HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Football coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials didn’t do enough to try to stop suspected sexual abuse of children at the hands of a former assistant football coach, the state police commissioner said Monday.
Paterno may have fulfilled his legal requirement to report suspected abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said, “but somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child.”
He added: “I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you’re a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us.”
Paterno, who recently became the coach with the most wins in Division I football history, wasn’t charged and the grand jury report didn’t appear to implicate him in wrongdoing. He has called the criminal charges shocking and troubling.
“If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families,” he said in a statement Sunday.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said Paterno is not a target of the investigation into how the school handled the accusations. But she refused to say the same for university President Graham Spanier.
“All I can say is again, I’m limited to what’s contained in the presentment, and that this is an ongoing investigation,” Kelly said.
Noonan said the case went beyond football and the university.
“It is a case about children who have had their innocence stolen from them, in a culture that did nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening to others,” he said.
Also Monday, two Penn State officials surrendered on charges that they failed to alert police to complaints that Sandusky had sexually abused eight boys. They are also charged with lying to a state grand jury investigating the former defensive coordinator.
Senior Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley both stepped down from their posts late Sunday, one day after the charges were announced.
On Monday, they appeared in a Harrisburg courtroom, where a judge set bail at $75,000. They weren’t required to enter pleas but they had to surrender their passports.
Schultz, 62, and Curley, 57, are innocent and will seek to have the charges dismissed, their lawyers said. Curley’s lawyer, Caroline Roberto, called the case weak while Schultz’s lawyer, Tom Farrell, said the men did what they were supposed to do by informing their superiors of the accusations.
Kelly and Noonan encouraged anyone who would accuse Sandusky of sexual assault to step forward and talk to police, with Kelly specifically asking that a child reportedly assaulted by Sandusky in view of a graduate student in 2002 to call detectives.
When asked if it was possible that there were more victims, she said: “When you look at the totality of the circumstances and the number of victims that we have, I don’t think it would be beyond the realm of possibility that there are other victims that exist here.”
Sandusky sexually abused eight boys over 15 years through his charity for at-risk youth, authorities charged.
Once considered Paterno’s heir apparent, Sandusky retired in 1999 but continued to use the school’s facilities for his work with The Second Mile, a foundation he established to help at-risk kids. The charges against him cover the period from 1994 to 2009.
Under Paterno’s four-decades-and-counting stewardship, the Nittany Lions became a bedrock in the college game, and fans packed the stadium in State College, a campus town routinely ranked among America’s best places to live and nicknamed Happy Valley. Paterno’s teams were revered both for winning games — including two national championships — and largely steering clear of trouble.
The allegations against Sandusky, who started The Second Mile in 1977, range from sexual advances to touching to oral and anal sex. The young men testified before the state grand jury that they were in their early teens when some of the abuse occurred; there is evidence even younger children may have been victimized.
Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola said his client has been aware of the accusations for about three years and has maintained his innocence.
The grand jury report that lays out the accusations against the three men cites the state’s Child Protective Services Law, which requires immediate reporting by doctors, nurses, school administrators, teachers, day care workers, police and others.
It appears neither Schultz nor Curley had direct contact with the boys Sandusky is accused of abusing.
Schultz’s lawyer said his client was not among those required by law to report suspected abuse. He also argued that the two-year statute of limitations on the summary offense has expired.
Spanier, Penn State’s president, called the allegations “troubling” but predicted the school officials would be exonerated.
Kelly, the attorney general, said Penn State officials never made any attempt to identify the child that the grad assistant saw in the showers with Sandusky in 2002.
‘’Today as we stand here, we encourage that person who is now likely to be a young adult to contact investigators from the attorney general’s office,” she said. “This is an ongoing and active investigation. ... We are determined to quickly respond to any new witnesses or any additional information that may appear.”