HARRISBURG, Pa. — A whistleblower and defamation lawsuit against Penn State will go forward, a judge ruled Tuesday, denying the university’s request to dismiss it.
Former assistant football coach Mike McQueary sued the school in October, claiming he was portrayed as untruthful in statements made in 2011 by the university’s president after Jerry Sandusky’s arrest.
Judge Thomas Gavin said McQueary’s lawsuit makes sufficient claims of “outrageous conduct” on the part of the school to keep the case alive. He gave the school 20 days to respond to the lawsuit filed in October.
Penn State spokesman Dave La Torre declined to comment, and McQueary’s lawyer Elliot Strokoff did not return a phone message seeking comment.
McQueary was a graduate assistant in February 2001 when he encountered Sandusky showering with a boy in a team locker room, complained about it to then-head coach Joe Paterno and then met with the two administrators about it.
Sandusky was first charged with child sexual abuse in November 2011. At the same time, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, administrators who worked under then-president Graham Spanier, were accused of perjury and failure to properly report suspected abuse.
McQueary testified against Sandusky in June during the criminal trial that ended with a 45-count guilty verdict against the former defensive coordinator. McQueary has lost his coaching job at the school.
McQueary’s lawsuit involves a news release that Spanier issued in support of Curley and Schultz. Spanier gave the two his unconditional support and said he was confident the record would show the charges were groundless.
Spanier’s statement must be looked at in the context of the time it was published, Gavin wrote in his decision.
If the perjury charges against Curley and Schultz were groundless, “one cannot help but deduce that McQueary’s contradictory testimony is untruthful,” Gavin wrote.
The judge said McQueary asserts the university “treated him like a leper to be quarantined outside of State College” in the aftermath of the arrests of Sandusky, Schultz and Curley.
Additional charges were added last year against Curley and Schultz, and Spanier was also charged in the alleged cover-up of Sandusky complaints. A week ago, a judge ruled against their efforts to have the charges thrown out, and the next step could be a preliminary hearing or appeals. All three men deny the criminal allegations against them.
Curley is on leave to complete the last year of his contract as athletic director. Spanier, forced out as president shortly after he issued the news release in support of Curley and Schultz, remains a tenured faculty member and is on paid leave. Schultz has retired.