The Penn State Nittany Lions mascot performing on a football field.
Representatives of Penn State – Nittany Lion included – are shocked by the Jerry Sandusky revelation. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Ben Stanfield/Flickr)

Attorneys familiar with the ongoing court case of former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald Arthur “Jerry” Sandusky have noted that head coach Joe Paterno may not face criminal charges for reporting Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse of an underage boy to the school’s athletic director instead of authorities. According to the New York Daily News, Sandusky allegedly sexually abused a boy in the Penn State Nittany Lions’ locker room in 2002.

Paterno ‘an innocent bystander’

According to the attorneys’ interpretation of related child abuse statutes, the legendary Coach Paterno, 84, is “an innocent bystander” who will not face criminal charges for not going to the authorities first when he learned of Sandusky’s alleged act of child abuse.

“I don’t think Joe Paterno is in trouble,” said Professor Marci Hamilton of New York’s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. “But the bigger problem is the number of people who knew about it and covered it up.

“It is hard to argue that Paterno didn’t have some responsibility, especially since he did not receive a report of abuse but an account from an actual eyewitness,” she added. “For him to take such a non-aggressive approach, and for him to allow Sandusky to remain part of the program, is troubling.”

‘I did what I was supposed to do,’ said Paterno

In a written statement, Paterno said that he “did what I was supposed to do with the one charge brought to my attention.”

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has previously represented sex abuse victims of Catholic priests, exclaimed that Paterno’s less-than-forthcoming conduct in the case is deplorable.

“After learning that school officials were not reporting the matter to police, Joe Paterno should have reported it himself,” Garabedian said. “It is simply common – and ethical and moral – sense. My experience in child abuse cases shows that predators don’t stop until they are caught.”

Sandusky charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse

Sixty-seven-year-old Sandusky, who was once considered a successor to Paterno at the head of Penn State football, reportedly worked with at-risk children though his charity, Second Mile. Charges that Sandusky made sexual advances on eight boys between 1994 and 2009 have amounted to 40 counts. If convicted, Sandusky could be sentenced to life in prison.

Paterno urged to step down

After Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report the sex abuse allegations, both resigned from their jobs. As Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke writes, the time has come for Joe Paterno to do the same.

“For the sake of a university whose continued association with him would damage its success and stain its honor, if Joe Paterno doesn’t quit, they should fire him,” said Plaschke.

UPDATE: According to the New York Times, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has officially pronounced that Joe Paterno is not a target in the ongoing Sandusky investigation. Paterno had announced that he would retire at the end of the current season, but the Penn State board of trustees fired him, instead.

Fallout of Jerry Sandusky controversy at Penn State


Los Angeles Times:


New York Daily News:

Philadelphia Inquirer:

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