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Joe Paterno and Penn State legacies hit again in court

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the late Joe Paterno.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The settlements paid by Penn State over sex assault claims involving ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky appeared to be very high, possibly as a result of the university's concern about publicity and a wish to resolve matters quickly, an outside expert found.

Lawyer Eric Anderson, who reviewed the cases during a dispute between Penn State and its insurer, also said the school "made little effort, if any, to verify the credibility of the claims of the individuals."

Penn State made $92 million in total payouts to settle 32 civil claims in the Sandusky sex molestation scandal. Sandusky is appealing a 45-count child sexual abuse conviction.

Anderson's statements were contained in court documents unsealed by Judge Gary Glazer Tuesday in Philadelphia, more than two months after he wrote that the insurance company had evidence that a man claimed he told Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that Jerry Sandusky had molested him.

Glazer wrote in a decision on insurance coverage for Sandusky-related claims there was "no evidence that reports of these incidents ever went further up the chain of command at PSU."

Paterno, who died in 2012, said in an interview before his death that an assistant's report in 2001 of Sandusky attacking a boy in a team shower at the State College campus was the first he knew of such allegations against his longtime top assistant.

In the insurance case, Glazer earlier issued a ruling limiting the liability of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Co. to pay claims by Penn State for abuse by Sandusky, a former assistant to the late coach Joe Paterno.

Sandusky, who was arrested in 2011, is serving 30 to 60 years on a 45-count child molestation conviction.

Ken Feinberg, a lawyer who helped mediate claims against the school, told reporters last week it was "a very objective process" and none of the cases were easy to resolve. He said Penn State was diligent in making sure the claims were backed up by sufficient proof.

In his report, Anderson, an expert on sex abuse settlements, said: "Generally speaking, it appears as though the amounts of the settlement were high and in some cases extremely high."

He said he believed a component of punitive damages factored into the evaluations.

"Also present in the analytical process may have been a concern about publicity and a desire to resolve the matters very quickly," he said.

Meanwhile, an effort is underway by former Penn State football players to place back the statue of Paterno that was removed in 2012 after the sex abuse scandal was revealed. More than 200 former Penn State football players are petitioning university leaders to return the bronze statue of Paterno that stood outside the school's football stadium.

The players sent a letter recently to the board of trustees and Penn State President Eric Barron calling for the statue's return. The players also want an apology to Paterno's wife, Sue, and the restoration of the wall that stood behind the statue.

"We at least want the Penn State administration to stand up not only for football players and the football program, but for all of Penn State and the many alumni who want same thing," Brian Masella, former tight end and punter for the Nittany Lions, told The Tribune-Review.

Masella said the board and administration have said for years they would "repair the damage they created." He's said that time has come.

In a statement released Tuesday, Penn State President Barron said: "Penn State's overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky. While individuals hold different opinions, and may draw different inferences from the testimony about former Penn State employees, speculation by Penn State is not useful. We must be sensitive to all individuals involved, and especially to those who may be victims of child sexual abuse."

However, Barron continued: "Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves."