HARRISBURG — Penn State officials had three opportunities to stop Jerry Sandusky from preying on young boys but failed to take action, state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said Monday at a news conference with Attorney General Linda Kelly.
“This is not a case about football, it’s not a case about universities — it’s about children who have their innocence taken from them and a culture that did not nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening to others,” Noonan said.
Two Penn State administrators are charged with lying to the grand jury and failing to report an abuse allegation. Kelly said Monday that head coach Joe Paterno was a witness for the grand jury and faces no charges.
However, when asked if Spanier could face charges, Kelly said only that the investigation is ongoing. And spokesman Nils Frederiksen said Penn State president Graham Spanier was not a witness for the grand jury when he testified about what he knew regarding a 2002 incident in which a graduate assistant reported seeing Sandusky sexually assault a boy in Penn State’s Lasch Football Building.
Paterno had testified that the then-graduate assistant, who’s been identified as wide receivers coach Mike McQueary, reported the incident to him as fondling or something sexual. Paterno released a statement Sunday saying he wasn’t told of the specific acts, just that it was inappropriate conduct.
McQueary gave more graphic details to the grand jury, saying he saw Sandusky performing a sexual act on a boy who appeared to be 10.
Paterno reported what he knew to Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, former senior vice president for business and finance.
“We believed that under the statute he had an obligation to report it to school administrators,” Kelly said, “and he did that.”
Kelly said the grand jury found McQueary to be “extremely credible,” but did not believe Curley and Schultz when they denied knowing that the shower incident involved any sexual or criminal act.
“The graduate assistant described what he saw, the prosecutors took into consideration his age, the way he reacted when he saw this, the fact that he immediately contacted his father to seek advice because he was so shocked by this, and then early the next day immediately contacted someone he thought was an authority figure, Joe Paterno, who’s the coach of the Penn State football team,” Kelly said.
Curley and Schultz did not report the incident to police or child protective services, she said.
The two were arraigned on the charges in Dauphin County on Monday, and their attorneys said they are innocent and the charges against them are baseless.
Sandusky’s attorney, Joe Amendola, on Saturday said Sandusky maintains his innocence. That day, Sandusky was charged with 40 counts relating to sexual abuse of minors.
The charges were filed Saturday, after a two-year investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office into a 2009 report of a sexual assault of a Clinton County boy who was a guest at Sandusky’s College Township home.
The subsequent investigation found evidence that Sandusky selected boys he’d met through The Second Mile, the charity he started in 1977 for at-risk youth, lavished them with gifts, and earned their trust.
In the showers of Penn State football buildings, at his home, and in hotel rooms, according to the grand jury, he fondled and had sex with eight young boys between 1994 and December 2008.
Noonan said the process, called “grooming,” is common in sexual abuse cases. A predator identifies a child, becomes a mentor and gives gifts to develop trust, which leads to physical and then sexual contact.
“What is unusual, though, in this particular investigation, is that in 1998, there was a police investigation in which he made admissions about inappropriate contact in a shower room ... and nothing happened and nothing stopped,” Noonan said. “In the year 2000, janitors at ... Penn State University observed a sex act in the shower room, and because they were afraid for their jobs, they didn’t report it, and nothing changed and nothing stopped.”
During Monday’s news conference, Kelly declined to say if any other victims have come forward since the scandal was publicized over the weekend. But she said she believes there could be more victims.
Kelly said six of the eight victims’ identities are known to authorities. The two whose identities are unknown are the boy in the 2002 shower incident, who the grand jury said university administrators didn’t try to identify, and the boy in the incident witnessed by the janitor.
Anyone with information about other possible victims is asked to call investigators at 863-1053 or state police at 470-2238.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.