A Philadelphia judge has ordered the unsealing of records related to Pennsylvania State University's settlements with Jerry Sandusky's accusers, siding with media outlets that sought their release.
The records, which are believed to include details of claims that Joe Paterno and other coaches first learned about Sandusky's sexual misconduct decades ago, will be accessible in 31 days, Judge Gary S. Glazer ruled Friday.
Any identifying information about the accusers is expected to be redacted. The judge previously said he would do so if he unsealed the records.
The decision comes a day after lawyers for the university and the media argued the issue before Glazer in Common Pleas Court.
"We applaud Judge Glazer's decision to unseal the documents," said Stan Wischnowski, executive editor of the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com, which were among the petitioners. "The public deserves to see the records about these settlements with the accusers as a potential means for getting closer to the truth."
Lawrence Lokman, a spokesman for Penn State, said, "We are pleased the court agreed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the victims."
The existence of some settlements came to light as part of Glazer's ruling in a dispute between Penn State and its insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Co., over who should cover the cost of the nearly $93 million the school has paid to 32 Sandusky accusers since 2013.
In his opinion, Glazer cited claims from a man who alleged that he told Paterno in 1976 that Sandusky, then an assistant football coach, had molested him. That is more than three decades before the first date that state prosecutors and an independent report have said they believe Paterno learned about Sandusky's sexual misconduct.
The university argued that opening the records would unfairly expose victims to ridicule and embarrassment, and that some of the information was privileged, gleaned through mediation sessions.
But a lawyer for the media outlets said that the records were a matter of great public interest and that there was "no compelling government interest" for keeping them sealed.
Before his death in 2012, Paterno denied any knowledge of Sandusky's sexual attacks on children, and his relatives and legions of supporters have continued to attack any such suggestion as unsubstantiated.
The other news outlets include the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Associated Press, the State College Centre Daily Times, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.