The man who served as attorney for both Penn State and The Second Mile said that, contrary to a state grand jury report, he was never aware of a 1998 investigation into possible allegations of sexual misconduct by Jerry Sandusky.
State College lawyer Wendell Courtney said he also never knew that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary had told former Nittany Lions head football coach Joe Paterno about witnessing Sandusky allegedly sexually assault a boy in a Penn State shower in 2002. Paterno, according to the grand jury, in turn notified Athletic Director Tim Curley. Curley and Gary Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business, spoke with McQueary one week later.
Courtney served as counsel for Penn State from the time he passed the bar in 1980 until 2008, all while working with the McQuaide Blasko law firm. He said in an interview he never was asked by Penn State whether police should be notified about any allegations of sexual abuse involving Sandusky.
“Had I ever been asked, my response would have been, ‘Absolutely and immediately,’ ” Courtney said. “Had I ever had any inkling that Sandusky was engaging in behavior with children that was even remotely improper, nothing on God’s green earth would have kept me from making certain that the allegations were reported to the police authorities and thoroughly investigated.”
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According to the grand jury presentment: “Schultz testified that the 1998 incident was reviewed by university police and ‘the child protection agency’ with the blessing of then-university counsel Wendell Courtney. Courtney was then and remains counsel for The Second Mile.”
Courtney also disputes the last sentence, saying he did not begin work for The Second Mile until April 2009.
David Woodle, vice chairman of The Second Mile’s state board of directors and acting CEO, confirmed in an interview that Courtney wasn’t hired until April 2009.
“He wasn’t official counsel. He was just advising periodically, some pro bono, some paid later,” Woodle said. He could not give specific details about what kind of work Courtney performed for the charity.
Courtney resigned from the charity after Sandusky was charged.
No one in the state Attorney General’s Office could be reached for comment about Courtney’s disagreement with the presentment.
“I was never made aware of the alleged incidents of sexual misconduct regarding Sandusky until I read about them in the AG’s presentment,” Courtney said. When pressed, however, he said he became aware in 2009 that a report of possible misconduct by Sandusky with a boy had been made to Clinton County authorities and was being investigated.
Under his profile on the McQuaide Blasko website, Courtney is identified as a magna cum laude graduate of Dickinson College who received his law degree from The Dickinson School of Law, and served as primary counsel to Penn State.
Under community service, the website lists pro bono work for Centre County PAWS Inc., volunteer work for Special Olympics, and service to Centre Hills Country Club. It does not mention The Second Mile.
CDT staff writer Chris Rosenblum contributed to this report.