Penn State's Joe Paterno saddened by allegations of sex abuse by former coach
Penn State Coach Joe Paterno said in a statement released Sunday that the sex abuse charges filed against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky came as a shock to him.
“The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling,” he said in the 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, who retired from coaching in 1999, is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the university's senior vice president for finance and business, have been charged with failing to report that a witness told them he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a naked boy in the locker room showers in 2002. All three men facing charges have said they are innocent.
Paterno said in grand jury testimony that he reported a shower-room incident in 2002 to Curley when it was brought to his attention. Paterno added that no other allegations had been reported to him.
“It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report,” Paterno said in the statement. “Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.
“I understand that people are upset and angry, but let's be fair and let the legal process unfold. In the meantime I would ask all Penn Staters to continue to trust in what that name represents, continue to pursue their lives every day with high ideals and not let these events shake their beliefs nor who they are.”
Photo: Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. Credit: Scott Audette / Reuters