Abels & Annes

Chicago Sex Abuse Attorneys Urge Lessons From Penn State Case

If the Jerry Sandusky travesty of justice at Penn State teaches us anything, it must be that allegations of child sex abuse must always be taken with the utmost seriousness.

Chicago sex abuse attorneys know failure to stop abuse only perpetuates the abuse of more child victims. In this case, Penn State apparently had ample evidence in 1998 and again in 2001. But it wasn’t just Penn State. Or famed Coach Joe Paterno. Law enforcement, prosecutors and child welfare advocates also dropped the ball.

In recent years, there have been an increasing number of llinois sex abuse lawsuits against religious organizations and others who’ve facilitated the acts of pedophiles. Abels & Annes is committed to working with these victims. Not only to recover compensation and ensure an offender is brought to justice, but to make sure their voice is heard.

Because the Penn State case also makes it clear that child sexual assault allegations can be proven years after the fact. This is often critical because children may hide the truth for years or are not brought justice at the time of an incident even in cases where the proper authorities are notified.

On Thursday the Freeh Report — an independent investigation conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh — found former Coach Paterno, University President Graham Spanier, Senior Vice President Gary Schultz. and Athletic Director Tim Curley failed in their obligation to protect children from Sandusky. The Sun-Times reported Sandusky was permitted to continue using Penn State facilities to groom and assault victims, even after he retired from coaching in 1999.

Curly and Schultz have been criminally charged with perjury for lying to the grand jury and for not reporting child abuse. Schultz retired and Curley is on administrative leave from the university.

”The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children whom Sandusky victimized,” the Freeh report concluded.

The Paterno family rejected the idea that “any sane person” would cover for a child sexual predator. The family thinks it more likely that Sandusky was a master deceiver who fooled law enforcement, family, coaches, players, neighbors and officials at his charity for disadvantaged children, Second Mile.

And that’s another critical piece of this puzzle. These people are often gregarious, intelligent, unassuming, friendly, outwardly wholesome individuals. They may spend months or even years grooming or abusing a victim. They may be important people in a position of power. When an allegation is made, it must be taken seriously by all involved.

It can be incredibly difficult to win justice in these cases. Having an experienced law firm at your side can often be a determining factor.

-In 1998, when the mother of an 11-year-old boy contacted police, all four university leaders were aware of the investigation. No charges were ever filed. Sandusky retired in 1999 after 30 years with the university’s football program. The Emeritus status given him permitted ongoing access to the football program and its facilities.

-In 2000, several janitors witnessed Sandusky with a child in the shower, but did nothing for fear of losing their jobs.

-In 2001, an assistant coach told Paterno he had witnessed Sandusky and a naked boy in a shower. He later testified he saw the boy being raped and told top university officials, including Curley and Schultz. In August of that year, a second victim was assaulted in the shower.

-Not until 2010, did the case begin to surface when the Pennsylvania Attorney General subpoenaed the university for personnel records of correspondence regarding Sandusky. In September, the Patriot-News newspaper contacted University President Spanier about the Sandusky investigation.

There were concerns as far back as 1995. Penn Live reported a note in the adoption file of Sandusky’s adopted son, Matt Sandusky, contained a letter of concern from his mother. As the paper put it, on at least 5 occasions spanning 13 years, a boy voiced concern about Sandusky’s conduct, or an adult witnessed troubling or alarming behavior.

“And at each stage, other adults dismissed, minimized or failed to act upon those concerns.”

Matt Sandusky later told police he was molested by his Sandusky for years.

If you suspect child sex assault or abuse is occurring, contact Abels & Annes for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 855-LAW-CHICAGO. There is no fee unless you win.