Second Mile workers being laid off

| Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011

PITTSBURGH — A charity founded by a former Penn State assistant football coach charged with molesting boys is laying off some employees.

The Second Mile was founded in 1977 by Jerry Sandusky, who's accused of molesting 10 boys he met through its programs. Sandusky maintains his innocence.

For more than 20 years, the charity received accolades and widespread community support for its programs designed to help troubled youths. It grew from a volunteer organization to one with more than $3 million in revenue in 2009, and it reported helping thousands of children.

The charity said in a statement Wednesday that it has recently lost significant financial support and that some employees will be laid off over the next several months. It didn't say how many staffers would be cut. It has three offices in Pennsylvania, with headquarters in State College, where Penn State is based.

Sandusky, who has acknowledged horsing around and showering with boys but has denied molesting them, informed The Second Mile's board in November 2008 that he was under investigation because of abuse allegations. The charity said it subsequently barred him from activities involving children.

The charity's revenue, primarily from donations and fundraisers such as golf tournaments, declined to about $2.7 million in 2010, and Sandusky, who played a major role in fundraising, resigned later that year.

Last month, The Second Mile said it was looking at three options in the wake of the sex abuse scandal: continuing programs at a reduced level, transferring programs to other organizations or closing.

But attorneys representing people who accuse Sandusky of abusing them then said they planned to sue the charity and sought an injunction to stop it from dissolving or transferring its assets. The attorneys and the charity agreed to a settlement last week, but full details weren't disclosed.

The Second Mile said in Wednesday's statement that it is saddened by the need to make the cuts and that it will try to preserve key programs. Previously scheduled programs will continue as planned.

The charity also said it is cooperating with the attorney general's investigation and will adhere to its legal responsibilities.

Legislation passed

The state House unanimously passed legislation on Wednesday that would create a special felony charge for sports officials and volunteers who sexually assault children in their programs.

The bill would make it a third-degree felony for a sports official, volunteer or employee of a nonprofit to engage in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a child younger than 18 who is participating in the program. The maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment and $15,000 fine.

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