Mike McQueary, the former Penn State graduate assistant who has long claimed he saw Jerry Sandusky rape a boy in 2001, has filed a lawsuit against Penn State.

In a three-count complaint filed Tuesday in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas, McQueary sued the university for $4 million — his projection of his own earnings over 25 years coaching Penn State football — under whistleblower, defamation and misrepresentation causes of action. He claimed the school wrongfully fired him only as a result of his cooperation with investigators, as authorities built and brought a case against former Penn State assistant football coach Sandusky.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse in June.

In his defamation claim, McQueary argued that two statements made by former university president Graham Spanier as the sex-abuse scandal was breaking “clearly suggest” McQueary was lying in his accounts regarding the now-notorious “shower incident.” In one of the statements, released on Penn State’s website, Spanier vows his “unconditional support” to the two former administrators — now facing perjury charges — to whom McQueary reported the allegations back in 2001.

Those administrators, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz, await trial on perjury and failure to report sex abuse.

Spanier, while implicated in an internal investigation the university launched, faces no criminal charges.

McQueary — who was earning $140,000 annually before losing his job, according to the suit — has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

McQueary lastly claimed that Curley and Schultz misrepresented their intentions to him in 2001 by telling him they would see to it that his allegations would be appropriately followed.

“On the contrary, Athletics Director Curley and Senior Vice President Schultz, unbeknownst to [McQueary], had decided to pursue a course of action that would avoid an investigation by any law enforcement investigator or other trained investigator and try to keep [his] report, and the underlying incident, a secret in an effort to preserve the reputation of the defendant university.”

According to the lawsuit, McQueary was the only member of former head coach Joe Paterno’s staff who was not invited to be interviewed by the program’s new head coach. He was placed on administrative leave in November even though, as the lawsuit pleads, he was “quite ready, willing and able” to coach.

McQueary also alleged he received no notice that the university was firing him. The complaint alleges McQueary, 37, learned he was officially no longer an assistant football coach at Penn State by seeing an announcement at a televised news conference over the summer.

Barred from Penn State football facilities while on leave, the complaint said McQueary was isolated from a community to which he had 20 years of ties. McQueary played quarterback for Penn State under Paterno.

Elliot A. Strokoff, of Harrisburg firm Strokoff & Cowden, is representing McQueary and could not be reached for comment.

Nancy Conrad of White and Williams in Center Valley, Pa., appears to be representing the university (she was listed on the certificate of service) and was not available.

The beginning of McQueary’s 17-page complaint tells a familiar story. On February 9, 2001, the complaint alleges, McQueary witnessed an adult male, who the complaint does not specifically name, “engaging in high inappropriate and illegal sexual conduct” with a boy appearing to be 10 to 12 years of age in a Penn State staff locker room.

The complaint does name Schultz and Curley. The lawsuit alleges that Schultz and Curley indicated “they thought this was a very serious matter, they would see that it was properly investigated and that appropriate action would be taken.”

The document also identifies Paterno by name. Paterno was the first university employee to whom McQueary took his allegations. The longtime head coach, who died in January, called the meeting with McQueary, Schultz and Curley, but was not present himself. 

Ben Present can be contacted at 215-557-2315 or bpresent@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @BPresentTLI. •