Local parallels between Penn State and priest sex scandals

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USA Today

09 November 2011

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

It was June 2002, and the nation had been punched in the gut by a cascade of revelations of priests’ sexual abuse of children and teens, abuse that had been hidden or denied for decades.

“We are the ones, whether through ignorance or lack of vigilance or — God forbid — with knowledge, who allowed priest abusers to remain in ministry and reassigned them to communities where they continued to abuse,” said Bishop Wilton Gregory, then-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and now archbishop of Atlanta.

Gregory’s next words echoed this weekend in State College, Pa., where once-respected Penn Stateassistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is now accused of abusing eight young boys, and two officials are accused of perjury for covering up for him.

“We are the ones who chose not to report the criminal actions of priests to the authorities, because the law did not require this,” Gregory said.

The parallels to State College are grim. Despite an eyewitness account that alleged Sandusky molested a 10-year-old in the football locker room showers, no one called local or campus police. No one sought the child to provide help. And no one prevented Sandusky from years of continued access to more children through a charity for at-risk children, Second Mile.

That’s much like the bishops’ scandal, which erupted during the Boston trial of a priest accused of molesting a boy in a swimming pool.

Between 1950 and 2002, according to a John Jay College of Criminal Justice study, 10,667 individuals had made allegations against clergy or church employees or volunteers. Annual studies conducted between 2004 and 2010 have added 4,988 credible reports of abuse, according to statistics provided by the bishops’ group.

The people of the community around State College, the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa., had at least two dozen priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, according to BishopAccountability.org.

Allegations piled up within the diocese for years, but a letter from the diocesan bishop,James Hogan, to one of several accused priests in 1994, shows how Hogan dealt with it. He wrote: “Painful as the situation is, we must safeguard your own good name, protect the priestly reputation and prevent scandal from touching the church — even if unjust.”

That letter came to light in the horrific case of the alleged abuse of Michael Hutchinson by priest Francis Luddy — a case that stretched from 1987 to 2007.

The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese spent millions of dollars and two decades fighting Hutchinson’s claim in the courts before finally losing decisively and paying the scarred young man a $1.5 million settlement plus $700,000 in interest, according to Hutchinson’s attorney, Richard Serbin.

That added to nearly $8 million already paid to dozens of victims in Altoona-Johnstown, USA TODAY research in 2004 shows. Serbin says he dealt with 50 victims in Altoona-Johnstown and saw more than 100 young people learn they had no legal case because of the statute of limitations.

Although the Pennsylvania attorney general has called for victims to come forward to police now, Serbin is unsure whether they are ready or able to step forward.

“Victims are embarrassed, humiliated, and they think they did something wrong to encourage this. It may be years before they can speak up for themselves. I’ve had cases where priests name the kids they’ve abused, and the kids denied it.

“And several of my clients, including one in Altoona-Johnstown, have committed suicide.”

Looking back on those ugly years, Catholics who dealt then and deal now with caring for victims and preventing new abuse view the Penn State case with pain and some outrage.

After 2002, the church established comprehensive protection programs, audited nearly 200 dioceses yearly for compliance and set a zero-tolerance baseline for abuse: Any priest credibly accused was to be removed from ministry.

Meanwhile, Sandusky was allowed by Second Mile officials to continue his association with the program for years after they were aware of allegations against him.

Al Notzen, head of the bishops’ National Review Board, established to monitor the response said Tuesday: “Child abuse is a societal problem. It has to be dealt with in families, schools and all institutions with children. Find the problems, confront them, care for the victims and keep children safe.”

David Clohessy, executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said Tuesday, “If there are eight known victims, many many more will come forward.”

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Coach Paterno’s future at Penn State in doubt

USA Today

08 November 2011

By Jack Carey and Carolyn Pesce, USA TODAY

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Coach Joe Paterno canceled two public appearances Tuesday as another alleged child abuse victim came forward, a congressman called for an investigation into the enveloping scandal and three news outlets reported the legendary coach’s tenure could soon be over.

  • Penn State football coach Joe Paterno leaves the Louis and Mildred Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus in State College, Pa., on Tuesday.
  • By Matt Rourke, APPenn State football coach Joe Paterno leaves the Louis and Mildred Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus in State College, Pa., on Tuesday.

By Matt Rourke, AP

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno leaves the Louis and Mildred Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus in State College, Pa., on Tuesday.

Sandusky, 67, was arrested Saturday, charged with 40 counts of and charged criminal counts over allegedy molesting eight boys over a 15-year period, including subjecting children to sex acts in the football team’s showers on campus.

Lt. David Young, a state police criminal investigation supervisor, said Tuesday that investigators took a statement from a ninth alleged victim, a man who contacted the department Sunday after seeing media accounts of Sandusky’s arrest. State authorities have urged any additional victims, or anyone with information that might help their investigation, to contact police.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg which first reported that the man had come forward, said he is in his 20s, knew Sandusky from The Second Mile charity that Sandusky had started and had never told his parents or authorities about the alleged encounters from about a decade ago.

Young declined to release the man’s name or provide details about what he claims occurred.

Penn State athletics director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz are accused of failing to report the alleged abuse to police and perjuring themselves before a grand jury. They appeared in court in Harrisburg on Monday, one day after Schultz stepped down from his post and Curley was placed on administrative leave at his request. They were not required to set pleas, but a judge set bail at $75,000 and ordered that they surrender their passports.

Authorities have said that Paterno, 84, who testified in the grand jury proceedings that led to the charges against Sandusky, is not a target of the investigation. But the state police commissioner has chastised him and other school officials for not doing enough to try to stop the suspected abuse.

Paterno knew about the abuse and reported it to Curley, his supervisor.

“I know you guys have a lot of questions. I was hoping I could answer them today. We’ll try to do it as soon as we can,” Joe Paterno told a group of reporters Tuesday. About a dozen fans stood nearby, chanting, “We love you, Joe.”

Penn State canceled Paterno’s regular Tuesday news conference with media members citing the ongoing legal circumstances around the case.

Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson handed a short statement to the approximately 200 media members waiting to enter the press conference.

“Due to the ongoing legal circumstances surrounding the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today’s press conference cannot be held and will not be rescheduled,” the statement said.

Prior to the press conference, the school told media members Paterno would not take questions about the case but only about football and this week’s game with No. 17 Nebraska.

Paterno’s appearance on the weekly Big Ten press conference scheduled for later Tuesday was also canceled.

Hundreds of Penn State students, inspired by social media “flash mob” started on Facebook, rallied outside of Paterno’s home near the school’s campus to lend the embattled coach support. Paterno appeared briefly and thanked the crowd.

“We’re always going to be Penn State,” he said. “I’m proud of you. I’ve always been proud of you. Beat Nebraska.”

ESPN’s Matt Millen, who played for Paterno and Sandusky from 1976-79 and serves as an honorary board member of Sandusky’s Second Mile charity, appeared both angry and upset while appearing on the sports cable channel Tuesday, lending support to Paterno but voicing contempt over the allegations involving Sandusky.

“It makes you sick to see that this could happen to this level, If in fact that it has happened, then there’s a part of me, like I mentioned earlier, viscerally that you just want to go and take care of it yourself which is what I have always done and which is the wrong thing to do,” Millen said.

Still, it appeared pressure was building on Paterno to resign.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Paterno’s tenure will be over “perhaps within days or weeks.” The paper cited two people briefed on conversations among the university’s top officials.

Paterno’s son, Scott, disputed the Times report on Twitter. “NYT report premature. No discussions about retirement with JVP.”

Scott Paterno said his father hasn’t spoken with university officials or trustees about stepping down. Addressing reporters outside his father’s house, he said Joe Paterno plans to not only coach in Saturday’s game against Nebraska, but he plans to coach for the long haul. “He’s the coach at Penn State at this time,” Scott Paterno said. “He’s getting ready for a football game.”

The Associated Press also reported that Paterno was on his way out, citing a person familiar with the trustees’ discussions.

And The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Paterno and university presidentGraham Spanier were losing support from the school’s Board of Trustees. The publication said the board plans to take up the issue in a closed-door session on Thursday, citing three individuals with close ties to senior leadership of the university.

“Any idea that the board is being placid or complacent is misplaced. The board is very concerned about this, and I believe the board will demonstrate its concern forcefully,” said one of the individuals who spoke to the Chronicle on condition of anonymity because no official decision has been made. That individual said he has had contact with more than a dozen of the board’s 32 members.

When news of Sandusky’s arrest broke, some board members heard it on the radio, while others learned of it from family members, one source told the Chronicle.

The university’s response angered some of its trustees, calling the board into emergency session late Saturday and again on Sunday. Early Monday, the board issued a statement announcing that Curley and Schultz would step down.

“Many members of the board feel they were blindsided by this. That has made it difficult to move swiftly, but I think the board is moving with alacrity considering that fact,” said the source.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s spokesman says the governor will attend Friday’s meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees and will probably speak publicly about the sex-abuse scandal in the coming days.

Press secretary Kevin Harley said Tuesday that Corbett has so far withheld comment partly because he formerly directed the investigation as the state’s attorney general, the job he held before January.

Harley says Corbett is “very much involved” in the Penn State matter this week, but won’t divulge discussions with other trustees.

Meanwhile U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calling for an investigation of the charges. Meehan, a former U.S. attorney and longtime advocate for safety on college campuses, asked Duncan to look into whether federal law was broken in the failure to properly report allegations of sexual abuse.

“These allegations of misconduct are incredibly upsetting and disturbing,” Meehan said. “Aside from the charges against individuals, we need to look at whether a federal law that requires colleges and universities to report crimes on campus was broken.”

He said the failure to report the incident in 2002 appears to violate federal law and breaks Penn State’s own reporting methods for sexual abuse on campus.

“Even more upsetting is the fact that had university officials reported this to authorities, additional abuses could have been prevented,” Meehan said.

Paterno is in his 46th season Penn State’s coach. His teams won national championships in 1982 and 1986 and his 409 victories are the most among major college coaches.

Beyond winning games and becoming a college football icon, Paterno has raised millions for Penn State and the library at the school bears his name.

Carey reported from State College. Contributing: Erick Smith, Nicole Auerbach, Audrey Snyder, Gary Strauss and the Associated Press

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PSU’s Jerry Sandusky ‘found his victims’ at Second Mile group home

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sunday, November 06, 2011

By Timothy McNulty and Janice Crompton,

Jerry Sandusky grew up as an only child living in an apartment over the Brownson House in Washington, Pa., a youth athletic center that also served as a second home for many local children. Two decades later while a linebacker coach at Penn State University he founded his own home for wayward boys, calling it The Second Mile.

The charity’s name came from the collection of moral lessons from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, specifically from Matthew 5:41: “And whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two.”

The state Attorney General’s office on Saturday charged Mr. Sandusky, 67, with 40 sex charges against boys from 1994 to 2005, all of whom he met through the Second Mile Foundation he founded in 1977. Started as a small home for six troubled boys outside State College, it has grown to a statewide organization whose mission is to help “young people to achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing opportunities for them to develop positive life skills and self-esteem.”

Mr. Sandusky and his wife Dottie have six adopted children and had cared for foster children, which led them to start the nonprofit. Mr. Sandusky was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and received awards for Second Mile including the 1993 NAACP Human Rights Award, the 1995 YMCA Service-To-Youth Award and the 1996 SGMA Heroes Award. President George Bush nationally recognized it as a philanthropic “Point Of Light” in November 1990.

“After we had taken in some foster children,” Mrs. Sandusky told Sports Illustrated in 1982, “we saw the opportunities that some kids just hadn’t had. But we’d gotten to the point where we couldn’t take in any more, so Jerry started thinking about starting a group home.”

It was also within the charity that Mr. Sandusky “found his victims,” a grand jury presentment stated. “Through The Second Mile, Sandusky had access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations.”

Mr. Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999 to devote his time to Second Mile, where he would stay on until 2010. Efforts to reach the foundation’s CEO Jack Raykovitz were not successful, but he released a statement to the Patriot-News Friday.

“We have many policies and procedures designed to protect the children involved in our programs, including employee and volunteer background checks, training and supervision,” he said. “As a result, other than occasional bumps and bruises, we have never had an incident impact the safety, health or well-being of children during our programs, and we will continue to do everything in our power to maintain the trust placed in us by the families and professionals with whom we partner to keep that record intact.”

Second Mile does work with at-risk children statewide, though most of it is in central and south-central Pennsylvania. It issues motivational and educational training cards called “Nittany Lion Tips,” sponsors four-day conferences for high school sophomores on community leadership and week-long camps for children with behavioral and academic problems, and has a mentor program that matches collegiate volunteers with at-risk elementary students.

Mr. Sandusky usually met his victims, the grand jury report said, in their second year at Second Mile camps at the Penn State campus, when they were 7 to 12 years old. They would often stay over at the Sandusky home, sleeping in the basement, and attend Penn State football games with him. He would then provoke sexual encounters with the boys in the basement room, Penn State showers and other athletic facilities, it said.

There are multiple links between the charity and Penn State. Mr. Sandusky was given full access to university facilities in his 1999 retirement agreement, and the presentment says a 1998 investigation of an alleged encounter between Mr. Sandusky and a boy in a football shower was reviewed with the knowledge of then-university counsel Wendell Courtney, who remains counsel for Second Mile.

After a graduate assistant reported seeing Mr. Sandusky anally rape a boy in the football building showers in 2002, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley told the assistant the incident had been reported to Second Mile. Mr. Curley told the grand jury that he informed the Second Mile CEO, Mr. Raykovitz, about the report and told Mr. Sandusky he was prohibited from bringing youths onto campus.

Mr. Sandusky has long been the foundations’s lead fundraiser. In 2010 it suffered a $228,000 loss in cash flow, which the foundation warned was hurting its youth programs.

“The children we serve have often experienced many broken promises in their young lives; that’s why our mantra has always been ‘No broken promises, ever.’ We need to continue to be the family they can count on,” Second Mile’s 2010 annual report said.

It had $2.2 million in revenue versus $2.4 in expenses according to a January 2011 report to the Internal Revenue Service. Though it has little presence in the Pittsburgh area — other than an annual Pitt vs. Penn State golf fundraiser — one of its goals for his year is to “expand our professional partnerships and service, particularly in the Southwest Region,” according to the charity tracker GuideStar.

The roots for Second Mile come from the state’s southwest too.

Mr. Sandusky’s father, Art Sandusky, served as live-in director of the Brownson House athletic center in Washington for many years. The facility’s athletic field was named in honor of the elder Mr. Sandusky.

The Sandusky family moved into the center in 1953, when Jerry was 9. It was the kind of place where children could keep out of trouble at a time when there were few after-school programs available.

David Johnson, Mr. Sandusky’s high school football coach, said Mr. Sandusky occasionally came home to Washington, including in recent years when his father and mother passed away.

He said he has “all the respect in the world” for Mr. Sandusky and doesn’t know what to make of the charges now leveled against him.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s not true until I see more evidence,” Mr. Johnson said.

Ken Bonnell, a high school friend of Mr. Sandusky’s, agreed. “I don’t want to believe it,” he said. “But it sure doesn’t look good for Jerry.”

Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581. Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


First published on November 6, 2011 at 12:00 am

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