November 5, 2011 / 9:24 PM / 7 years ago

Penn State assistant coach charged with abusing boys

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A celebrated former assistant to legendary Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno was charged with sexually abusing eight boys, a state prosecutor said on Saturday.

Penn State head coach Joe Paterno answers questions during a news conference following a loss to Alabama in their NCAA football game in State College, Pennsylvania, September 10, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Former defensive coordinator Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky, 67, of State College, where Penn State is located, faces an array of charges. They include seven counts of first-degree involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, all of which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, according to Pennsylvania State Attorney General Linda Kelly.

“This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys,” Kelly said.

Sandusky, who coached for 23 years and was once considered a likely successor to Paterno, was also charged with aggravated indecent assault, eight counts of corruption of minors, four counts of unlawful contact with a minor stemming from a selection of the children Sandusky targeted from 1994 to 2009.

One of the victims, a boy who was roughly 11-years-old when he met Sandusky in 2005 or 2006, testified that Sandusky performed oral sex on him more than 20 times through early 2008, and forced the victim to perform oral sex on him, the full report from the grand jury said.

Sandusky met the victims through his Second Mile organization, a statewide non-profit organization devoted to “helping troubled young boys,” the statement said.

“Through the Second Mile, Sandusky had access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations,” the grand jury report said.

Sandusky was arraigned on Saturday and released after posting $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 9.

The scandal reaches into the upper echelons of the Penn State athletic organization.

Athletic Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, senior vice president for finance and business, were each charged with failing to report the crimes and perjury.

Paterno, who is the winningest coach in the highest division of collegiate sports, has not been charged. Paterno alerted Athletic Director Curley when he learned of the assault.

Kelly said that testimony from numerous victims and witnesses led to the criminal charges that were filed on Saturday.

The alleged sexual assaults came to light after a graduate assistant witnessed Sandusky “sexually assaulting a naked boy who appeared to be about 10 years old” at the Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus late one night in March of 2002, the statement said.

The assistant reportedly heard noise coming from a shower room and entered to see Sandusky sexually assaulting the boy, the statement said.

The graduate assistant told Paterno, who alerted Athletic Director Curley. Curley and Schultz later met with the graduate assistant and then told Sandusky not to bring boys to the football building. But they did not alert police.

“The failure of top university officials to act on reports of Sandusky’s alleged sexual misconduct, even after it was reported to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness, allowed a predator to walk free for years — continuing to target new victims,” Kelly said.

Writing by Eric Johnson; Editing by Greg McCune

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