November 11, 2011 / 3:16 PM / 6 years ago

Abuse victim's mother says Paterno had to be fired

* Abuse victim’s mother says son feared Sandusky

* University board meeting Friday to appoint investigators

By Ian Simpson and Ernest Scheyder

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Nov 11 (Reuters) - Penn State University was right to fire football coach Joe Paterno for not telling police that his former assistant coach had been accused of child sex abuse, an alleged victim’s mother said on Friday.

Paterno, 84, was told in 2002 that his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a young boy in a campus locker room. While Paterno told his boss, he did not call the police.

“He had any inclination of this, he may have done what he legally needed to do, but there’s got to be some moral bearing, in my opinion,” the mother, whose son is identified as Victim 1 in court papers, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“The people that hid this need to pay for their actions. They allowed this to happen to a lot of kids,” she said.

Sandusky was charged on Saturday with sexually abusing eight young boys over more than a decade and former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former finance official Gary Schultz, were charged with failing to report an incident.

Sandusky, Curley and Schultz have all denied the charges.

Paterno -- who was fired by the university’s board of trustees on Wednesday as the institution tried to salvage its reputation -- met his legal obligation by reporting the abuse allegation to Curley, legal experts said.

Victim 1’s mother, who was not identified, said her son was 11 years old when he met Sandusky in 2005 through the former assistant coach’s Second Mile program for at-risk youth.

She said her son had feared speaking out against Sandusky, telling her: “I didn’t know what to do ... you just can’t tell Jerry no.” But she said he is “doing OK” and felt a sense of relief when Sandusky was charged.

Prosecutors said Sandusky met all his alleged victims through the Second Mile program and the mother of Victim 1 fears that there are many more boys out there who were allegedly abused by the former assistant coach.


The nonprofit Second Mile program has said it cut ties with Sandusky in 2008. 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.

The firing of Paterno late on Wednesday sparked a protest by thousands of students, described by police as a “riotous mob.” Authorities plan to boost security at Penn State’s final home football game on Saturday, although interim head coach Tom Bradley said he was not concerned about the safety of players.

But the university’s athletic department said that Mike McQueary, one of the football team’s coaches who saw Sandusky alleged abusing a child in a campus locker room in 2002 and reported it to Paterno, would not attend the game.

The university said “multiple threats” had been made against McQueary. Many Penn State fans believe it is unfair that Paterno was fired and that McQueary, who also did not report the alleged sexual abuse to police, was not.

Penn State’s board of trustees will meet on Friday to appoint a special committee to investigate the events that lead up to the charges against Sandusky outlined by a grand jury. A press briefing is expected in the afternoon.

A ninth possible victim, now in his 20s, has since come forward and Pennsylvania police have set up a telephone hotline to receive information about the sexual abuse allegations.

College football is popular in the United States, drawing massive television audiences every Saturday in the late summer and autumn and filling huge stadiums. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, which seats about 106,000, is one of the largest.

Teams generate millions of dollars in revenue and successful ones raise the profile of their universities. That, in turn, helps fundraising -- such as the $2 billion capital campaign now under way at Penn State. (Additional reporting by Mark Shade in Harrisburg, Ros Krasny in Boston and Dave Warner in Philadelphia; Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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