Jerry Sandusky scandal puts focus on who knew what -- and when
Allegations of child sexual abuse against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, now at the center of an unfolding scandal, were rocking the sports world on Monday even as they raised additional questions about who might have known what -- and when.
A fleet of criminal charges have been filed against the former defensive coordinator stemming from allegations that he sexually abused eight boys -- preteens and young teenagers -- over a 15-year period. Sandusky's attorney said his client maintains his innocence.
Two careers have already fallen in the wake of the investigation. Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the school's senior vice president for business and finance, left their posts over the weekend. They face arraignment on charges that they lied to a grand jury investigating Sandusky and that they failed to properly report suspected child abuse.
But the explosive allegations are also casting a shadow over a college football program helmed by legendary Coach Joe Paterno, who has more wins than any other NCAA Division I coach and has been lionized for maintaining a squeaky-clean image.
Said Times columnist Bill Dwyre, in part:
"It may be that Paterno told the right people, did the right thing, acted in an acceptable way with the knowledge he had.
It may be that the good will he has built over all these years as the grandfather of college athletics will save him the horror of a tainted departure.
But it seems more likely that, merely by association with all this, Paterno’s age, years of service, perceived benevolence and the desire of so many to have his storied tenure end in a positive way, will not quite be enough."
Paterno released a statement Sunday saying he was shocked and saddened by the accusations against Sandusky, who retired from Penn State in 1999 but continued to use the school's facilities.
But Paterno has also said in grand jury testimony that he reported an alleged shower-room incident involving Sandusky in 2002 to Curley when it was brought to his attention. Paterno said that no other allegations were reported to him.
It is believed that Sandusky met the alleged victims through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for underprivileged kids.
The charity released a statement over the weekend that said its chief executive also learned about the alleged 2002 shower incident in which "an individual reported to Mr. Curley that he was uncomfortable about seeing Jerry Sandusky in the locker room shower with a youth. Mr. Curley also shared that the information had been internally reviewed and that there was no finding of wrongdoing," according to the statement posted on the charity's website.
The charity says that it did not learn of more serious allegations against Sandusky until several years later -- from Sandusky himself:
"... in November 2008, Mr. Sandusky informed The Second Mile that he had learned he was being investigated as a result of allegations made against him by an adolescent male in Clinton County, PA. Although he maintained there was no truth to the claims, we are an organization committed first and foremost to the safety and well-being of the children we serve."
The organization says it took immediate action against Sandusky: "Consistent with that commitment and with The Second Mile policy, we immediately made the decision to separate him from all of our program activities involving children. Thus, from 2008 to present, Mr. Sandusky has had no involvement with Second Mile programs involving children."
The statement says that Second Mile was first contacted by the attorney general’s office in early 2011. "Since then," it said, "we have done everything in our power to cooperate with law-enforcement officials and will continue to do so."
The statement added: "The Second Mile has helped thousands of Pennsylvania’s children to lead better lives, and we remain committed to that mission. Our success is a result of the trust placed in us by the families and professionals with whom we partner, and we will take any steps needed to maintain their confidence in us."
Efforts to reach a spokesman with the charity were unsuccessful Monday; reporters were referred to the online statement.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
Photo: Jerry Sandusky, left, and Joe Paterno in 1999. Credit: Paul Vathis / Associated Press