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Penn State Abuse Allegations: 'A Culture That Did Nothing To Stop It'

Nov 7, 2011
Originally published on November 7, 2011 1:18 pm

The alleged sexual abuse of children by a former assistant coach on the Penn State University football team was allowed to continue for at least a decade because of "a culture that did nothing to stop it" at the school, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan just told reporters in Harrisburg.

Noonan also said he had never been part of an investigation before where a witness came forward (in 2002) and others saw the alleged abuse (in 2000, but the custodians were afraid to report it because they thought they would lose their jobs), but no one from the university in a position to do so contacted police.

As we said earlier, authorities are now briefing reports on the case, which has rocked one of the top collegiate football programs in the nation. Read down to see much more about the case.

1 p.m. ET: Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly and other officials are holding a news conference right now. MSNBC, CNN and Fox News are among the news outlets streaming the event.

Our original post:

As two top officials at Penn State stepped down to defend themselves against allegations that they covered up a former assistant football coach's sexual abuse of young boys, legendary head coach Joe Paterno issued a statement Sunday saying, in part, that:

"If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters. While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can't help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred."

In case you aren't caught up on the story that has rocked one of the nation's top college football programs:

-- Saturday, former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, 67, was arrested on 40 criminal counts, our colleagues at WITF report, "ranging from first-degree felonies to second-degree misdemeanors. They include four counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor and endangering the welfare of a child."

"A grand jury found eight young men were the targets of either sexual advances or assaults by Sandusky from 1994 to 2009." Sandusky, once thought to be Paterno's heir apparent, retired in 1999. But until 2002 he used Penn State facilities to run a foundation for at-risk children.

His lawyer says Sandusky is innocent, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. He is free on $100,000 "unsecured bail." Sandusky is due at a preliminary court hearing on Wednesday.

-- "Also charged in the case," WITF writes, "are Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, 57, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, 62. The two are facing counts of perjury [for allegedly lying to a grand jury] and failure to report child abuse."

Curley and Schultz, who "deny any wrongdoing" according to the university, are the executives who have stepped down.

-- Not only are the graphic details of the allegations shocking to the Penn State community, so too is the word that Paterno, now 84, told Curley about what a then-graduate assistant had reported seeing (Sandusky allegedly engaging in a sexual act with a young boy in the Penn State locker room), but that no university officials, including Paterno, ever told police.

In his statement, Paterno says that:

"I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators."

"This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys," Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said in a statement. "It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys."

Kelly's statement added that it was "quick action by high school staff members in Clinton County [Pa.]" that led to the investigation of Sandusky. High school officials barred Sandusky from the district in 2009 after a boy's mother "reported allegations of sexual assault to the school."

The attorney general contrasted that with the actions of Penn State officials, who she says were aware "of a 1998 University Police investigation that also involved allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior involving Sandusky and young boys in the football showers, but did not pursue the matter further and did not seek any additional review in light of the new report [from the graduate assistant] in 2002."

Curley and Schultz are due to make an appearance in a Harrisburg court today. The local Patriot-News has posted the "grand jury presentment" that details the allegations against Sandusky and the charges against Curley and Schultz. You can read that document here, but be warned: it is graphic.

The Post-Gazette says this about the presentment: "The grand jury described a wide-ranging pattern of sexual misconduct against boys who Mr. Sandusky met during his involvement with The Second Mile, a charity he founded that runs programs for at-risk children. Grand jury testimony by his alleged victims outlines a pattern in which he would befriend them and then assault them repeatedly over the years."

WITF has rounded up the charges in this list:

"Seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, all first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. One count of aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

"Four counts of unlawful contact with a minor, all first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

"Four counts of unlawful contact with a minor, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

"Four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

"Four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, all first-degree misdemeanors which are each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"Eight counts of corruption of minors, all first-degree misdemeanors which are each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"One count of indecent assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

"Four counts of indecent assault, all second-degree misdemeanors which are each punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

"Two counts of indecent assault, all first-degree misdemeanors which are each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"One count of attempt to commit indecent assault, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine."

WITF's Tim Lambert reported on the Penn State story for Morning Edition earlier today.

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