STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - A day after the former Penn State assistant football coach who is charged with sexual abuse of boys declared his innocence in a television interview, an email surfaced from a key witness against him, saying he stopped an alleged attack in the team’s showers.
Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who a grand jury report said saw Jerry Sandusky allegedly sodomizing a boy in the locker room, said he stopped the act and went to police. That added confusion to the already emotionally raw situation that has enveloped Penn State University and resulted in the firing of coach Joe Paterno, the ousting of president Graham Spanier and charges of perjury against the athletic director and a former senior vice president.
The Nov. 8 email from McQueary to a friend, made available to The Associated Press, said: “I did stop it, not physically … but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room … I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police …. no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds … trust me.”
McQueary is a former player and current assistant coach who was placed on indefinite paid leave last week after school officials said he had received threats. Emails sent to him seeking comment were not immediately returned.
He told the friend that he felt he was “getting hammered for handling this the right way … or what I thought at the time was right … I had to make tough impacting quick decisions.”
The grand jury report issued Nov. 5, the day Sandusky was charged with 40 criminal counts for alleged sexual abuse against eight boys over 15 years, goes into considerable detail about the March 2002 incident. McQueary was putting sneakers into his locker late on a Friday night when, the jury said, he saw Sandusky having sex with a young boy.
He left, “distraught,” and contacted his father and then head coach Joe Paterno, jurors said. McQueary later met with athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz to describe what he had seen, the grand jury said. Curley and Schultz are charged with not alerting authorities to the report and lying to the grand jury. Paterno lost his job last week, but has not been charged and is not considered a target of investigators, state prosecutors have said.
As a result of the scandal, Curley and Schultz have left their posts, and university president Graham Spanier was also forced out of his job. U.S. Steel said Tuesday that Spanier has resigned from its board, where he had been a director since 2008.
On Wednesday, Penn State named Dr. David M. Joyner, an orthopedic surgeon who got his bachelor’s degree and medical degree from the university, as acting athletic director.
Joyner’s position on the school’s board, where he has been a trustee since 2000, is being suspended as he takes on the new duties.
On Monday night, Sandusky said in an NBC television interview that he showered with and “horsed around” with boys but was innocent of criminal charges, a statement that has stunned legal observers. Sandusky’s comments, they said, could be used by prosecutors trying to convict him of child sex-abuse charges.
“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.
Sandusky told NBC News’ “Rock Center” 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 told Bob Costas. “I am innocent of those charges.”