STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A New York-based charity was investigating on Monday whether it sent disadvantaged children for vacations at the home of accused child sex abuser and former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
News reports from about a decade ago -- related to the promotion of Sandusky’s memoir “Touched” -- mentioned that Sandusky and his wife Dottie served as volunteer hosts for children from The Fresh Air Fund for several years.
The Fresh Air Fund, founded in 1877, sends disadvantaged New York City children to camps and volunteer host families in 13 U.S. states and Canada for “free summer experiences,” according to its website.
“We have contacted the Pennsylvania authorities to report any Fresh Air involvement,” Andrea Kotuk, spokeswoman for The Fresh Air Fund, told Reuters. “We’re going through records.”
Sandusky was charged on November 5 with sexually abusing eight young boys over more than a decade and prosecutors said he met all his alleged victims through the nonprofit Second Mile program for disadvantaged youth, which he founded in 1977.
The Second Mile program said it cut ties with Sandusky in 2008. The longtime head of the charity resigned on Monday and hired a new legal team as it prepared for what experts say is an inevitable flurry of civil litigation.
The scandal had thrown Penn State University into turmoil after some university officials were accused of covering-up the alleged child sex abuse.
Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former finance official Gary Schultz, have also been charged with failing to report an incident after revered football coach Joe Paterno told them in 2002 that an assistant saw Sandusky being sexually inappropriate with a boy in a campus locker room.
Sandusky, Curley and Schultz have all denied the charges.
Paterno, 84, was fired by the university last week after it was revealed that while he had fulfilled his legal obligation by telling Curley about the alleged incident, he did not call police. The scandal also claimed Penn State President Graham Spanier, who was dismissed after 16 years in the job.
The then-graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, who is now an assistant football coach, has been placed on administrative leave. He told a grand jury that he had seen Sandusky raping a boy aged about 10 in the locker room showers in 2002. He also did not call police.
Sandusky coached for more than two decades at Penn State before retiring in 1999 and was once considered a likely successor to Paterno. After his retirement he still had access to Penn State facilities.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general declined to comment on possible links between Sandusky and The Fresh Air Fund and a spokesman for the New York attorney general was not immediately available.
Prosecutors in Texas have opened an investigation into Sandusky after grand jury testimony in Pennsylvania indicated that he may have abused a young boy when Penn State was in San Antonio for the 1999 Alamo Bowl.
Writing by Michelle Nichols