Penn State Officials Fail to Report Child Abuse by Former Football Coach

In  2002, a Penn State University graduate student told the university’s head football coach, Joe Paterno, that he witnessed one of Paterno’s former assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State football facility’s showers. The next day, Paterno told his athletic director. Neither the athletic director nor the president of the institution, who informed of the report, contacted the state’s Department of Public Welfare as required by law. But this wasn’t the first time for Sandusky or Paterno.

In 1998, when Sandusky was still an assistant for Paterno, a mother of an 11-year-old boy reported to the Penn State campus police that her son had been touched and held by Sandusky in a shower inside the campus’s football facility.  State prosecutors indicated that there was an extensive investigation of this report carried out by the campus police and Sandusky admitted to showering with the boys and conceded that it “was wrong.”  A decision not to prosecute Sandusky was made by the county district attorney, now deceased. The lead campus police detective was subsequently told to close the case by Thomas Harmon, then the director of the campus police force. It appears Sandusky was merely encouraged to never again shower with a child.  In the fall of 2000, a Penn State janitor found Sandusky in the showers of the football building performing oral sex on a young boy pinned against a wall.  Apparently, no report was made, not by the janitor or the fellow employee who were both worried about their job security and not by the janitor’s supervisor, who also had been informed.   Linda Kelly, the state attorney general, said, “The failure of top university officials to act on reports of Sandusky’s alleged sexual misconduct, even after it was reported to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness, allowed a predator to walk free for years — continuing to target new victims. Equally disturbing is the lack of action and apparent lack of concern among those same officials, and others who received information about this case, who either avoided asking difficult questions or chose to look the other way.”  New York Times, November 6, 2011 as reported by M. Viera

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