Witness in Sandusky sex-abuse case files whistleblower suit against Penn State

By Jon Campisi | Oct 3, 2012

The former Penn State graduate assistant football coach who was a central witness in the

Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse case has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university in state court.

Michael J. McQueary is suing Pennsylvania State University over claims that he was terminated from his position in retaliation for raising concerns about Sandusky, who was convicted of multiple counts of child molestation following a jury trial this past June.

Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 9.

The 69-year-old is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

On Oct. 2, Harrisburg attorney Elliot A. Strokoff filed suit in Centre County’s Common Pleas Court against the university, alleging violations of the state’s whistleblower statute, as well as counts of defamation and misrepresentation.

McQueary, who was a graduate assistant football coach at Penn State from February 2000 through February 2003, claimed he had witnessed Sandusky raping a young boy in the showers of a Penn State locker room facility back on Feb. 9, 2001.

The lawsuit claims that during that time, McQueary was never given any training or guidance on how to handle such a situation with respect to what law enforcement agency should be made aware of the incident – university police or state police – and that he was not given instruction with respect to reporting sexual misconduct under the federal Clery Act.

McQueary ended up reporting what he had witnessed to former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, who has since passed away.

McQueary was informed that he had done the right thing, the suit states.

Penn State Senior Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletics Director Tim Curley thanked McQueary for providing them with the information, and told McQueary that this was a “serious matter,” and would be properly investigated,  according to the complaint.

Schultz and Curley are themselves currently the subject of criminality; they are facing failure to report charges as it relates to the child sex-abuse scandal.

Meanwhile, McQueary’s suit contends that the former graduate assistant coach was terminated from his job for helping authorities to build a criminal case against Sandusky.

The lawsuit says that McQueary was placed on administrative leave in November 2011, which was around the same time that investigators announced the grand jury report against Sandusky.

McQueary further alleges that he had received no notice that his employment was terminated until he heard during a televised news conference on July 5 of this year that the university’s former president state that McQueary was no longer employed by the school.

“By barring the Plaintiff from all facilities associated with Penn State football program as part of being placed on administrative leave, the Plaintiff was ostracized and isolated from a community of individuals, colleagues and friends and a program which had been an integral part of his life for approximately 20 years,” the suit states.

The complaint alleges that McQueary was treated in a discriminatory fashion due to McQueary’s cooperation with investigators, his “truthful” testimony to the statewide investigating grand jury, and because of the fact that he is expected to be a key prosecution witness at the upcoming criminal trials of Schultz and Curley.

“The aforementioned discriminatory treatment by the University since November 5, 2011 has caused the Plaintiff much distress, anxiety and embarrassment,” the suit states.

In the defamation count, the suit says that a written statement released by then-President Graham Spanier on Nov. 4, 2011, as well as a verbal statement by Spanier to Athletic Department staff “clearly suggest that the Plaintiff was lying in his reports and testimonies that he had reported the sexual misconduct he had witnessed on February 9, 2001 to Athletics Director Curley and Senior Vice President Schultz.”

To date, the suit claims, Penn State has not withdrawn or apologized for Spanier’s statements and the university’s “maltreatment toward the Plaintiff reinforces the perception that the Plaintiff had lied and committed perjury.”

The suit says that McQueary’s reputation has been harmed as a result of the false statements made about him.

McQueary seeks $4 million in damages for lost future earnings. He also seeks additional judgment such as legal fees, a bowl bonus he would have received had he not been placed on administrative leave, $4,250 representing the fair rental value of his employer provided vehicle for the period of Nov. 13, 2011 through Sept. 30 of this year, back pay and benefits and other general damages.

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