Both polls and protestors have revealed mixed reactions to Gov. Tom Corbett’s lawsuit filed about a week ago against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the sanctions it imposed on Penn State.
In a poll done by Public Policy Polling, 52 percent of voters supported the lawsuit, while 34 percent opposed it. The poll also shows that 62 percent of voters thought the sanctions were too strict while 27 percent thought they were “about right.”
Corbett’s overall approval rating is currently 38 percent, with a 27 percent approval rating of how he has dealt with the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case, according to the poll.
Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was convicted in June on 45 counts of sexually abusing children. He was sentenced in October to serve 30 to 60 years in prison.
Dustin Ingalls, the assistant director for Public Policy Polling, said the polls show that Corbett is not in the best standing with voters right now.
The poll compared Corbett to other leading Republicans and Democrats in Pennsylvania, narrowly beating the Democrats, Ingalls said. That is because most Democrats projected to run for governor are still mostly unknown at this point, Ingalls said.
“That’s not really a good place to be,” Ingalls said. “More voters know how they feel about him than any of the Democrats — the Democrats have a lot of room to improve.”
Ingalls said Public Policy Polling polls two states every week, and the states are chosen based on current events. Pennsylvania could be polled again sometime this spring, he said.
While the poll shows Pennsylvanians favor the lawsuit, others have disagreed with the governor.
Before the Penn State men’s basketball team hosted Indiana Monday night, Robert Hoatson stood outside the Bryce Jordan Center protesting the lawsuit.
Hoatson, a former Roman Catholic priest, counsels a man who says he was abused by Sandusky. Hoatson is the co-founder of Road to Recovery, Inc., a nonprofit charity that counsels survivors of sexual abuse as from members of the Roman Catholic Church.
Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer who represents the man who Hoatson counsels, said his client is one of the additional men who are beginning settlement talks with the university.
According to a press release issued via Penn State Live on Dec. 21, the settlement process is ongoing and is being assisted by Feinberg Rozen LLP for the university.
Garabedian said his client said he was molested in 1988 when he was about 16. His client said he participated in a Penn State football program in high school and was molested by Sandusky within one week.
Garabedian said he has had over 1,000 clients who say they have been sexually abused, including the original cases of sexual abuse against Father Geoghan in the Roman Catholic Church sexual abuse cases.
“[Corbett’s] lawsuit is trying to paint Penn State as the victim here, when in fact the victims are the victims of Jerry Sandusky and not Penn State,” Garabedian said. “The lawsuit ignores the fact that the sanctions of Penn State could have been and should have been more severe.”
No one representing the Office of the Governor could be reached for comment by press time Tuesday.
Hoatson said that with this lawsuit, Corbett was claiming that Judge Louis Freeh’s report was not true and that the sanctions were not justified. Hoatson said the lawsuit tells people who say Sandusky abused them but weren’t mentioned in the initial grand jury report that the university is not to blame, which Hoatson said adversely affects the ongoing healing process for the people who say Sandusky abused them.
Instead of focusing efforts on helping people who say Sandusky abused them but weren’t mentioned in the initial grand jury report, this lawsuit attempts to rid the university of blame, he said.
Hoatson said that after Corbett accepted Freeh’s report in July, he cannot change his mind.
Hoatson said he has not yet found a problem with the university response to the lawsuit, because they announced last week that they would continue to follow the sanctions. If the university responds further, Hoatson said he would wish the university to be opposed to the governor’s lawsuit.
In response to the attempt to keep the $60 million fine within Pennsylvania, Garabedian said his client is from Massachusetts and believes the money should cross state lines.
Garabedian said the lawsuit should be dismissed and that the university and the governor should focus his attention back on those that were abused by Sandusky.
“There is no amount of money in thew world that could bring back the lives that were stolen by Jerry Sandsuky,” he said. “It does irreparable damage.”