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Three charged in Penn State sex crime case

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Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011
 

Two top administrators at Penn State University covered up sex crimes committed against children by a former football coach once thought to be the heir apparent to head coach Joe Paterno, the state's top prosecutor said on Saturday.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office charged former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, 67, a Washington County native, with 40 counts related to the sexual abuse of children.

The office accused Athletic Director Tim Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, the senior vice president for finance and business who oversaw Penn State's police department, with failing to report the suspected crimes to authorities and lying to a grand jury investigating the case.

"The failure of top university officials to act on reports of Sandusky's alleged sexual misconduct, even after it was reported to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness, allowed a predator to walk free for years, continuing to target new victims," said Attorney General Linda Kelly. Schultz and Curley held jobs that require them by law to report accusations of child abuse.

Sandusky has been aware of the allegations for about three years and has maintained his innocence, said his attorney, Joe Amendola. After the attorney general indicted Sandusky on Friday afternoon, Sandusky drove in from visiting family in Ohio and turned himself in to state police.

"When you look in its totality it's very damning," Amendola told The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News about the case against Sandusky. "But when you pick it apart, case by case, it isn't what it seems to be."

The attorney general's office, which has scheduled a news conference at 1 p.m. Monday shortly before Curley and Schultz are to be arraigned, says the investigation is ongoing and the grand jury will continue to meet.

The Patriot-News, citing a source, reported that Paterno will not be charged, and was praised by prosecutors for handling himself appropriately. Paterno was among those who testified before the grand jury. The grand jury presentment did not accuse Paterno of any wrongdoing.

Attorneys for Schultz and Curley said their clients were innocent of all charges.

"We believe in the legal system, and we believe it will vindicate him," said Tom Farrell, attorney for Schultz. "We will fight these charges in court, and Gary Schultz will be proven innocent of all of them."

Said Caroline Roberto, attorney for Curley, "We will vigorously challenge the charges in court, and we are confident he will be exonerated."

Reputation at risk

Legal experts said the case could tarnish more than just a proud football program with a national profile.

"Whether those accused are guilty or innocent, this is a sad day for Penn State University," said John Burkoff, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. "It's a lot of mud to be thrown at an institution. This involves people in (Penn State's) chain of command."

Bruce Antkowiak, who heads the criminology and law program at St. Vincent College in Unity, said the allegations against Sandusky obviously are disturbing because they involve crimes against children. The charges against the administrators are troubling on a different level.

"You bring (a perjury charge) because there is a stark instance of testimony that is demonstrably false," he said.

Sandusky, the architect of defenses that helped Penn State win two national championships and become "Linebacker U," was arraigned yesterday morning before State College District Judge Leslie A. Dutchcot. He is free on $100,000 straight bond.

A preliminary hearing on charges including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child is scheduled for Wednesday.

Curley and Schultz were expected to surrender Monday in Harrisburg.

Penn State President Graham Spanier said in a statement that "the allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance."

He said Curley and Schultz "have my unconditional support" and "operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately."

Yesterday, the Penn State Creamery pulled an ice cream flavor named after Sandusky.

John Skorupan of Cranberry, a former Penn State All-American linebacker in the early 1970s who played for the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants, said he would stick by his former coach.

"I need proof. That's not the Jerry Sandusky I know," said Skorupan, who attributed his NFL success to Sandusky's coaching.

Abuse pattern alleged

The attorney general's office said its two-year investigation revealed that Sandusky, of College Township in Centre County, made sexual advances or sexually assaulted at least eight boys from 1994 to 2009. Sandusky met them through The Second Mile, a charitable organization he founded that operates programs for at-risk youths.

According to the grand jury presentment, Sandusky tended to follow a pattern. He would befriend Second Mile boys and work out with them. Many workouts turned into wrestling matches that provided opportunities for inappropriate touching, while others ended in an empty shower room in Penn State's football building that opened a door for sex.

Sandusky often became "clingy" and "needy" when boys tried to break off their relationships, testimony summarized in the presentment said. Several boys said they ducked phone calls as they tried to distance themselves from Sandusky, with phone records showing he called one boy 118 times in 18 months. Another testified he hid in closets when Sandusky showed up at his house.

That boy testified Sandusky drove him to pick up marijuana on at least one occasion and allowed him to smoke it in his car.

Kelly said Sandusky -- who retired from Penn State in 1999 -- used his position as a volunteer coach at a high school in Clinton County to maintain contact with one boy.

According to the presentment, the boy attended a Second Mile camp at Penn State when he was 11 or 12. Sandusky gave him tickets to professional and college sporting events and gifts ranging from clothes and money to golf clubs and a computer. The boy spent the night at Sandusky's house several times.

Sandusky often called the boy during his study halls to arrange encounters, prosecutors said. A wrestling coach at the school found Sandusky and the boy lying face-to-face in a secluded weight room. Other school officials described their relationship as "suspicious," Kelly said. Sandusky was barred from the school district in 2009 after the boy's mother reported allegations of sexual assault to the school, which forwarded them to police.

Kelly said the school's quick action contrasted with that of Penn State officials.

Eyewitness testimony

A former Penn State graduate assistant coach testified to the grand jury that he saw Sandusky having sex with what appeared to be a 10-year-old boy in the locker room showers of Penn State's Lasch Football Building in March 2002, Kelly said. Sandusky was retired and held an emeritus position at the time, providing him with an office and unrestricted access to football and recreational facilities.

A similar incident had been investigated by university police and Child Protective Services four years earlier, though no criminal charges were filed. Another shower room incident in 2000 was witnessed by a temporary janitor but never reported to authorities, the presentment said.

As for the 2002 incident, the graduate assistant reported it the next morning to Paterno, who informed Curley the following day, according to the presentment.

"Despite a powerful eyewitness statement about the sexual assault of a child, this incident was not reported to any law enforcement or child protective agency, as required by Pennsylvania law," Kelly said.

Instead, Curley and Schultz told Sandusky he couldn't bring any of his Second Mile children into the football building, Kelly said. The former coach kept "emeritus" perks and "remained a regular presence on campus."

Kelly said Curley committed perjury by repeatedly denying he had been told of Sandusky's alleged sexual misconduct with a child. Likewise, Kelly said, Schultz committed perjury by claiming that the allegations against Sandusky were "not that serious" and that he and Curley "had no indication that a crime had occurred."

Dr. Bob Capretto of Oakmont, an orthodontist who played on the Penn State football team with Sandusky and worked to raise money for The Second Mile, said he never suspected Sandusky of misconduct.

"I feel bad for the people who worked there (at the foundation) because they're good people," Capretto said, also referring to Curley and Schultz as "stand-up guys."

Rocky Washington of Beaver Falls, a receiver on Penn State's 1982 national championship team, fears the allegations against Sandusky will tarnish the reputation of the school and its football team for years.

"This one incident will resonate years from now, no matter how many titles are won," Washington said.

 

 

 
 


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