Jury orders Penn State to pay McQueary $7.3 million:
BELLEFONTE, Pa. - A jury on Thursday ordered Pennsylvania State University to pay $7.3 million to Mike McQueary, who blamed school officials for destroying his life and coaching career after he emerged five years ago as the star witness against Jerry Sandusky and the administrators accused of covering up Sandusky's sex attacks on boys.
It took four hours for the Centre County panel to find that Penn State officials lied to McQueary when they promised in 2001 to act on his report
of seeing Sandusky sexually assault a boy in a campus shower, and then damaged his reputation when Sandusky was finally arrested a decade later.
The verdict, after a two-week trial, offered an unusual window into the searing impact of the serial sex-abuse case.
Jurors heard how McQueary - now jobless, divorced, and living with his parents - was targeted by avid Penn State fans who blamed his allegations for damaging the football program's reputation and for the firing of the school's legendary head coach, Joe Paterno. And they heard from current and former coaches and administrators who said McQueary lost his job as an assistant coach in a routine staff shake-up, and simply wasn't good enough to land another one.
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McQueary's award could grow larger in the coming weeks. Gavin still has to rule on his whistle-blower claim
that Penn State ousted him from his $104,000-a-year assistant coaching job because he spoke out about Sandusky and school officials.
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And the jury's endorsement of his story could also spell trouble for three of those former officials awaiting trial on child-endangerment charges
McQueary is expected to play another starring role in their case, revisiting his 2012 turn on the witness stand, when he recounted for Sandusky jurors how he found the defensive coordinator sexually assaulting a boy in a locker-room shower and then reported what he saw to Paterno and two Penn State administrators.
Throughout the trial, Penn State lawyers maintained that the school's decision not to renew McQueary's contract that year had nothing to do with his cooperation with the criminal investigation.
"This is not a case about Jerry Sandusky," Conrad told the jury. "Any harm that Mike McQueary has suffered . . . is the result of his own failures." She did not read beyond the feelings of Paterno Rump-Swabs--people are angry and do not feel Paterno and his ilk suffered enough. Penn State--which was complicit in all of this since, well, they were all Penn State officials--is a "large anonymous deep pocket" ripe for being used for revenge. Should have settled. Better yet, should have done the right thing, but that probably is not Conrad's fault. Also, she may have had an unwilling client--unwilling to settle and all of that. Still: dumb, dumb, dumb argument.
In video-recorded testimony shown to the jury, Bill O'Brien - who immediately succeeded Paterno in the head coaching job and has gone on to lead the Houston Texans - said he came to Penn State in 2012 with a list of his own staff he wanted to bring with him. He said that he never considered McQueary for a job and that his decision had nothing to do with Sandusky.
Matt Rhule, Temple University's head coach and one of McQueary's longtime friends and former teammates, told jurors he deemed McQueary too unseasoned to offer him a job when he took over the Owls' program in 2013.
"There was nothing remarkable about Mr. McQueary's resumé," Conrad, the lawyer for the university, told jurors. "He stayed at one school, under one head coach. He had not developed the contacts or the resumé to land a job in this competitive field of professional college football."
But the jury clearly disagreed with those arguments. Understatement of the year.
Among the claims it settled Thursday, the panel found that former university president Graham B. Spanier defamed McQueary in statements he released in November 2011
in which he publicly expressed support for two colleagues - then-athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz - charged with covering up Sandusky's crimes. The jury also found that Curley and Schultz lied to McQueary in 2001
, when he told them what he had seen and they told him they would take care of it. See? Thus:
Jurors awarded McQueary $1.15 million for the defamation
, another $1.15 million for Curley and Schultz's misrepresentations
, and $5 million in punitive damages DING!DING!DING!DING!
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Since 2012, the school has paid more than $93 million to settle claims from 32 Sandusky accusers, and university officials have acknowledged the school bears some responsibility to the victims of its former assistant football coach, who is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for the sexual abuse of 10 boys. So, after all of this, by fighting this case, you succeeded in bringing this whole sad affair right back in the lime light. Frankly, I am happy, because anytime the Paterno Rump-Swabs are upset is a "good thing."
Jeremy Roebuck: The Inquirer