Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky continues to deny that he sexually abused several children over the years, despite the mounting evidence.
NEW YORK — Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky said he never spoke with Joe Paterno about any suspected misconduct with minors, the New York Times reported Saturday.
Sandusky has been charged with 40 counts of molesting eight boys over 15 years and is free on bail while awaiting a preliminary hearing Dec. 13. A grand jury investigating Sandusky said in a report that some of the allegations occurred in the team showers, including a 2002 allegation in which a graduate assistant testified he saw Sandusky assaulting a young boy.
University trustees fired Paterno on Nov. 9, four days after charges were filed against Sandusky, amid mounting pressure that school leaders should have done more to prevent alleged abuse.
During a lengthy interview at his lawyer’s home, Sandusky in an interview with the Times painted a picture of chaotic but friendly scenes involving children he described as extended family at his State College, Pa., home. The descriptions sharply contrast the shocking allegations involving children outlined in a grand jury report.
Sandusky told the newspaper he and Paterno never spoke about the alleged 2002 incident or a 1998 child molestation complaint investigated by Penn State campus police.
“I never talked to him about either one,” Sandusky said. “That’s all I can say. I mean, I don’t know.” He worked for Paterno for nearly 30 years.
Messages left Saturday by The Associated Press seeking comment from representatives for Paterno were not immediately returned.
Paterno testified before the grand jury looking into the abuse allegations that a graduate assistant told him in 2002 that he witnessed in the team shower in the team locker room, and that he relayed the report to his superior, athletic director Tim Curley.
The graduate assistant later met with Curley and Gary Schultz, a university vice president who oversaw campus police. But authorities said the allegation was not passed on to authorities.
Curley and Schultz are charged with failing to report the 2002 allegation and lying to the grand jury. Curley is on administrative leave, while Schultz has stepped down. Lawyers for both men have said their clients are innocent.
Prosecutors have said Paterno is not a target of the investigation.
Paterno’s son, Scott Paterno, told the AP last month the first and only incident reported about Sandusky to Paterno was in 2002. Paterno has said in a statement that specific actions alleged to have occurred in the grand jury report were not relayed to him.
Still, the state’s top cop criticized the way school leaders handled allegations and said Paterno and other officials had a moral responsibility to do more.
The 84-year-old Paterno initially announced his retirement effective at the end of the season, saying that the scandal was “one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.” The trustees fired him anyway, about 12 hours later.
Sandusky said in the report he never sexually abused any child and that prosecutors have misunderstood his work with children. He described a family and work life that “could often be chaotic, even odd, one that lacked some classic boundaries between adults and children,” the Times reported.
He described scenes in which his State College, Pa., home turned into a makeshift recreation center with wrestling matches and sleepovers. Children playing in their home with dogs after football games.
“It was, you know, almost an extended family,” Mr. Sandusky said of his household’s relationship with children from the charity he founded, The Second Mile. He characterized his experiences with children was close with as “precious times,” and said the physical aspect of the relationships “just happened that way.”
Allegations involving two victims occurred in Sandusky’s home, according to the grand jury report.
“Victim One testified that Sandusky had a practice of coming into the basement room after he told Victim One that it was time to go to bed,” the grand jury report said. “Victim One testified that Sandusky would ‘crack his back,’” which was described in the report as Sandusky getting on to the bed and “rolling under the boy.”
Sandusky told the Times, “They’ve taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever ... I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure. And they just twisted that all.”
He is accused of mining the ranks of his Second Mile charity to find underprivileged boys to abuse. Sandusky also said that the charity never restricted his access to children until he became the subject of a criminal investigation in 2008.
He said he regularly gave money to the disadvantaged boys at his charity, opened bank accounts for them and gave them gifts that had been donated to the charity.
“I tried to reward them sometimes with a little money in hand, just so that they could see something,” he said. “But more often than not, I tried to set up, maybe get them to save the money, and I put it directly into a savings account established for them.”
The paper said he grew most animated when talking about his relationships with children and most disconsolate when he spoke of Paterno and Penn State, and the upheaval caused by his indictment.
“I don’t think it was fair,” he is quoted as saying.
During the interview, Sandusky said his relationships and activities with Second Mile children did cause some strain with Paterno. He told the paper he worried that having some children with him at hotels before games or on the sideline during games, could have been regarded as a distraction by Paterno.