The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

October 13, 2012

Penn State in settlement talks with 20 Sandusky accusers

PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania State University has entered into preliminary settlement talks with at least 20 men accusing Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, the college’s appointed mediators said.

That figure — more than double the number of victims who testified against the former assistant football coach at trial — offers the first glimpse of Penn State’s potential liability in the largest scandal in its history.

Their ranks include the eight accusers named in state prosecutors’ case against Sandusky, four more who have either filed lawsuits or come forward to claim molestation in the news media, and at least eight more who have not publicly aired their allegations of abuse.

The university’s appointed mediators have yet to begin the process of vetting any of the 20 claims, negotiator Michael K. Rozen said in an interview last week.

“All of these claims will be very different from one another factually and potentially legally,” he said. “We’re having lots of discussions so far about how to go about evaluating them.”

Penn State hired Rozen and law partner Kenneth R. Feinberg to handle settlement negotiations last month. Their firm previously managed the Sept. 11 victims-compensation fund and settlements with those affected by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

So far, the mediators have reached out to attorneys representing the accusers but described their discussions Friday as preliminary. Rozen said he and Feinberg have yet to come up with criteria to evaluate the claims.

“Right now, we’re trying to think through how we transparently - both to the claimants and the university - put the claims into some sort of hierarchy,” he said. “Because there’s so much attention being paid to this, we don’t think we can have 20 separate negotiations and 20 separate resolutions.”

Since Sandusky’s conviction in June, Penn State President Rodney Erickson has expressed his desire to quickly settle with the victims in hopes of avoiding drawn-out and costly legal proceedings. He hopes most claims can be resolved by the end of the year, Rozen said.

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