Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno said he was shocked and deeply saddened by sexual assault charges against the school’s former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky, 67, was charged with sexual abuse of eight boys from 1994 to 2009, when he was running Second Mile, a charitable organization that operates programs for young people, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly.
“The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling,” Paterno, 84, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers.”
Sandusky, of State College, Pennsylvania, was released two days ago on $100,000 unsecured bail.
Penn State Athletics Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, 62, who oversaw the university police, were charged with failing to report the allegations as well as perjury and are scheduled to surrender today to a district judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Kelly said. Lawyers for Curley and Schultz said they’ll challenge the charges and are confident of having their clients vindicated.
Curley was placed on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing, the school said after an executive board meeting last night. Schultz will step down and return to retirement.
Second Mile Program
All eight boys Sandusky is charged with abusing came to know the former coach through the Second Mile program, which had camps on the Penn State campus, Kelly said. One victim told the grand jury the advances began as “back cracking” and rubbing when he was 11 or 12 years old and later escalated to sex acts during overnight visits at Sandusky’s home.
“If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters,” said Paterno, whose 409 wins are the most at college football’s top level. “While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can’t help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred.”
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 victim’s mother reported allegations of sexual assault to officials at her son’s high school.
Locker Room Attack
Curley and Schultz allegedly received a first-hand report of a 2002 sexual attack by Sandusky on a boy in the Penn State locker room showers and failed to report the incident, Kelly said. A graduate assistant first reported the incident to Paterno, who went to Curley. He then met with Curley and Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business.
“Despite a powerful eyewitness statement about the sexual assault of a child, this incident was not reported to any law enforcement or child protective agency, as required by Pennsylvania law,” Kelly said.
Paterno said the witness he spoke with didn’t disclose the specific actions contained in the grand jury report.
“Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky,” Paterno said. “As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.”
Curley and Schultz told Sandusky he was banned from bringing any Second Mile children to the football building. Kelly said the failure of Penn State officials to act allowed a “predator to walk free for years” and target new victims.
Sandusky, who played for Paterno’s Nittany Lions, was assistant coach from 1969 until his retirement at the end of the 1999 season. He was once considered a possible heir to Paterno, who is still coaching.
Sandusky is charged with seven felony counts of involuntary sex, as well as charges of aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, and corruption of minors, the attorney general’s office said.
Curley and Schultz are each charged with one count of perjury, along with one count each of failure to report under the Child Protective Services Law, prosecutors said.
“I understand that people are upset and angry, but let’s be fair and let the legal process unfold,” Paterno said.