Penn State Officials Face Charges Related To Sex-Abuse Scandal
GUY RAZ, HOST:
An even more troubling story is breaking today in the world of higher education. Two administrators at Penn State University face charges that they failed to tell police about alleged sexual abuse of young boys by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania discussed the case publicly for the first time today. First, a word of warning: Some of the allegations are graphic in nature.
From State College, NPR's Joel Rose reports.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: While recruiting violations and scandals may be par for the course in big- time college football, Penn State's program has long prided itself on its squeaky clean image - an image that is now showing major cracks.
LINDA KELLY: This is a case about a sexual predator, accused of using his position within the community and the university to prey on numerous young boys for more than a decade.
ROSE: Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly laid out the charges against Jerry Sandusky at a news conference today. The grand jury presentment describes a series of eight sexual assaults over 15 years, dating back to the 1990s, with boys thought to be as young as 10 years old.
KELLY: Some of those assaults allegedly occurred while Sandusky was a coach at Penn State, while others happened on the Penn State campus and elsewhere after Sandusky had retired from his coaching position, including the showers in the locker room of the Penn State football team at Lash Hall on the university campus, which Sandusky apparently had unrestricted access to as part of his retirement.
ROSE: According to prosecutors, Sandusky met all of his alleged victims through The Second Mile, a nonprofit organization he founded in the 1970s to help at-risk youth. Here's Sandusky describing The Second Mile during a football broadcast in 2007.
JERRY SANDUSKY: Yeah, it's been great. You know, it's been an opportunity to see some special young people overcome some challenges in their life, and go on to lead a life of excellence. And it's an opportunity to throw out a rope to some kids and if they grab hold, you know, they can be champions.
ROSE: The Second Mile says it's cooperating with the investigation. Sandusky's lawyer says his client is innocent and plans to clear his name. He's not the only official associated with Penn State who's facing charges. Attorney General Kelly says top- ranking Penn State administrators learned about an alleged assault from an eyewitness.
KELLY: Those officials and administrators to whom it was reported did not report that incident to law enforcement or to any child-protective agency. And their inaction likely allowed a child predator to continue to victimize children for many, many years.
ROSE: Both the university's athletic director, Tim Curley, and V.P. of business and finance, Gary Schultz, who oversaw the campus police, are charged with failing to report child sexual abuse and then lying to a grand jury. Both stepped down from their jobs last night, although the university will continue to pay their legal bills as they fight the charges.
The sudden developments over the weekend left many in State College surprised and angry. Penn State senior Ryan Kappy says the university should have moved quickly to address the allegations against Sandusky, instead of sweeping them under the rug.
RYAN KAPPY: When I first heard about it, I was just like, wow, 10 years hiding? Weird, you know. Just the rep that we should have, like, I feel that they should have said something right away.
ROSE: There's still a lot of support on campus for head football coach Joe Paterno. Prosecutors say Paterno is not a target of the investigation. According to the grand jury, Paterno did learn about a 2002 incident in the football team's shower and reported it to his boss.
Grad student Kyle Stauffer says the 84-year-old coach, affectionately known as Joe Pa, doesn't deserve the blame.
KYLE STAUFFER: I just wish they'd kind of lay off Joe Pa. I feel like he knew, and he passed it along to the administration. That's what he should have done. I think the people that kind of knew about it are stepping down, so I think it's handled fairly well - as well as you can handle something like this.
ROSE: Paterno's contract is up at the end of the year. Both he and university President Graham Spanier still have their jobs for now, but both will have to answer some tough questions in the days ahead.
Joel Rose, NPR News, State College, Pennsylvania. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.