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PSU lawyers: 'Good faith' settlement talks begin

PSU lawyers: 'Good faith' settlement talks begin

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Talks over potential settlements between Penn State and roughly two dozen men who accuse ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse have started in ``good faith,'' said the attorneys assisting the school with negotiations.

One of the attorneys, Michael Feinberg also told university trustees Friday that the school hasn't set aside a certain amount of money for potential settlements.

A related resolution approved by the Board of Trustees after Feinberg's presentation did give the authority for a trustees legal subcommittee to approve possible settlements, along with the ability to also set ``dollar limits.'' There was no estimate yet because talks were at such an early stage, trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz said afterward.

The meeting of the board was called specifically to discuss settlement issues. Another attorney, Michael Rozen, estimated that 20 to 25 accusers have come forward, including the eight who testified at Sandusky's trial in June.

Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to at least 30 years in jail this month following his conviction on 45 criminal counts of child sex abuse. Authorities said the allegations occurred on and off campus.

No settlements have been reached yet. Lawyers for both sides are in still the process of gathering information, Rozen said.

``The discussions have gone exceedingly well, although they are at a very preliminary stage,'' he told reporters. ``Where it goes from here remains to be seen, but I think everybody has agreed to engage with us and has, in fact, engaged with us in good faith. It's our expectation that will continue.''

At least five lawsuits have been filed from victims or accusers in the scandal. Besides the trial witnesses and those who have sued, the school said the claims also include those who have come forward through counsel, either privately or publicly.

There was no deadline yet for other accusers to come forward, Peetz said. The attorneys and Peetz also signaled the process may not be wrapped up by year's end, as was initially hoped by the university, in part given the number of attorneys for accusers with which the university must negotiate.

Feinberg has overseen the Sept. 11 victim fund and other major victim compensation efforts. He and Rozen have met face-to-face with the lawyers for all accusers thus far, while the board's legal subcommittee has been meeting every Monday since February to discuss settlement issues.

Feinberg said that while he was still optimistic claims could be resolved by Jan. 1, ``it was made very clear to us earlier today, whether it takes two months, three months, five months, six months. - it will take whatever time it takes to get it done.''

An alumni watchdog group, Penn Staters For Responsible Stewardship, had urged the board to table Friday's vote on the settlement issue until the criminal case against former school officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are resolved. They asked a judge this week to delay their Jan. 7 perjury trial stemming from the child abuse investigation into Sandusky.

The watchdog group said in a statement this week that it remained sympathetic with victims and the need for those responsible to ``pay the price'' for failing to protect them. But the group also said trustees should ``not to act in haste, but rather to allow the judicial process to take its course before addressing possible victim settlement claims.''

Asked if the board shared the concerns, Peetz only said ``We decided that wasn't a super-relevant point.''

The trustees didn't have to get involved with the settlements, Peetz said, but thought it was appropriate given the magnitude of the cases. The subcommittee could approve settlements without having to run it by the full board, though it will still remain in regular contact.

``As we said from the beginning, we wanted to make this a fair process that wasn't overly burdensome for the victims,'' Peetz said.

Also Friday, ratings agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded the university's long-term rating because of the expected financial costs from pending lawsuits related to the Sandusky scandal. It added that the university had moved forward by embracing reforms set forth by former FBI director Louis Freeh, who led Penn State's own investigation into the scandal, and said that the school's research, fundraising and enrollments remained strong.

Moody's action followed last week's announcement by Standard & Poor's that it had also revised Penn State's outlook to negative from stable citing the litigation over the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Penn State now has each agency's third-highest investment grade.

Peetz said the downgrade wasn't a ``big deal,'' and might have an impact only if the school were to issue debt. ``We're not planning on issuing debt.''

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8 snap counts and judgments from Redskins' win over Buccaneers and beyond

8 snap counts and judgments from Redskins' win over Buccaneers and beyond

Time for our weekly review of the Washington Redskins snap counts, plus some big picture thoughts one day after Sunday’s 16-3 road victory at Tampa Bay.

♦The Redskins didn’t boldly acquire safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix before the recent NFL trade deadline for him to look cool on the sideline in his No. 20 jersey. After mixing the ex-Packer in for 71 percent of the defensive snaps against the Falcons in his debut days after the trade, Clinton-Dix joined fellow safety D. J. Swearinger on the field for all 69 defensive snaps against the Buccaneers.

Clinton-Dix finished third in tackles (8) against Tampa Bay. The free safety racking up that many tackles isn’t ideal for the defense, of course. He did recover a fumble and was credited with a single pass defended.

♦Jonathan Allen (43), Daron Payne (42) and Matt Ioannidis (43) all played a bit less than normal. Chalk it up to the coaching staff keeping players fresh in the warm conditions. Tim Settle (11) only received five snaps over the previous four games. Stacy McGee (11) made his season debut after the Redskins activated him from the PUP list this week.

♦Cassanova McKinzy didn’t just make his defensive debut for the Redskins. The outside linebacker:

  • Played more defensive snaps (24) than 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson (22)
  • Was active game day ahead of veteran Pernell McPhee
  • Played late in the fourth quarter with the game result still in the balance

That’s quite extraordinary for the 25-year-old undrafted free agent who moved from the practice squad to the 53-man roster multiple times this season. That the Redskins deactivated McPhee automatically sent a signal something was up considering the limited outside linebacker depth.

McKinzy finished with one official tackle, essentially falling on Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Tampa Bay quarterback gathered a fumble. The former Auburn Tiger’s biggest play, a strip-sack and fumble recovery inside Washington’s 20-yard-line, was wiped out by a Josh Norman holding penalty.

Anderson was not officially credited with a tackle or forced fumble, though he clearly punched the ball away from Bucs running Jacquizz Rodgers. Clinton-Dix recovered the ball in the end zone for one of the defense’s four turnovers.

McPhee, who was added this offseason in free agency as pass rush help, had zero sacks in eight games. His playing time ranged from 18-24 percent of defensive snaps this season.

♦Ryan Kerrigan (64 percent) and Preston Smith (70) both played their least percentage of snaps this season. Again, we’ll assume this usage a nod to the heat thrown down by Mother Nature.

♦Whatever blame Zach Brown felt from the coaching staff, it didn’t reflect in his playing time; the 75 percent of snaps meshed with previous weekly amounts.

♦Wide receiver snaps: Josh Doctson (45), Maurice Harris (38), Michael Floyd (31), Brian Quick (21). Percentage-wise, Doctson and Harris ticked down in part because the three tight ends each played 45 percent of the snaps in the same game for the first time this season. The need for more run-blocking in light of the offensive line issues likely played a factor in more work for Floyd.

♦Danny Johnson (18) played early in place of the inactive Quinton Dunbar, but ultimately fellow rookie cornerback Greg Stroman (39) more than doubled his snap total. Both players were credited with a pass defended, but Stroman added an interception and a forced fumble. Either rookie will be challenged in Week 11 against the Texans receiver duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas if Dunbar sits again.

♦Random stat for the win: Alex Smith finished with EXACTLY 178 passing yards for the third time in four games. Equally amazing considering NFL offenses in 2018, the Redskins are 3-0 in those games. They lost to Atlanta in Week 9 when Smith finished with 306 yards as Washington played catch-up.

Props to the Redskins for Sunday’s gritty win. The NFC East leaders, now 6-3 overall and 2-0 in the division, hold a two-game lead over the 4-5 Cowboys and Eagles. Winning just three of their final seven games might be enough to win the division. One can’t win the Super Bowl without making the playoffs, so let’s not discount the potential achievement, especially after zero postseason appearances since 2015.

There’s a difference between qualifying for the playoffs and truly contending. It’s hard projecting Washington as a true contender based on recent performances and current injuries.

The defense, which allowed 501 net yards yet only three points at Tampa Bay, did the best version of bend but don’t break in NFL history. Seriously, this isn’t a joke.

The Redskins forced the Buccaneers into methodical mode offensively. The more plays run, the more chances for mistakes. Fitzpatrick and crew made plenty while Washington defenders consistently held strong in the red zone. That’s probably not good enough most week against steadier offenses. Let’s not forget Atlanta struck for 38 points and 491 yards in Week 9. Among the league leaders in yards allowed per game for most of the season, the Redskins now rank 17th (361.0).

The concern, however, exists on the other side. Washington could barely put up points or move the ball through the air against Tampa’s 30th ranked pass defense. The Redskins now rank 26th in scoring offense (19.6) and yards per game (337.4).

The Redskins are obviously shorthanded. We’ll see when Trent Williams, Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson return.

The NFL is unforgiving. Other teams are missing integral components as well. The key is adjusting. The Redskins did good work against the Buccaneers. The same likely won’t be enough for two wins over the next three weeks against Houston, at Dallas on Thanksgiving and at Philadelphia.

That’s short-term. If we're talking bigger picture, it’s hard projecting Washington as a true contender under current conditions. Then again, who had them 6-3 after nine games regardless.

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3 things to watch for Wizards vs. Magic, as Wizards return home

3 things to watch for Wizards vs. Magic, as Wizards return home

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Mo Bamba, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Back home

After playing eight of their last 10 games on the road, the Wizards finally return to D.C. for an extended homestand. They will play their next five games at Capital One Arena and the first three are against teams with losing records.

So far this season, the Wizards are just 1-3 at home. But in 2017-18 they went 23-18 at home and the year before they went 30-11. This next stretch is an opportunity for them to right the ship.

Quick rematch

The Wizards saw the Magic just two games ago, on Friday, in Orlando. The Magic went up 25 points, yet the Wizards stormed back to cut the lead to one before collapsing late. Seven different Magic players reached double figures, including Mo Bamba, Jerian Grant and Terrence Ross off the bench.

The Wizards have to do a better job rebounding against Orlando and they need to lock down the three-point line. The Magic shot 41.9 percent (13-for-31) from long range. The Wizards also had 18 turnovers, which led to 29 points for Orlando.

Magic are playing well

The win against the Wizards wasn't an outlier for the Magic, who are off to a surprising 6-7 start, a record that currently places them ninth in the East. They have won four of their last five and includes a victory in San Antonio against the Spurs.

Defense remains the Magic's overall strength. They can't score. But they are hitting more threes this season. They rank 16th in the NBA in threes per game (10.6) and are top-10 in attempts.

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