Al Lord is trying to explain a statement that has made ripples throughout the Penn State community and beyond.
In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, the alumni-elected trustee was quoted as saying he was “running out of sympathy” for “so-called victims” of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse crimes in 2012.
The comments came after the conviction of former Penn State president Graham Spanier on March 21. Spanier was found guilty of misdemeanor child endangerment by a Dauphin County jury after a case that dragged on for five years.
Lord responded to that article on Monday, saying he wanted “clarify” the statement made during a “contentious” conversation with the Chronicle reporter.
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“The remark, made in anger, was not intended ‘for the record.’ Though quoted accurately, it was too flippant and caustic; the comment conflates many deeply held sentiments in a sentence too short to reflect accurately my views about victims in this case,” he said.
While Lord did admit to talking about “so-called” victims, he said he did not intend to offend “real victims” and apologized to them.
“Real victims and alleged victims were among the 30 or so recipients of nearly $100 million distributed by Penn State,” he said.
He also attributed the remarks to the time period, coming after Spanier’s conviction, and his frustration with a case that he believed focused less on Spanier’s actions than it did on Sandusky’s.
“The commonwealth put zero facts in evidence that anyone told Spanier anything sinister about Jerry Sandusky. Absent facts, the prosecution resorted solely to victim-based emotionalism,” he said. “It took just one week for the emotional fog spread by the prosecution to clear. Now the jury foreman regrets the guilty verdict.”
“I will note that from this verdict emerged a ‘new’ Penn State — a Penn State determined to consign four honest and honorable men to its politically correct trash heap. The new Penn State is not the Penn State of loyalty and courage where I received the degree which gave me my start in life 50 years ago,” Lord said.
Ira Lubert, chairman of the board of trustees, put out a statement in response to Lord’s original comments.
“Al Lord’s comments are personal and do not represent the opinions of the board or the university. The sentiments of board and university leadership were expressed in the very first line of the statement released by Penn State: First and foremost, our thoughts remain with the victims of Jerry Sandusky,” he said.
Lord is running for re-election to the board of trustees. Three seats are open. Lord and fellow incumbents Alice Pope and former Pennsylvania lieutenant governor Robert Jubelirer are joined by former Nittany Lions assistant coach Jay Paterno and Robert Bowsher, the first openly gay candidate for trustee.