(Reuters) - Correspondence between senior Penn State University officials show they feared they could be “vulnerable” for failing to report to authorities allegations that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had abused a boy in a university locker room, CNN reported on Saturday.
The Cable News Network’s report of the emails comes amid questions about the university’s failure to alert police or other authorities to a report by Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant for the team, that he had witnessed what he believed to be Sandusky molesting a boy in a shower on campus in 2001.
Former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former University Vice President Gary Schultz face charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse in an alleged cover-up of the 2001 shower incident. Sandusky was convicted this month of molesting 10 boys over 15 years.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm existence of the emails referenced in the CNN report and whether they represent the full discussion between the officials.
According to CNN, in the wake of the McQueary report, Curley wrote to former Penn State President Graham Spanier and Schultz to discuss the matter.
Curley wrote that he wanted to tell Sandusky directly there was “a problem” and that university officials “want to assist the individual to get professional help,” CNN reported.
The then-athletic director added that if Sandusky did not cooperate, the university would inform outside authorities, according to CNN. Spanier responded that the plan was “acceptable,” CNN reported, citing two unidentified sources.
“The only downside for us is if the message (to Sandusky) isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it,” Spanier wrote, according to CNN.
“But that can be assessed down the down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”
An attorney for Schultz declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. Attorneys for Curley and Spanier could not immediately be reached for comment.
CNN said it “does not have the purported emails. However, the alleged contents were made available to CNN.”
Some contents of the emails were previously reported by NBC.
The emails do not mention Sandusky by name, instead referring to him as the “subject” or “the individual,” CNN said. But a person with knowledge of the emails told CNN the person was Sandusky.
Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Paul Thomasch