Judge weighs delay in Penn St. whistleblower suit

Associated Press Modified: November 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm •  Published: November 16, 2012

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A key witness against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will learn in about two weeks whether his defamation and whistleblower lawsuit can move forward or will face what could be a considerable delay.

Judge Thomas Gavin announced that schedule Friday after a brief hearing on Mike McQueary's lawsuit in the same Centre County Courthouse where McQueary testified this summer that he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a boy inside a university shower more than a decade ago.

Penn State, a defendant in the lawsuit, wants the delay, arguing the matter should not proceed while criminal charges are pending against three former school administrators who are expected to be pivotal witnesses: ex-President Graham Spanier, outgoing Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a retired vice president.

McQueary's lawyer Elliott Strokoff told Gavin that there was ample work that could be done before trying to interview Spanier, Curley and Schultz, who could invoke their right against self-incrimination.

"The reasons the defendant is advancing for the stay are maybes — maybe this and maybe that," Strokoff said after noting the state constitution's guarantee of justice "without delay."

Penn State attorney Nancy Conrad said 33 paragraphs in McQueary's lawsuit relate to facts and issues that pertain to the pending criminal cases against the three administrators.

She said McQueary has not argued he would be harmed if the matter was delayed. She said there was no risk that evidence might be destroyed, noting that documents and other material has been preserved because related lawsuits are pending.

Curley and Schultz are scheduled for trial in January on charges of perjury and failure to properly report suspected child abuse, but they are seeking a delay, and prosecutors are not opposed. That matter could be combined with additional charges recently filed against them, and with Spanier's criminal case. A preliminary hearing on the new charges is set for Dec. 13.

McQueary testified this summer that he saw Sandusky in a sexually suggestive position with a boy in the shower, and heard a "skin-on-skin smacking sound." For that encounter, Sandusky was convicted of indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and endangering a child's welfare. He was acquitted of the most serious charge, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

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