Pittsburgh Injury Attorney Discusses the Penn State Sex Scandal and Jerry Sandusky

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In the wake of the recent allegations of sexual abuse on the Penn State Campus by Second Mile founder and former Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky, Attorney Mark Haak was interviewed by Kelli McCoy about the rights that the victims in this case have.

“In this instance, I believe punitive damages are appropriate for Penn State and the Second Mile for allegedly not contacting the police after they knew these events occurred.”

With as many as ten alleged victims of former Penn State University employee Jerry Sandusky, many questions have arisen regarding the rights of the victims. Recently, Attorney Mark Haak sat down with Kelli McCoy to answer some of the questions looming over the sexual abuse scandal. First and foremost, Haak addressed what is considered to be the number one concern of victims of sexual assault; their need to protect their privacy and anonymity. Regarding this issue, Attorney Haak and the courts realize the terrible humiliation these young victims have suffered, thus victims may now file a lawsuit anonymously as “John Doe.” Additionally, while conducting an investigation for a civil lawsuit, the courts allow camera inspections of items such as medical records and police reports outside the eyes of the media and interested public. Many times victims’ names are now redacted from these kinds of records.

Attorney Mark Haak went on to explain that potential victims can file criminal and civil complaints simultaneously. While a criminal complaint would attempt to punish the wrongdoer, in this case victims could file a civil complaint in order to obtain payment for the injuries that have been suffered.

When asked who potential defendants would be, Mr. Haak stated that the primary defendants would be Penn State University and the Second Mile organization. He explained there are two general categories of damages that can be awarded to the victims. First, there are the types of damages that can be added up, quantified, and conveyed to a jury in an accounting-like format. These would be things like the cost of therapy and medication needed now and in the future, and income losses that might be suffered. Secondly, there is a dollar amount that must be arrived at personally by the jury. It is an amount of money that they believe to be fair given the circumstances surrounding the events that occurred. Issues such as emotional trauma, distress, and psychological pain that was endured from the time the incident occurred and into the future.

“Punitive damages are also allowed in Pennsylvania,” states Attorney Haak. These are damages that are meant to punish the defendant, as opposed to compensate the victim. He went on, “In this instance, I believe punitive damages are appropriate for Penn State and the Second Mile for allegedly not contacting the police after they knew these events occurred.”

In conclusion, Haak explained that most civil lawsuits of this nature can be expedited and resolved with two years or so. Regarding the statute of limitations, Haak says victims who were assaulted before 2002 would have until age 20 to file a lawsuit, while victims assaulted after 2002 would have until age 30 to file a lawsuit in Pennsylvania. Attorney Haak finished with a personal plea to any victims who have not yet come forward. He wants to talk to them and explain their civil and other rights regarding pursuit of a lawsuit. He is willing to discuss the criminal process, as well, and will gladly shepherd them to the Attorney General’s office so that they can divulge any information they have in the pursuit of justice.

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