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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.

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.”

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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.”

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.

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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)


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WATCH: New Zealand prime minister unfazed as quake hits during an interview

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A moderate 5.6-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand's North Island early Monday but failed to crack Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's trademark composure as she conducted a live television interview.

The quake struck just off the coast before 8:00 am local time (2000 Sunday GMT) at a depth of about 52 kilometres (32 miles) near Levin, about 90 kilometres north of Wellington, the US Geological Survey said.

St John Ambulance and New Zealand Police both said there were no initial reports of injuries or damage. There was no tsunami warning.

But there was sustained shaking in Wellington, where Ardern was being interviewed on breakfast television from parliament's Beehive building, which is designed to absorb seismic forces by swaying slightly on its foundations.

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US farmers are starting to worry as crop prices dip during COVID-19 crisis: ‘It’s kind of glum’

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Dave Burrier steered his tractor through a field, following a GPS map as he tried to plant as much corn as possible amid the yellow and green rye covering the ground.

Striving to get a massive yield out of his crops in rural Maryland is how Burrier hopes to make it through yet another uncertain year, beset by market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed trade tensions between the United States and China.

"We've had so much price erosion that we're basically at below the cost of production. We've got to figure out how to manage and turn a profit," Burrier told AFP.

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‘It’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months’: Trump makes excuses for golfing during coronavirus pandemic

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President Donald Trump was blasted on Sunday for playing golf during the coronavirus pandemic, a dramatic economic recession and after proclaiming churches "essential."

Instead of joining his voters sitting in the pews, Trump went for the links, which drew criticisms for the hypocrisy.

"Sleepy Joe’s representatives have just put out an ad saying that I went to play golf (exercise) today. They think I should stay in the White House at all times. What they didn’t say is that it’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months, that Biden was constantly vacationing, relaxing & making shady deals with other countries, & that Barack was always playing golf, doing much of his traveling in a fume spewing 747 to play golf in Hawaii - Once even teeing off immediately after announcing the gruesome death of a great young man by ISIS!" tweeted Trump.

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