The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Breakdown of Mike McQueary's Defamation Suit Against Penn State

The drama continues in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. After the ex-Penn State football coach was convicted of child molestation, the school is now facing another lawsuit.

This lawsuit comes from Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who testified that he caught Sandusky abusing a boy in a Penn State locker room shower. McQueary is suing Penn State for defamation, saying that he was treated not as a whistleblower, but rather as a scapegoat, reports The Washington Post.

What is defamation?

In a lawsuit, defamation is a catch-all term that covers any statement that harms a victim's reputation.

If you followed the Sandusky trial, you'll recall that McQueary reported what he saw to members of Penn State's athletic staff, namely the late coach Joe Paterno and two others.

But McQueary claims his report of Sandusky's abuse was dismissed. Furthermore, those school employees failed to report the abuse to law enforcement, as they allegedly told McQueary they would, his lawsuit asserts.

Even after the charges came to light and those employees were on the hook, Penn State's president made a public showing of support for the accused staffers.

That's where McQueary claims the defamation comes in, as this visible act of "taking sides" affixed a "Scarlet Letter" on McQueary. He claims he was branded as a troublemaker and a liar.

Here's a breakdown of McQueary's lawsuit:

  • McQueary is suing for lost future earnings and emotional distress, in an amount totaling $8 million. Of that $8 million, $4 million amounts to the potential salary he would have earned as a football coach, assuming a career span of 25 years.
  • McQueary is also suing for other benefits that he lost as the result of his whistleblowing. Some of those benefits include a bowl bonus, use of a car, delayed severance pay and denial of the chance to interview for another position.
  • McQueary's lawsuit further claims that he was "labeled and branded as part of a cover up," causing him irreparable harm.

Mike McQueary's defamation lawsuit won't be the only Sandusky-related lawsuit we'll be hearing about in the near future. With Sandusky's conviction, many of the boys he molested are also pursuing civil lawsuits against him and the school.

Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse, will be sentenced Tuesday, the Post reports.

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