HARRISBURG, Pa. â€” A former Penn State assistant coach will be getting his legal fees paid after winning a whistleblower claim over his treatment by the university after Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation arrest.
Judge Thomas Gavin on Thursday granted Mike McQueary’s lawyers $1.7 million for their work on the case. He had awarded McQueary nearly $5 million in November.
The judge wrote that it would not be reasonable to expect whistleblowers to put their jobs and paychecks at risk in reporting suspected wrongdoing, as well as to fund their own legal representation.
Making whistleblowers financially whole, he said, “will put teeth in the statute and will further its goal of encouraging others to expose wrongdoing.”
Penn State said its lawyers had not analyzed Gavin’s decision, and McQueary’s lawyer did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. Earlier this week, the university’s lawyers filed an additional document as they seek to have the verdict overturned, damages lowered or a new trial ordered.
McQueary’s father, John McQueary, said Friday his son knew about the judge’s decision but was at the gym and unlikely to offer his reaction.
“Until this thing gets settled, I mean paid, I don’t think he’s going to be interested in making comments just yet,” said John McQueary, who along with Mike McQueary testified last week for prosecutors in the criminal case against former Penn State president Graham Spanier.
The judge’s new order also gave McQueary $15,000 for a bowl bonus he would have earned if the school had not suspended him from coaching after Sandusky’s arrest in November 2011. Penn State was also ordered to pay about $34,000 for transcripts, witness fees and other costs.
A jury in October also granted McQueary $7.3 million for defamation and misrepresentation. Those claims were tried along with the whistleblower allegations, which under state law were decided by the judge.
Mike McQueary has said he happened to encounter Sandusky, then retired after decades as a Nittany Lions defensive coach, sexually abusing a boy in a team shower on a Friday night in February 2001.
McQueary reported it the next morning to then-head coach Joe Paterno, who in turn alerted the athletic director, Tim Curley. Curley and then-vice-president Gary Schultz subsequently met with McQueary, but police and child welfare authorities were never notified.
Earlier this month, Curley and Schultz struck deals with the attorney general’s office and pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanour count of child endangerment. They both testified against Spanier.
Spanier was convicted of misdemeanour child endangerment. All three men await sentencing.
McQueary also testified against Sandusky, who was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is appealing while he serves a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence.
After Sandusky’s 2011 arrest, McQueary was placed on paid leave and banned from athletic facilities. He was terminated the next year when his coaching contract expired and has not been able to find employment since.
Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press