STATE COLLEGE — Former board members of Jerry Sandusky’s charity said its CEO never told them about a 2002 shower incident that is the focus of child sexual abuse charges against the retired Penn State assistant coach. If they knew Sandusky had been banned from bringing kids on campus, they said they could have taken steps to better protect children a decade ago.
“Not one thing was said to us,” said Bradley P. Lunsford, a Centre County judge who served on the Second Mile board between 2001 and 2005. “Not a damn thing.”
If more information had been given to board members, they “would have asked the follow-up question: Why? You don’t know? Who knows? Who can we talk to? Has this been reported to the police?” Lunsford said. “I guarantee you there would have been a competition among all those people to be the first to ask the question, ‘Why is he not allowed on campus?’ ”
Lunsford and four other former board members at The Second Mile point the finger at Jack Raykovitz, a close friend of Sandusky’s who ran the charity until resigning following the former coach’s Nov. 5 arrest.
A former prosecutor, Lunsford said Raykovitz had an obligation to tell the board. “There are a number of people around that table who have been involved with children’s charities for years and there’s a very good chance that if given accurate information about what the allegation was, there’s a lot of people around that table who could have done something about it.”
One of Raykovitz’s vice presidents said Raykovitz also shared little information with his managers about a 2008 sexual abuse complaint that led to the current criminal charges against Sandusky.
And the head of Clinton County’s child welfare agency, where the 2008 investigation began, said Raykovitz’s wife told him in November 2008 that Sandusky had been spoken to about getting “too close” to children involved with the charity. Gerald Rosamilia said Raykovitz’s wife, Katherine Genovese, who helped run The Second Mile, did not define what was meant by “too close” or give a timeframe.
Raykovitz defended himself in a telephone interview, saying he acted appropriately at all times. “There have always been steps in place to protect kids,” he said.
Two grand jury reports, which led to Sandusky being charged with 52 sexual abuse-related counts involving 10 boys, said the former coach found his victims through The Second Mile and committed many of his offenses inside Penn State football buildings.
The nonprofit had thrived since its creation in 1977 because of Sandusky’s prominence as a defensive coach at Penn State, its close ties to university donors and leaders, and its use of Penn State’s athletic fields for its camps serving at-risk children. Then-coach Joe Paterno often served as master of ceremonies at Second Mile fundraisers.
Paterno, 84, led Penn State football for more than 45 years until early November, when the sexual abuse charges against Sandusky shook the entire university and claimed the jobs of major college football’s winningest coach and the school’s president, Graham Spanier.
Now, with The Second Mile’s future in doubt, it is unclear whether Raykovitz properly handled the charity’s response to the 2002 case.
Penn State athletic director Tim Curley testified that a graduate assistant had told him in 2002 only that he had seen “inappropriate conduct” that made him feel uncomfortable, and nothing of a sexual nature. But Mike McQueary, now an assistant coach, testified to the grand jury that he told Curley he saw what he believed to be Sandusky raping the boy, who he said was about 10.
Curley, who has been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse, testified he told Raykovitz of inappropriate conduct and that Sandusky was prohibited from bringing youth onto the Penn State campus.
Asked what Curley told him, Raykovitz cited a Nov. 6 Second Mile statement that referred only to inappropriate conduct: “At no time was The Second Mile made aware of the very serious allegations contained in the Grand Jury report.”
The statement also said Curley, who has been placed on leave, told Raykovitz the shower incident “had been internally reviewed and that there was no finding of wrongdoing.”
But Lunsford said the charity’s board couldn’t take action in 2002 that might have prevented other assaults of children “if there’s a cover-up from the source.”
Even if Raykovitz had only limited information, he still should have acted more aggressively in 2002 when contacted by Curley and should have viewed Curley’s ban on Sandusky bringing Second Mile kids to campus as “a red flag,” Lunsford said.
As the person in charge, Raykovitz was legally required to provide the board all available information whether he believed it was true or suspected it was false, Lunsford said.
“We still need to know. That’s our job,” he added. “By not telling us, it essentially rendered us ineffective and we had no chance to help those children.”
Informed of Lunsford’s comments, Raykovitz said, “He can feel anything he wants to feel.”
Charles Markham, retired president of Uni-Marts Inc. and a Second Mile board member from the late 1990s until about 2004, said that Raykovitz never discussed the 2002 case with him personally or at board meetings. “If I’d known anything in 2002, I would have had a hard time keeping it under my hat,” Markham said.
Two other former board members — Larry Snavely, who runs a State College-based higher education marketing firm, and Donald Cross, a retired Centre County school employee — said Raykovitz never mentioned the 2002 allegation. Another former member said he was not told, but asked that he not be publicly identified.
David Woodle, acting CEO, refused to address concerns raised by board members about Raykovitz’s handling of information regarding the 2002 shower incident, saying to do so would be a distraction from the goal of helping serve children.
The board of directors of a children’s charity is responsible for making sure that it operates under reasonable policies and procedures to protect children, according to Daniel Borochoff, president of Chicago-based Charity Watch. Individual board members can face lawsuits for failing in their oversight duties, and The Second Mile insures its board members against such claims.
The Second Mile has been named in two civil complaints, including one that seeks to preserve the charity’s assets.
David Marshall, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who represents other accusers, said: “It may have been only Sandusky who laid his hands on these children, but it is clear that a number of other individuals and agencies placed the children in harm’s way by knowingly taking actions that allowed the abuse to continue even after they became fully aware of it.”
Raykovitz also is facing questions about his handling of the 2008 complaint.
Rosamilia, the Clinton County youth services chief, said he had informed Raykovitz’s wife in November 2008 that his office was terminating its relationship with The Second Mile because of an abuse complaint. He said he had not identified the target of that complaint, but that Genovese eventually guessed correctly that it was Sandusky.
Rosamilia, who said he mentioned his conversation with Genovese to investigators working on the current prosecution, also recalled Genovese saying that a member of The Second Mile board planned to speak with Sandusky about staying away from Second Mile events involving children.
Raykovitz said Rosamilia’s description of the conversation with his wife is incorrect. He would not elaborate. Attempts to reach Genovese were unsuccessful.
Raykovitz referred questions about what he did in 2008 to a prior statement, which said that when Sandusky told The Second Mile he was being investigated because of allegations made “by an adolescent male,” the organization separated him from “all of our program activities involving children.” The Second Mile statement makes no mention of the sexual nature of the 2008 complaint.
He said in the interview last week some staff at The Second Mile were informed in 2008 that the complaint was the reason Sandusky was not participating in programs serving children, but only on an “as-needed basis.”
Bonnie Marshall, the charity’s vice president for development, said Raykovitz described the 2008 complaint to her and other senior staff as a general abuse complaint, not one of a sexual nature.
She said Raykovitz explained that Sandusky would be taking a break from programs with children but would continue fundraising.
She said she also was unaware of Genovese’s conversation with Rosamilia, and was not aware that anyone at the charity had ever spoken to Sandusky about getting too close to The Second Mile children.
In 2009, when Sandusky left the charity’s board, Raykovitz told the staff that child welfare officials had issued a finding of abuse against Sandusky, Marshall said. But, she added, Raykovitz described it only as a general complaint being pursued by an angry mother who had accused Sandusky of wrongdoing, not a complaint of sexual abuse.
“I thought he would have told me that this was something really bad,” Marshall said. “And he didn’t.”