HARRISBURG, Pa. — A former Penn State graduate assistant who complained he saw former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky showering with a young boy on campus and testified at his sex abuse trial sued the university on Tuesday for what he calls defamation and misrepresentation.
Mike McQueary’s whistle-blower lawsuit claims his treatment by the university since Sandusky was arrested in November has caused him distress, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment. The complaint, filed in county court near State College, where the university is based, seeks millions of dollars in damages.
The lawsuit discloses that shortly after Sandusky was charged, the university’s then-president, Graham Spanier, met with athletic department staff inside the university’s football stadium and expressed his support for athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, who had been charged with perjury and failure to properly report suspected child abuse in the Sandusky case. Spanier also issued a public statement with the same message.
McQueary reported the episode to then-head football coach Joe Paterno, who in turn alerted Curley and Schultz. Paterno was fired after the three men were charged, and he died of complications from lung cancer in January.
“Spanier’s statements have irreparably harmed (McQueary‘s) reputation for honesty and integrity, and have irreparably harmed (his) ability to earn a living, especially in his chosen profession of coaching football,” the lawsuit said.
Messages left for Spanier and his lawyer on Tuesday were not immediately returned.
The lawsuit said McQueary, placed on administrative leave Nov. 11, learned his contract was not being renewed, meaning he was no longer a university employee, from a news conference held in July by the university’s new president, Rodney Erickson. He said his salary last year was $140,000 and his future earnings as a coach would amount to at least $4 million.
He alleges he was let go because he cooperated with investigators, testified at the preliminary hearing for Curley and Schultz and is expected to be a prime witness against them at trial. He wants reinstatement, a bowl bonus he lost while on leave, legal fees, back pay and benefits through the Sandusky trial, among other things.
Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, was convicted in June on charges he sexually abused 10 boys, some on campus. He remains jailed awaiting sentencing next week.