Yesterday, news came out that a court pleading in an insurance coverage case for Penn State contained an allegation that Joe Paterno knew of abuse allegations involving Jerry Sandusky as early as 1976.
Now, Sarah Ganim with CNN is reporting that another victim goes even further back, and also claims that he spoke to Joe Paterno shortly after an attack in 1971. The unidentified victim, who was 15 years old at the time and is now 62, was in and out of foster homes, and claims to have been given beer and pot by Sandusky, after Sandusky picked him up while hitchhiking. Then, Sandusky raped him in the Penn State bathrooms.
The individual told his foster parents, after they confronted him. He also recounted his story in 2011 after Sandusky was arrested, and was part of the settlement with the University, though as CNN notes, “the settlement did not acknowledge that he was ignored by Paterno.”
According to the victim, he called the Penn State offices and spoke to two individuals, at his foster parents’ behest, who he identified as Jim and Joe. He is not sure who Jim is, but is sure that “Joe” was the distinctive voice of Joe Paterno.
“I made it clear there were things done to me that I just can’t believe could have been done to me and I couldn’t escape. I said, ‘I’m very upset and scared and I couldn’t believe I let my guard down.’ They listened to me. And then all hell broke loose.“They were asking me my motive, why I would say this about someone who has done so many good things.”They accused him of making it up. “‘Stop this right now! We’ll call the authorities,'” he said they told him.Victim A says he couldn’t think. “I just wanted to get off the phone.”
According to CNN, a friend confirmed that the victim relayed the story to him back in 1972, including the detail about specifically talking to Joe Paterno.
Meanwhile, NBC is also reporting that the allegations contained in court pleadings also reference that up to six different Penn State assistant coaches, stretching from the 1970’s to the mid-90’s, may have also witnessed Jerry Sandusky’s abuse. Three of those coaches, from the early-to-mid-nineties who NBC identifies as having coached in the NFL or Division I, allegedly witnessed inappropriate acts between Sandusky and boys.
“You won’t believe what I just saw,” one of them reportedly blurted out after bursting into a room filled with Penn State football staff, according to a source.
The Paterno family has issued a response:
“Because of a single sentence in a court record of an insurance case, Joe Paterno’s reputation has once again been smeared with an unsubstantiated, forty year old allegation,” the family said in a written statement.
In light of the CNN report, it goes beyond a line in an insurance case now. A separate victim is also claiming Paterno knew as far back as 1971. Several others may have also had an opportunity to do something.
Back at the time the allegations first came out in 2011, I wrote this about the sexual abuse problem:
In a prior life, I worked with a child protection agency. Never dealt with anything remotely like this, but there were certainly plenty of abuse cases. In situations where someone knows the victim and the perpetrator, you know who they overwhelmingly support or enable?
People minimize, rationalize, make excuses, ignore evidence, and generally don’t want to believe sexual abuse occurred in their family or neighborhood. It’s not called the family secret for nothing. It’s not the epidemic that it is because people confront it and “do the right thing” at every opportunity when dealing with protection of children. Penn State was a large family, a large hierarchy, and Jerry Sandusky was the equivalent of Uncle Jerry, the dirty secret no one wanted to confront or deal with.
It appears to have been a dirty secret for a long, long time.