(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — The Penn State child sex abuse investigation has already cost the university more than $12 million in crisis communication and legal fees. And the university is expected to shell out at least an additional $5 million in settlements, experts estimate.
“I think that Penn State will likely be able to settle all of these sexual misconduct claims for something in the area of $5 million. There will be one or two claims that will be fairly expensive but the majority will go for a reasonable number,” said John Roskopf, vice president of Risk Management at EIIA, a non-profit association.
A scathing report on Thursday commissioned by the public college found that top university officials over a 14-year period covered up molestation by assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted on 45 counts, some of which occurred on the campus.
“My assumption is that the investigation costs are basically over and now the costs are going to be settling cases,” said Tom Bark, a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
According to Roskopf, “a reasonable figure [for sexual misconduct] is $500,000 on average.”
He added, “surprisingly, sexual misconduct claims do not settle for the large amounts the public think they would go for. A $500,000 settlement for some of these victims is probably substantial.”
On Nov. 21, 2011, the college hired Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP to conduct an independent investigation into the failure of university personnel to report abuse allegations against Sandusky and the circumstances surrounding abuse at the school’s facilities.
A Special Investigative Council retained by Penn State University for a seven-figure fee found that four of the University’s most powerful people concealed “critical facts” in order to avoid the consequences of “bad publicity” in connection to the Sandusky child abuse case from the school’s trustees, the Penn State community and the public.
University officials on Thursday called the report “sad and sober” and held itself “accountable” for the findings.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Holly Yan and Cheri Mossburg, CNN
Thom Patterson, CNN
Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN