In a 14-page ruling issued this morning,
Centre County (Pa.)* Senior Judge Thomas G. Gavin said Mike McQueary's whistleblower lawsuit against the Penn State can proceed even with the criminal cases against three university administrators still pending. McQueary is the former Penn State football assistant coach who witnessed Jerry Sandusky touching a boy sexually in a Penn State football building shower in March 2001. He was placed on administrative leave after Sandusky's arrest, and his $4 million suit claims he was never informed he was no longer a university employee. McQueary also accuses Penn State of defamation and misrepresentation.
Penn State had sought the delay because of possible overlap between McQueary's civil suit and the criminal cases against three PSU officials accused of covering up Sandusky's crimes: former president Graham Spanier, former senior vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz, and on-leave athletic director Tim Curley. Curley and Schultz were initially scheduled to go to trial next month, but that case was postponed after the Pennsylvania attorney general's office filed additional charges against them on Nov. 1, the same day Spanier was hit with a slew of charges, too. No date has been set for those criminal trials.
Judge Gavin said there would be no overlap between the civil and criminal cases:
Penn State has no role in prosecuting the criminal charges, nor is it defending the defendants. Thus, the criminal case imposes no burden on Penn State
Penn State is the defendant in this case and may want to call one or more of the criminal defendants as witnesses. If called, the criminal defendants have no 5th Amendment right to refuse to testify, nor need they fear that information gathered in this case can be used against them in the criminal proceedings. The focus in the criminal proceedings is what the defendants knew about Sandusky's improper conduct on the date they appeared before the Grand Jury or met with investigators, not the reason why McQueary was let go.
Gavin's ruling went on to say there may be no need to call Curley, Spanier, or Schultz as witnesses for the civil suit if electronic records about McQueary's termination can be discovered. "While defendants may not want to be deposed, etc. in this matter, their interests can and will be protected by the court pending resolution of their criminal cases," Gavin wrote.
Gavin's entire ruling can be read below.
* This story was updated to note that Judge Gavin is not a Centre County judge, but a senior judge who formerly worked as a presiding judge in a different Pennsylvania county. The entire Centre County bench recused itself.