A Centre County judge has denied Penn State University‚??s request to delay former football coach Mike McQueary‚??s lawsuit claiming he was fired for cooperating with investigators in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
McQueary filed the whistle-blower suit in October, seeking $4 million to compensate for damage to his reputation and diminished prospects as a college football coach.
Later that month, Penn State lawyers asked a judge to delay the suit until criminal charges against university officials are resolved. They contended it was unfair to expect the university to defend itself while key witnesses are facing perjury charges.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier, retired vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, now on leave from the university, are accused of lying to a grand jury about what they knew about Sandusky‚??s crimes.
In a 14-page opinion Thursday, Judge Thomas Gavin wrote that although some of the witnesses in the criminal case and McQueary‚??s lawsuit are the same, McQueary‚??s claims have nothing to do with the truthfulness of their testimony before the grand jury that recommended charges against Sandusky.
Gavin also said a decision to delay McQueary‚??s suit because some of the witnesses might decline to testify to avoid incriminating themselves was premature. Discovery in the case might uncover documents that would make their testimony unnecessary.
The judge also noted that moving forward with the case would serve Penn State‚??s goal of restoring its reputation as promptly as possible and added that McQueary should have the same right.
McQueary alleges Penn State violated the Pennsylvania whistle-blower law when it fired him for providing testimony to the grand jury about Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in football team locker room in 2002. The whistle-blower law makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who report wrongdoing.
McQueary told the grand jury and testified at Sandusky‚??s trial that he saw Sandusky naked in the shower standing behind the nude boy in a sexual position. He reported the incident to head football coach Joe Paterno, Curley and Schultz.
McQueary also claims Curley and Schultz misled him to believe the incident would be reported to authorities and that Spanier defamed him by casting doubt on the truthfulness of McQueary‚??s grand jury testimony.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of sexually assaulting 10 young boys and is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in the state prison in Greene County.