Former Pennsylvania State University football assistant Jerry Sandusky denied that he sexually abused young boys, and said Joe Paterno, the school’s ex-head coach, never spoke to him about any suspected misconduct, the New York Times reported.
The 67-year-old Sandusky told the newspaper that his decades of work with children have been distorted by prosecutors, who accuse him of using his Second Mile charity for troubled youths to gain access to vulnerable boys.
Sandusky was charged with 40 criminal counts tied to alleged sexual molestation of eight boys from 1994 to 2009. This came after a probe by a state grand jury, which also suggested charges of perjury against Athletic Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, a senior vice president who oversaw university police. The allegations lead to the firings of Paterno, 84, and university president Graham B. Spanier, 63.
Even though he was regularly at the university, Paterno never confronted him about any alleged incidents involving underage boys, Sandusky told the newspaper. The former defensive coordinator denied any sexual abuse of children in four hours of interviews over two days with the Times.
“They’ve taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever,” Sandusky is quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Joseph Amendola, an attorney for Sandusky, didn’t return phone calls by Bloomberg News seeking comment.
Sandusky said he regularly gave money to boys at his charity, opened bank accounts for them and gave them gifts, the newspaper said. He was charged by state prosecutors Nov. 5.
Sandusky said he wrestled and hugged the children because “a lot of the kids really reached out for that.”
Les Zuke, director of communications for the law firm of King & Spalding LLP, which represents former coach Paterno, didn’t immediately respond to a voice mail left by Bloomberg News seeking comment. Paterno, who is being treated for cancer, has denied through his son knowing of an incident in 1998, the Times said.
Last week, the university formed a committee to find a successor to Paterno, who had headed the program for 46 years.
Acting Athletic Director David Joyner is chairman of the six-member group.
Penn State, which ranks fifth in wins at college football’s top level, has had two head coaches since 1950: Paterno and Rip Engle. Assistant Tom Bradley, who has been with the Nittany Lions’ program for 33 years, was promoted to interim coach when Paterno was fired and said last month that he “certainly would want the permanent job.”
The school hasn’t given a time frame for hiring a coach.
Last month, the governing body for U.S. college athletics said it will investigate Penn State over the scandal. Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, sent a letter to school President Rodney Erickson detailing the agency’s plans to look into the college’s “exercise of institutional control” and the “actions, and inactions, of relevant responsible personnel.”
The NCAA gave Penn State until Dec. 16 to provide information related to how the school has complied with its bylaws before continuing its investigation.