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Penn State agrees to multi-million settlement in Sandusky case

If there were any doubt about the serious penalties that can accompany sex crime convictions, the recently announced settlement in the Jerry Sandusky case settles the issue.

The charges against Sandusky, who is now 69 years old, involved sexual assault charges over a 15-year-period when he was a coach at Penn State. Several male students testified that Sandusky assaulted them in the locker room showers on repeated occasions.

According to the chair of board of trustees at Penn State, the university has agreed to a settlement to the alleged 26 victims totaling $59.7 million. The payments will reportedly not come out of student tuition payments.

From an evidentiary standpoint, the case posed certain problems because the allegations happened many years ago. A sex crimes attorney might highlight the difficulty that a jury might encounter in trying to determine facts based solely on conflicting witness testimony.

In a sexual assault case where the only evidence consists of discrepancies between the factual accounts offered by the plaintiff and the alleged victim, a jury may be uncertain how to break the tie. In this case, however, several alleged victims came forward against Sandusky. Nevertheless, an attorney might caution that even unsubstantiated allegations from a single, alleged victim can have devastating effects to a suspect’s professional and personal reputation.

Anyone facing such charges should consult with an attorney at the earliest opportunity, in order to attempt to minimize such repercussions. An attorney can work to hold prosecutors to their burden of proving claims beyond a reasonable doubt, and with substantial evidence, rather than just mere allegations. 

Source: usatoday.com, “Penn State to pay $59.7M to 26 Sandusky victims,” John Bacon, Oct. 28, 2013

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