Penn State coach Joe Paterno was told by a teen boy in 1976 that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had molested him in the shower but responded that he didn’t want to hear about it and had “a football season to worry about,” according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
The man identified as John Doe 150 said in 2014 that other boys in a shower heard him yell that Sandusky had just touched him sexually. The man said he told several adults about it, then sought out Paterno.
“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?” a lawyer for Penn State’s insurance carrier asked the man. “Specifically, yes,” the man replied.
“I was shocked, disappointed, offended, I was insulted,” John Doe 150 testified. “I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”
He said Paterno then “just walked away.”
Dozens of documents and excerpts were released Tuesday by a judge who is presiding over litigation by Penn State against Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Co. over payment of claims for abuse by Sandusky, who is now serving decades in state prison for child molestation.
The judge two months ago disclosed the existence of the 1976 allegation, along with claims coaches witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and children in the ’80s, but the newly unsealed documents provide far greater detail.
Paterno told a reporter before he died in early 2012 — just months after Sandusky’s arrest — that the first inkling he had that Sandusky might be abusing children occurred in 2001, though there are records that show high-ranking Penn State officials dealt with a complaint in 1998 by a mother that Sandusky had showered with her son.
A lawyer for Paterno’s family issued a statement Tuesday claiming there is evidence that “stands in stark contrast” to John Doe 150’s story.
The lawyer, Wick Sollers, said, “There are numerous specific elements of the accusations that defy all logic and have never been subjected to even the most basic objective examination.”
A lawyer for Sandusky, who retired in 1999, has also denied the allegation.
Paterno told a grand jury in 2011 that he first learned in 2001 of inappropriate sexual contact by Sandusky involving boys.
“I do not know of anything else that Jerry would be involved in of that nature, no. I do not know of it. You did mention — I think you said something about a rumor. It may have been discussed in my presence, something else about somebody. I don’t know. I don’t remember, and I could not honestly say I heard a rumor,” Paterno testified.
Mike McQueary, a former assistant who reported to Paterno the 2001 incident in a team shower and who testified against Sandusky at trial, said in a 2015 deposition that former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was “not shocked” when told of it, according to the newly unsealed documents.
Bradley, who briefly took over as head coach after Paterno’s firing, “said he knew of some things” about Sandusky dating to the 1980s, McQueary testified.
Bradley attorney Brett Senior issued a statement denying Bradley ever witnessed any inappropriate behavior.
“Nor did he have any knowledge of alleged incidents in the ’80s and ’90s. He has consistently testified as such,” Senior said. “Any assertions to the contrary are false. When he became aware of the 2001 incident, it had already been reported to the university administration years earlier.”
McQueary said Bradley told him that he’d been approached by someone in the ’80s who saw Sandusky “doing something to a boy” and that in the ’90s, former assistant coach Greg Schiano saw Sandusky in the shower with a boy.
“Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower,” McQueary testified.
Schiano is now the defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Schiano told ESPN: “I never saw any abuse, nor had reason to suspect any abuse, during my time at Penn State.”
The newly unsealed documents also provide additional information about encounters in 1987 and 1988 that accusers claim were witnessed by coaching staff.
A man called John Doe 75 said in a 2014 deposition that in 1987, assistant football coach Joe Sarra walked into a coaches’ meeting room to see Sandusky with his hands down the then-13-year-old boy’s shorts.
He said Sarra may have said something like, “oh, sorry,” and immediately walked out, after which Sandusky kissed him on the forehead. Sarra died four years ago.
A 2014 deposition by a man called John Doe 101 said that Sandusky fondled him inside a crowded Penn State pool and that coaches often saw the boy showering with Sandusky. He said Sandusky would pretend to be wrestling when they heard others coming in while Sandusky was molesting him.
The records also include an analysis by a lawyer working as an expert for the insurance company that said the settlements paid by Penn State seemed very high, possibly as a result of the university’s concern about publicity and a wish to resolve matters quickly.
Lawyer Eric Anderson said the school “made little effort, if any, to verify the credibility of the claims of the individuals.”
Penn State has made $92 million in total payouts to settle 32 civil claims in the Sandusky sex molestation scandal.
Ken Feinberg, a lawyer who helped mediate claims against the school, told reporters last week it was “a very objective process” and none of the cases were easy to resolve. He said Penn State was diligent in making sure the claims were backed up by sufficient proof.
Sandusky is appealing while serving 30 to 60 years on a 45-count child abuse conviction.
Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale and Michael R. Sisak in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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