Raspy, nasal and grounded in a Brooklyn accent, Joe Paterno’s voice was hard to mistake.
That voice is at the center of another round of allegations against the Penn State icon a day after PennLive reported Paterno might have known about Jerry Sandusky’s sex crimes against children as early as 1976. On Friday, CNN published a report detailing the account of an unnamed Sandusky victim who says he was raped when he was 15 years old by Sandusky in 1971.
In the story reported by Sara Ganim, the 62-year-old man referred to as “Victim A” provides the first public account of his encounter with Sandusky when the longtime colleague of Paterno was a 27-year-old assistant linebackers coach. Ganim won the Pulitzer Prize after originally breaking the news of a grand jury investigating Sandusky while she worked for The Patriot News in Harrisburg, Pa.
Victim A says he was hitchhiking when Sandusky picked him up, bought him beer, gave him pot — and then attacked him as he was standing at a urinal in a Penn State bathroom.
“I felt his presence behind me,” he said. “I felt his left knee on the back of my knee, and his arms went around me, grabbing my …” he trails off. “He said, ‘Let me help you with this.'”
Victim A said he jerked his head back, hitting Sandusky in the jaw. His head started bleeding and they both fell to the floor.
“Then there was a wrestling session,” he says. “And I lost. One thing led to another and the crime happened.”
Victim A said he was already the victim of sexual abuse by a local priest. The victim was living with foster parents, and he told them what happened after his foster mother asked about his injuries. Wanting to report the act but avoid police, his foster parents called Penn State. Victim A said he wound up talking on the phone with men who “had introduced themselves as Jim and Joe,” he told CNN.
“There was no question in my mind who Joe was,” he told CNN. “I’ve heard that voice a million times. It was Joe Paterno.”
Victim A said he did not tell his whole story to Jim and Joe but he “made it very clear” it was a sexual attack.
“They were asking me my motive, why I would say this about someone who has done so many good things,” Victim A told CNN. “‘Stop this right now! We’ll call the authorities,'” he said they told him.
According to CNN, Victim A is Sandusky’s oldest known victim. He has received settlement money from Penn State, which would acknowledge he was one of the boys Sandusky preyed upon. Penn State is currently in a legal battle with insurers in which the university is hoping to recoup some of the $60 million in settlements it has paid out to Sandusky’s victims.
CNN has verified Victim A’s account with two other sources, a friend named Bernie McCue who first heard the story in 1972 and a Pennsylvania state trooper who said Victim A told him the story after Sandusky was arrested in November 2011. Victim A first spoke with CNN last year. In Friday’s report, he reacted to the news released by PennLive a day earlier.
“That kind of took the wind out of me,” he told CNN. “I knew, I had a feeling when I first came forward that this wasn’t going to be the end. There’s going to be more people and there is, there was.”
Paterno’s family continues to deny the famous coach acted improperly in handling information he received about Sandusky’s crimes. Paterno reported one account of abuse to his superiors at Penn State in 2002.
“Joe Paterno’s life has been scrutinized endlessly the last four and a half years. The facts that have emerged have repeatedly confirmed that he acted appropriately,” Paterno family lawyers told CNN for Friday’s reports. When asked for comment by CNN last year, the lawyers said “The suggestion that Joe Paterno participated in the call described is in direct conflict with the facts as we know them and contrary to the way he lived his life.”
Paterno died of lung cancer in 2012, maintaining his innocence regarding Sandusky until the end. Sandusky is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for sexually abusing 10 boys.
“I’d be willing to sit on a witness stand and confront Joe Paterno,” Victim A told CNN last year. “Unfortunately he died and I didn’t get to.”
The Associated Press reported Friday night that Penn State “says it doesn’t have records from 40 years ago to help evaluate a claim former football coach Joe Paterno was told by a boy in 1976 that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky molested him” and the university says “a claim attributed to an insurance company in a coverage dispute with it amounts to allegations that aren’t established facts.”
In addition to the victim claims contained in the insurance account used in the PennLive report and the firsthand account used in the CNN report, NBC News reported Friday “as many as six assistant coaches at Penn State witnessed ‘inappropriate behavior’ between Jerry Sandusky and boys, stretching as far back as the 1970s.”
“The information, which comes from court documents and multiple sources with direct knowledge of legal proceedings, raises new questions about how long the abuse went on, why no one stopped it and whether there could be even more victims than previously known.”
NBC News reported that “it is unclear” whether or not the assistant coaches reported inappropriate incidents witnessed in the 1970s and the 1990s. In its report, NBC News found sources to corroborate that four more assistant coaches had learned of Sandusky’s behavior on top of the two listed in the insurance court documents.
The NBC News sources are second-hand.
“A lawyer for one of the three ’90s coaches denied his client had seen anything,” the report reads. “A second coach declined to comment. A third could not be reached, and the name of the fourth was not disclosed to NBC News.”
But NBC News says its report is “bolstered” by Sandusky’s adopted son Matt, who “told NBC News that investigators informed him a football program employee witnessed his father performing a sex act on him in a locker room in the early 1990s.”
Penn State released a statement in response to the NBC News report:
“The university is facing and has faced a number of litigation matters and claims related to the Sandusky events. Allegations of various kinds have been made, and will likely continue to be made,” it said. “The university does not speculate publicly or hypothesize about individual allegations. These are sensitive matters, and we want to be respectful of the rights of all individuals involved. It would be inappropriate to do otherwise.”