Inadequate Settlements for Sandusky Sex Abuse Victims - Consumer Justice Foundation

Inadequate Settlements for Sandusky Sex Abuse Victims

Written by Faith Anderson on July 16, 2012
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Penn State Estimated to Spend $500,000 Per Jerry Sandusky Victim

According to a shocking report commissioned by Penn State, top university officials covered up numerous instances of molestation by the assistant football coach over a 14-year period, some of which occurred right on the college’s campus. The Penn State child sex abuse investigation has already cost the university more than $12 million in legal fees and crisis communication, and experts estimate the university will shell out an additional $5 million in settlements for Jerry Sandusky’s victims. Despite the common misconception that sexual misconduct claims result in large settlements, Roskopf says, “a reasonable figure [for sexual misconduct] is $500,000 on average…A $500,000 settlement for some of these victims is substantial.” Substantial? I don’t care how much experience you have in risk management, it still doesn’t qualify you to determine how much money is a substantial amount to compensate an individual who was victimized and sexually abused by a mentor and widely recognized and respected member of the Penn State community.

University Officials Conceal Child Sex Abuse to Avoid “Bad Publicity”

On November 21, 2011, Penn State University enlisted the help of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP to conduct an independent investigation into the failure of University personnel to report molestation allegations against Sandusky or the circumstances surrounding sexual abuse that occurred on the university’s very own campus. A Special Investigative Council hired by the college found that four of Penn State’s most influential people concealed critical information concerning Sandusky’s disgraceful actions in an attempt to avoid “bad publicity” associated with the child abuse case from the Penn State community, the school’s trustees, and the public.

According to the Openness Website the university launched in connection with the Sandusky case, Penn State had paid more than $5.3 million on its internal investigation and crisis communication by the end of February 2012. Just two months later, the figure would skyrocket to nearly $12 million in legal fees and other expenses related to the child sex abuse case. Of the $11.9 million spent, more than half was dedicated to the internal investigation and crisis management, a figure Roskopf doesn’t find surprising with the university’s reputation at stake. “Penn State is a very large organization, a very far-reaching organization and it has a huge alumni base and needs to be sure that they get their message out to their friends and to their alumni that this is still a great institution.” He continues, “It is key for Penn State to maintain their reputation. That’s an expensive endeavor.”

You Just Can’t Put a Price Tag on Long-Term Consequences of Sex Abuse

Expensive is right. The college’s internal investigation and crisis communication fees alone reached $5,348,238 by the end of February, paid out to Freeh Group/Kekst Public Relations, Reed Smith/Ketchum Public Relations, Domus Inc. Public Relations, and the Academy Group. An additional $1,205,438 was spent on University Legal Services/Defense, with $49,788 more spent on externally-initiated investigations, $338,545 dedicated to officers’ legal defense, and another $635,634 in other institutional expenses, bringing Penn State’s grand total to $7,577,643, as of February 2012. That sure is an awful lot of money the university paid to ensure its reputation remains intact. So what about the well-being of Sandusky’s victims? Can you put a $500,000 per victim price tag on the issues they are likely to struggle with for the rest of their lives? It seems like Penn State needs to reevaluate its priorities regarding the sex abuse case, because Jerry Sandusky’s victims deserve more.

Posted Under: Editorial
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