Can Penn State Or Paterno Be Sued For Negligence?

We have been following the unfolding scandal at Penn State. There is widespread agreement that the coaches on the team, as well as the university, acted reprehensibly in their response to the alleged sexual abuse of young boys by Jerry Sandusky (at least outside of the rioting students who appear to believe Coach Joe Paterno should not be blamed for doing little after learning of an alleged rape of a minor in a shower). The question is whether Paterno or Penn State could face credible complaints seeking civil liability for negligence.

Before turning to tort liability, all of those who were interviewed by police or questioned in the grand jury, including Paterno, could face obstruction or perjury charges if they withheld or falsified information. There is also the danger of charges of suborning perjury and witness tampering. There is no evidence of such crimes in published reports but those risks always exist in such cases.

There is also the question of violations under the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to publish and distribute information about criminal offenses reported to school authorities. It is unclear of the role of the school’s general counsel in the earlier reports.

Now on to torts. Many of us are shocked by the failure of coaches, including Paterno to do more than simply notify the university. In the United States, there is a “no duty to rescue” rule that relieves citizens of liability for failing to come to the aid of other citizens. The no duty rule was the basis for the famous ruling in Yania v. Bigan, 397 Pa. 316, 155 A.2d 343 (1959) where a man watched another man drowned without taking any efforts to assist him. Even though Bigan dared Yania to jump into the hole full of water, the court found that this made no difference since these taunts were “directed to an adult in full possession of all his mental faculties constitutes actionable negligence is not only without precedent but completely without merit.”

However, courts have imposed liability on university officials or doctors who do not take sufficient action to prevent crimes. The most analogous is the famous 1976 ruling in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California. and the imposition of liability on a university. See Tarasoff opinion. In that case, Prosinjit Podder, a graduate student at Berkeley, fell in love with Tatiana Tarasoff. When she stated that she wanted to date other men, Podder went to counseling at the University Health Service and is treated by psychologist, Dr. Lawrence Moore. When he told Moore that he wanted to get a gun and kill Tarasoff, Moore sent a letter to campus police who interviewed Podder and decided that he was not a risk. Podder then went ahead and murdered Tarasoff. Notably, like Paterno, Moore informed the university but it did not bar liability. In this case, the grand jury report detailed alleged sexual assaults of eight boys by Sandusky over 15 years – including attacks after his retirement in 1999.

Helping both Paterno and the university in this case is the fact that the prosecutor declined to bring charges six years ago. (This may also help in defending off a charge for failure to report child abuse). In 1998, prosecutor Ray Gricar was informed of the allegations but found insufficient grounds to proceed. Making this case even more weird, Gricar disappeared in 2005 and was declared legally dead in July. They are also helped by Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations and the failure to bring charges. The declination of the prosecutor could interfere with efforts to toll the statute with regard to some of parties given the 10 year delay.

Yet, the school still stands accused of a cover-up of years of abuse of boys by Sandusky. It is a case quite similar to that of the Catholic Church and, judging from the rioting students, football and religion share some obvious similarities.

There may be some challenge in terms of causation with reluctant witnesses, a problem often encountered in the medical area. This is a standard problem in the medical field where there is often multiple actors and sketchy records. Indeed, the court in Ybarra v. Spangard faced such a problem in terms of causation when no doctor or nurse came forward to identify the responsible party or parties in a case of malpractice. The court allowed the case to continue on the basis of the staff as a whole — a response to what is sometimes called the “conspiracy of silence” in the profession. The court noted that doctors share an intense bond and background — an analogy to a team that is trained to work as one.
Notably, despite the past allegations, Penn State allowed Sandusky in addition to the alleged failure to act more directly while he was employed by the team.

The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is two years — a standard period. However, the state recognizes a discovery rule for injuries to the person so that the statute does not begin to run until the injured party discovers or reasonably should discover that he has been injured by another’s conduct. Fine v. Checcio, 870 A.2d 850 (Pa. 2005). Moreover, it does not run for ongoing torts, which could be alleged here.

In all, Paterno is probably in fairly good shape to fend off a torts claim but it is conceivable. The university is more at risk, but has some solid defenses. One of the more interesting elements will be the review of the past accounts given by both Paterno and the university to see if they shaped the facts. If so, it will take more than painting out Sandusky’s picture to protect the school.

Source: Daily Mail

52 thoughts on “Can Penn State Or Paterno Be Sued For Negligence?

  1. In my med. mal case the court called the doctor’s testimony perjurious. I went to the A.G.’s office and spoke with a staff attorney. He said no they would not bring charges despite the proof offered. 4 weeks after the forced settlement, Gov Ridge noiminated the doctor as Secretary of Health for Pa. The AG was under Ridge’s command as Gov. A few years later,after Ridge was out I went back to A.G.s office and was told they would have brought perjury charges against the doctor but I had just missed the statute of limitations, only by months.
    I believe in this case the AG ruling was similar: there was money and prestige involved and the law and victims be darned.
    The students I think saw this as an excuse to act out (to put it mildly). Hopefully in the light of day they see the reality of this situation.
    I hope Paterno et al can be sued. Firing is still not fully calling them to account (esp McCleary (sp?) How someone could see it in progress and not do anything, even a deer in the headlights starts to move at some point.

  2. I do not think the “no duty to rescue” rule should apply to children, and the precedent set is for an adult that endangered himself. Children are not competent to make decisions to endanger themselves; IMO the witnesses should be obligated to report the crimes to the police, not the university, and the police should be required to investigate, including having a trained professional child pyschologist interview the alleged victim. Either that or they should all be charged as accessories to the crimes.

  3. Joe Paterno, the Penn State Tragedy and Child Molestation
    Linda Kenney Baden
    Former criminal prosecutor, private trial attorney

    In 1998, Victim 6 (the first victim delineated in terms of time in the recent grand Jury report) shared a shower with Sandusky and a second child. Victim 6 ‘s mother called the police and Sandusky gave what was clearly a confession. Sandusky merely had to agree to no longer shower with children and the investigation was closed. Here is another huge breakdown of the system in this story. According to the grand jury presentment the Pennsylvania agency charged with protecting children — Children and Youth Services — closed the investigation. So did the then prosecutor Ray Gricar whose subsequent mysterious disappearance takes on new implications. Even adding to the concern of system breakdown, are reports that the attorney who represented Penn State in this 1998 investigation is now the attorney for The Second Mile charity started by Jerry Sandusky.

    The University, in order to obtain federal funds, is supposed to report to the government all crimes that occur on campus — not adjudicated crimes but reports of alleged crimes so that students can be warned about dangerous incidents connected to the school. This is much like the theory behind Megan’s Law — sex offenders are identified and tracked to as to reduce the danger that they will commit an assault upon another person — adult and child. This reporting requirement of the CLERY Act is even wider than that for Megan’s law in one aspect — it is for crimes reported on campus — not merely adjudicated in the criminal court system. This federal law enacted after another tragedy at another Pennsylvania college where a young woman named Jeanne Clery was raped and then killed by a second student on campus. Was any criminal act by Jerry Sandusky reported? Unfortunately, the University only has to keep those records for seven years so we may never know the answer to this question. And the delay in finding the answer is directly related to the delay by Penn State and Joe Paterno in properly reporting Jerry Sandusky to the police.

    All in all it sounds as if there are many people who at least morally if not legally aided and abetted Sandusky’s reign of child molestation. Can a criminal case now be made beyond beyond Sandusky and the two Penn State officials accused of lying to the grand jury? Was there a violation of the federal RICO/racketeering act? A cover-up? Who else knew and facilitated this criminal enterprise to continue? And what about Jerry Sandusky’s wife- did she know or suspect?

  4. In addition …

    “Prosecutors in Texas say they have opened an investigation into the possibility of also filing charges, following the release of grand jury testimony indicating Sandusky may have sexually assaulted one of his young victims when Penn State was in San Antonio for the 1999 Alamo Bowl.”

    The University, Sandusky, and Paterno could be looking at a variety of legal hassles coming from all over the country if Sandusky was “active” while “on the road”. Deja vu for Catholic Bishops and Cardinals.

  5. Blouise,

    I heard about this story this morning. I believe Sandusky brought the boy with him from Pennsylvania. Wouldn’t that make it a federal crime? Is there a statute of limitations on federal crimes?

  6. The media are alive with comments that the man who observed the alleged rape should have beat the perpetrator up, preferably with a baseball bat. I don’t think this level of violence would have been needed to stop the rape and get the child out of there. My instinct, had I seen this, would have been to yell, “Hey!” (I’m not very articulate in crisis situations), and run toward the perp with my arms raised in a threatening gesture (I walk with a cane, so I’m always armed). I suspect that that much would have caused the perp to run away, leaving the child in the shower alone. At that point, I would have called the police.

    Does no one else have even this level of protective instinct?

  7. Blouise,

    I found this information about the statute of limitations on federal crimes:

    Suspension and Extension
    The five year rule may yield to circumstances other than the type of crime to be prosecuted. For example, an otherwise applicable limitation period may be suspended or extended in cases involving child abuse, the concealment of the assets of an estate in bankruptcy, wartime fraud against the government, dismissal of original charges, fugitives, foreign evidence, or DNA evidence.

  8. carol levy1, November 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm
    ….How someone could see it in progress and not do anything, even a deer in the headlights starts to move at some point….
    actually, not quite…deer, possums, and others who become ‘frozen’…..usually it is a physiological response to overwhelming neurologic chemicals that are causing the ‘freezing’…my point being that if a driver is asleep at the wheel, it probably won’t be physiologically possible for the deer to move before getting hit. Likewise possums….they don’t consciously choose to ‘play dead’…tragically they can be ‘disposed of’ while still alive because so many don’t understand this dynamic…not to mention the cretins that think this is such a fun thing to play with.


    mespo727272 1, November 11, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Every great tragedy has a hero and in this sordid one it’s Central Mountain High School Administrator, Steve Turchetta. In 2009, Turchetta allegedly surprised Sandusky while he was lying face to face with Victim No. 1 in a remote weight room area of the school’s gymnasium. According to Turchetta, who then coached football and wrestling, he was returning to the gym one evening when he noticed an unexpected light on in the weight room. Investigating, he encountered Sandusky and the 15-year-old boy. Sandusky jumped up and said ‘Hey coach, we’re just working on wrestling moves.” Unconvinced, Turchetta reported the event to his principal and later to the police. Turchetta believed the event suspicious and was concerned that Sandusky was emotionally “clingy” to the boy. The 15-year-old’s mother also confirmed that inapproproate touching had occurred to school officials. That allegation started the investigation which culminated in the Grand Jury Report.

    Sandusky had insinuated himself on the Central Mountain High football staff in 2002 as a volunteer coach under the premise of helping kids from Second MIle who had made the team. His lascivious intent in lying on the teenager face-to-face was confirmed by Victim No. 1 in his testimony as he described the exact same sexual approach by Sandusky while staying over at Sandusky’s home. Sandusky called the process “cracking his back.”

  10. 23 Pa. § 6311. Persons required to report suspected child abuse.
    (a) General rule.–A person who, in the course of employment, occupation or practice of a profession, comes into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with section 6313 (relating to reporting procedure) when the person has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of medical, professional or other training and experience, that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that person or of an agency, institution, organization or other entity with which that person is affiliated is a victim of child abuse, including child abuse by an individual who is not a perpetrator. . . .
    (c) Staff members of institutions, etc.–Whenever a person is required to report under subsection (b) in the capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, that person shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school, facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge. Upon notification, the person in charge or the designated agent, if any, shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made in accordance with section 6313. . . .
    23 Pa. § 6312. Persons permitted to report suspected child abuse.
    In addition to those persons and officials required to report suspected child abuse, any person may make such a report if that person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is an abused child.

    This is a pretty weak reporting law. For instance, Texas law requires that any person with a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect must immediately report such to an appropriate law enforcement organization. Professionals must do so within 48 hours of learning but cannot delegate nor buck the requirement up the chain of command. Tex. Family Code § 261. Failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor. For example, if grandpa reasonably suspects that his daughter is abusing his grandchild and grandpa fails to report his daughter, he can go to jail.

    The farther the spread between the person with the suspicions and the person actually making the report, the easier it is to institutionalize a cover up — ala PSU.

    Whatever may come of this scandal, it is an opportunity to strengthen reporting requirements. Every State Bar probably has a Family Law Committee. Contact them — make this a legislative hot button issue for that Committee.

  11. I want to echo carol’s comments. I am shocked that nothing was done to protect children at the hands of a molestor. The way the University and Paterno handled it is reminiscent of the Catholic Church and its bishops and cardinals and their allegedly criminal actions in hiding perps from the authorities and allowind them to continue to abuse children.

  12. If anyone violated their duty to report under Pa. law, then, per Cort v. Ash, is there an implied right of action by the victim against those who breached the duty to report? In the case of pedophilia, which I understand is incurable and uncontrollable, it would appear the future child victims are definitely the intended beneficiaries of the reporting requirement’s protection.

  13. Reading that OroLee it reminded me of a friend of mine who had worries about someone she knew; just a ‘feeling’ that the child was being abused. She felt she could not make a complaint as there was nothing concrete. The woman later killed the child by beating it unmercifully. It is my understainding the mother will soon be released from jail.

  14. Elaine,

    Holy cow!

    Okay … if he brought the kid with him, how was the transportation paid … by the school? Where did the kid stay? Who, on the team, knew the kid was there? Who paid for his food? Who took care of him while practice and the game was going on?

    Good lord …

  15. Perhaps it is time for some new law in Pennsylvania, assuming there are some blockages now in their existing negligence law.

    This comes on the heals of Pennsylvania judges who were taking bribes from for-profit private-prison officials if those judges would sentence certain teens to prison.

    Frame the pleadings such that the appellate courts can be reached sooner than later to rule on new law, then upon a favorable decision on new law, do a massive trial presentation.

    I think the jury will do the deed.

    On appeal the higher courts should uphold a jury verdict in these premises.

  16. I am disturbed by the cautionary language and the viewpoint of this article. My sense JT is that your sympathies lie with Paterno. Why would you be concerned about whether or not he and the school are “safe” from tort. Do not get me wrong. I do not think you support child sexual assault or rape. But I have certainly seen you more impassioned about far less. What gives? A heinous crime was committed here. If anything this article should also explore the legal options for the victims. It is they not Paterno and all the other cowards and all of the other cowards who were involved in this cover up who are the real victims. This is why it is so hard for victims of sexual assault to come forward. Why didn’t those students turn the campus upside down at the news that university officials covered up a child sex scandal? What a hellish mess!

  17. not just can be, but should be. I feel that those responsible including the school, Paterno, and the rest including the witness should be sued into oblivion. They should be left destitute. There is no punishment of any sort that would be too severe in my mind for these animals.

    They did far more than fail to properly report the rape of children. They actively covered it up to ensure millions of dollars would continue to flow.

    Those who support Paterno are disgusting and vile. He may be able to coach football but that is not enough in my view to overlook his and the others willingness to overlook what was done.

  18. Erykah,

    I think you are missing JT’s intent here. This is a Law blog anf the question of tort liability is a fair question in that context. It seems to me that JT is merely presenting this as a question regarding tort law and not defending

  19. Erykah: “This is why it is so hard for victims of sexual assault to come forward.”
    Just look what is happening to Cain’s accusers simultaneous to the Penn State case. They are being demonized. There is an long-standing bias against the people reporting sexual abuse or harassment. It is important to keep making that point.

    JT sympathises with Paterno et al? No, just analyzing the legal possibilities as appropriate for a law blawg.

    Puzzling, where do pedo’s go? They go where the children are. They hide in plain sight. Based on the article you posted maybe a thorough look-see is in order. I think you could make that argument for any male/child organization.

  20. There are essentially two broad questions in this story that need to be examined separately:

    1. What does one think of the actions of all the parties to this story?
    2. What punishments are available to be meted out to those culpable?

    1. I feel disgusted with the actions of all who had knowledge of these outrageous crimes and did not do their very best to see the perpetrator stopped and punished. In a perfect world they should all suffer grievous harm commensurate with their involvement, or abstention from involvement. Sandusky should be imprisoned for life. McCreery should suffer disgrace for his inactivity and liability for his cowardly inaction. From the University’s end the right people have been fired, however, if their misdeeds are punishable under criminal and/or tort law they should have the harshest judgments possible given to them.

    While it is true that the legend of Joe Paterno has been unalterably badly tarnished, if feasible he should also suffer further punishment. He has lived the last quarter century as an American icon, who represented the integrity and decency we so look for in our heroes. If you bask in and nurture your own glorification, then you damn well better live up to your press clippings.
    By even the mildest reading “Joe Pa’s” vaunted integrity was lacking when it came to his protecting his own glorification and so even in his life’s twilight he does not deserve special handling.

    2. This question cannot be answered from the viewpoint of our righteous anger, but from the practicality of the covering laws and precedents. Sandusky will get his. McCreery does not seem legally or tortiously liable liable, but I suspect that he will no longer have football as an area of employment and might in fact have difficulty getting any other job. The school administration may have in fact engaged in a conspiracy to cover up this problem and Sandusky’s retirement seems non-coincidental. The fact that he was still given access to the campus sports facilities and the lack of prosecution, despite much evidence, speaks to the power of Penn State’s
    football glory and the “sainthood” of Joe Pa, giving him and those acting for him great sway. I believe that given the Clery Act, there is liability to be had. However, we at this point have no means of judging the prosecutorial and/or
    tortious zeal in play. If I were a lawyer, or if I was advising the victims I’d say go get the bastards. The prosecutor Gricar’s disappearance is certainly made more suspicious given his failure to prosecute and may in the end make this whole case more bizarre, if that’s possible. In a situation like this I’m suspicious of coincidences and certainly in light of human experience foul play by those with something to protect, is a distinct possibility.

    Sometimes you have to know when to “fold em” and “Joe Pa” liked basking
    in his glory too much to realize he should have retired in the 90’s.

  21. Victim number 1 was 12 years old in 2006. If Pennsylvania law is anything like NY Law, there would be a tolling of the statute of limitations due to Infancy until the plaintiff reached the age of 18. So victim 1, it would appear, still has time to file suit.

    Per the other victims having a case against Penn State et. al., they might be able to wedge their way into the court using continual fraud and continual tort to toll the statute of limitations.

    I don’t think the ‘discovery’ doctrine is a strong argument on its own; it would be much more persuasive when combined with a fraudulent concealment argument.

  22. As many of the regulars know, I’ve taken a keen interest in this story because it offends me on so many levels. I’ll be writing tomorrow on something a source told me about the whole sordid affair. On a process note, anyone is free to quote me whenever they please. Color me flattered.

  23. Penn State Scandal: Mother Of Victim Speaks About Sexual Abuse By Jerry Sandusky (VIDEO)

    With coverage of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal being dominated by the fate of football coach Joe Paterno, perhaps not enough attention has been paid to either the alleged perpetrator of the heinous crimes outlined in the 23-page grand jury report, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, or to the young boys who the report indicates were his victims.

    On Friday morning, ABC turned the attention back toward those who have been allegedly been terrorized by the longtime assistant coach at Penn State. The mother of one of the victims appeared on “Good Morning America” for an interview with George Stephanopoulos and addressed the abuse sufferd by her son. The victim’s mother first suspected the abuse when her son began acting out. Her fears grew when he queried her about researching “sex weirdos” on the Internet.

  24. Penn State Cover-Up of Child Rape, Coach Paterno Fired in “Greatest Fall from Grace in U.S. Sports”
    Democracy Now

    Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, one of the most legendary coaches in U.S. sports history, was fired on Wednesday for his role in allegedly covering up the child sexual abuse of the football team’s former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Penn State president Graham Spanier was also fired. In 2002, Paterno reportedly received an eyewitness account from someone who saw Sandusky raping a young boy in a Penn State locker room. While Paterno told his boss, he did not call the police. Others at Penn State knew about a string of other sexual assaults allegedly committed by Sandusky, but the police were never notified. Last week, Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. During the entire time, Sandusky was running a foundation for troubled kids. The student response to the child rape scandal has surprised many. On Wednesday, students rioted in outrage — not over the school’s role in covering up child rape, but for Paterno’s firing. We speak with political sportswriter Dave Zirin. “What the Penn State students did the other night — rioting, hitting ESPN reporters in the head with rocks, setting fires — and by the way, zero arrests at the end of the night after all the carnage — it stands in stark contrast to the courage of the students occupying their campuses around the country,” Zirin says. “It’s really a tale of two generations that we’re seeing playing itself out on these different campuses.”

    DAVE ZIRIN: Yeah. Yeah, I’m glad you asked that, because that’s a very important part of the story. It’s 2002, and a young graduate assistant who used to be a quarterback at Penn State named Mike McQueary—he’s six foot six, he weighs well in excess of 240 pounds—he walks into the shower room, according to his testimony, and he sees Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old child—60-year-old Jerry Sandusky—in the showers where the Penn State football players clean off after practice.

    Now, what does Mike McQueary do at that point? Does he take Jerry Sandusky and throw him to the ground, or does he call the police? No, he makes a beeline to his father’s house, who’s a local coach in state college, and his father instructs him not to go to the police, but to go to Joe Paterno’s house. So Mike McQueary goes to Joe Paterno’s house, tells him what he saw, and Joe Paterno then, first of all—this is what we know Joe Paterno did—he kicks it up. He says, “OK, well, I’ll report this to the president. I’ll report this to the head of finance and campus police,” which legally was all he was required to do.

    And now Mike McQueary is the receivers’ assistant coach at Penn State, which really smells awfully like a kind of quid pro quo, where Mike McQueary was silent about what he saw, and then Joe Paterno was silent about what he saw. This happened in 2002. Jerry Sandusky, his “punishment,” quote-unquote, by the athletic director was then saying, “You are not allowed any longer to bring children into the facilities of the Penn State athletic department.” That was it. No report to the police, which is a violation of state law.

    And then Joe Paterno—and this is Joe Paterno’s great moral failing and why it makes me physically sick, the sight of students rallying outside his home—Joe Paterno, St. Joe, was silent throughout the decade as Jerry Sandusky would visit the campus, visit the football team, and bring young children with him when doing this. Jerry Sandusky held a sleepaway camp for small children on the campus as recently as 2008. As recently as a month ago, Jerry Sandusky is working out in the Penn State athletic department, right there in the gym with all the players. And Joe Paterno still said nothing.

    AMY GOODMAN: He ran the Second Mile Foundation, Sandusky, where he dealt with little—

    DAVE ZIRIN: A foundation for economically disadvantaged children, yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: And he—what they did was they took away his key to the locker room. At this point, the issue of the big business that NCAA college football represents, and particularly at Penn State?

    DAVE ZIRIN: Yeah, that’s, to me, the story that’s not being told about this, because what this, to me—you can’t talk about this story without also talking about the entire bankrupt economic moral system around which college football exists. This is a multi-billion-dollar business built on the basis of unpaid work. And so, what you have is a constant cycle of amorality that’s dependent upon protecting the system itself. So you have situations where players are handed easy access to women, oftentimes prostitutes. At the University of Colorado a couple years back, it was found that there was a slush fund at a local escort service that was used for the purposes of players. Anything goes.

  25. Legendary status requires legendary responsibility. These boys got neither. If ever there were a reason to bring back the stockades for a one-time only appearance, it’s for the coward McCleary. Save the “deer in the headlights” physchobabble. He has had since that episode to call the police, and we’re STILL waiting. He was a grown adult as a witness, and remains a most miserable example of homo sapiens. Listening to Joe Pa, the old coot is clearly past it.

    From the sounds of it, the legal engine is in but gear 1. McCleary, Paterno and others are still on the plank. Discovery is going to be just heart-wrenching.

  26. Thanks for the Scalzi link, lottakatz. The ffollowing link was found in the comments section of his posting.


    Now… I am still Penn State, moreso than I realized until this horrific story came out. I still hope that there will somewhere in the tale be a moment of grace, a heroic stand, a person determined and true.

    As of now, though, the only comfort I have is remembering that I am not just a “Little Lion” staring up in awe at a parade float majestically passing by. I am also a member of the 99%, working determinedly for a more just society, where anyone can be a hero, but no other person is sacrificed.

    May no act of mine bring shame.

  27. “Duty to rescue” isn’t an issue here. At a minimum, the kids are on Penn State’s property, so it’s negligence in permitting and/or failing to stop the assault, the same type of claim when someone is assaulted at a business. Then comes negligent employment/supervision/retention: you can’t authorize someone you know to be a danger to act as your actual or ostensible agent. Then there’s negligent per se for failing to report.

    Statute of limitations in PA for child abuse is different from normal negligence. All the current victims are plainly within it, but prior ones might not be.

    All these issues and more discussed in detail, with citations to PA cases and statutes, at my blog:

  28. eniobob –“If life was the sentence in this case, what should Sandusky be sentenced to?”

    The S. Ct. got it wrong; for serial pedophiles, the maximum penalty should be death!

  29. Nice to see we all have our morality-based reasons to go after everyone and everything involved in this to “protect the children.”

    It’s too bad that we’re all such hypocrites – because it happens every day here in America – and none of us have the time or show any effort to stop any of it from Guantanemo to child abuse; gay-bashing to elder-abuse; fraud at the highest levels to tasting a grape at the supermarket; and especially with respect to all of us driving our cars everywhere and global warming (“i don’t believe it so i can keep doing what i’m doing”). Yeah, Paterno SHOULD have gone to the police; McCleary SHOULD have gone to the police FIRST; the school administration SHOULD have done their jobs and gone to the police when it was reported to them by Paterno and others. Too late now for the victims.

    Now they’re all culpable – just like Congress and Wall Street in the criminal destruction of the middle class over CDS and other financial instruments of wealth creation and the whole mortgage meltdown. But you won’t see any prosecutions in that will you? Oh, no – that’s different. Yeah, a hell of a lot more victims, the complete ruin of millions of lives – but we’ll concentrate on ruining just a few lives here with THE LAW and feel good about ourselves until we can pontificate about the next injustice by which we’re distracted.

  30. Another disturbing report from State College about Paterno’s complete control over the University’s judicial process as it related to football players. It’s a story of megalomania and fund-raising might making right. It also bolsters my supposition that had one female been in the decision making loop –and been listened to — this would never have happened:

    According to the article: “Mr. Secor [former University Provost] says that Mr. Paterno told him that he didn’t think other people should be able to decide whether a football player should be able to play or not. “And we agreed with that,” he says.

    On Oct. 1, 2007, Mr. Spanier accepted the committee’s recommended changes. Under the new rules, the judicial-review process would have only a limited ability to end a student’s participation in activities—including football.”

    And for the topper:

    “The incident [discipline of a Penn State FB player accused of making harassing calls to a retired assistant coach] prompted [University President] Spanier to visit Dr. Triponey [then in charge of enforcing University discipline] at her home. Dr. Triponey confirms he told her that Mr. Paterno had given him an ultimatum: Fire her, or Mr. Paterno would stop fund-raising for the school. She says Mr. Spanier told her that if forced to choose, he would choose her over the coach—but that he did not want to have to make that choice.”

    Positively Orwellian in scope and obsequiousness.

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