After six months of legal action against former Penn State football player Austin Scott ended Friday, his lawyer said they may file a lawsuit against the commonwealth.
The Centre County District Attorney's office dropped all charges against Scott, 22, of Allentown, on Friday. He had been awaiting trial on charges of rape, sexual assault, simple assault and two counts of indecent assault stemming from an alleged encounter at his on-campus residence in October with a female student.
John Karoly, Scott's lawyer, said he might file civil lawsuits against Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira in a few months, if Scott makes such a decision. Karoly added that he would be meeting with other attorneys within the next two weeks about "prosecutorial discretion" by the district attorney's office, specifically noting charges that have been brought against other Penn State football players.
The commonwealth dropped its case against Scott only hours after the state Superior Court ruled that prior allegations of rape by Scott's accuser would be admissible in court.
"The facts of the case have not changed from the time he was arrested. However, the trial judge has ruled evidence of the victim's past is relevant to this case though it has always been our position that the evidence of the victim's past is irrelevant," the commonwealth wrote in a press release.
The release goes on to state that charges were dropped because it would be unlikely that the commonwealth would be able to meet the burden of proof if that evidence were included.
"I know the charges were dropped because they knew they had no case. But that's something they should have known from the start if they had done an appropriate investigation," Karoly said. "This was far better than an acquittal in these circumstances."
Karoly said he had mixed feelings on the commonwealth's decision to drop the case. He said he and Scott were "elated" that it was over, but that he also shared Scott's "bitterness" about the commonwealth's decision to charge Scott and draw out the case for so long.
"I'm seeing a terrible pattern of prosecutorial abuse when I look back at the [Scott] Paxson case. And there are some other cases that give me pause," Karoly said.
Paxson, a former defensive tackle for the Nittany Lions, was accused of sexual assault, indecent assault and aggravated indecent assault in March 2005 after a female Penn State student told police Paxson had raped her in his Nittany Apartments residence in December 2004. The sexual assault charge was later dropped, and Paxson pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct citation just two hours into his trial.
But Madeira said he did not agree with comparisons that people have drawn between the cases of Scott and Paxson, or the alleged patterns in the prosecution of football players.
"I completely disagree with the comparisons, so I'm not even going to respond to that," Madeira said. "I don't care what the accused does for a living or who they are, if we have evidence that justified charges. It doesn't matter to me if they're a football player ... or a road crew worker -- that's irrelevant to me."
Madeira added that he still believes in the inadmissibility of the evidence of Scott's accuser's past rape allegations.
However, Karoly said the alleged victim's past allegations were relevant to the case.
"Every time that this happens -- when there is a false accusation -- the woman who makes those accusations sets back victims' rights a hundred years," Karoly said.
--Collegian Staff Writer Margaret Miceli contributed to this report.