Ex-Penn State players support Paterno lawsuit

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Ex-Penn State players support Paterno lawsuit

STATE COLLEGE -- About 325 former Penn State players and coaches have signed a statement supporting the lawsuit filed by the family of former coach Joe Paterno and other former players seeking to overturn NCAA sanctions against the football program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Former player Brian Masella released the letter Monday in support of the lawsuit, which was also filed last month by some coaches, trustees and faculty. Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, and former NFL quarterbacks Kerry Collins and Todd Blackledge are among the notable names who signed on to the statement.

Masella said he and a few other former players organized the statement on their own after some of the plaintiffs explained their position in a letter to former players and sought their support.

He stressed the statement had no connection to the official football alumni group, the Football Letterman's Club -- which has roughly 1,100 members -- though some individual members have signed on their own.

The former players in the statement said they stood with the others in the case in demanding "fairness, due process, truth, and a just outcome. Everyone -- Sandusky's victims, Penn Staters, and the public at large -- deserves to know the complete truth."

As in the lawsuit, the former players in the statement took issue with the NCAA basing its strict sanctions on what they called the flawed report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the scandal for the school.

Freeh concluded that Paterno and three former school officials concealed allegations against Sandusky, a retired defensive coordinator found guilty in June 2012 on dozens of criminal counts covering allegations on and off campus. Sandusky, 69, was sentenced to 30-to-60 years in prison.

Paterno died in January 2012. Freeh's report was released the following July, and the NCAA issued its sanctions less than two weeks later. The landmark penalties included a four-year bowl ban and steep scholarship cuts.

Paterno's family and the school officials have firmly denied there was a cover-up. The family earlier this year commissioned a critique which called Freeh's report a "rush to injustice."

Family attorney Wick Sollers praised the former players for a "powerful statement of support ... The purpose of the litigation is to have the issues reviewed in a forum where due process and facts matter."

The lawsuit filed several weeks ago argues the NCAA sidestepped its own rules with uncharacteristic speed in levying sanctions, and sought to raise fresh questions about Freeh's report.

"In speaking with a couple former players, we wanted to do something to support the (others) involved in the lawsuit," Masella, a 1975 graduate who played tight end and punter, said in a phone interview. "We had to start somewhere. It basically started to snowball."

When asked, Masella also said their actions don't take away from the full support that former players have for coach Bill O'Brien and the current team.

They backed O'Brien "100 percent," and wanted what was best for the current players in hoping to reverse the sanctions, he said.

The NCAA has not filed a response yet to the lawsuit. NCAA president Mark Emmert -- named as a defendant -- declined comment on individual cases last month.

"I'm perfectly fine to have an opportunity for us to state our case and have it heard in a court of law, then we'll let a legal system do its work," Emmert said in Irving, Texas, at a Big 12 meeting on May 30.

Earlier this month, two trustees said in an interview with The Associated Press that they hoped Penn State's focus on reforms in the aftermath of the scandal might eventually persuade the NCAA to reconsider the severe penalties.

Temple basketball legend Hal Lear dies at 81

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Photo: Temple University

Temple basketball legend Hal Lear dies at 81

Temple University and Philadelphia basketball legend Hal Lear died on Saturday at the age of 81.

"The entire Temple University community mourns the loss of Hal Lear," Patrick Kraft, Temple's athletic director, said in a statement.

"Hal was an All-American on the court, and, with Guy Rodgers, part of the greatest backcourt in Philadelphia basketball history. More importantly, though, he was truly a great man, and beloved by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maggie and the entire Lear family at this time.”

Lear is one of four players to have his number retired by the university, as Temple retired his No. 6 in a ceremony on Jan. 30, 2013, at the Liacouras Center. He still holds the school's single-season record for most points scored — 745 set in 1955-56, his senior season, when he helped the Owls reach the Final Four for the first time in program history, and he's just one of three players in school history to average 20 or more points in two different seasons, with Mark Macon and Guy Rodgers being the others.

On May 7, 2013, Lear was elected into the Middle Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame.

He finished his Temple career scoring 1,472 points and averaging 19.0 points in 79 games, and is widely considered one of the best players to ever put on an Owls uniform.

The Philadelphia Warriors drafted Lear, a left-handed guard who starred at Overbrook High School, in the 1956 NBA draft. He played just three games in the NBA.

Lear is survived by wife, Maggie O’Keefe Lear, nine children, 21 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

“Hal Lear was not only one of the greatest players, but one of the greatest people in Temple basketball history,” Owls head coach Fran Dunphy said. “He personified class in every way, was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He is someone that will be remembered for his great feats on the court and how he handled himself with grace off it. A great man has left us."

Jerry Sandusky accuser asks to limit questioning, protect identity

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USA Today Images

Jerry Sandusky accuser asks to limit questioning, protect identity

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A man who claims he told Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that he was sexually abused as a teen by Jerry Sandusky asked a judge Wednesday to protect his identity and limit questioning by lawyers in a lawsuit brought by Paterno's family against college sports' governing body.

Lawyers for the man called John Doe 150 said he gave a sworn deposition in October 2014 in a related case, brought by Penn State against its insurer over coverage for Sandusky-related claims, and that he should not have to endure another one.

He previously testified under oath about his abuse claims "and his reporting of the abuse to Coach Joseph Paterno and Penn State," his lawyers told Judge John Leete, who is presiding in the Paternos' lawsuit against the NCAA.

"Forcing John Doe 150 to sit through yet another deposition is not only duplicative, unnecessary and unduly burdensome, but it would force this victim of childhood sexual abuse to, again, relive the trauma of his abuse," his lawyers wrote. They said he settled with Penn State in 2013 and has kept his abuse a secret from those closest to him.

They alleged the abuse occurred when the man was a 14-year-old participant at a Penn State football camp but disclosed no other details.

Paterno, who died in 2012, said in an interview before his death that an assistant's report in 2001 of Sandusky attacking a boy in a team shower at the State College campus was the first he knew of such allegations against his longtime top assistant.

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison. He maintains his innocence and is pursuing an appeal.

John Doe 150's lawyer, Slade McLaughlin, said in a phone interview Wednesday that his client was concerned about "nuts" harassing him over his role in the scandal, which has generated strong feelings.

"Some of these people are really over the top and some of these people are militant, and some of these people, in my mind, are terrorists," McLaughlin said.

The filing comes two days after Penn State asked the judge to reject a subpoena from the NCAA in the Paterno family lawsuit, seeking the man's name and the identity of a Sandusky accuser who made a confidential settlement with the school over claims he was abused as a boy by Sandusky in 1971.

Penn State said neither settlement agreement contains specifics about either man's claims.

In May, the judge in the insurance dispute being litigated in Philadelphia said in a written opinion that there was a claim that Paterno was informed by a boy in 1976 that Sandusky had abused him. The school subsequently also confirmed it had settled over a 1971 allegation.

The judge has since decided to disclose more information about the two claims, details that are expected to be made public in about three weeks.

The Paternos are suing the NCAA, saying it used a Penn State-commissioned report that harmed their commercial interests. Two former Penn State coaches, Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are also suing the NCAA, saying the report made it impossible for them to find comparable work.

Jerry Sandusky granted hearing in appeal of sex abuse conviction

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The Associated Press

Jerry Sandusky granted hearing in appeal of sex abuse conviction

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A judge on Thursday ordered hearings to let former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky develop more information as he tries to overturn his child molestation conviction.

Judge John Cleland said the three days of proceedings in August will address, in part, whether defense lawyers should have called Sandusky to testify and whether prosecutors improperly leaked information about the grand jury investigation.

The hearing also will delve into whether prosecutor Joe McGettigan lied during closing arguments at Sandusky's 2012 trial when he said he did not know the identity of a figure referred to as Victim 2.

"The question is what Mr. McGettigan believed to be true when he made the statement to the jury," Cleland said.

Sandusky, 72, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for 45 counts of child sexual abuse covering 10 victims.

Eight young men testified they had suffered abuse at Sandusky's hands. The two others were Victim 2, who assistant coach Mike McQueary testified he saw being abused by Sandusky in team shower in 2001, and a boy who was reportedly seen by a custodian with Sandusky in the locker room.

Also at issue on appeal are decisions by Sandusky's lawyers to let him do an television interview with NBC's Bob Costas soon after his arrest, to waive his preliminary hearing and to not use grand jury testimony by three Penn State administrators.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said prosecutors feel strongly that Sandusky's appeal is meritless and they plan to challenge the claims vigorously. A message seeking comment from Sandusky's appellate lawyer, Al Lindsay, was not immediately returned.

Cumberland County prosecutor Dave Freed, speaking for the state district attorneys' association, said complicated cases sometimes generate multi-day post-conviction appeals hearings.

"This order seems to me very much in keeping with the way Judge Cleland conducts business, which is he lays out very clearly what he expects, how he expects the hearing to go, allows sufficient time for it and allows the parties to prepare so he can use court time efficiently," Freed said.

Sandusky previously lost direct appeals to the state's Supreme and Superior courts. He is now pursuing claims under the state's Post-Conviction Relief Act, which is confined to newly discovered evidence, constitutional violations and ineffective lawyering.