30 to 60 years in prison, The Patriot-News reports. Judge John M. Cleland handed down the sentence the day after Mr. Sandusky proclaimed his innocence and accused his victims of lodging “false allegations” against him. The judge said the sentence would put Mr. Sandusky, who is 68, in prison for the rest of his life. Mr. Sandusky’s lawyers have argued that they didn’t have enough time to prepare their client’s defense and plan to appeal the sentence.
Two other ex-Penn State officials have been charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse for their role in the scandal, which threw the university into turmoil and led to harsh sanctions from the NCAA. They are awaiting trial in January.
Gary C. Schultz, the former Pennsylvania State University senior vice president for business and finance who was charged with perjury for his role in the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, has asked a Pennsylvania court to try him separately from the other Penn State official who faces similar charges. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Mr. Schultz’s lawyer filed a motion on Monday seeking separate trials, and also indicated that Timothy M. Curley, Penn State’s athletic director who is on paid leave, would file a similar motion. The request said that the pair implicated each other several times during their grand-jury testimony, and therefore would not get a fair trial if one of them declined to testify while they were co-defendants. The two officials also face charges of failing to report suspected child abuse. Their trial is scheduled to begin in January.
The victim of child molesting by Jerry Sandusky whose accusations sparked an investigation that rocked Pennsylvania State University—and led to the former football coach’s conviction in June—has now sued the university, the Associated Press reports.
According to a lawsuit filed late Friday in state court, the victim, identified only as “John Doe C,” says Penn State intentionally did not report Mr. Sandusky to the authorities because of its greater concern for “its economic self-interests, and to its interest in maintaining and perpetuating its reputation,” than to its concern for the safety of children. The assertions echo the findings of a scathing report issued last month. Penn State’s actions were “purposeful, deliberate, and shameful,” the lawsuit says.
The victim and his mother reported to the authorities in 2009 that Mr. Sandusky had molested him more than 100 times over a three-year period. The accusations led to a state investigation culminating last November in criminal charges against the former coach and two Penn State officials. At Mr. Sandusky’s trial, the victim was identified as “Victim 1.”
The lawsuit, which names only the university as a defendant, seeks compensatory and punitive damages for what it describes as the victim’s physical and emotional injuries. A Penn State spokesman said the university, which has already accepted major NCAA penalties, takes the case seriously and seeks to “find solutions that rest on the principle of justice for the victims.”
A judge has ordered the arrest of eight retired Chilean police and military officials in connection with the 1985 disappearance and kidnapping of Boris Weisfeiler, a Pennsylvania State University mathematician who disappeared while hiking in Chile during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The New York Times reports that Judge Jorge Zepeda said in his order that members of a police patrol arrested Mr. Weisfeiler in an area near the Chilean border with Argentina during the first week of January 1985. The judge said the officers then covered up the arrest by claiming that Mr. Weisfeiler, who was 43 at the time, had drowned. The judge’s order did not include murder charges or address the details of the professor’s presumed death, according to the Times.