HARRISBURG, Pa. — HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Penn State said Monday it is paying $59.7 million to 26 young men over claims of child sexual abuse at the hands of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a man once revered as a university icon who is now serving what is effectively a life prison sentence.
Nearly two years after the retired coach was first charged with child molestation, the school said 23 deals were fully signed and three were agreements in principle. It did not disclose the names of the recipients.
The school faces six other claims, and the university says it believes some of those do not have merit while others may produce settlements.
University president Rodney Erickson issued a statement calling the announcement a step forward for victims and the school.
"We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State," said Erickson, who announced the day Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 that Penn State was determined to compensate his victims.
The settlements have been unfolding since mid-August, when attorneys for the accusers began to disclose them. Penn State has not been confirming them, waiting instead to announce deals at once.
Harrisburg lawyer Ben Andreozzi, who helped negotiate several of the settlements, said his clients were satisfied.
"They felt that the university treated them fairly with the economic and noneconomic terms of the settlement," said Andreozzi, who also represents some others who have come forward recently. Those new claims have not been presented to the university, he said.
One client represented by St. Paul, Minn., attorney Jeff Anderson signed off on an agreement in the past week and the other is basically done, he said. Anderson counts his two clients as among the three that have been classified as agreements in principle, which Penn State said means final documentation is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
Anderson said his clients were focused on Penn State's changes to prevent future abuse.
"I have to applaud them, because they said 'not until we're satisfied that no one else will get hurt,'" Anderson said. "The settlement of their cases in no way heals, in no way lessens the wound that remains open and the scars that are deep."
Penn State has spent more than $50 million on other costs related to the Sandusky scandal, including lawyers' fees, public relations expenses, and adoption of new policies and procedures related to children and sexual abuse complaints.
It said Monday that liability insurance is expected to cover the payments and legal defense, and expenses not covered should be paid from interest paid on loans by Penn State to its self-supporting units.
Clifford Rieders, a Williamsport attorney who negotiated one of the settlements, said the average payout matched other cases involving child abuse in educational or religious settings.
Rieders said the cases raised the specter of embarrassing revelations if they went to trial, and a university would have to consider the effect on the victims, its overall reputation, its ability to pay and its wider objectives.
"There are many considerations whenever you resolve a high-profile case involving serious misconduct, and I'm sure all of those and more came into play here," Rieders said.
Sandusky, 69, has been pursuing appeals while he serves a 30- to 60-year sentence on 45 criminal counts.
He was convicted of abusing 10 boys, some of them at Penn State facilities. Eight young men testified against him, describing a range of abuse they said went from grooming and manipulation to fondling, oral sex and anal rape when they were boys.
The 32 claimants involved in negotiations with Penn State include most of the victims from the criminal trial and some who say they were abused by Sandusky many years ago. Negotiations were conducted in secret, so the full range of the allegations wasn't disclosed publicly.
Sandusky did not testify at his trial but has long asserted his innocence. He has acknowledged he showered with boys but insisted he never molested them.
The abuse scandal rocked Penn State, bringing down football coach Joe Paterno and leading college sports' governing body, the NCAA, to levy unprecedented sanctions against the university's football program.
Three former Penn State administrators await trial in Harrisburg on charges they engaged in a criminal cover-up of the Sandusky scandal. Former president Graham Spanier, retired vice president Gary Schultz and retired athletic director Tim Curley deny the allegations, and a trial date has not been scheduled.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, 67, is charged with more than 50 counts of child sex-abuse involving 10 boys he met through The Second Mile, a children's charity he founded. The accusations of abuse span from 1994 to 2006. He was initially arrested on Nov. 5, 2011. A grand jury had begun investigating Sandusky in 2010. He would be arrested a second time in December.
Gary Schultz, Tim Curley Charged With Lying To Grand Jury
On Nov. 7, 2011, Gary Schultz, the vice president of Penn State, left, and the school's athletic director, Tim Curley, right, are brought up on charges for lying to a grand jury about what they knew of Sandusky's criminal actions and failing to properly <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/breaking/penn-states-curley-schultz-held-for-trial-on-perjury-charges-224540/" target="_hplink">report suspected child abuse</a>. The day before, they both left their positions at the school after school officials held an emergency meeting to discuss the sex abuse scandal.
Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier Fired
Joe Paterno, Penn State's then-beloved Hall of Fame head football coach, is fired four days after Sandusky's arrest and mere hours after he announced his retirement would occur at the end of his 46th season that year. Penn State's Board of <a href="http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7214380/joe-paterno-president-graham-spanier-penn-state" target="_hplink">Trustees fired Paterno and Graham Spanier</a>, the university's president, on Nov. 9, 2011 due to the growing outrage over Sandusky's sexual crimes.
Penn State Students Swarm The Streets
Penn Staters took to the streets by the thousands in outrage over JoePa's firing. They <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/penn-state-riot-tv-van-tipped-video_n_1085459.html" target="_hplink">toppled a news truck of a local TV station</a> in anger over how they felt the media was handling the scandal.
McQueary Placed On Administrative Leave, Receives Death Threats
Penn State's assistant coach Mike McQueary testified to the grand jury in December 2010 that he saw Sandusky sodomize a naked boy of about 10 years old in the football team's locker room shower in 2001 [though the documents were allowed to be altered, he initially alleges this incident occurred in 2002]. The grand jury found his testimony to be more credible than the testimonies of both Curley and Schultz, who as a result of his testimony, were brought up on perjury charges. On Nov. 11, 2011, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/bigten/story/2011-11-11/penn-state-child-abuse-scandal/51167796/1" target="_hplink">Penn State placed McQueary on administrative leave</a>, a day after the school said a number of threats had been made against the assistant coach. While on leave, McQueary would later change his story in emails to friends, saying that he had stopped Sandusky from abusing the boy when he saw it and that he had also reported the abuse to police. The local and campus police denied his statements.
The Second Mile Breaks Down
On Nov. 13, <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/psu/second-mile-agencys-legacy-explored-325659/" target="_hplink">The Second Mile, the charity organization for troubled boys Sandusky began</a> and also where he found nearly all of his sexual abuse victims saw its President and CEO, Jack Raykovitz, retire after serving 27 years in that role. On, May 25, 2012, the sex abuse scandal left the charity in a failing financial situation. Second Mile officials began seeking court approval to shut down its programs and transfer to a Texas-based youth ministry dedicated to helping abused and neglected children.
Jerry Sandusky's Phone Interview With Bob Costas
NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, talks with Bob Costas about <a href="http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/14/8804779-jerry-sandusky-to-bob-costas-in-exclusive-rock-center-interview-i-shouldnt-have-showered-with-those-kids" target="_hplink">Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky</a> during NBC News' "Rock Center With Brian Williams" on Nov. 14, 2011. Sandusky's interview drew further outrage and skepticism from the public in response to his answer to Costas question of whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys. Sandusky's answer was, after a pause, "I enjoy young people. I love to be around them, but no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys." The interview was originally between Costas and an attorney for Sandusky, but Sandusky abruptly called in and participated in the interview by phone.
Sandusky Sued Over Abusing Young Boy 'Over 100 Times'
On Nov. 30, 2011, civil charges are brought against Jerry Sandusky, The Second Mile and Penn State from a victim, known at the time as John Doe (now known as Travis Weaver), 29, claiming he was <a href="http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/12/01/41859.htm" target="_hplink">sexually abused by Sandusky over 100 times from the age of 10 to 14</a>. He also said that Sandusky threatened his family to prevent him from speaking out about the abuse. His attorney Jeff Anderson (pictured) addresses the media during a news conference that same day in Philadelphia, saying he believed Sandusky could not control his sexual impulses toward children and harshly criticized officials who failed to report their suspicions.
Paterno Gives Final Interview
Before dying of lung cancer in January, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/joe-paternos-first-interview-since-the-penn-state-sandusky-scandal/2012/01/13/gIQA08e4yP_story.html" target="_hplink">Paterno gave his final interview</a> on Jan. 14 with the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins. She asked JoePa about Sandusky: <blockquote>He maintains his innocence. If Sandusky is guilty, "I'm sick about it," Paterno said. How Sandusky, 67, allegedly evaded detection by state child services, university administrators, teachers, parents, donors and Paterno himself remains an open question. "I wish I knew," Paterno said. "I don't know the answer to that. It's hard." Almost as difficult for Paterno to answer is the question of why, after receiving a report in 2002 that Sandusky had abused a boy in the shower of Penn State's Lasch Football Building, and forwarding it to his superiors, he didn't follow up more aggressively. "I didn't know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was," he said. "So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way."</blockquote>
Paterno Dies: Students, Family Mourn Loss
At age 85, <a href="http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7489238/joe-paterno-ex-penn-state-nittany-lions-coach-dies-85-2-month-cancer-fight" target="_hplink">JoePa dies of lung cancer</a> surrounded by family on Sunday, Jan. 22 in a State College, Pa. hospital.
Sandusky Is Convicted Pedophile
A jury <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/22/jerry-sandusky-guilty-verdict_n_1616479.html?utm_hp_ref=jerry-sandusky" target="_hplink"> convicts Jerry Sandusky</a> of 45 counts of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years on June 22. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, though Sandusky said he plans to appeal.
Matt Sandusky Claims Father Abused Him
Matt Sandusky, right, adopted son of Jerry Sandusky, releases a statement saying <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/matt-sandusky-jerry-adopted-son-father-abused_n_1617063.html" target="_hplink">his father sexually abused him</a> as an 8-year-old boy. Matt Sandusky makes the announcement on the same day Jerry is convicted by a jury of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 others boys.
Freeh Report Releases To Public
Former FBI director Louis Freeh releases a report on July 12 of his investigation into "who knew what, when" in the Penn State scandal. Freeh's investigation reveals top Penn State officials, including Spanier and Paterno, as well as coaches, janitors, psychologists and campus police were aware of the allegations against Sandusky. All failed to take action. Emails and documents showed discussions over what to do about Sandusky, eventually deciding not to report or confront him. Freeh said the most "saddening and sobering" finding from his group's report into the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/freeh-report-penn-state-coverup-joe-paterno-jerry-sandusky_n_1667727.html" target="_hplink">Penn State senior leaders' "total disregard" for the safety and welfare of the ex-coach's child victims</a>.
Three New Accusers Allege Sandusky Abused Them
On July 16, media outlets reported that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/penn-state-scandal-new-sandusky-accusers_n_1677178.html" target="_hplink">three new victims allege that Sandusky sexually abused them in the '70s and '80s</a>. They are the only alleged victims to claim Sandusky committed criminal sexual acts prior to 1994. Louis Freeh said in a press conference July 12 that his team investigated Sandusky's actions in the '70s and '80s but found nothing of substantial importance during those decades relating to Sandusky's pedophilia.
Paterno Family, Spanier Reject Freeh Findings
In the days after the Freeh Report's release,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/graham-spanier-penn-state-freeh-report_n_1678158.html?utm_hp_ref=college" target="_hplink"> Paterno's family and Graham Spanier have issued statements rejecting</a> the Freeh investigation's findings. The Paterno family has announced it will launch its own investigation of sex abuse scandal and Penn State officials handling of the matter. Spanier, left, has also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/jerry-sandusky-scandal-graham-spanier-penn-state-knew_n_1663549.html" target="_hplink">filed a civil lawsuit against Penn State</a> for not releasing his old emails so he could prepare for the Freeh investigation.