- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 15, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s admission that he showered with and “horsed around” with boys could be used by prosecutors trying to convict him of child sex-abuse charges.

Experts in criminal law and crisis management questioned Sandusky’s decision to give a TV interview in which he said there was no abuse and that any activities in a campus shower with a boy were just horseplay, not molestation.

Mr. Sandusky goes on worldwide television and admits he did everything the prosecution claims he did, except for the ultimate act of rape or sodomy? If I were a prosecutor, I’d be stunned,” said Lynne Abraham, the former district attorney of Philadelphia. “I was stunned, and then I was revolted.”

Abraham, who led a grand jury probe involving 63 accused priests from the Philadelphia archdiocese, was retained this week to lead an internal investigation of The Second Mile, the children’s charity founded by Sandusky, from which he allegedly culled his victims.

The child sex-assault charges filed against Sandusky this month have toppled Penn State’s longtime football coach, Joe Paterno, and the university’s president, Graham Spanier. The school’s athletic director and vice president are accused of not reporting what they knew to police and have left their posts.

Sandusky is charged with abusing eight boys over the span of 15 years. He told NBC on Monday that he was not a pedophile but, in retrospect, should not have showered with boys.

“I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,” Sandusky said Monday on NBC News’ “Rock Center.” “I am innocent of those charges.”

When NBC’s Bob Costas asked him whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys, Sandusky replied: “Sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”

Sandusky apparently decided to talk to Costas by phone Monday at the last minute, with the blessing of his attorney, Joseph Amendola, who was in the studio.

“What was especially astonishing about Sandusky’s interview is _ and this will be the big moment in court _ is when he stumbled over the question about whether he was sexually attracted to children,” said crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall, who runs a Washington consulting firm. “That may not be legal proof that he’s guilty, but it is certainly not helpful, to struggle with the question.”

The state grand jury investigation that led to Sandusky’s arrest followed a trail that goes back at least 13 years, leading to questions from some quarters about whether law enforcement moved too slowly.

The grand jury report detailed a 1998 investigation by Penn State police, begun after an 11-year-old boy’s mother complained that Sandusky had showered with her son in the football facilities. Then-District Attorney Ray Gricar declined to file charges.

Another missed opportunity came in 2002, the grand jury said, when then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary told Paterno that he had witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a child in the team’s showers. McQueary later spoke to Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president for business Gary Schultz. They are now accused of breaking the law by not going to police.

McQueary’s actions also have been scrutinized, with some suggesting he didn’t do enough after witnessing child sex-abuse.

McQueary told a friend from Penn State that he stopped the alleged assault and went to the police about it. The friend made an email from McQueary available to The Associated Press on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.

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