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Entries in Child Sex Abuse (34)

Friday
Oct192012

Sandusky Victim 1 Steps Out of Shadows, Says Justice Took Too Long

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- He was known only as Victim 1 in one of the most infamous child sexual abuse cases in history.  But this week, Aaron Fisher revealed his identity to the world and, in an exclusive interview with 20/20's Chris Cuomo, told the story of those he said stood in his way as he struggled to bring now-convicted child predator Jerry Sandusky to justice: officials at his own high school.

"Here I am, beside my mom, crying, telling them and they don't believe me," he said in an interview with Cuomo airing on 20/20 Friday night at 10 p.m. ET.  "I knew they wouldn't."

Fisher has detailed his struggle to have his allegations against Sandusky, formerly a revered Penn State University football coach, taken seriously in a new book, Silent No More: Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky, published on Friday.

He was 11 when he met Jerry Sandusky in the summer of 2005.  Fisher was selected to attend a summer camp run by Sandusky's charity organization for disadvantaged children, The Second Mile, on Penn State's campus.

Fisher said Sandusky immediately took a special interest in him.  He encouraged Fisher's athletic interests, taking him to both college and pro sports events.

"We sat in box seats," said Fisher.  "He was just kind of like a giant stuffed teddy bear.  He seemed like the all-natural father figure -- something that most kids wished their dads did."

Fisher came from a struggling family and didn't have a father at home.  Dawn Daniels, Fisher's mother, recalled the times Sandusky took the boy away for the weekend to give her a break.

"Everybody knew who he was," said Daniels.  "He's a great guy.  Everybody, even my own father, said he does great things for kids."

Sandusky's reputation had preceded him and put Daniels at ease as far as allowing her son to spend so much time with Sandusky.  But according to Fisher, Sandusky slowly turned from a "father figure" into something much darker.

"He'd put his hand on my leg while we were driving," Fisher said.  "My family never did that, so it was kind of weird."

By the time Fisher was 12, Sandusky was sexually assaulting him.  Fisher said fear, shame and confusion prevented him from seeking help and telling anyone about his tormentor.

"There were so many emotions and thoughts running through my head," he said.  "Being a kid, you never know what to do, and you don't know who to tell because you don't know who you can trust."

Fisher said Sandusky began seeking him out at his own high school, Central Mountain High School in Lock Haven, Pa.  Sandusky was a volunteer football coach there and would pull him out of class, with school officials' blessing.

Daniels said the school never notified her about all of the classes her son missed because of Sandusky and Fisher said no teacher or administrator ever questioned Sandusky's motives.

It grew to be too much and Fisher said he tried to do everything in his power to stay away from the ex-Penn State coach, sometimes hiding in school bathrooms rather to avoid meeting with Sandusky.  But Sandusky only grew more aggressive, Fisher said.

By the time Fisher was 15, he reached a breaking point and finally summoned the courage to tell his mother and the school's principal, Karen Probst, that Sandusky was sexually abusing him.  But the mother and son say they were shocked by the principal's response.

"They said that Jerry has a heart of gold and that he wouldn't do those type of things," Daniels said.  "They tell me to go home and think about it."

Daniels did not follow their advice.  Instead she says she told Probst that she would be notifying Clinton County Children and Youth Services of the allegations directly.

Daniels and Fisher later learned that Central Mountain High School officials did call CYS, but they say the call only came after the mother and son left the principal's office.  School officials are legally mandated to report all allegations of child sex abuse and have said that the allegations were reported immediately.

For Fisher, the initial suggestion that those meant to protect him did not believe his story was crushing.

Clinton County CYS psychologist Michael Gillum was one of the first to handle Fisher's case.

"It was obvious to me immediately that he was upset, that something had, in fact, happened to him," Gillum told 20/20.

Gillum said he was shocked by the claim that Central Mountain's principal, Probst, had told Fisher and Daniels to go home.

When confronted outside the school by 20/20, both Probst and football coach Steve Turchetta -- who pulled Fisher out of his classes for meetings with Sandusky -- declined to answer questions.  In grand jury testimony, Turchetta said that he took kids out of class for those meetings even though he developed suspicions about the relationships.

Much to Fisher's dismay, coming forward with the allegations was only the beginning of a long battle to bring Sandusky to justice.

Sandusky was interviewed by CYS, but he laughed off the allegations, painting Fisher as a troubled kid, Gillum said.

Meanwhile, the police made Fisher retell his story four times over the course of three years.  He was forced to go before two grand juries.  Yet still, the attorney general prosecuting the case said authorities needed more victims to charge Sandusky.

Finally, in 2011, there was a break in the case.  Allegations surfaced from a Penn State coach, Mike McQueary, that he had witnessed Sandusky molesting a boy in a university locker room years earlier.

On Nov. 5, 2011, just before Fisher's 18th birthday, Jerry Sandusky was arrested following an indictment by a grand jury on more than 40 counts of child sexual abuse.  In June 2012, Sandusky was tried and convicted on 45 of 48 counts.  He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, a virtual life sentence for the 68-year-old man.

"I wasn't expecting it," Fisher said, "I was kind of thinking that he'd get off scot-free with this."

Though the conviction was a victory, Sandusky was not the only adult who Fisher felt betrayed his trust.  Fisher still has questions for the teachers and administrators at his high school.

"It's a fact that I lost a good portion of my childhood," he said.  "I endured heartaches and numerous amounts of people who didn't believe me and walked away from me."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct102012

Behind Bars: How Jerry Sandusky Will Live in Prison

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- As convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky was led away from the Centre County, Pa., court house on Tuesday, the former Penn State football defensive coordinator was headed toward what will likely be the rest of his life in the Pennsylvania state prison system.

Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday morning to serve no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in state prison for his conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse, a sentence tantamount to life in prison for the 68-year-old.

He had been found guilty in July of abusing 10 boys he befriended through his charity for underprivileged youth, the Second Mile.  The accusations against Sandusky ignited outrage at Penn State and across the country, as two top officials were arrested for allegedly covering up his crimes, and head football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier lost their jobs over their knowledge of the abuse.

Sandusky will now go to Camp Hill State Prison, near Harrisburg, to determine where and how he will spend the rest of his life in jail.  Officials from the Department of Corrections will determine his medical and mental health needs, as wells as his security needs as a 68-year-old pedophile.

"Danger is always a consideration but I think the people in the Department of Corrections would probably say they're very equipped to ensure the safety of inmates," William DiMascio, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, said.

Officials will then decide where to send Sandusky, likely to a low-security prison specializing in older inmates or those with psychological issues, including one in eastern Pennsylvania with many sex offenders.  

There are 26 prisons for men in Pennsylvania that Sandusky could be sent to, none of which have a special housing unit or facility for sex offenders, the department said.  The system houses more than 50,000 prisoners.

Sandusky could be held in solitary confinement at the beginning of his sentence, though he will likely be transferred to the general population quickly, according to experts.  He will then most likely be placed with other inmates of similar ages and crimes.

"I'm assuming he will be placed with non-violent offenders.  He was not a violent offender in traditional sense, like robber or murderer, and it's a mechanism whereby his safety and security will be hopefully enhanced.  They wouldn't want to put him in a cell with a violent really bad guy," according R. Paul McCauley, professor emeritus at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a legal consultant.

A former state prison inmate who was convicted of sex crimes told ABC News anonymously that Sandusky would receive verbal abuse from inmates because of his case, but likely would not be in physical danger.

"People are going to know who he is, it's very hard to remain anonymous.  You wear your name on your clothes in state prison," he said.  "There will be a substantial amount of verbal harassment, but physical is much less common in Pennsylvania prisons than people think.  Pennsylvania prisons are very non-violent."

Once he has received his housing assignment, he will have the option of participating in a treatment program for sex offenders.  Though he likely will not ever be eligible to receive parole while he is alive, he may find it helpful, according to the ex-inmate.

Sandusky's day will consist of work, recreation time in the yard, and time spent in his cell reading or watching television, including Penn State football games.

"If he wants to buy a TV he can buy a small-screen TV, they only have to pay for the cable, and they have time out in the yard every day to work out, get exercise and whatnot," DiMascio said.

Because of his work in sports and athletics, he may be given a job organizing athletic programs, McCauley said.  He could also work in the kitchen or doing janitorial work, though more prized positions include tutoring and clerical work, according to the former state prisoner.

He can use the money earned from his jobs -- about $15 a month -- for food or toiletries at the commissary or phone calls, for which he is allotted 15 minutes a day.  He can also have visitors multiple times a week, though visits with minors -- including his grandchildren -- will be forbidden.

Sandusky maintains that he was wrongly convicted and will fight his conviction through an appeal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Jerry Sandusky Sentenced to 30 to 60 Years in Prison

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Jerry Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison for the sexual abuse of 10 children after a Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in jail.

"I'm not going to sentence you to centuries," Judge John Cleland said at the sentencing hearing.  "It makes no sense for a 68-year-old man.  This sentence will put you in prison for the rest of your life."

Sandusky, 68, would be 98 at his earliest possible release date. 

Cleland also determined that Sandusky would be classified as a sexually violent predator, mandating that he register as a sex offender if he is ever released from prison.

"The ultimate tragedy of this situation is that... you have continued to conceal the very vices that have led to your downfall," Cleland said before handing down the sentence.  "In my view that makes you dangerous.  You abused the trust of those who trusted you.  These are not crimes against strangers, they are much worse."

"The crime is not only what you did to their bodies, but your assault to the safety and well-being of the community in which we all live," the judge added.

 

The sentence was handed down by Cleland in Bellefonte, Pa. after tearful testimony from both Sandusky and his victims.

Sandusky's victims recounted the horror inflicted on them by the former Penn State football defensive coordinator.  Speakers included one victim's mother, who said her son had twice attempted suicide because of the abuse.

"For four years, I believed you were helping my son but instead you were molesting him," the mother of Victim 9 wrote in a statement.  "He was losing weight, couldn't sleep.  I blame myself and still do.  I have had to endure two attempts from my son on his own life, all because of you and what you did to my son."

"Jerry Sandusky lured me into a Penn State sauna and then a shower and then forcibly had me touch him," said the man identified as Victim 5.  "I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body.  I continue to be haunted by the incident.  [I have] anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, and embarrassment and guilt."

The statements came just ahead of Sandusky's own tearful statement to the court, in which he denied that he ever engaged in "disgusting acts."  He also described his time in jail, staring at cement walls, imagining the fun times he spent with the children of his charity -- the Second Mile -- through which he met all of his victims.

"A chill goes up my spine and my eyes fill up again.  It doesn't matter what you look at, it's what you see.  When I look at those walls again, I see light, visits from family and friends," Sandusky said on the stand, clad in a red jumpsuit and looking noticeably thinner and more gaunt than during his trial.  "I see me throwing hundreds of kids in the air, water balloon battles, a dog licking childrens' faces."

Sandusky said in his statement that he has spent his time in jail meditating, writing, exercising and reading books about persecution and struggle.  He said he has faced "outbursts by troubled inmates" and "special inmates who have smiled at me."

"Somehow, someway, something good will come out of this.  These are people I cared about, still do.  I used to think of ways to praise them, to help them have fun," he said.

"To my loved ones I want to say, the most difficult part is the pain of separation.  Some of the labeling hurts but they don't compare to the pain of their absence," Sandusky added.

Sandusky's victims said they were outraged at Sandusky's continued claims of innocence.

"You can chose to be in denial about everything you have done, [but] you are only fooling yourself," said the man identified as Victim 6.  "It is time to stop coming up with excuses for your behavior.  If you admit your guilt to God, he will forgive you.  If you don't, you won't be able to receive forgiveness."

"You took something from him that can never be replaced," the statement from Victim 9's mother read.  "Sorry will never be enough.  There is no punishment sufficient for you.  When you admit your wrongdoing, maybe, maybe you will be forgiven."

In a statement released after the sentencing, Penn State President Rodney Erickson declared, "Our thoughts today, as they have been for the last year, go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse. While today’s sentence cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it will provide comfort to those affected by these horrible events and help them continue down the road to recovery."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Prominent Priest Defends Sex Abusers, Later Apologizes

Image Source/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A well-known Catholic priest who hosts a weekly religious television show said in an interview this week that child sex abusers are often seduced by teenage boys and should not go to jail on a first offense.  But the comments were removed by the website that published them and replaced by an apology from the priest and the site's editors.

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, 79, who hosts a weekly show on the Catholic television network EWTN, originally made the comments in an interview with the National Catholic Register.  He also referred to convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach convicted of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, as a "poor guy."

"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to -- a psychopath.  But that's not the case.  Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him.  A lot of the cases, the youngster -- 14, 16, 18 -- is the seducer," Groeschel was quoted as saying in the interview, which is no longer available on the paper's website.

The interview has now been replaced by a statement from Groeschel.

"I apologize for my comments," it said.  "I did not intend to blame the victim.  A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible.  My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be.  I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could.  I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone."

Jeanette R. De Melo, the site's editor in chief, included her own apology for posting the interview.

"Child sexual abuse is never excusable," she wrote.  "The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel's comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse.  Nothing could be further from the truth."

The interview, billed as a reflection on the 25 years since Groeschel founded the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal order, covered many topics, but Groeschel's comments on child sexual abuse brought it national attention.

"Well, it's not so hard to see.  A kid looking for a father and didn't have his own -- and they won't be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping, but not having intercourse or anything like that.  I's an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers," Groeschel was quoted as saying.

Quotes from the interview remained posted on websites including the National Catholic Reporter, the Huffington Post, and the Catholic blog Renew America, all of which criticized Groeschel for the remarks.

Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter called the comments "particularly disturbing" because of Groeschel's background in psychology.  He received a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University.

"(The comments) cannot stand unchallenged," Roberts wrote.

Groeschel could not be reached for comment.  Representatives for the National Catholic Register and EWTN did not immediately return calls for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Paterno 'Despised' Sandusky Long Before Sex Scandal, New Book Claims

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Long before Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse crimes led to Joe Paterno's downfall, the two Penn State coaches "despised each other," according to a new biography of Paterno.

Former Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski describes in his new biography, Paterno, how tension built between the two men as Paterno grew frustrated with Sandusky, whom he thought paid more attention to his charity, The Second Mile, and children than to the Nittany Lions football team.

"These feelings had built into a crescendo over the years, as they sometimes do with longtime colleagues," Posnanski writes, describing how the men never got along.

Sandusky hated meetings, overlooked details and was uninterested in recruiting.  He and his wife did not drink much alcohol, while the Paternos drank socially.

"The tension between Paterno and Sandusky gurgled just below the surface," Posnanski writes.

When Sandusky retired after the 1999 season, Sports Illustrated asked Sandusky if he would miss Paterno.

"Well, not exactly," Sandusky responded.

Despite the tension, the book maintains that Paterno never knew that Sandusky sexually abused children, and only had a vague idea that Sandusky had acted inappropriately with a boy in the Penn State showers in 2001, based on a description by graduate assistant Mike McQueary.

"Many of the people who had come to admire Joe Paterno believed that, no matter his own legal role, he should have made sure the incident was reported to the police.  'But, to be honest, that's just not how Joe was in the last years,' said one of the people in his inner circle.  'He was not vigilant like he used to be.  I think a younger Joe would've said to Tim after a few days, "Hey what's going on with that Sandusky thing?  You guys get to the bottom of that?  Let's make sure that's taken care of."  But he didn't understand it.  And he just wasn't as involved as he used to be,'" the book reads.

Posnanski notes that after Paterno's family convinced him to read the grand jury presentment outlining the charges against Sandusky and two other Penn State officials, the 85-year-old coach asked his son, Scott Paterno, "What is sodomy, anyway?"

Sandusky has been convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse, and is awaiting sentencing in a Pennsylvania jail.

Paterno, who died in January, said that he wished he had done more to investigate the incident involving Sandusky and the boy in the shower.  He maintained that he never knew about a 1998 investigation into Sandusky, though a report released in July by former FBI chief Louis Freeh found that he had known about it.

The new, 400-plus page tome, out Tuesday, covers Paterno's life before the scandal, though its main focus shifts to the fallout from Sandusky in the latter half of the book.  Posnanski began working with Paterno on the book before the allegations against Sandusky became public.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul312012

Former NFL Cheerleader Denies She Is the 'Female Sandusky'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader accused of sex abuse is firing back at her critics and the rumors about her personal life, despite a request by prosecutors for a gag order in the case.

Sarah Jones, a one-time captain of the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleading squad and a former high school teacher in Kenton County, Ky., is accused of sexually abusing a student and unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual activities.

"I read on a blog that I was the female [Jerry] Sandusky.  To read those things and not be able to comment, not be able to stick up for myself is not fair," said Jones in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

"People don't know the real me.  There's blogs and postings out there that I have slept with numerous people.  I married my high school sweetheart," she said.  "I just asked the general public to maybe hold their judgment a little bit longer until the truth comes out."

Prosecutors asked a judge for a gag order on Monday to stop Jones from talking after she went on her lawyer's radio show earlier this month to comment on the charges against her.  Jones' lawyer, Eric Deters, filed a motion to dismiss all charges because of a lack of evidence.

"They have no evidence that sexual relations of any type took place in any of the 50 United States of America," Deters told ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV.

The judge said she would review the motions and make a decision in the coming days.

"We won't be sending out motions, we won't be going on radio shows.  You will be hearing our arguments about the evidence in court," said Leland Hulbert, spokesman for the Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the case.

Last November, the then 26-year-old teacher at Dixie Heights High School was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.  Jones' mother, Cheryl Jones -- a middle school principal in the same school district -- is accused of tampering with evidence in connection with her daughter's case.  Sarah Jones resigned from her position in November 2011.

Both mother and daughter pleaded not guilty in April at their arraignment.  The two were joined by dozens of supporters including the family of the alleged victim, whose name has not been released due to his age.

"The hardest thing has been having not only me go through it, but to have my mom go through it with me," said Sarah Jones.  "It's almost kind of a guilty feeling that she is even involved in this because what has happened to her is not fair.  My goal is for her charges to be dismissed."

Jones' lawyer is also demanding the prosecution be sanctioned for saying in court that Jones allegedly sent a text to the victim saying "deny everything."  The prosecution described other texts with the victim as "steamy."

"I think people are taking this whole student-teacher thing… Yes, he was a student but he was not my student," said Jones.  "He was a family friend and I am very close to his parents.  Had it not been for their support it would be very difficult to get through this without them."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Penn State May Loan Athletic Department Money to Pay Off NCAA Fines

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Penn State University is considering a loan to its athletic department in an effort to pay the $60 million fine imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its role in ignoring past sexual abuse of young boys, according to Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

“And in all likelihood the university will have to extend the athletic department a long-term loan that they can pay back as they get on their feet, and as we adjust their budget going forward in the football program,” Erickson said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

He also said that the university would dip into the athletic department’s reserve fund along with a long term loan from the school itself.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, which has sent shockwaves through the State College, Pa., community over the past eight months, the NCAA hit the university with the unprecedented $60 million fine and capped scholarships for players.

The massive fine and harsh sanctions come in the aftermath of a damning report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which harshly criticized the university and longtime football Coach Joe Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of Sandusky, his former assistant coach.

The university president promised the fines will be paid from athletic reserve funds.  Penn State makes $60 million on football alone every season.  The fines will not affect the education of the other 80,000 non-football playing students, Erickson said.

In addition to the fines, the university will likely face multiple lawsuits from abuse victims.  Erickson said Penn State is properly insured for liability but is not looking for a long drawn-out fight in court.

“We hope to be able to settle as many of these cases as quickly as possible.  We don’t want to, if at all possible, drag victims through another round of court cases and litigation,” he said.

Penn State faces significant financial challenges in the years to come.  The university already has about $1 billion in debt and risks a downgrade to its creditworthiness, according to a report put out by Moody’s Analytic last year.

Unrelated to the university’s money problem, Erickson also issued an on-screen apology for the school for the first time.

“We’re deeply sorry and sad, regretful that this happened at our university.  We want to do the right thing.  We want to help them in their healing process,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Thirty Penn State Football Players Staying Nittany Lions

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Even with the football program seemingly crashing around them, a group of 30 Penn State University players said on Wednesday that they're not going anywhere.

Earlier this week, the NCCA imposed stiff penalties against the program in response to officials covering up the crimes of convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky, once the late Joe Paterno's trusted defensive coordinator.

Knowing how the punishment might affect current players, the NCCA gave them the option to immediately transfer out of Penn State so they could play football for another school this fall.

However, fifth-year senior linebacker Michael Mauti issued a statement on behalf of himself and other players, saying they would remain at Penn State, using it "this as an opportunity to build our own legacy."

In a dramatic pronouncement of their loyalty to the university, Mauti said, "This program was not built by one man, and this program sure as hell is not going to get torn down by one man," a reference pehaps to Paterno and Sandusky.

He went on to say, "No sanction, no politician is ever going to take away what we’ve got here. None of that is ever going to tear us apart. Right now, all we can do, we can put our heads down and we’re just going to work."

On Tuesday, Matt McGloin, a fifth-year senior quarterback, declared, "Even though these penalties are extremely harsh, I am a Nittany Lion and will remain one."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

Penn State Sanctions: Outrage Grows Over Vacated Victories

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Outrage over the sanctions against Penn State's football program is high with some fans of the Nittany Lions football team, mostly stemming from the National Collegiate Athletic Association's decision to vacate 112 of the team's wins over the past 14 years.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, which has sent shockwaves through the State College, Pa., community over the past eight months, the NCAA hit the university with a $60 million fine and capped scholarships for players.  While the legacy of once-beloved former coach Joe Paterno has been tarnished after he was accused of participating in the sex abuse cover-up, the stripping of the team's wins stings the most for fans.

"People are thrown under the bus, institutions are thrown under the bus everyday for the bottom line.  This is no different," Penn State alum Eric Bernier told ABC News.

Every hard-fought victory earned since 1998 by the Nittany Lions, who were coached by Paterno for a total of 45 years, has now been removed -- just like the statue of Paterno on the university's campus.

"The wins … we didn't cheat in football, that's unnecessary," Penn State student Alex Gibson said Monday.

The massive fine and harsh sanctions come in the aftermath of a damning report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which harshly criticized the university and Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of Sandusky, Paterno's former assistant coach.  Students in State College are dismayed as they watch their once-proud university being humiliated again.

"It just keeps piling on and on," student Maddy Proy told ABC News.  "We are a huge family and this is just a huge blow to our family."

The university president promised the fines will be paid from athletic reserve funds.  Penn State makes $60 million on football alone every season.  The fines will not affect the education of the other 80,000 non-football playing students.

"We will not use any taxpayer dollars to fund that fine. Period," President Rodney A. Erickson said.

Perhaps paying the highest price and feeling most victimized are former players, who no longer have any victories in the record books -- all of them wiped out by the Sandusky scandal, which they presumably knew nothing about.

Michael Robinson played for the Nittany Lions from 2002-2005 and went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers.

"Jerry was a sick man," Robinson said.  "I just don't think that our program is defined by the actions of one sick individual."

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Speaking on Good Morning America Tuesday, Jeremy Schaap from ESPN, a sister network to ABC, said that the school may now lose some of its top football players.

"The immediate impact is that the NCAA is allowing student athletes to transfer without penalty," Schaap said.  "That means there might be a mass exodus … with no hope of playing at a bowl game, no hope to play in a championship, you would expect to see most of Penn State's top players to move out of there."

Schaap also says that he believes the NCAA is trying to send a message to the rest of the college athletic community that athletic programs cannot take precedence over the academic missions of universities.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

Penn State Takes Down Paterno Statue, Prepares for NCAA Sanctions

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- The statue of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was removed from outside the university’s football stadium on Sunday, just hours before the NCAA said it would announce its punishment for the school over the reported cover-up of child sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Workers erected a blue tarp to keep cameras from recording the removal of the statue of the iconic coach whose image was shattered by investigators’ allegations that he was involved in covering up the abuse.

The NCAA said on Sunday it was preparing to announce “corrective and punitive measures” against Penn State.  ESPN has learned those penalties will be significant, including the loss of bowl appearances and several scholarships, which could be more damaging than a full one-year suspension of the football program.

Early Sunday morning, workers put up a tarp-covered fence around the statue of the famed football coach.  Plastic sheeting and blankets were wrapped around the likeness of Paterno.  Then came the sound of jackhammers ripping apart the base so a forklift could carry the statue away as the university deals with the stain of scandal.  

Not everyone was happy, but University President Rodney Ericson said in a statement that leaving the statue would be, “a recurring wound … an obstacle to healing … a lightning rod of controversy.”

The Penn State library will continue to carry Paterno’s name.

Revelations in a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh show that Paterno had been told, even before the statue was erected, that his defensive coordinator, Sandusky, was sexually abusing boys.

On Monday morning, NCAA President Mark Emmert will announce sanctions against Penn State.  ESPN College Football Reporter Joe Schad says the penalties will be extraordinary.

“He (Emmert) wants everybody to understand that in extraordinary situations such as this, that an egregious failure to action took place, that he will step up, that he will make a decision that lets people understand that Penn State’s situation can never happen again,” Schad said.

This is a unique situation because NCAA bylaws don’t cover what happened at Penn State.  So, Schad said, Emmert went to the board of trustees of the NCAA for authority to levy penalties.  Emmert, according to Schad, “found a way to do something that they felt needed to be done, to do something that they felt would create at least some semblance of justice in a situation that was so horrific.”

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