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First civil lawsuit filed in Penn State child sex abuse scandal


PHILADELPHIA—The first civil lawsuit against Gerald A. Sandusky, Pennsylvania State University and nonprofit youth charity The Second Mile was filed Wednesday on behalf of an unnamed victim.

The suit claims that Mr. Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, abused the victim hundreds of times at various locations—including Penn State facilities—from 1992 when the victim was 10 to 1996, according to court documents.

The suit also alleges that officials at Penn State and Second Mile knew of and failed to prevent Mr. Sandusky's alleged child sexual abuse misconducts, according to court documents.

Mr. Sandusky was arrested Nov. 5 on 40 counts related to the alleged sexual abuse, often on university property, of eight boys dating back to 1994. Facing criticism, Penn State's university trustees removed legendary football coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier. Two other officials have stepped down.

Penn State, which faces a review of its bond rating that will examine reputational damage and financial risk, may face unlimited legal liability in civil litigation, according to insurance industry experts.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Philadelphia, Mr. Sandusky's “molestation was enabled by the negligent oversight of Sandusky by Second Mile and Penn State.”

Penn State and Second Mile on several occasions failed to take action against reported incidents of Mr. Sandusky's sexual misconducts, according to court documents.

“Had Penn State and Second Mile not been negligent in managing the risk posed to children by persons, such as Sandusky, who have a sexual interest in children, Penn State and Second Mile each could have prevented many children, including the plaintiff, from being sexually assaulted by Sandusky,” the suit said.

The suit, which seeks a minimum of $400,000 in damages, alleges childhood sexual abuse and vicarious liability, negligence, premises liability and intentional misrepresentation, among others, against Mr. Sandusky, Penn State and Second Mile.