BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) – Nineteen people were selected as potential jurors Monday in a lawsuit by a former Penn State assistant football coach who says he witnessed onetime fellow coach Jerry Sandusky abuse a boy in the team shower more than 15 years ago.
Ten women and nine men were qualified for a pool of 28, which lawyers will pare down to 12 jurors and four alternates. The jurors will hear Mike McQueary’s defamation, whistleblower and misrepresentation lawsuit against the university.
The jury selection process could wrap up Tuesday, and opening statements are scheduled in a week.
McQueary, who played quarterback for the Nittany Lions in the 1990s, says he was working as a graduate assistant coach when in early 2001 he was in a team locker room and noticed Sandusky sexually abusing a boy. He reported it the next morning to then-head coach Joe Paterno, who in turn alerted administrators.
Paterno’s handling of that complaint was cited by trustees as among the reasons he was fired in November 2011, days after Sandusky was charged with child molestation. Paterno died in early 2012.
After speaking with Paterno, McQueary talked to two Penn State administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. But it was more than a decade later that charges were filed against Sandusky.
Curley and Schultz were charged, along with the then-president, Graham Spanier, for their actions in response to the Sandusky scandal.
McQueary’s lawsuit argues he was defamed by a statement issued by Spanier in support of Curley and Schultz the day they were charged. He says he was retaliated against by the university for reporting Sandusky and helping the prosecution. And he says he was the victim of misrepresentation, citing assurances by Curley and Schultz they would investigate what he told them and respond appropriately.
McQueary was put on leave when Sandusky, Curley and Schultz were arrested, and the university didn’t renew his contract the following summer. He had been making $140,000 a year.
In an August order denying Penn State’s request to delay the trial, Judge Thomas Gavin said McQueary has not been able to find a coaching job at any level, is unemployed and has exhausted financial resources.
McQueary’s lawsuit seeks prospective lost wages and damages.
Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of dozens of counts of sexual abuse of children, although he maintains his innocence and is pursuing appeals. Curley, Schultz and Spanier await trial in Harrisburg, after a state appeals court earlier this year threw out several of the more serious counts against them. A pretrial hearing in those cases is scheduled for Thursday.
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