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Sunday
Feb102013

Jerry Sandusky Scandal: Sue Paterno to Respond to Freeh Report

Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sue Paterno, the wife of the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno, and her attorney Wick Sollers are set to release their own findings about the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that rocked the school's legendary football program.

"There have been many times, of course, when I wanted to speak out, but I needed time to deal with the loss of Joe and I believed also that this was a situation that demanded careful, thoughtful, objective analysis," Sue Paterno wrote in a letter to former Penn State players Friday. "The last thing Joe would have wanted is for me to become just one more voice making claims and assertions that were unsupported by the facts."

In a letter released Friday, Sue Paterno said the report, which was prepared by her attorney Wick Sollers, will be available along with additional information online at paterno.com.

"I am here to tell you as definitively and forcefully as I know how that Mr. Freeh could not have been more wrong in his assessment of Joe," Paterno wrote in the letter.

Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced last year to 30 to 60 years in prison after he was convicted of 45 criminal counts of sexually abusing young boys.

Sue Paterno said she was horrified and was in disbelief when she was first told of the allegations against Sandusky.

"These are children. Our lives have been about children.We have five children, 17 grandchildren. We worked around the players. Our lives are about children and making them better and not hurting them. So it's vile. It's probably the best word I could think of," Sue Paterno told ABC News' Katie Couric on her talk show "Katie."

In the wake of the Sandusky scandal, Joe Paterno, who coached the Nittany Lions for 46 years and became the winningest coach in Division 1 football history in 2011, was dismissed. Folllowing his dismissal, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and broke his hip. He died on Jan. 22, 2012, at the age of 85.

Released in July, the 267-page report by Freeh concluded that Joe Paterno and his superiors valued the football program and the image of Penn State more than they valued the safety of Sandusky's victims.

In the report, Freeh said the university had a "culture of reverence" for the football team "ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

"The motivation [was] to avoid the consequences of bad publicity," Freeh said at the time. "Bad publicity has consequences for the brand of Penn State University, the reputation of coaches, the ability to do fundraising. It's got huge implications."

At the time of the release, the Paterno family criticized the Freeh report and its portrayal of Joe Paterno, saying that the investigation was neither fair nor complete.

Sue Paterno’s response to the report and the Sandusky scandal are expected to confirm her "beliefs about Joe's conduct" during the situation and present "a passionate and persuasive critique of the Freeh report as a total disservice to the victims of Sandusky and the cause of preventing child sex offenses."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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

Thursday
Oct182012

Lawyer Calls Sandusky's Alleged Victim 2 a 'Charlatan'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An attorney for one of the Penn State officials arrested in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case says that a man claiming to be Sandusky's Victim 2 is a fraud and a "charlatan."

The identity of the man called Victim 2 by prosecutors has remained a mystery throughout the trial of the former Penn State coach. According to prosecutors and the grand jury report, he is the boy whom Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary saw being molested and possibly raped by Sandusky in a shower in 2001.

University officials Gary Schultz and Tim Curley were both charged criminally with failing to report that incident to authorities, though they both maintain that they did not know of a rape allegation from that night.

Schultz's attorney released a statement Wednesday saying the man who has come forward claiming to be Victim 2 is not credible. He released the statement in response to a Harrisburg Patriot News story about Victim 2's credibility.

"Discovery provided to us shows that the individual's story changed from interview to interview and even conflicted with the version of events his own attorneys described," attorney Tom Farrell wrote.

Judge John Cleland, who oversaw the case, will rule on the appeal. If Sandusky is denied an appeal, his case can go to appellate court. Sandusky's attorneys are expected to argue they did not have enough time to prepare for trial and to prove that Sandusky's victims were lying.

In Farrell's statement, he accused Victim 2 of claiming first that he had never been sexually abused by Sandusky and then changing his story after becoming a client of attorney Andrew Shubin.

According to the statement released by Farrell, the man first came forward to prosecutors just days after Sandusky was arrested in November 2011, and said he was Victim 2. He said he was not abused in the shower the night McQueary saw him, or ever.

The man then changed his story and told investigators he had been abused, Farrell said. Farrell also claimed that when the man was asked to draw a diagram of the locker room in which he was allegedly raped, he failed to draw it accurately.

"When requested to diagram the Lasch building locker room and shower, the individual created a drawing that did not match reality," Farrell wrote.

He pointed out that prosecutors had interviewed the man four times and decided not to put him on the stand in Sandusky's trial.

Shubin's law firm, Ross Feller Casey, LLP, released a statement Thursday standing by its client and criticizing Farrell's claims.

"Conspicuously absent from Mr. Farrell's statement is the fact that Jerry Sandusky himself, and his defense team, identified our client, and no one else on earth, as the boy who Mike McQueary saw in the shower with Jerry Sandusky," the statement read. "The identity of the boy in the shower is not now nor has it ever been in doubt. The horrific abuse that he suffered both that day and on many other days will be the subject of a lawsuit that he files against Penn State."

The statement said Victim 2's initial denials of sexual abuse were commonplace for sexual abuse victims.

"While Mr. Farrell threw his lot in with Jerry Sandusky, he should think very carefully before he decides to publish any additional attacks on our client," the statement read.

The individual has never made his identity public, but in July released audio recordings he claimed were Sandusky's voicemails to him. The recordings included a man's voice saying "I love you" to the person on the other end. He claimed that he had been abused before and after the 2001 incident by Sandusky.

"A court order prohibits the attorneys in the Sandusky case and in our case from revealing the identity of this individual," Farrell wrote. "However, all the attorneys -- defense lawyers and prosecutors -- are aware of this individual's identity and have evaluated his credibility, or lack thereof, appropriately, as evidenced by the fact that all parties to the Sandusky trial declined to call him as a witness."

Schultz and Curley are both scheduled to be tried in January.

Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, was convicted earlier this year of abusing 10 boys, and was sentenced last week to a minimum of 30 years in prison. For Sandusky, 68, that is a life term.

Sandusky's defense team announced plans Thursday to appeal his convictions. Attorney Karl Rominger said that the motion to appeal would be filed by the end of the day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct172012

Penn State Cheerleader Critical After Fall

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.) -- The Penn State community is rallying around a cheerleader who suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling five stories from an apartment building.

Paige Raque, 19, fell 39 feet out of the window of an off-campus apartment building on Saturday, State College police said.

The fall appears to be accidental, authorities said, but they are investigating.

Raque’s family is taking her recovery day by day, said Randy Jepson, the Penn State men’s gymnastics coach and family spokesperson.

“[On Tuesday] she had a busy day with some movement and could open her eyes,” he said. “Today she was much more sedate. The doctor said she’s resting today.”

Jepson said he couldn’t “speculate on the details” of how Raque fell.

Raque, who is from Louisville, Ky., attends Penn State University with her older brother, Parker, who is captain of the men’s gymnastics team.

“I just know that God is going to heal my sister/bestfriend in due time,” Parker tweeted. “He loves his children and is the almighty healer, she’s in Gods hands.”

At a press conference on Tuesday, Penn State football head coach Bill O’Brien said he planned to call the Raque family.

“My heart goes out to Paige and her family and I feel terrible about that,” O’Brien said. “When I get back over there I’ll make some calls and make sure that their family understands.”

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

Tuesday
Oct092012

Jerry Sandusky Arrives for Sentencing, Sexual Predator Determination

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- A noticeably-thinner Jerry Sandusky arrived in Centre County court in a red jumpsuit Tuesday morning, carrying a manila envelope likely containing the declaration of innocence he will read to the court during his sentencing Tuesday.

The former Penn State football defensive coordinator is facing 10 to 400 years in prison for the 45 counts of child abuse he was convicted of in June. At age 68, any significant sentence could mean life in prison.

Sandusky's wife, Dottie, smiled at people gathered at the courthouse as she entered with her daughter, Kara, who waved. The pair arrived with Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, for the hearing.

Judge John Cleland is first expected to make a determination as to whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator, a classification that would result in him registering as a sex offender if he were ever released from prison.

Following the classification, the sentencing phase of the hearing will begin, with both Sandusky and his victims set to make statements about his future in prison.

Sandusky released a statement Monday night to a Penn State radio station that reflected his belief that he is innocent and the victim of a conspiracy.  He said he believed his victims were lying for their own gain and that the police and the media joined in a witch hunt.

"They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart," Sandusky said on the recording.  "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts.  My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage.  Our love continues."

Sandusky's family members have also written letters to the judge on his behalf, Amendola said. They will not testify at the hearing.

Sandusky's denial of guilt drew an angry response from Thomas Kline, the attorney for one of his victims, who called the statement, "a lashing out on the eve on his sentencing."

"There is no chance that Mr. Sandusky was innocent," Kline said. "It is preposterous to suggest that 10 separate victims, their families, their parents, their lawyers, the prosecutors, and the press and everyone else conspired to somehow convict Mr. Sandusky."

Kline's client, the man known as Victim 5, will testify with about six other victims in the case, according to prosecutors.

After the testimony, Cleland will hand down a sentence. He could choose to sentence Sandusky to as few as 10 years in prison if he orders concurrent prison time, in which Sandusky would serve the sentence for each count at the same time.

But if Cleland instead chooses to sentence him to consecutive terms, Sandusky could face more than 400 years in prison.

Sandusky will undergo extensive evaluations after sentencing, including his medical and mental health needs, health care, security level, and program needs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Sandusky's security will likely be an issue as authorities decide where to place him in the state prison population, as his case could make him a target for other inmates.

There are 25 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.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug222012

Ousted Penn State President Graham Spanier Cites His Own Child Abuse

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Graham Spanier, the former Penn State University president ousted in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, told ABC News Wednesday that he was a victim of child abuse so severe that he required several surgeries to correct the damage.

His history as a victim, he said, was a deeply personal rejoinder to those critics who accuse him of trying to cover up Sandusky's crimes and not caring about the children.

"I've never met anyone who has had a higher level of awareness [about child abuse,]" Spanier said in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Josh Elliott.

Spanier, 64, is on a campaign to resurrect his once-pristine reputation. Though not charged with a crime, the findings of an independent investigation accuse him of failing to prevent a "child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

The abuse he sustained at the hands of his father, a working class immigrant, began when he was a child and continued through his adolescence. Spanier said he has had four surgeries in his adulthood to correct problems with his breathing, face and head as a result of the injuries.

"It resulted in, of course, some emotional scarring, but also some substantial physical damage," he said of the abuse.

Before his tenure as a university administrator, Spanier was a professor specializing in the study of dysfunctional families and child abuse, an interest he said resulted directly from his childhood.

Spanier objects to the findings of the Freeh Report, calling it "wrong in its conclusions" and denying the accusation that he "conspired to conceal a known child predator."

Spanier insists when an assistant football coach reported seeing Sandusky acting suspiciously with a boy in the team showers in 2001, he was only made aware that Sandusky had engaged in "horseplay" with a child.

An independent investigation ordered by the unviersity, the so-called Freeh Report, and others have questioned why Spanier did not further investigate Sandusky after learning even that information.

"Never in my time as president of Penn State did I ever receive a report or even a hint that Jerry Sandusky was engaged in child abuse, a sexual act, criminal activity or anything resembling that with any child. Had I known that, or even suspected it, I would have forcefully intervened. But I never heard a report like that," he said.

Spanier said he had only met Sandusky once and was only marginally involved when in 1998 and again in 2001 reports were made that Sandusky was seen engaged in inappropriate behavior with a child.

"I do not get involved in police matters. I always had a very hands-off attitude and issues pertaining to people were dealt with by the police, by human resources, or by supervisors in various areas of the university," he said of the 1998 incident. He also noted that police, the state Department of Public Welfare and prosecutors all determined that Sandusky had not molested a child at that time.

In 2001, however, Spanier was copied on an email about another Sandusky incident, witnessed by assistant coach Mike McQueary, who heard sexual noises and saw an underage boy in the shower.

In emails two administrators, Athletic Director Tim Curley and now-retired Vice President Gary Schultz, proposed not alerting the authorities but instead letting Sandusky off with a warning and the promise that he would get "professional help."

Spanier agreed to that plan. However, he noted in an email that by not bringing the accusations to police they would be "vulnerable for not having reported it."

That phrase has dogged Spanier and was crucial in the Freeh's reports assessment of what he knew and how he failed to act.

"'Vulnerable' was not best choice of a term," Spanier told ABC News, adding that "it was a reaction to the possibility that we didn't want this to happen."

Spanier said he had "no recollection of being concerned" that the school might be held legally liable.

Spanier recalled the anger with the university when the grand jury indicted Sandusky, leading ultimately to Spanier's demotion to professor and the firing of legendary football coach Joe Paterno.

"I opposed the firing [of Paterno] ... There could be riots, it could be a rush to judgment, they knew it was his last season" and Paterno should have been allowed to finish the season, he said.

Spanier said he and Paterno had secretly signed agreement that the coach would retire at the end of 2012.

In July, Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of abuse against 10 boys. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failing to report child abuse.

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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

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







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