The Slatest

Paterno “Just Walked Away” After Being Told of Sandusky Abuse in 1976, Alleged Victim Testified

The since-removed statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno outside the school’s football stadium in a photo taken July 21, 2012, in State College, Pennsylvania.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Newly unsealed testimony details a previously reported claim that a 14-year-old boy told former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that he had been sexually abused by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky; other alleged victims who testified in the same case say that other Penn State staff members saw Sandusky behaving inappropriately with them in 1987 and 1988.

The school’s official position is that it did not become aware of any allegations against Sandusky—who is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence—until a 1998 incident. (That 1998 incident did not lead to charges, and Sandusky remained connected to the Penn State football program until he was arrested in 2011.)


The unsealed depositions are part of a case involving Penn State insurance provider Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Co., which is seeking to deny reimbursement for settlement money that the school has already paid to the alleged victims. In all, an expert working on behalf of the insurance company has identified six incidents (including the 1976, 1987, and 1988 incidents) that he says should have alerted Penn State to its potential liability for Sandusky’s behavior before his arrest. (The alleged victims in the 1976, 1987, and 1988 incidents are not among the 10 victims that Sandusky was specifically convicted of abusing.)


Here’s an excerpt from the testimony regarding the 1976 incident, which involves an alleged victim who says he told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him while he showered at a Penn State football camp:


Q: Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, “I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?”

A: Specifically. Yes.

Q: Okay. So that’s as good as you can remember the details of what he said?

A: Yes.

Q: What was your reaction when he said that to you?

A: I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted.

Q: Did you tell him—did you say anything back to him?

A: And then you say he just walked away from you?

A: Just walked away.

The 1987 allegation, as described in the Washington Post:

A man identified in court documents as John Doe 75 testified that, in 1987, when he was a 13-year-old boy, an assistant coach at Penn State witnessed Sandusky with his hand down the boy’s shorts and did nothing. The boy and Sandusky were alone in a coaches’ meeting room, and Sandusky was touching the boy, Doe testified, when assistant coach Joe Sarra walked into the meeting room.

And the 1988 allegation:

In 1988, Doe 101 said, a weight room assistant named Kevin O’Dea saw the boy lying on a black leather couch in an athletics facility, in his underwear, with Sandusky seated on the floor rubbing the boy’s back.

Sarra died in 2012; O’Dea currently works for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and does not appear to have commented.

Another alleged victim and settlement recipient has told CNN that he alerted Paterno to Sandusky’s behavior in 1971, but that incident does not appear to be a part of the insurance case.