Attorneys for Michael McQueary are asking a judge to deny Penn State University’s
motion to stay a lawsuit that was filed against the school by one of its former assistant football coaches.
McQueary, a central figure in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, is suing Penn State for wrongful termination and for violating Pennsylvania’s whistleblower law.
The former employee contends he was terminated because he cooperated with authorities in the case against Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions who is currently serving out a 30 to 60-year prison sentence for molesting 10 underage boys.
McQueary filed suit against Penn State in early October over allegations that he was let go from his job for cooperating with the state Attorney General’s Office and for testifying against former university senior vice president Gary Schultz and former university athletic director Timothy Curley.
Schultz and Curley are scheduled to go on trial in January on various charges including perjury, failure-to-report and obstruction of justice for their alleged role in covering up the sexual abuse of minors at the hands of Sandusky.
McQueary contends that the university violated the state’s whistleblower law when it fired him this summer.
McQueary was the university employee who said he saw Sandusky raping a young boy in a Penn State shower facility.
Late last month, Penn State attorneys filed a motion to stay proceedings, asserting that allowing McQueary’s civil suit to move forward before Schultz and Curley’s criminal trial is complete could taint the case against those two figures.
“Penn State would be severely prejudiced if forced to move forward in litigation, and discovery, while its representatives are subject to parallel criminal proceedings,” Penn State attorney Nancy Conrad had written in her motion to stay proceedings.
On Nov. 1, McQueary’s lawyer, Elliot A. Strokoff, of the Harrisburg firm Strokoff & Cowden, wrote that the university has not pled any facts setting forth how it will be severely prejudiced if the civil action moves forward at this point.
Strokoff wrote that both the whistleblower and defamation counts in his client’s lawsuit do not depend upon any “testimony or knowledge” of Schultz and Curley.
Strokoff also disagreed with Conrad’s use of the term “parallel criminal proceedings” with regard to Schultz and Curley’s criminal matters, writing that such a term only concerns a criminal proceeding that is brought by the federal or state government at or about the same time as, or subject to, civil proceedings that had been initiated by the federal or state government concerning the same subject matter.
Strokoff also wrote that the outcome of the Schultz and Curley criminal proceedings would not resolve McQueary’s civil case.
And citing state Supreme Court precedence, Strokoff wrote that any significant infringement on a constitutional right, such as the right to a speedy trial under Article I Section 11 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, constitutes an irreparable harm.
“… Parties to a lawsuit, are ‘entitled to have the controversy between them promptly adjudicated while witnesses are still available and memories are undimmed by long intervening years,” Strokoff wrote, citing Bierstein v. Whitman.
The Penn State child sex-abuse scandal rocked the Centre County, Pa. community and made national and international news.