If Joe Paterno did know that his assistant coach was accused of child sex assault and then did little to stop the alleged predator, the former Penn State head coach is a prime target for civil lawsuits, legal experts say.
The only thing is – you can’t squeeze water from a stone, and Joe Paterno may not have any assets to take in a civil suit. He handed over his $594,000 house to his wife Sue Paterno for $1 in July.
This mysterious transaction four months before the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal broke was part of a “multiyear estate planning program,” Paterno’s lawyer told the New York Times. But, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who specializes in elder law told the Times that there are no tax advantages in doing such a thing and he has “never heard” of a husband selling his house to his wife for $1.
“It sounds like an attempt to avoid personal liability in having assets in his wife’s name,” Lawrence A. Frolik told the Times.
The New York Times had two lawyers look over the documents obtained, and while one said that the $1 house sale appears to be “an explicit effort to financially shield Joe Paterno,” the second lawyer said that the transaction seems benign.
After 46 years as head coach, Paterno was fired by Penn State last week, along with university president Graham Spanier, in the wake of Sandusky ‘s arrest on 40 counts of child sex charges.
Paterno’s dismissal and recent public criticism comes from revelations in the grand jury report, which states that Paterno was notified of Sandusky’s alleged crimes and did nothing but pass the information up the chain of command at the school.
Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz, who were also allegedly notified of allegations against Sandusky, were charged with failing to tell police about Sandusky. Both stepped down from their positions and surrendered to police.
Upon being fired last week, Paterno told his fans that he “should have done more.”
More humiliations have followed Paterno's firing, as U.S. senators withdrew support for him to receive the Medal of Freedom and the Big Ten removed Paterno's name from its championship trophy this week.