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Paterno gone, but questions at Penn State remain
STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - The most tumultuous week Penn State has ever endured is drawing to a close.
Questions, however, still linger.
Gov. Tom Corbett will be on hand Friday to help the board of trustees navigate a course through the turmoil from a child sex-abuse scandal that has engulfed the state’s largest university and led to the firing of the university’s legendary coach Joe Paterno.
Corbett, an ex-officio member of the board, will participate in Friday’s regularly scheduled trustees meeting, where a committee will be appointed to investigate the “circumstances” that led to the indictments of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, as well as two university officials. It’s the first time the board has met publicly since forcing out Paterno and president Graham Spanier amid the unfolding child sex abuse scandal.
The grand jury report alleges Sandusky assaulted eight boys _ including one he allegedly raped in the university’s football facility shower. Much of the alleged inappropriate contact with seven victims happened on Penn State's campus, where Sandusky maintained an office as an emeritus professor following his retirement.
Authorities said Sandusky met many of his alleged victims through The Second Mile, a charity he founded to help at-risk youth.
The indictment also charged the school’s athletic director and a vice president with perjury and failure to report the assaults.
“Certainly every Pennsylvanian who has any knowledge of this case, who has read the grand jury report, feels a sense of regret and a sorrow to also see careers end,” Corbett said after arriving on campus Thursday.
The committee has no timetable.
And no shortage of questions to answer _ from how much Paterno actually knew to the future of his staff, including assistant coach Mike McQueary, who told Paterno but not police about seeing Sandusky in a shower with a young boy in 2002.
“We intend to be as responsible as we can and make whatever changes are necessary,” board vice chair John Surma said.
McQueary, now the team’s wide receivers coach, won’t be present for the final home game of the season Saturday against Nebraska because of what the university said were “multiple threats.”
Elsewhere, in forums online, and in comments on other websites, others called for McQueary to be fired, but the assistant coach could be protected as a whistleblower.
Gerald J. Williams, a partner at a Philadelphia law firm, said Pennsylvania law is broad in protecting a person who reports wrongdoing, as long as that person is part of a governmental or quasi-governmental institution, of which Penn State would be one.
That protection includes any kind of adverse employment action _ such as being fired, demoted, ostracized or punished _ although a court, ultimately, would determine whether the person is protected if they bring a claim, Williams said.
The penalty on an employer can include monetary damages, attorneys’ fees and reinstatement of the employee, he said.
Sandusky, Paterno’s onetime heir apparent, has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years. Athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report the 2002 assault to police, as required by state law.
All three maintain their innocence.
In Texas, San Antonio police Sgt. Chris Benavides said his department was “looking into the possibility that an offense may have happened” when Penn State’s team was there for the Alamo Bowl in 1999.
The grand jury report said one of Sandusky’s alleged victims was on the trip with him and he threatened to send him home.
Paterno is not a target of the criminal investigation, having fulfilled his legal requirement by reporting what McQueary told him to Curley and Schultz. But the state police commissioner called Paterno’s failure to contact police or follow up on the incident a lapse in “moral responsibility.”
Paterno has acknowledged that he should have done more but has not said why he didn’t go to the police, nor has he said whether he was aware of any earlier alleged assaults. Aside from a few brief comments outside his house and two statements, Paterno has not spoken publicly since Sandusky was indicted.
McQueary told the grand jury that he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy of about 10 in the showers at the Penn State football building in March 2002. McQueary later told Paterno, Curley and Schultz what he’d seen, according to the grand jury report.
Curley and Schultz _ as well as Paterno _ testified that they were told that Sandusky behaved inappropriately in that 2002 incident, but not to the extent of McQueary’s graphic account to the grand jury.
McQueary has not spoken publicly. His mother, Anne, said Thursday they have been advised not to comment.
Then 28, McQueary was “distraught” after witnessing the alleged 2002 assault, according to the indictment. Yet it appears he may have continued to participate in fundraising events with Sandusky _ including one held less than a month later.
Sandusky was a coach at a March 28, 2002, flag-football fundraiser for the Easter Seals of Central Pennsylvania, and McQueary and other Penn State staff members participated by either playing or signing autographs, according to a “Letter of special thanks” published in the Centre Daily Times.
The paper also reported that McQueary was scheduled to play in The Second Mile Celebrity Golf Classic in 2002 and 2003. The Second Mile is the charity Sandusky founded to provide education and life skills to almost 100,000 at-risk kids each year.
Sandusky, a former Penn State player and assistant for 30 years, including 22 as defensive coordinator, had long been considered the likely successor to Paterno. But Paterno told Sandusky around May 1999 that he wouldn’t get the top job.
Sandusky said he wanted to spend more time with The Second Mile, as well as taking advantage of a generous retirement package that included continued use of an office and access to the school’s athletic facilities. Several of the alleged assaults took place on Penn State property.
Sandusky was just 55 when he retired with a sparkling resume. He stepped off college football’s fast track when he would have been considered a top candidate for vacancies at any big-time program.
Penn State has said Bradley will be interim coach for the rest of the season. It has not said if he will be a candidate for the permanent job, nor has it given any timetable for hiring a new coach.
It’s not even clear who will do the hiring, with Curley on leave and provost Rodney Erickson serving as interim school president.
Associated Press Writer Genaro C. Armas contributed to this story.
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