Sandusky was arrested just a week later.
What Penn State officials knew about Sandusky and when is the subject of no fewer than five formal investigations. They range from state Attorney General Linda Kelly’s criminal investigation of Sandusky, to an NCAA inquiry, to Penn State’s in-house inquiry led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh. The best-case scenario is that the institutional leaders were guilty of blindness, and an unfeeling self-absorption. The worst case is a criminal cover-up to protect a wealthy university’s reputation.
This is Paterno’s own account:
On a Saturday morning in 2002, an upset young assistant coach named Mike McQueary knocked on Paterno’s door to tell him he had witnessed a shocking scene in the Penn State football building showers. Until that moment, Paterno said, he had “no inkling” that Sandusky might be a sexual deviant. By then Sandusky was a former employee, with whom Paterno had little to do. Although Sandusky had been his close coaching associate and helped fashion Penn State defenses for three decades, their relationship was “professional, not social,” as Paterno described it. “He was a lot younger than me.” Sandusky had been out of the program for three years, and in fact, Paterno said he cannot recall the last time he had seen or spoken to Sandusky. “I can’t,” he said.
Sandusky retired in 1999, shortly after Penn State made the Alamo Bowl. The timing was curious. Paterno’s understanding was that Sandusky took early retirement on his recommendation after Paterno told him frankly that he would not become his successor. The state was offering 30-year employees a handsome buyout, and Paterno believed Sandusky should take it. Paterno was frustrated that Sandusky spent so much time working on his youth foundation, The Second Mile, that he was not available to help in recruiting and other coaching duties. Authorities now say Sandusky used Second Mile to meet and groom his alleged victims.
“He came to see me and we talked a little about his career,” Paterno said. “I said, you know, Jerry, you want to be head coach, you can’t do as much as you’re doing with the other operation. I said this job takes so much detail, and for you to think you can go off and get involved in fundraising and a lot of things like that. . . . I said you can’t do both, that’s basically what I told him.”
Paterno insists he was completely unaware of a 1998 police investigation into a report from a Second Mile mother that Sandusky had inappropriately touched her son in a shower. The inquiry ended when the local prosecutor declined to bring charges. “You know it wasn’t like it was something everybody in the building knew about,” Paterno said. “Nobody knew about it.”