Lawsuit by ex-coach against Penn State set to get underway

FILE - In this June 12, 2012, file photo, former Penn State University assistant football coach Mike McQueary arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. McQueary's defamation and whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State over how it treated him for complaining about assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a team shower is scheduled to go to trial Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, with opening statements in a courthouse near the university campus. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
FILE - In this June 12, 2012, file photo, former Penn State University assistant football coach Mike McQueary arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. McQueary's defamation and whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State over how it treated him for complaining about assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a team shower is scheduled to go to trial Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, with opening statements in a courthouse near the university campus. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A civil trial set to begin Monday will determine if Penn State should pay for a claim it mistreated a former assistant coach who provided key evidence used to convict Jerry Sandusky of child molestation.

Mike McQueary’s lawsuit against the university where he played quarterback and coached alleges the school defamed him, retaliated against him and misled him into thinking his report about Sandusky, then a retired assistant coach, would be handled properly.

He is seeking more than $4 million in damages. A jury was selected last week, and opening statements are scheduled for Monday morning.

McQueary testified during Sandusky’s 2012 criminal trial that he was in the football team locker room one night in 2001 when he saw Sandusky sexually abuse a boy in a shower.

He did not physically intervene or summon police, but the next day he reported what he saw to his boss, then-head coach Joe Paterno, and told the story to two high-ranking administrators.

Investigators got a tip in 2010 that McQueary might be able to help them in the Sandusky investigation, a key break that culminated in Sandusky being first charged in November 2011.

McQueary was put on paid administrative leave when Sandusky was charged and never returned to the football program. His contract was not renewed when it expired in 2012, a decision McQueary argues was in retaliation for the help he gave police and prosecutors.

He also is suing over a news release that then-university president Graham Spanier issued the day Sandusky was charged, expressing his support for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, the administrators who met with McQueary about the abuse report in 2001.

McQueary alleges that Spanier’s news release, and his remarks to Penn State Athletics staff, were defamatory because McQueary says they suggested he was lying about what he saw.

He also is suing for misrepresentation, an allegation that Curley and Schultz led him to believe they were taking his report seriously and would respond appropriately.

They did not report it to authorities, and McQueary says that as a result, he was seen as being involved in a cover-up — and that has prevented him from getting a coaching job.

Neither Penn State nor McQueary’s lawyers have said much publicly about the litigation. The trial in a courthouse near the Penn State campus could last two weeks or more.

Spanier, Schultz and Curley appeared last week in a different Pennsylvania courtroom for a pretrial hearing in their 5-year-old criminal case. They are charged with failure to properly report suspected abuse and endangering the welfare of children, allegations they have consistently denied.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving 30 to 60 years in Greene State Prison. He maintains his innocence and was in court for a post-conviction appeal hearing in August.

He retired from Penn State in 1999 after three decades helping coach there. But even after his retirement, he kept an office on campus and had access to a staff locker room.

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