The emerging scandal involving child sexual abuse allegations against former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky took another turn on Monday when two top PSU officials stepped down and were set to be arraigned. As Cindy Boren reported:
With Penn State fans reeling, two university officials have stepped down and will be arraigned today in a Harrisburg, Pa., district court on charges of lying to a grand jury that was investigating child-abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and failing to report alleged abuse.
The school’s Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting late Sunday night and university President Graham Spanier announced that Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, senior vice president for business and finance, were stepping down. Both men maintain they’re innocent; Curley is on administrative leave and Schultz is returning to retirement.
Both are to be arraigned shortly after a 1 p.m. news conference held by Attorney General Linda Kelly and state police Commissioner Frank Noonan. On Saturday, Sandusky, 67, was charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing children over a 15-year span that includes his days as an assistant coach at the school. One specific charge, from 2002, occurred after Sandusky had retired and was significant because it was witnessed by a graduate assistant, since identified as former quarterback and present assistant Mike McQueary, who reported it to Coach Joe Paterno. In a statement Sunday night, Paterno said he reported it to Curley.
“The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling,” Paterno’s statement said. “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.”
Prosecutors contend that allegations of abuse first arose when Sandusky was still a coach, in 1998. The mother of an 11-year-old boy Sandusky met through The Second Mile, an organization he founded to help at-risk children, complained to campus police that her son had been touched and held by Sandusky in a shower in the football facility, according to the New York Times’ Mark Viera.
The Times reports that a “lengthy” investigation, which included similar allegations about another child, was conducted by campus police, but offered no details about the investigation or whether Paterno and university officials knew of it. Paterno’s son, Scott, said Sunday that his father was unaware of the 1998 investigation.
“Speaking on behalf of the family, if Joe had knowledge in ’98, it’s impossible for us to conceive that he wouldn’t have remembered that in 2002,” Scott Paterno said. “Any time he has been questioned whether he had prior knowledge to 2002, he’s answered the same way every time.”
After details of the case emerged suggesting that Joe Paterno might have had knowledge of at least one of the the incidents in the grand jury report, many speculated that the scandal could tarnish the legacy of the legendary coach. As Mike Wise explained :
After what allegedly happened to “Victim 2,” a boy estimated to be 10 years old, in the same room where Penn State football players shower, it’s near impossible to keep reading the grand jury’s report. By “Victim 8,” numbness turns to anger.
You want to scream at the traumatized graduate assistant coach in 2002 and janitor in 2000 who saw and didn’t stop it, according to the report released by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office. You want to grab hold of and shake those who reported the crime only to their superiors, washed their hands of responsibility and then let it go, treating a kid’s life as if it were a football that slipped through their hands.
Most of all, you want to have an audience with one of sports’ most endearing icons, Joe Paterno, Happy Valley’s homespun saint, and ask Joe Pa, repeatedly, “While you were regaling everyone with sappy tales about meeting your wife 50 years ago over ice cream at the local creamery in State College, Pa., did you have any idea what your longtime defensive coordinator was doing in the company of young boys?”
If the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office is to be taken at its word — if the sad, sickening details of alleged sexual abuse of young boys by Jerry Sandusky are true — a once-immaculate program thought of as beyond reproach is now close to beyond redemption.
Paterno wasn’t charged, but if Sandusky is guilty, Paterno would be guilty — just as Penn State’s athletic director and a university vice president, who were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse on Saturday, would be guilty.
They would all be party to a worse crime than any crooked, pay-for-play booster at Miami, Ohio State or even SMU ever committed: guilty of protecting a program before a child.
Penn State students are reacting with shock to the news, as Paterno and his football program had been a source a pride for the student body. As Jenna Johnson reported:
A handful of students stood outside the administration building with signs reading: “Protecting molesters?” and “Tonight I am ashamed of PSU.” Meanwhile, students and alumni petitioned online for PSU President Graham Spanier to step down or be fired. Twitter lit up with outrage.
Following the Sunday night meeting, the university announced that Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley had been put on administrative leave, and Gary Schultz, interim senior vice president for finance and business, had stepped down. Both men were charged Saturday with perjury and failure to notify police.
Lawyers for all three men told the Associated Press the men are innocent. Spanier said in a statement on Saturday that while the “allegations about a former coach are troubling,” he has “unconditional support” for two administrators involved and expects them to be exonerated.
That sentiment angered many, including students at The Daily Collegian campus newspaper, who wrote in an editorial published today: “The message Spanier is sending is clear: he, and the university, see nothing wrong with the way allegations were handled. But university leaders have shamed and disappointed the university they serve.”
More from The Washington Post