Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Penn State in crisis roundup: Community responds to events

Five alumni are leading an effort to raise $500,000 by the end of today’s game against Nebraska for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. As of midnight Friday, they’d raised more than $211,000, according to one of the organizers, Jerry Needel.

“It’s a grassroots alumni effort,” Needel said. “As a fan of both of the university and the football program, I just got really frustrated sitting around watching this happen — seeing Penn State’s reputation dragged through mud, watching this happening to the victims — so I wanted do something to help.”

Former Penn State running back Evan Royster and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews have tweeted about it, and the group’s donation page,www.proudtobeapennstater.com, has been featured on national media outlets including CNN and ABC.

“The whole goal is to put the focus on conversation back where it should be, which is on the victims, and make sure this kind of thing that happened at Penn State never happens again here or anywhere,” Needel said.

Moody’s Investors Services announced Friday that is placing Penn State’s Aa1 revenue bond rating on review for possible downgrade as it assess credit risks stemming from the sexual abuse scandal.

In light of the criminal charges against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and two senior university officials, as well as the dismissal of President Graham Spanier and head coach Joe Paterno, Moody’s said it will, over the next several months, evaluate the “potential scope of reputational and financial risk” that arises from these events.

“We will monitor possible emerging risks emanating from potential lawsuits/settlements, weaker student demand, declines in philanthropic support, changes in state relationship and significant management or governance changes,” it said in a news release.

Joe Paterno has retained a Washington, D.C. lawyer and, at his lawyer’s direction, will make no further public statements, according to a news release issued by his son, Scott Paterno, Friday.

He has retained J. Sedwick “Wick” Sollers, managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office of King and Spalding. According to a biography on the firm’s web-site, Sollers experience includes defending accounting fraud cases, grand jury practice, internal corporate investigations, federal criminal trials and appeals and general civil litigation. “Like everyone who has watched this story unfold, my father is experiencing a range of powerful emotions. He is absolutely distraught over what happened to the children and their families. He also wants very much to speak publicly and answer questions,” Scott Paterno’s statement read.

“At this stage, however, he has no choice but to be patient and defer to the legal process. He cooperated fully with the Grand Jury, and he will continue to cooperate with the investigation as we move forward.”

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard, sent a letter Friday to the White House withdrawing his support for the recommendation that Paterno be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Due to the tragic events that surround The Pennsylvania State University, it is with a heavy heart that I respectfully withdraw my support for Mr. Paterno’s nomination,” he said in the letter. “As a proud Penn State alumnus, I believe the nomination at this time only serves as a distraction from the most important issue — supporting the victims, their families and our community.”

The organizers of Paternoville, the village of students living in tents that has sprung up before most home games since 2005, say they plan to maintain the Paternoville name through the final game of the season. At this time, they said, there are no plans to change the name.

“Events are happening swiftly throughout the Penn State community and our focus is on cheering on our fellow students — the Penn State football players, especially the graduating seniors — against Nebraska tomorrow in Beaver Stadium,” organizers said in a news release.

They also paid tribute to Paterno in their news release: “Thanks, Coach Paterno. For us, it has been a privilege to have a front row seat to some of the greatest games and memories in Penn State football history.”

The pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in State College said the church is providing succor to Jerry Sandusky, a longtime congregation member.

“We’re obviously aware of the charges against Jerry — it’s a very public thing,” said the Rev. G. Edwin Zeiders. “But St. Paul’s had an action plan in place with regard to any of our congregrants facing difficulty like this. The Action Plan is available to anyone who needs our help, and I’m not aware that we’re doing more for Jerry than anyone else, but we are being quite attentive to him.”

Zeiders said a special prayer group has been formed, to pray both for Sandusky and for the entire community.

“More than anything for the victims themselves,” he said.

Zieders said he was working to put together a larger prayer service Tuesday evening. More details will be forthcoming once the event is organized.

The Associated Press reported that Brown University is reviewing an athletics award named for ousted football coach Joe Paterno, who graduated from the Ivy League school in 1950.

University spokeswoman Marisa Quinn said the school is “reviewing the matter to consider how best to address it.” She declined to elaborate. The Joe Paterno ’50 Award is presented annually to an “outstanding” first-year varsity male athlete.

Art Joukowsky, chairman of the Brown University Sports Foundation that raises money to support athletics, told The Associated Press, that he doesn’t want the school to abandon Paterno.

“Loyalty means a great deal,” said Joukowsky, who is also Brown’s chancellor emeritus. “You don’t just cut it off because something goes wrong.”

He said Paterno is not a “guilty party,” but acknowledged “he should have followed up.”

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