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'I'm innocent,' insists former Penn State football coach at centre of abuse claims

In first interview since scandal broke, Jerry Sandusky says he merely ‘horsed around’ with kids in showers.

 NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, talks with Bob Costas about Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky.
NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, talks with Bob Costas about Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky.
Image: (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

A FORMER PENN State football assistant coach has denied allegations that he sexually abused eight boys and told a television interviewer that he was not a pedophile.

Meanwhile, his attorney said he expects some alleged victims to come forward to deny that they were abused.

Jerry Sandusky, 67, said on NBC News’ “Rock Center” Monday night that there was no abuse and that any activities in a campus shower with a boy were just horseplay, not molestation.

Sandusky, once considered veteran coach Joe Paterno’s heir apparent, was arrested more than a week ago and is charged with sexually abusing eight boys, some on Penn State property, over a 15-year span.

The New York Times reported on its website late Monday that close to 10 additional suspected victims have come forward to authorities since Sandusky’s arrest, according to people close to the investigation. The paper said police were working to confirm the new allegations.

“I am innocent of those charges,” Sandusky said.

“… I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact.”

Asked whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys, he said “sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”

Asked if there was anything he had done wrong, Sandusky said, “I shouldn’t have showered with those kids.”

Sandusky said Paterno never asked him about his behavior or what he might have done.

Athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz are charged with perjury but maintain their innocence. Paterno and president Graham Spanier were ousted from their jobs for not doing enough after Sandusky was accused of assaulting a young boy in the showers of the campus football complex in 2002.

Paterno is not the target of any legal investigation, but he has conceded he should have done more. Spanier, who remains a tenured member of the faculty, has said he would have reported a crime if he’d suspected one had been committed.

Interview

The interview with Bob Costas was Sandusky’s first public comment on the charges. He had previously maintained his innocence through his attorney, Joe Amendola.

“We anticipate we’re going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say ‘This never happened. This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred,’” Amendola said on the NBC broadcast.

A spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly declined to comment on the interview, citing the active investigation.

Amendola earlier told CNN that his client was just behaving like “a jock.”

“Jerry Sandusky is a big overgrown kid,” Amendola said. “He’s a jock, and for anybody who’s ever played sports, you get showers after you work out.”

Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. File photo.  (AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Andy Colwell, File)

Wide receivers coach Mike McQueary told a grand jury that in March 2001 when he was a graduate assistant, he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy about 10 years old in a shower at the Nittany Lions’ practice center. McQueary did not go to police but instead told Paterno, Curley and Schultz, although it is unclear how detailed a description he gave. Schultz, in turn, notified Spanier.

Sandusky told NBC that only “horseplay” was involved.

“We were showering and horsing around, and he actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor, and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel — horseplay,” he said.

Amendola accused the attorney general’s office of having “thrown everything they can throw up against the wall.” He said some of the allegations, such as putting a hand on a boy’s knee, do not constitute criminal conduct and other cases include no direct complaint by the boy.

“They have other people who are saying they saw something, but they don’t have actual people saying, ‘This is what Jerry did to me,’” Amendola said. “We’re working to find those people, and when the time comes, and if we are able to do that, we think this whole case will change dramatically.”

  • Separately, the Big Ten has decided to take Paterno’s name off its championship trophy. League commissioner Jim Delany said that it is “inappropriate” to keep Paterno’s name on the trophy that will be awarded on 3 December to the winner of the conference’s first title game.

The trophy had been named the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy. Paterno had more wins, 409, than any other major college coach while football pioneer Amos Alonzo Stagg won 319 games in 57 years at the University of Chicago.

The trophy will now be called the Stagg Championship Trophy.

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