With former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse sentencing still fresh in the news, one of his victims has filed a lawsuit against Penn State University. The lawsuit filed by the man identified only as ‘Victim 1’ alleges that Penn State deliberately covered up Sandusky’s abuses in order to protect the reputation and financial viability of their successful football program. It goes on to accuse specific individuals, including former head coach Joe Paterno and several university administrators, of being aware of the ongoing abuse and taking no steps to stop it.
This case raises a number of interesting questions. Did Penn State’s entrusting the care of boys or young men to Jerry Sandusky inherently create a risk? Should the school have more carefully vetted their choice of coach or perhaps installed more safeguards against potential abuses? Did the school and the administrators in question have an obligation to more carefully supervise or even investigate suspected or possible criminal behaviour? Was Sandusky’s behaviour a reasonably foreseeable risk?
If the system does find fault with Penn State, there might be interesting ramifications for other programs at other schools across a wide range of sports and activities. While it ‘feels right’ for the victim in question to gain compensation for the massive harm caused by Sandusky’s actions, the precedent set by such a case could affect daily operations of University-level programs across the United States.