BELLAFONTE, Pa., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The attorney for a central witness in the 2012 child sex abuse case against former Penn State football assistant Jerry Sandusky argued Monday that his client was effectively ostracized by the university for coming forward with the allegations.
In his opening remarks for the civil case, attorney Elliot Strokoff told jurors that simply reporting the crimes effectively ended his client Mike McQueary's career with the university.
McQueary was one of the main witnesses for prosecutors during Sandusky's original trial four years ago. As an assistant coach under famed head coach Joe Paterno, McQueary told school officials in 2001 that he witnessed Sandusky sexually assault a young boy in the locker room.
After he came forward to report the assault and when news of the scandal broke in 2011, Strokoff argued, the university attempted to defame him in public statements and refused to renew his contract with the football team. The motive, he said, was to undermine McQueary's credibility in hopes the case would go away.
"All of these efforts by Penn State to treat Mike differently confirm the malice of the university," Strokoff said. "If Mike McQueary folds or collapses, the case against the [school officials] goes away."
McQueary, a former PSU quarterback, has not found another opportunity to coach in college football since he departed Penn State.
Lawyers for the university countered Monday that McQueary's lack of a career is more his own doing, like his choosing not to intervene in the sexual assault when he saw it.
While McQueary has received praise for reporting the incident, others criticized him for not stepping in to protect the child.
"He was a 28-year-old of good health and strong build, and he simply walked away?" PSU attorney Nancy Conrad asked jurors. "McQueary failed to act like a responsible human being."
The school also accuses McQueary of trying to use the scandal for financial gain.
Sandusky, a Penn State assistant between 1969 and 1999, was ultimately convicted on 45 criminal counts, including of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children. He was sentenced to between 30 and 60 years in prison.
Two months ago, Sandusky testified in open court for the first time during an appeal for a new trial, arguing that his defense at the original trial did not adequately defend him.
McQueary's whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State is expected to last about two weeks.