Paterno, others could be hit with civil suits in aftermath of sex abuse scanda
By Stacy Brown | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Penn State University and former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky are among those potentially facing millions of dollars in civil lawsuits as the allegations of child sexual abuse against Sandusky continue.
- Legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired amid the scandal;
- University resident Graham Spanier, who also was fired amid the scandal,
- Former university vice president Gary Schultz, who was charged with covering up the sex abuse allegations and later resigned;
- Former athletic director Tim Curley, who also resigned after he was charged with covering up the sex abuse allegations; and
- Assistant coach Mike McQueary, who was placed on administrative leave last week and allegedly did not report the abuse incident he reportedly witnessed to anyone but Paterno.
McQueary told a grand jury that he saw Sandusky assaulting a boy as young as 10 years old in the showers at the university's sports complex. He said he reported the incident to Paterno and police. The school's police this week denied receiving any such report from McQueary.
Paterno's wife gets the house
Paterno could be preparing to face civil action. According to multiple media reports, including The New York Times, which cited county records, Paterno transferred full ownership of his house to his wife, Sue, for just $1 in July. Paterno's house's fair-market value was listed at $594,484.40.
Wick Sollers, Paterno's lawyer, did not return two telephone messages left at his office Thursday.
In an e-mail to The New York Times, Sollers said the Paternos had been engaged in a “multiyear estate-planning program,” and the transfer “was simply one element of that plan.” He said it had nothing to do with the scandal.
However, Culhane, who said he has followed the case closely, said Paterno's actions could be interpreted as a move to protect himself.
"It is fair to say that, in the event of a civil judgment against Paterno, the court in its search for assets might want to take a closer look at that transaction," Culhane said.
Culhane did, however, caution that the house had been the subject of numerous transactions.
But, Lawrence Frolik, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in elder law, told The New York Times that he had “never heard” of a husband selling his share of a house for $1 to his spouse for tax or government assistance purposes.
“I can’t see any tax advantages,” Frolik said. “If someone told me that, my reaction would be, ‘Are they hoping to shield assets in case if there’s personal liability?’ It sounds like an attempt to avoid personal liability in having assets in his wife’s name.”