Former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno knew about assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse against children in the 1970s and did nothing about it, according to a court filing and a CNN interview with one of Sandusky’s victims. If the allegations are true, they reveal a sickening new chapter in a case that had seemed to have closed with the conviction of Sandusky in 2012 for sexually abusing 10 boys and the death of Paterno that same year.
“[Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association] claims … in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Football Coach Joseph Paterno, that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky,” a judge wrote in a court order as part of a lawsuit brought by Penn State’s former insurer against the university.
CNN also revealed evidence that Paterno may have known about Sandusky’s crimes and failed to act even earlier than that. A man who was offered a settlement by Penn State after it acknowledged him to be a victim of Sandusky told the network that he was raped by Sandusky in 1971, spoke with Paterno and another university official about it, and was threatened with police action if he continued to talk about the incident.
The details from the victim, whose name CNN did not report, are truly stomach turning and it is worth reading the entire report. A friend of the victim told CNN that in 1972, a short while after the attack happened, he was told about it by the victim, who mentioned speaking with Paterno. “It was along the lines of, he said, ‘You can’t mistake the voice of Joe Paterno.’ That’s what he said to me,” Bernie McCue told the network.
Here is the victim’s account of the rape as told by CNN:
Victim A says he was hitchhiking when Sandusky picked him up, bought him beer, gave him pot – and then attacked him as he was standing at a urinal in a Penn State bathroom.
“I felt his presence behind me,” he said. “I felt his left knee on the back of my knee, and his arms went around me, grabbing my …” he trails off. “He said, ‘Let me help you with this.’”
Victim A said he jerked his head back, hitting Sandusky in the jaw. His head started bleeding and they both fell to the floor.
“Then there was a wrestling session,” he says. “And I lost. One thing led to another and the crime happened.”
Here is the victim’s account of his conversation with Paterno and another man he could only identify as Jim:
“I made it clear there were things done to me that I just can’t believe could have been done to me and I couldn’t escape. I said, ‘I’m very upset and scared and I couldn’t believe I let my guard down.’ They listened to me. And then all hell broke loose.
“They were asking me my motive, why I would say this about someone who has done so many good things.”
They accused him of making it up. “‘Stop this right now! We’ll call the authorities,’” he said they told him.
Paterno family lawyers denied to CNN in a statement last year that the call ever took place: “The suggestion that Joe Paterno participated in the call described is in direct conflict with the facts as we know them and contrary to the way he lived his life.”
They also said this to CNN in a more recent statement: “Joe Paterno’s life has been scrutinized endlessly the last four and a half years. The facts that have emerged have repeatedly confirmed that he acted appropriately.”
Penn State paid 26 Sandusky victims, including the one who made the latest allegation to CNN, a $60 million settlement in 2013. The school issued a statement saying that there was no way to verify the latest allegation about Paterno’s knowledge made in the court filing: “The university has no records from the time to help evaluate the claims. More importantly, Coach Paterno is not here to defend himself. Penn State does not intend to comment further, out of concern for privacy, and due to the strict confidentiality commitments that govern our various settlement agreements.”
Soon after the CNN report was released, NBC News released its own report alleging that six assistant coaches had actually witnessed “inappropriate behavior” by Sandusky towards boys dating back to the 1970s.
“[S]ources told NBC News that one former Penn State assistant coach witnessed an incident in the late 1970s. Three other coaches — who have gone on to work in the NFL and at Division I colleges — allegedly saw inappropriate conduct between Sandusky and boys in the early and mid-1990s,” the report reads. Sandusky was convicted for crimes that occurred between 1994 and 2009, with many alleged attacks going unprosecuted due to satutes of limitations.
Last year, Paterno had 111 wins restored from between 1998—when a paper trail shows that school officials knew of the allegations against Sandusky—and 2011. The restoration of the previously vacated wins gave him the most victories of any FBS NCAA football coach in history with 409.