Lawyer: Plea might be discussed
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The lawyer for former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky said Wednesday that he might have to talk to his client at some point about pleading guilty to charges of child sex abuse.
Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, made the comment to The Patriot-News of Harrisburg (Pa.) on the same day a new accuser, a Philadelphia man who is now 29, became the first plaintiff to file a lawsuit in the scandal.
In new comments Thursday, Amendola said he would consider "possible alternatives" with Sandusky if new charges are filed that involve more victims than the eight covered by the 40 pending criminal counts.
Sandusky has never considered a plea in his case, Amendola said.
According to court papers, the man filing the lawsuit, identified only as John Doe, said he was sexually abused by Sandusky more than 100 times starting in 1992, and that Sandusky threatened to harm his family to keep him quiet.
Sandusky again has maintained his innocence, Amendola said Wednesday. The attorney told The Patriot-News he continues to plan his client's defense, and also said there hasn't been any discussion about making a deal.
"That could happen if more allegations come forth and Jerry gets to the point where he realizes fighting against more than the original allegations might be a real uphill battle," Amendola said, according to the newspaper. "Bottom line, Jerry has always maintained his innocence, from the first allegation, and continues to maintain innocence. What happens with any additional charges which may be filed remains to be seen."
John Doe was not referenced in the grand jury report issued in November that charges Sandusky with abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky has acknowledged that he showered with boys but has denied molesting them.
The lawsuit claims Sandusky abused John Doe from 1992, when he was 10, until 1996, at the coach's State College home, in a Penn State locker room and on trips, including to a bowl game. The account echoes a grand jury's description of trips, gifts and attention lavished on other alleged victims.
John Doe's lawyer, Jeff Anderson, said he believes Sandusky was a predator who could not control his sexual impulses toward children. He harshly criticized officials at Penn State and The Second Mile -- a youth charity founded by Sandusky -- who failed to report their suspicions and put a stop to any alleged abuse.
"We need to address the institutional recklessness and failures," said Anderson, who specializes in clergy sex-abuse lawsuits. "Was it because of power, money, fear, loyalty, lack of education?"
The university said Wednesday it had not yet seen the complaint.
John Doe's lawsuit seeks a minimum of $400,000 in damages for sexual abuse, negligence, emotional distress and other claims. The accuser long thought he was the only victim and was mired in guilt and self-loathing, his lawyer said.
"Now that I have done something about it, I am feeling better and going to get help and work with the police," the accuser wrote in his statement.
In a related development, lawyers for a young man described in a grand jury report as a victim of sexual abuse by Sandusky said Thursday they had 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 which 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."
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 their money instead to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the latest sign that the charity may not be around much longer. The Second Mile said its December programs would go on as scheduled, however.
Meanwhile, the executive committee of Penn State's board of trustees held a brief conference call Friday to reaffirm last month's shake-up of top university personnel.
The committee unanimously reaffirmed the firing of football coach Joe Paterno, the resignation of Graham Spanier as president and the appointment of Rodney Erickson as his successor.
The board scheduled the meeting after criticism that the trustees violated the state open-meetings law by taking its initial votes behind closed doors last month. Friday's meeting took four minutes.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.