The controversy surrounding Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky has been dominating the headlines in recent weeks. Many have heard the graphic details surrounding Sandusky’s criminal charges, as well as the allegations surrounding Paterno. However, no thorough legal analysis of the situation has been published.
Appelman Law Firm has teamed up with various experts in the legal field to provide an analysis of all legal aspects of this scandal. In the coming weeks, we will present installments focusing on elements such as the criminal defense and employment implications surrounding the Penn State sexual assault and child molestations.
To begin this series, we will first provide a brief synopsis of the story:
Jerry Sandusky was the defensive coordinator of Penn State’s Division I football team, working under head coach Joe Paterno. During his time at the university, Sandusky established The Second Mile, a charitable organization developed to help young boys from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to multiple allegations, Sandusky used this organization as a platform to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with the young boys involved. This conduct includes charges of sexual assault, molestation, and general inappropriate contact.
During one incident in 2002, a graduate assistant at Penn State reports witnessing a graphic incident in the locker room showers. As he was entering the locker room late one night, he heard the water running and slapping noises coming from the shower area. When he walked in, the graduate assistant saw a 10-year-old boy being subjected to anal intercourse by Jerry Sandusky. Both the boy and Sandusky looked up and saw the graduate assistant, who immediately left. He first called his father, and then head coach Joe Paterno.
Paterno testified that he did receive the report from the graduate assistant, who was extremely distraught. Paterno then called Tim Curley, Paterno’s immediate supervisor and Penn State Athletic Director.
A week later, the graduate assistant was called to a meeting with Curley and Gary Schultz, the university’s Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. He reported to both Curley and Schultz that he had witnessed what appeared to be Sandusky having anal sex with the young boy. The incident was never reported to University Police.
When Schultz later testified, he denied that the graduate assistant had specified intercourse, claiming instead that he believed that the graduate assistant was simply describing inappropriate contact. He said he believed the allegations to be “not that serious” and that he and Curley “had no indication that a crime had occurred.” He later denied having any sexual assault reported by either Paterno or the graduate assistant.
The allegations against Sandusky span as far back as 1998. In the Grand Jury presentment, 8 victims are mentioned.
Joe Paterno was fired on November 9th after 46-years as head coach at Penn State. He has been accused of helping keep the pattern of abuse quiet for years and not ensuring that the multiple incidents were reported to the proper authorities. Graham Spanier, the school president, also resigned during this time. Paterno called this situation “one of the great sorrows of my life” and says that “with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
In the aftermath of the media surge, there has been much flux in the Penn State administration. Stay tuned for our next installment, when litigation attorney Andrew Parker will discuss the employment issues surrounding Penn State and Joe Paterno.
Investigating Grand Jury Presentment