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Mon October 28, 2013

Penn State To Pay Nearly $60 Million To Sandusky Abuse Victims

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 4:15 pm

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Penn State announced today that it will pay nearly $60 million to settle child sexual abuse claims related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. For much of the past year, the university has been negotiating settlements with more than two dozen people who say they were victims of Sandusky.

NPR's Jeff Brady has been following these developments, and joins us from Philadelphia. And Jeff, what do we know about these settlements?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Well, the university has been negotiating the settlements for much of the past year, but they were just announced today along with some specific numbers. There are a total of 26 victims who will receive settlement payments. Thirty-two people filed claims, saying that they were victims of Sandusky. But the university rejected six of those claims, concluding that they were without merit. Perhaps we'll be hearing more about those cases later.

The total cost to the university will be $59.7 million. We don't know how much each victim will receive, but in return the victims agree to release Penn State of all claims; and as part of the settlements, there are confidentiality agreements. So we may not learn many more details than we're getting today.

SIEGEL: Almost $60 million is a lot of money. Where is it coming from?

BRADY: Well, the university says none of it will come from student tuition, taxpayer funds, or donations to the school. Penn State has some insurance policies that it believes will cover the cost of the settlements and the attorney fees. If there are expenses that are not covered, school officials say they'll use some of the interest the university collects from loans that Penn State makes to its self-supporting units - is what they're called. These includes businesses that the school runs and of course, the athletic programs.

SIEGEL: Jeff, as you said, Penn State says it's settling with 26 victims - that is six fewer than the number who made claims, but it's a lot more than the 10 victims who were listed in the criminal trial against Jerry Sandusky last year. What's the difference?

BRADY: You know, taking a criminal case to trial, it's a lot more complicated than negotiating a civil settlement, and prosecutors tend to take their strongest cases before a jury, so I suspect that accounts for those different numbers.

SIEGEL: This settlement, I gather, will resolve most of the civil claims, but there are still some criminal matters connected to the Sandusky scandal, no?

BRADY: Yes, that's right. If you remember, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty last year of sexually molesting 10 boys, some of them on Penn State's campus. He's serving a prison sentence of between 30 and 60 years here, in Pennsylvania. He's been trying to appeal that conviction but so far, his appeals have been rejected. And there are still three former Penn State administrators facing charges that they tried to cover up the scandal. Those cases haven't been tried yet.

SIEGEL: What reaction have you heard to these settlements from State College, P-A, the home of Penn State?

BRADY: Right. The current university president, Rodney Erickson, said in a statement that he hopes this is a step forward in the healing process for those who've been hurt by Sandusky. And for the people there in State College, it's a community - well, actually, it's not just the people there in State College, but also people who attended Penn State - many of them, I think, are just happy to close another chapter on this scandal. They've been living with this for two years now, and a lot of folks I've talked to just want it all to be over.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Jeff.

BRADY: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Jeff Brady in Philadelphia.

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