Penn State will pay out nearly $60 million to 26 victims who suffered sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the school announced in a press release on Monday. Twenty-three of the settlements are signed and three are agreements in principle that are to be made final in coming weeks.
University President Rodney Erickson said the agreements were "another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State."
"The board of trustees has had as one of its primary objectives to reach settlements in a way that is fair and respects the privacy of the individuals involved," board Chairman Keith Masser said in a statement. "This is another important milestone in accomplishing that goal."
An attorney for one of the victims, Ben Andreozzi, said he was content with the settlements. "Obviously no amount of money can compensate for what these young men have gone through," he said. "But Penn State has given them the resources -- financially and counseling -- they need to help them recover."
There were claims from 32 individuals who said they were molested by Sandusky. Penn State rejected six of the claims and said they were without merit.
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The school has undergone more than 115 changes regarding human resources, safety, security, governance and compliance within the past year. And the university’s president said the school has come a long way.
“We have made great strides, but a great deal of work remains,” Erickson said. “Our university is a better institution today as a result of the work and dedication of our trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students."
The abuse scandal shocked the nation, and the school’s legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired promptly after Sandusky was charged in 2011. Paterno died in January 2012, shortly after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Sandusky, 69, was charged and convicted in June 2012 of 45 criminal counts that involved sexual abuse over 15 years. Various young men testified at his trial that the former assistant coach would shower with them, fondle them, and even sometimes have oral and anal sex with them. Though the 69-year-old admitted he showered with the boys, he denies he did anything inappropriate.