In June of 2012, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing ten young boys. The local hero and leader of a prominent university sports team will most likely spend his life behind bars after being found guilty on 45 out of 48 counts, with 26 victims of sexual assault testifying. The Penn State debacle was one of the most serious scandals in college sports history. Read on for a complete timeline of events.
Jerry Sandusky was an assistant coach for Penn State’s football team for 31 seasons, from 1969 to 1999. For the last 23 of those years, he was the team’s defensive coordinator. After his retirement in 1999, he remained a coach emeritus with an office at Penn State. He was first investigated on child abuse allegations in 1989, but no charges were actually ever filed against him.
The investigation into the charges that led to Sandusky’s imprisonment were based on the allegations of Aaron Fisher—known in the media as Victim 1—in 2008. Fisher, then a freshman in high school, claimed that Sandusky had been molesting him since he was 12 years old.
The Evidence Mounts
In 2010, then assistant coach Mike McQueary testified before a grand jury in regards to the Victim 1 accusation. McQueary stated that in 2002 he had entered the Penn State locker room and heard sounds of sexual activity coming from the shower room. McQueary further testified that when he investigated the shower room, he saw Victim 2—another young boy of about ten—up against the wall with a naked Sandusky subjecting Victim 2 to anal intercourse. McQueary claims that he reported the incident to head coach Joe Paterno, who reported the incident to two athletic directors. Paterno did nothing further; the only action taken by the athletic directors was to direct Sandusky to not bring young boys to the football building. Both athletic directors and Joe Paterno denied knowledge of the incident in trial, stating that they only knew of inappropriate touching.
Additional charges against Sandusky began to accrue, and eight victims eventually testified against him. In 2011 Sandusky was found guilty on 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys. It wasn’t until 2012 that a federal investigation was conducted, resulting in the conviction of 45 counts against Sandusky.
Both athletic directors who were involved in the scandal were convicted of failing to report the sexual abuse of a child.
Paterno was not convicted on any criminal counts (Pennsylvania law required that he report the sexual abuse to his superior, which he did when he reported it to his athletic directors); however, he was criticized for not reporting the abuse to the police. In November of 2011, Paterno was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees. Another local hero, Paterno was responsible for 46 football seasons at the university and a long win-record; his dismissal sparked chaos at the University. Protest after protest took place, causing damage to the campus and town. Protesters tore down lampposts and threw rocks and fireworks at the police. On January 22, 2012, Joe Paterno died of lung cancer.
Many of the charges against Sandusky, including rape and child abuse, carry significant prison terms, so it is likely that the former assistant coach will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Robert Mortensen focuses on legal issues such as Sexual Abuse of Children, Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Insurance Litigation and other complex topics.
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