(CN) - Pennsylvania State University must face claims that it conspired to let Jerry Sandusky molest a disadvantaged 11-year-old in the football team's shower room, a federal judge ruled.
Sandusky, who had been the defensive football coach for 23 years at Penn State (PSU), founded Second Mile, a charity dedicated to helping children with dysfunctional families, in 1977.
Several former Second Mile participants, including John Doe No. 6, have since filed lawsuits alleging that the program and university let Sandusky abuse children on campus.
Doe was 11 years old in May 1998 when the coach "repeatedly and inappropriately" placed his hand on Doe's leg while driving him to the PSU athletic facility, according to the complaint.
There, Sandusky allegedly gave Doe a pair of head football coach Joe Paterno's socks, and used wrestling as "a ruse ... to put his hands on and rub his body against plaintiff's adolescent male body for the purpose of Sandusky's sexual gratification."
Sandusky later kissed Doe's head, said "I love you," and convinced him to take off his clothes to shower by stating, "All the boys do it," according to the complaint.
In the shower, after Sandusky "wrapped his hands around [Doe]'s torso from behind and pressed his body, including his genitals, against plaintiff and said, 'I'm gonna squeeze your guts out,'" the coach lifted the child, purportedly to rinse the soap out of his hair, the complaint states.
Doe described what followed as "kind of black," claiming that his feet were brought near the man's waist, which "likely brought Sandusky's genitals into contact with the boy's body ... [and] likely brought this young boy's genitals up to Sandusky's face."
Afterward, Sandusky promised Doe that he would take him to the movies and let him sit on the PSU bench during a football game, according to the complaint.
Though Doe's mother reported the incident to PSU police, detectives intimidated the child and made him feel guilty for any trouble that might befall Sandusky, the complaint states.
Penn State allegedly ignored a licensed psychologist's report describing Sandusky as a likely pedophile, as well as the coach's statement, "I was wrong ... I wish I were dead."
Indeed, the university offered Sandusky monetary and "retirement" incentives, and gave him "emeritus status" later that year, according to the complaint.
Sandusky was ultimately convicted of 45 counts of criminal sexual assault in June 2012. He is serving 30 to 60 years in prison. With respect to Doe, the coach was found guilty of unlawful contact with minors, corruption of minors, and endangering the welfare of children.
Doe asserts claims for vicarious liability, negligence, negligent supervision, premises liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody partially dismissed the complaint last week, finding that PSU cannot be vicariously liable for an outrageous act Sandusky allegedly committed for his own deviant personal reasons.
"Doe argues that Sandusky's 'abuse had a connection to the kind and nature of his employment as a coach and ambassador for the university,'" Brody wrote. "However, Doe does not explain how child abuse is conduct of the kind and nature that a football coach or ambassador would be employed to perform. Although the complaint alleges that Sandusky exploited his employment with PSU in order to molest Doe, Doe presents no facts that support the conclusion that this outrageous conduct was the kind that PSU employed Sandusky to perform.
"Second, in terms of whether Sandusky's conduct was actuated by intent to serve PSU, the complaint states the opposite - that Sandusky molested Doe for his own personal reasons and deviant gratification," the judge added.
The court refused, however, to dismiss Doe's civil conspiracy claim.
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