Penn State close to settling with Sandusky victims - abc27 WHTM

Penn State close to settling with Sandusky victims

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It's been just over a year since Jerry Sandusky was convicted of molesting boys, and Penn State will soon know the cost of compensating the victims of his heinous acts.

The lawyer hired by the university to negotiate with those victims announced Monday that agreements have been reached with 25 of Sandusky's 31 victims.

Harrisburg attorney Ben Andreozzi represents nine of them, and he confirmed that he's "very close" to finalizing compensation for his clients. He called it an important step.

"You can't take the hands of time and eliminate what happened to them," Andreozzi said, "but you can try to lead them toward healing, and that's the best we can hope to do."

Dollar amounts are not being disclosed. Penn State's Board of Trustees previously approved $60 million to compensate victims. Legal analysts tell abc27 that several of the victims figure to get several million dollars.

One deal is already done. Philadelphia attorney Tom Kline announced Friday that his client, Victim 5, became the first to settle with the university.

He said Victim 5, who testified that he was embraced in a Penn State shower by Sandusky, cried when told it was over and is finding closure and relief from the settlement. Kline wouldn't discuss how much his client is getting, but did offer legal advise to Penn State.

"My client has given up the right to sue Second Mile, and he's given up the right to sue the Paterno estate and anyone else," he said. "Penn State now has a golden opportunity to retrieve some of the money."

The university is remaining mum. Spokesman David LaTorre said in a statement that the university "continues to make progress on multiple settlements, but does not have a comment at this time."

LaTorre promised a broader statement when all the settlements are finalized. It's unknown if Penn State, as Kline recommends, will go after other entities to help pay the victims or merely put the case in the rearview mirror.

Penn State has claimed in the past that it will not use tuition, tax or donor dollars to pay off victims. State Representative Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), who represents State College, wonders if that's even possible.

"The reality is to try and separate every single dollar. I don't think they're able to do that," Benninghoff said. "Most people like to believe, feel or wish that tax dollars aren't being used on this type of thing, but that could be wishful thinking."

Benninghoff said the primary focus should not be on the dollar amount or where the money's coming from, but should be on the victims.

"My hopes and prayers are that these families and victims can somehow get some closure and get on with their lives," he said. "These are very, very young victims. They are currently young adults and we want them to have a long, prosperous life without all this burden."

Now that payday has arrived, there are cynics that might suggest the victims were only in it for the money. Andreozzi has an answer for them.

"I can guarantee that if you gave them a blank check and asked them to fill out the check and presented it to them in one hand, in the other hand a time machine that let them go back in time to erase what happened, every single one of them is going to take the time machine over the blank check," he said.

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