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“If we can reconstitute ourselves … will the public and donors have faith in us?” she said. “The need doesn’t go away if an organization closes. The need just goes someplace else.”

Harrisburg lawyer Ben Andreozzi, whose firm specializes in sexual abuse litigation, represents at least one male client who accuses Sandusky of severe sexual assault. He told the Legal Intelligencer he and another lawyer are in “active communication” with other potential clients.

State police said one adult has contacted them.

Justine Andronici, a lawyer with the Centre County Women’s Resource Center in Bellefonte, on Thursday confirmed a story in The Harrisburg Patriot-News that she and attorney Andy Shubin were working to help people who have come forward to accuse Sandusky in the wake of a Monday night television interview during which he denied criminal wrongdoing.

At least three other Pennsylvania lawyers have told the AP in recent days that they have been in contact with purported victims or their representatives about potential lawsuits.

“I’ve been doing this for 24 years, and I’ve never seen this activity,” said Altoona lawyer Richard M. Serbin, who has pursued well over 150 claims against Catholic and non-Catholic religious institutions, and others, across the state. “Some of the people I’ve seen on TV that are supposedly handling these cases, I’ve never even heard of.”

The myriad of legal issues raised in the scandal includes whether Penn State, a “state-related” university that is getting more than $272 million from state government this year, will be able to assert government status that might limit liability.

“They are not entitled to sovereign immunity,” said Matthew Casey, a Philadelphia lawyer who has handled catastrophic injury cases. “It doesn’t mean that they won’t attempt to invoke sovereign immunity, but the appellate case law is pretty clear on that.”

The response by Penn State officials to reports of abuse will probably form a key part of any legal battle, as well as the circumstances surrounding Sandusky’s abrupt retirement in 1999 at the height of his coaching career.

Another complicating factor is the statute of limitations in these kinds of cases for juvenile victims. Until August 2002 the clock ran out at age 20, but that year the Legislature raised the limit to 30. Prosecutors accused Sandusky of crimes from 1994 to 2009, and it’s unclear whether civil allegations will date back further.

Serbin said Pennsylvania’s law remains one of the weakest in the country, from the standpoint of child abuse victims. When it was changed nine years ago, the new provisions were not made retroactive, and courts tend to enforce the time limits strictly.

“So some of these cases may already be stale, and my hunch is, some of them are,” Serbin said.

Several experts predicted any civil cases will wind up in Centre County Common Pleas Court _ not federal court _ and that judges will be sympathetic to having the cases captioned anonymously, if that is what the accusers want.

Some lawyers suggested Penn State, a large institution that can afford a vigorous legal defense, should consider reaching out to victims in an effort to avoid lawsuits.

“New facts are going to come out, I’m sure, in the civil litigation,” Casey said. “It’s one of the reasons that Penn State and the other potential defendants may decide to do whatever they can to prevent that from happening, and people going under oath. It’s very dangerous.”

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