Penn State Assaults May Have Been Stopped, Police Say; Paterno Not Target

Alleged sexual assaults on young boys at Pennsylvania State University could have been avoided if a 1998 report had been taken more seriously, the state police commissioner said.

Commissioner Frank Noonan said at a press conference in Harrisburg today that the alleged attacks by a former football coach at the school might have ended if the report was acted upon, “but nothing happened and nothing stopped.”

Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for the football team, has been charged with sexually assaulting boys and two school officials have been accused of lying to a grand jury about what they knew of the incidents.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said today that Joe Paterno, Penn State’s head football coach, isn’t a target of her office’s investigation of the matter. She didn’t comment on the status of University President Graham Spanier.

Paterno “has been cooperative and he is not regarded as a target,” Kelly said. Paterno, 84, said in a weekend statement that the allegations were “deeply troubling.”

Under questioning from reporters about victims, witnesses and others possibly under police scrutiny, Kelly said “this is an ongoing investigation, and it’s also a grand jury investigation,” so some details can’t be disclosed.

Free on Bail

Sandusky, 67, of State College, Pennsylvania, was freed on $100,000 bail over the weekend after being charged with sexual assaults or advances on eight boys from 1994 to 2009, when he was running Second Mile, a charitable organization for young people, according to Kelly.

“This is a case about a sexual predator accused of using his position in the community and the university to prey on numerous young boys for more than a decade,” she said.

Penn State Athletics Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, 62, who oversaw the university police, were charged with perjury and failure to report the allegations. Lawyers for Curley and Schultz said they’ll challenge the charges and are confident of having their clients vindicated. The two were scheduled for court hearings today in Harrisburg.

In a 1998 police investigation, Sandusky made admissions about “inappropriate conduct in a shower room,” Noonan said. “Nothing happened,” the state police commissioner said. Two years later, the janitorial staff failed to report a similar incident because they feared for their jobs, Noonan said.

‘Compelling and Disturbing’

“One of the most compelling and disturbing pieces of testimony in this investigation came from an eyewitness to a late-night sexual assault that allegedly occurred in March of 2002, in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus,” Kelly said. “A graduate assistant reportedly observed Sandusky sexually assaulting a naked boy who appeared to be about 10 years old.”

After the graduate assistant reported that incident to university authorities, Schulz never brought it to university police, or any other police force, or consulted the report of the 1998 incident, according to a report by the grand jury.

Curley and Schultz were each released today on $75,000 bail, the attorney general’s office said.

Sandusky has been aware of the allegations for three years, his attorney Joe Amendola said after their Nov. 5 court appearance. The investigation began in 2009 after a woman made allegations of sexual assault to officials at her son’s high school.

The Sandusky case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sandusky, MJ-49201-CR-636-2011, Centre County, Pennsylvania, Magisterial District Court 49-2-01 (State College).

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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