STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – Penn State trustees plan to hold a special meeting next week to consider whether to give a board subcommittee the authority to approve possible settlements to lawsuits connected to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The board is scheduled to meet in executive session for an hour before a public meeting Oct. 26 to consider the resolution giving the board’s legal subcommittee authority to approve settlements.
The university last month hired lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who ran the Sept. 11 victim fund and other major victim compensation efforts, to oversee Penn State’s endeavors to resolve all litigation – including claims that haven’t been filed – by the end of the year.
“If the resolution is approved by the board, the legal subcommittee would be able to provide oversight and enable a process where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims against the university,” the school said in a statement this week. Trustees can take part in the meeting either by phone or in person.
Feinberg and his firm have reached out to begin settlement talks with at least 20 men accusing Sandusky of abuse.
That number included eight men who testified against Sandusky at his trial in June, the university said this week in a statement. Sandusky, who was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys, was sentenced last week to 30 to 60 years in prison. He has maintained his innocence.
The witness known in court documents as Victim 1 has filed at least one of the five lawsuits from victims or accusers in the scandal. The young man’s claims of abuse triggered the sweeping investigation into Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach.
The witness revealed his identity this week as Aaron Fisher in an interview with ABC’s “20/20.” Fisher, now 18, has co-written an upcoming book with his mother and psychologist about his ordeal.
The Associated Press typically doesn’t name sexual abuse victims unless they identify themselves publicly, as Fisher has done.
Besides the witnesses and those who have sued, the school said its outreach efforts also include others who have come forward through counsel, either privately or publicly, with abuse allegations.
The school also said Friday that it had established a 10-member advisory council to provide feedback to university leadership and trustees on the 119 recommendations from former FBI director Louis Freeh to strengthen policies and performance at Penn State. The council includes the head of the school’s Faculty Senate; the student government president; and Karen Wiley Sandler, the chancellor of Penn State’s satellite campus in Abington.
About a third of the recommendations have been implemented, the university said, including a restructuring of the board and enhanced security at athletic facilities. Trustees have said they are evaluating the other recommendations and would either implement them by the end of 2013 or offer reasons why the changes weren’t incorporated.
The recommendations were the result of Freeh’s internal investigation into the scandal for the trustees. Freeh concluded that late head football coach Joe Paterno, along with three school administrators, concealed allegations against Sandusky.
Paterno’s family and the administrators have vehemently denied the findings.
The trustees are still scheduled to hold their regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 16.
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