In the year since eight young men took the stand to testify they were sexually abused by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the scandal has played out in the courts, in the halls of the university and in continuing debate about how it was handled and what it meant.
Two Penn State trustees made a case this month that the university already has made substantial improvements in child safety and its internal governance, with more changes on the way, including a search for a new president.
Board chairman Keith Masser said the school already can claim to be more efficient, more transparent and more accountable, a national model for university governance. He sees Penn State turning a corner.
“There’s a lot of inaccurate information and negative information that’s out there, and ... I want to make sure that we promote and discuss all the good things that have been done and we’re doing,” he said in an interview in New York with The Associated Press.
The fallout from the revelations that Sandusky was a child molester who used his ties to the university to groom and victimize boys has hardly been confined to State College. There, debate continues about whether the school should have agreed to NCAA penalties, whether legendary coach Joe Paterno was treated fairly in his firing and a subsequent university investigation and what role the football team should play in campus life.
Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted last year of sexually abusing 10 boys. He has maintained his innocence and has launched appeals, a process that could take many years.
For months now, Penn State has been negotiating with lawyers for about 30 young men who assert they were abused by Sandusky. Many of them didn’t testify against Sandusky and haven’t sued, so the nature of their allegations isn’t publicly known.
The university’s goal is to settle their claims and avoid trial, and the man brought in to help facilitate those talks said he’s optimistic the end is near.
“We’re getting closer,” said Ken Feinberg, who has been involved in many other high-profile group settlements, including the compensation funds for 9/11 and Boston Marathon bombing victims. “We should have this done, I hope, in the next couple of weeks. But it’s not done yet — the discussions continue.”