Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky said in a telephone interview with NBC that he isn’t a pedophile, while admitting he made a mistake by showering with young boys.
Sandusky, 67, was charged on Nov. 5 with sexually assaulting eight boys from 1994 to 2009, including incidents alleged to have occurred in the showers of Pennsylvania State University’s athletic complex, according to a grand jury report.
Sandusky, in last night’s interview with Bob Costas, denied having sexual contact with any boys and said he’s “innocent of those charges.” Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, said he doesn’t expect the charges to hold up.
“We anticipate we’re going to have at least several of these kids come forward and say, ‘This never happened. This is me, this is the allegation, it never occurred,’” Amendola said last night in a studio interview with Costas.
Sandusky was an assistant coach from 1969 until his retirement as defensive coordinator after the 1999 season. Once considered a possible heir to former coach Joe Paterno, Sandusky started a charity for boys called The Second Mile.
All eight boys Sandusky is charged with abusing came to know the former coach through the Second Mile, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has said. Jack Raykovitz, the chief executive of The Second Mile for the past 28 years, stepped down yesterday.
Close to 10 more suspected victims have contacted authorities since Sandusky’s arrest, the New York Times reported, citing unidentified people close to the investigation.
Sandusky, who is free on $100,000 bond, told NBC he’s had interactions with underage boys, yet isn’t sexually attracted to them.
“I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts,” Sandusky said. “I have hugged them and I have touched their legs, without intent of sexual contact.”
One victim told the grand jury the advances began as rubbing when he was 11 or 12 years old and escalated to sex acts during overnight visits at Sandusky’s home.
The scandal led to the firing of Paterno, 84, and former President Graham B. Spanier, 63. Sandusky said Paterno, who left after 46 seasons and a record 409 wins at college football’s top level, never spoke to him directly about his behavior or expressed disapproval of any kind.
Athletic Director Timothy Curley and Gary Schultz, a senior vice president who oversaw the university police, were arraigned on charges of perjury and failing to report the allegations. The university announced on Nov. 7 that Schultz would step down and return to retirement, while Curley would be placed on administrative leave to focus on his defense.
Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary told the grand jury that in 2002 he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a naked boy he estimated to be about 10 years old in the locker room showers at the school’s football complex.
“He actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel or horse play,” Sandusky told NBC.
The incident didn’t occur the way McQueary described it in the grand jury report, Amendola said.
“What McQueary said he saw, we have information that that child says that never happened,” Amendola said.
The grand jury found that McQueary told Paterno about the incident, though it doesn’t detail what Paterno was told. Paterno and McQueary met with Curley and Schultz, who reported the matter to Spanier. Sandusky was then banned from bringing children from his foundation into the football building, according to the grand jury report.
Spanier told the grand jury he was unaware the incident involving Sandusky was alleged to be sexual in nature.
McQueary, who played quarterback at Penn State from 1994-97, sent an e-mail to former teammates saying he “made sure it stopped,” when he encountered Sandusky and the boy in the locker room showers in 2002, according to NBC’s Peter Alexander.
McQueary added in the e-mail that the truth isn’t fully out there and that he didn’t just turn and run, NBC’s Alexander said last night on his Twitter feed, without saying where he got the information.
McQueary was put on administrative leave from his position as an assistant coach and missed the Nittany Lions’ final home game of the season two days ago, a 17-14 defeat to Nebraska.
When asked by Costas whether he’d concede to having done anything wrong, Sandusky said, “In retrospect, I shouldn’t have showered with those kids.”
“I feel horrible,” Sandusky told NBC. “I don’t think it’s my fault. I’ve obviously played a part in this.”
Sandusky, who was asked about three separate incidents in the NBC interview, said the allegations are false.
“If somehow people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight for my innocence, that’s about all I could ask right now,” Sandusky said. “Obviously it’s a huge challenge.”