Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sat down with The New York Times in his first extended interview since his indictment on sexual abuse charges. The interview lasted nearly four hours over two days. Mr. Sandusky agreed to the interview because he said prosecutors distorted his decades of work with children had been distorted by prosecutors.
In it, Mr. Sandusky said Coach Joe Paterno never spoke to him about any suspected misconduct. Mr. Sandusky also said the charity he worked for never restricted his access to children until he was the subject of a criminal investigation in 2008.
The failure by Mr. Paterno to act aggressively after being told in 2002 that Mr. Sandusky molested a ten-year-old boy in the showers of the university’s football building played a role in Mr. Paterno’s firing last month after sixty-two years at Penn State. Mr. Sandusky said that Mr. Paterno did not confront him over the accusation, despite the fact that Mr. Sandusky had been one of his assistant coaches for three decades and was a regular presence at the football team’s complex for years after the 2002 episode.
Mr. Sandusky insisted he never sexually abused a child, but he confirmed events that prosecutors cited in charging him with forty counts of molesting young boys, all of whom came to know Mr. Sandusky through the charity he founded, the Second Mile.
Mr. Sandusky said he gave money to the disadvantaged boys at his charity, opened bank accounts for them, and gave them gifts that had been donated to the charity.
Prosecutors have said Mr. Sandusky used such gifts as a way to build a sense of trust and loyalty among boys he then repeatedly abused.
Mr. Sandusky described what he admitted was a family and work life that could often be chaotic, one that lacked some classic boundaries between adults and children, and thus one that was open to interpretation.
He said his household in State College, Pennsylvania, came to be a kind of second home for dozens of children from the charity, a place where games were played, wrestling matches staged, sleepovers arranged, and from where trips to out-of-town sporting events were launched. Asked why he interacted with children who were not his own without the typical safeguards other adults might apply (showering with them, sleeping alone with them in hotel rooms) he said that he saw those children as his own.
He characterized his close experiences with children he took under his wing as “precious times,” and said that the physical aspect of the relationships “just happened that way.”
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