Web of liability may extend far beyond Penn State University

Debra Erdley
| Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011

Liability issues in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal could expand to police and school districts in central Pennsylvania as well as the state Department of Public Welfare, according to a University of Pennsylvania law professor.

Seth Kreimer, an expert in civil rights and constitutional litigation, is working with a team of State College lawyers and a Washington civil rights law firm representing victims who say they were assaulted as children by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

"It may be that Penn State officials are not the only ones who could be liable for knowing about the abuse and keeping quiet. We may find that officials of the Penn State police, local school districts and the Department of Public Welfare should be named as defendants as well," Kreimer said in a statement issued by Washington-based civil rights firm Katz, Marshall & Banks.

Sandusky, who maintains his innocence, was charged with assaulting eight boys over a 15-year period. A grand jury that investigated the allegations concluded university officials were apprised of an alleged assault in 2002 but failed to notify police and permitted Sandusky to continue to bring boys onto campus after his 1999 retirement.

Reached at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Kreimer declined to elaborate on what may be a widening web of liability. He said only that the team of attorneys including David Marshall, a partner with Marshall, Katz & Banks, and Centre County attorney Andrew Shubin, who has been in contact with multiple victims, is "developing a legal strategy based on the facts as they unfold."

Shubin told The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News that he spoke with additional alleged victims who contacted him after Sandusky professed his innocence in a TV interview this week.

The legal team has yet to file a lawsuit, but Marshall insisted Penn State will be a target and bears liability for the alleged assaults, some of which authorities say occurred on university property.

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