Posted by Adam Jacobi
According to a report on ESPN.com, the way Pennsylvania state law is written, many of the alleged victims in the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault case may not be able to file a lawsuit against Penn State or other defendants -- and their age may be the reason.
According to Pennsylvania state law, plaintiffs over the age of 20 may only file lawsuits in cases of sexual abuse that involved "forcible compulsion," which may exclude some of the lesser charges Sandusky currently faces -- regardless of their ages at the time of the alleged assaults. Seven of the eight alleged victims are now over the age of 20.
Here's more from the report:
Shanin Specter, a litigator in Philadelphia who has been contacted by the family of one of the alleged victims, said the loophole could eliminate some of the victims as viable plaintiffs.
Specter said his firm will meet with the young man and his mother early next week to begin exploring legal options. He said he was contacted last week by the mother, whose son is one of eight alleged victims listed in the grand jury presentment against Sandusky.
"There's no doubt Joe Paterno will be sued and it will be left up to the discovery process to determine his liability," Specter said. "There are a lot of victims who suffered damages, and I expect that some number of defendants will be obligated to pay a lot of money."
Specter said he expects all of the men cited in the grand jury presentment will face lawsuits for any role they played in not reporting the alleged crimes to authorities.
It's important to note that at this point, regardless of Specter's certainty on the issue, no civil suits have been filed yet. That's obviously subject to change over the coming weeks and months, but until those theoretical suits do (or don't) get filed, there's no way to address what effect the statute has on any complaints.
It was announced on Friday that Joe Paterno had retained criminal defense lawyer Wick Sollers in this matter, even though Paterno is not facing charges and was described as not being a target of the investigation by Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly.
Sandusky faces 40 charges of varying severity related to the sexual assault of minors, up to and including rape, after alleged incidents that occurred from 1995 to 2009.