Those were the words of Joe Paterno in a statement released in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, shortly before he was fired. According to recently unsealed court documents, the legendary Penn State head coach had the opportunity to do much more much earlier than once thought — and failed miserably.
Tuesday, a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge unsealed myriad documents in connection to a lawsuit involving Penn State and its insurance provider. In the documents, as has previously been reported, a victim of Sandusky, Paterno’s longtime right-hand man on the Nittany Lions coaching staff, testified in court in 2014 that he had been sexually abused in 1976 by the convicted serial child molester while attending a football camp at Penn State.
From the Washington Post:
The victim, who was identified in court records as John Doe 150, said that while he was attending a football camp at Penn State, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Sandusky’s finger penetrated the boy’s rectum, Doe testified in court in 2014, and the victim asked to speak with Paterno about it. Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.
“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’” the man’s lawyer asked him in 2014.
“Specifically. Yes … I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted… I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”
Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.
According to PennLive.com, two other instances of abuse a decade later witnessed by then-Paterno assistants were ignored, as well as one reported to the athletic director at the time. From that paper’s report:
- Improper sexual contact between Sandusky and a minor in 1987 that was witnessed by then-assistant coach Joe Sarra. Sarra died in July 2012.
- Improper sexual contact between Sandusky and a child in 1988 that was witnessed by then-assistant coach Kevin O’Dea. O’Dea is currently employed as the special team coach for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- A report by an alleged victim that was referred to then-Penn State Athletic Director Jim Tarman in 1988.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, the Paterno family responded to the information contained in the unsealed documents.
“The materials released today relating to Joe Paterno allege a conversation that occurred decades ago where all parties except the accuser are now dead. In addition, there are numerous specific elements of the accusations that defy all logic and have never been subjected to even the most basic objective examination. Most significantly, there is extensive evidence that stands in stark contrast to this claim.”
The unsealing of the damning documents comes one week after 200-plus former Nittany Lions football players had called for the return of Paterno’s statue.
UPDATED 10:57 a.m. ET: And then there’s this, as part of the unsealing:
Mike McQueary testimony claims current DCs at Ohio State, UCLA knew about Sandusky https://t.co/AbFAuIw4Lu
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 12, 2016