Paterno's widow: We were ignorant of sex predators
HARRISBURG — Joe Paterno's widow said Wednesday that she and her husband were ignorant about sexual predators like Jerry Sandusky and did not realize that the former Penn State assistant football coach was abusing the boys he met through a children's charity that he founded.
“We have been unaware of how a predator behaves,” Sue Paterno said at a program celebrating Child Abuse Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. “In many cases, we unknowingly helped him ‘groom' his victims while we thought we were helping a child achieve self-esteem and find a better life.”
Sue Paterno, a Latrobe native, said she was horrified when she learned the truth about Sandusky upon his arrest in November 2011.
Her husband, a College Football Hall of Fame coach who led the Penn State's Nittany Lions for 46 years, died in January 2012 at 85.
“The last 17 months have been filled with disbelief, horror, the pain of loss, sleepless nights, praying for the victims and for peace of mind for those who unwittingly were too naive to recognize the signs of abuse,” she said.
An internal probe led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and completed in July accused Joe Paterno and three former Penn State administrators of covering up an abuse allegation about Sandusky more than a decade ago in an attempt to shield the university from bad publicity. Joe Paterno was fired by the university trustees days after Sandusky was charged.
The Paterno family has vehemently denied that the coach had any knowledge of Sandusky's crimes against children.
A February report commissioned by the family portrayed Joe Paterno as the victim of a “rush to injustice” spawned by the university-financed internal probe. Dick Thornburgh, a former U.S. attorney general and former Pennsylvania governor, was among the people assembled to review Freeh's findings.
Freeh has said he stands by his report. It concluded that Joe Paterno and the university's former President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz concealed critical information and “failed to protect against a sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
On Tuesday, the supervising judge of the grand jury whose findings resulted in charges against Spanier, Curley and Schultz rejected their pretrial motions, allowing their criminal cases to move forward.