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Penn State near settlements with sex-assault victims: lawyer

Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October
Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Penn State University and the sexual abuse victims of its former assistant football coach are close to settling civil lawsuits, with the university setting aside $60 million to cover the claims, according to a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs.

Philadelphia lawyer Thomas Kline, who represents the person known in court papers as Victim 5, said the school and plaintiffs are working on settlements, following last week's vote by the university trustees to earmark the $60 million.

A source with knowledge of the university's situation, who was not authorized to be named, confirmed the figure.

Kline said he understands that Penn State has as many as 32 claims from alleged victims. The person at the center of the sex abuse scandal, former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, was convicted in 10 cases.

"There are now many fewer moving parts than previously existed before the PSU negotiators were authorized by the board to extend formal offers, and we now appear to be close to seeing formal agreements consummated that includes a large number of victims claims settled," Kline said.

He said he had reached a tentative deal for Victim 5, who testified at Sandusky's trial that the former coach molested him in a Penn State locker room shower in 2001.

University officials declined to comment.

Sandusky, 69, was convicted in June of 2012 on 45 counts of sexual abuse, and is now serving a 30-year to 60-year sentence in a state prison.

Prosecutors are preparing for a July 29 hearing for three former Penn State officials, including ex-president Graham Spanier, on accusations that they covered up the sex assaults.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Gevirtz)

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