Jerry Sandusky stepped down from The Second Mile in 2010, but as late as Monday morning he still had a presence at the nonprofit he founded to help at-risk children.
Late in the morning, several pictures of the former Penn State football coach accused of sexual abuse of boys could be seen hanging on the walls, behind the locked doors of The Second Mile office at 1402 S. Atherton St. Copies of a statement issued by the organization were posted on the door.
By late afternoon, the pictures were gone and the door was unlocked. An employee, however, said no further statements would be issued at that time.
Jack Raykovitz, CEO and president of The Second Mile, and other officials could not be reached for comment.
Calls to many of the members of the state board of directors and the central board were not returned. Others, when reached, declined to comment.
“As much as I would love to talk to you and give you information, I’m very concerned because this is an ongoing court case and I don’t want to jeopardize either side’s chance of having the best possible outcome,” Renee Marks, a central board member, said.
The nonprofit that Sandusky started in 1977 with 45 children has grown into a nationally recognized charity that annually serves 100,000 at-risk youth through early intervention, prevention, foster parent, leadership and counseling programs and services.
Seven chapters and one affiliate, all started by volunteers interested in promoting Second Mile activities, exist across the state.
According to its financial report, The Second Mile has about $9 million in assets and in 2009-10 fiscal year had revenues of $2.7 million.
Now the organization is the focus of questions about its founder and how much the people who ran it knew about his alleged behavior while he worked with youth.
Other than the statement, The Second Mile officials are keeping silent.
“The newly released details and the breadth of the allegations from the Attorney General’s Office bring shock, sadness and concern from The Second Mile organization,” the statement said.
“The most recent reports we’ve read this past weekend state that Mr. Sandusky met the alleged victims through The Second Mile. To our knowledge, all the alleged incidents occurred outside of our programs and events,” it said.
The attorney general’s report on the charges against Sandusky said he met all eight of his alleged victims through Second Mile programs.
The Second Mile contended, in a statement posted on its website, that it was not aware of “the very serious allegations contained in” the grand jury report. The statement said that Sandusky informed The Second Mile, in November 2008, that he was the subject of a grand jury investigation brought on by a Clinton County boy’s allegations.
“Although he maintained there was no truth to the claims, we are an organization committed first and foremost to the safety and well-being of the children we serve,” the statement said.
“Consistent with that commitment and with The Second Mile policy, we immediately made the decision to separate him from all of our program activities involving children.”
Six years earlier, according to the grand jury, a graduate assistant — since identified as wide receivers coach Mike McQueary — reported to head coach Joe Paterno that he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy, age 10 or so, in a shower on the University Park campus. Paterno reported the matter to Athletic Director Tim Curley.
However, Second Mile officials, in their statement, said Curley told Raykovitz only that an individual had reported being “uncomfortable about seeing Jerry Sandusky in the locker room shower with a youth” but that “the information had been internally reviewed and that there was no finding of wrongdoing.”
Lloyd and Dorothy Huck, of State College, gave The Second Mile at least $50,000 that year, placing them in the top donor category, according to the organization’s 2010 report.
Huck said he and his wife, who sits on The Second Mile’s central and state boards of directors, were shocked by Sandusky’s arrest.
“We think it’s a terrible event, from the charges brought by the grand jury — much more serious than anybody thought,” Lloyd Huck said.
As for The Second Mile, he said he thinks foundation officials did nothing wrong in allowing Sandusky to continue assisting programs and working with youth, and waiting until the grand jury investigation began in 2008 before reducing his direct ties. Two years later, Sandusky retired from Second Mile. At the time, Second Mile officials said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
“I think they acted very promptly and appropriately when they had some information to do that,” Lloyd Huck said.
Chris Snavely, a partner with the State College-based communications firm Snavely Associates, isn’t sure whether The Second Mile should have restricted Sandusky’s access to children after the 2002 incident. A “murky” picture today would be clearer, he said, if more were known about what university officials revealed at the time.
“Was Second Mile armed enough to make a strong stand?” said Snavely, whose firm once did pro bono work for The Second Mile but stopped around 2008, he said, because it was scaling back on its philanthropic commitments. “The devil’s in the details. It’s hard to condemn (Second Mile officials) without knowing what they were told by Penn State.”
Regardless of legal outcomes, Snavely said, the possibility that institutions failed to protect children infuriates him.
“I think all of our confidence in the community and the bedrocks of our community is being shaken,” he said. “I grew up here. I was born here. I’ve never seen or heard of anything this embarrassing and scary coming out of our community in a long time.”
The Second Mile is in the process of building a new 45,000-square-foot Learning Center at Bernel and Fox Hollow Roads. The $9 million project is receiving a $3 million state grant through Centre County. When discussing the project at a county commissioners’ meeting in January, Raykovitz said Sandusky was no longer involved in the day-to- day operations at the nonprofit.
“He still works with us with special events and things like that, but he’s not involved in the programs or anything that has to do with the project per se,” Raykovitz said.
While noting the scandal may hurt the nonprofit’s fundraising, Lloyd Huck said he and his wife will keep donating to it.
“We think Second Mile continues to deserve support because of the good things they’re doing for our young people,” he said.
Sandusky said in a 2008 interview that his retirement from Penn State almost 10 years earlier had allowed him to focus more on The Second Mile.
“I’m pleased,” he said, “to be able to devote my full-time energies to expanding the reach and influence of The Second Mile in a day and age when more and more kids seem to be at risk.”