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Whistleblower’s lawyer accuses Penn State of malice in Sandusky scandal

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A lawyer for a former Penn State assistant football coach told jurors on Thursday the school treated his client with malice in firing him after finding out he was a key witness against Jerry Sandusky, a former coach eventually convicted of molesting boys.

Elliot Strokoff said his client, Michael McQueary, suffered loss of employment and reputation after Penn State learned in 2011 that he had told investigators he witnessed Sandusky having sex in a shower with a young boy 10 years earlier.

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The lawyer said Penn State administrators Timothy Curley and Gary Schultz covered up the incident after McQueary reported it to them years earlier. In addition, he said, the administrators lied when they assured McQueary, then a Penn State graduate student, that they would handle the incident properly.

McQueary “should not have been a scapegoat,” Strokoff said during closing arguments in the trial of his client’s lawsuit against Pennsylvania State University. “They said that he is the villain and that he is only in court because of his own failures.”

The lawyer urged the jury of nine women and three men to award compensatory and punitive damages to McQueary for defamation and misrepresentation.

McQueary was an assistant coach for wide receivers under Joe Paterno, Penn State’s legendary head coach, for eight seasons. Paterno was fired for his role in the Sandusky scandal and died months later. McQueary lost his job in 2012, ostensibly because the new head coach, Bill O’Brien, did not want him.

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Penn State’s lawyer, Nancy Conrad, told jurors in closing that McQueary was not defamed by former Penn State President Graham Spanier in 2011 when he said in a statement that charges against the administrators, which were based on McQueary’s testimony, were “groundless.”

She argued that McQueary’s failure to find a job since 2012 was his own fault, not Penn State’s.

“He was not damaged by any actions of the university,” Conrad said. “If he was harmed, it was by national media and public opinion. He failed to find a position because of his own shortcomings.”

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The lawsuit, filed in 2012 but delayed until now because Curley and Schultz had not gone on trial for criminal charges in the alleged cover-up, is being heard in Centre County Court of Common Pleas in Bellefonte, near Penn State’s main campus.

Conrad said McQueary was removed from coaching in November 2011 out of concern for his own safety for failing to stop Sandusky’s alleged molestation of the boy, not as retaliation for his testimony against Sandusky and the administrators.

But Strokoff said there was only one verified threat against McQueary, and that was traced to a crank in Florida.

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(Editing By Frank McGurty and Mary Milliken)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys

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In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.

"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.

The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.

"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."

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Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors

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A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.

"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

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