Expert: Penn State payouts in abuse case surprisingly high

FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, is taken from the Centre County Courthouse by Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau, left, and a deputy, after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The settlements paid by Penn State over sex assault claims involving ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky appeared to be very high, possibly as a result of the university’s concern about publicity and a wish to resolve matters quickly, an outside expert found.

Lawyer Eric Anderson, who reviewed the cases during a dispute between Penn State and its insurer, also said the school “made little effort, if any, to verify the credibility of the claims of the individuals.”

Penn State made $92 million in total payouts to settle 32 civil claims in the Sandusky sex molestation scandal.

Anderson’s statements were contained in court documents unsealed Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Ken Feinberg, a lawyer who helped mediate claims against the school, told reporters last week it was “a very objective process” and none of the cases were easy to resolve. He said Penn State was diligent in making sure the claims were backed up by sufficient proof.

In his report, Anderson, an expert on sex abuse settlements, said: “Generally speaking, it appears as though the amounts of the settlement were high and in some cases extremely high.”

He said he believed a component of punitive damages factored into the evaluations.

“Also present in the analytical process may have been a concern about publicity and a desire to resolve the matters very quickly,” he said.

A judge in Philadelphia released the records more than two months after he wrote that the insurance company had evidence that a man claimed he told Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that Jerry Sandusky had molested him.

Paterno, who died in 2012, said in an interview before his death that an assistant’s report in 2001 of Sandusky attacking a boy in a team shower at the State College campus was the first he knew of such allegations against his longtime top assistant.

In the insurance case, Judge Gary Glazer earlier issued a ruling limiting the liability of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Co. to pay claims by Penn State for abuse by Sandusky, a former assistant to the late coach Joe Paterno.

Sandusky, who was arrested in 2011, is serving 30 to 60 years on a 45-count child molestation conviction.

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