HARRISBURG (AP) - A former Penn State assistant football coach who was a key witness in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case is disputing the university's assertion that he was fired as part of a routine changing of the guard under a new head football coach.
Former assistant coach Mike McQueary has filed a whistleblower and defamation lawsuit against Penn State alleging that statements made in 2011 by then-university president Graham Spanier after charges were filed in the Sandusky case made McQueary look untruthful. The university tried unsuccessfully last month to have the lawsuit thrown out, but a judge ruled that the allegations of "outrageous conduct" on the part of the school are sufficient to keep it alive.
The university has always maintained that new head coach Bill O'Brien simply didn't rehire McQueary after his contract expired at the end of June 2012 and it was no different from the turnover of scores of college assistants every year, The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News reported.
But a response by McQueary filed Friday in Centre County court said he had been employed since 2004 "with no specified ending date," and even if the contract ended last year, "strict proof" is required of when the decision to terminate him was made.
McQueary testified last summer during Sandusky's three-week criminal trial, which resulted in a 45-count guilty verdict. Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence but is appealing and maintains his innocence. McQueary's suit argues that he was eventually fired because of his role in the case. He is seeking millions of dollars in damages.
Sandusky was first charged with child sexual abuse in November 2011. At the same time, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, administrators who worked under Spanier, were accused of perjury and failure to properly report suspected abuse. Additional charges were added last year against Curley and Schultz, and Spanier was also charged in the alleged cover-up of Sandusky complaints. All three dispute the allegations.
Spanier, forced out as president shortly after he issued a news release in support of Curley and Schultz, remains a tenured faculty member and is on paid leave. Curley has been on leave to complete the last year of his contract as athletic director. Schultz has retired.