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Penn State coach calls sexual abuse charges against colleague 'shocking'

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:31 AM EST, Mon November 7, 2011
Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno said he is
Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno said he is "deeply saddened" about the sex abuse allegations.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paterno: "If this is true we were all fooled"
  • Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky faces sexual child abuse charges
  • Two other university officials are charged with perjury in an alleged cover-up
  • Sandusky, out on bail, maintains he is innocent

(CNN) -- Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno said Sunday the string of sexual child abuse charges against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky are "shocking."

Sandusky, 67, allegedly engaged in fondling, oral and anal sex with young boys over a period of more than 10 years, according to an investigative state grand jury's summary of testimony. He maintains he is innocent.

Also named in the state grand jury report are Penn State Athletic Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, the university's senior vice president for finance and business. They face one count of perjury each in connection to an alleged cover-up of the abuse.

"If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters. While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can't help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred," Paterno said in a statement.

The legendary coach said an assistant coach told him in 2002 about an "incident in the shower of our locker room facility."

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"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators," Paterno said.

Sandusky, who served 23 years as defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions, faces seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and numerous other charges, including aggravated indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

In some cases, Sandusky promised boys gifts or invited them to football games and sleepovers, according to the grand jury.

"One of the most compelling and disturbing pieces of testimony in this investigation came from an eyewitness to a late-night sexual assault that allegedly occurred in March of 2002, in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus," Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said Saturday.

"Hearing what sounded like sexual activity in the showers of a building that was supposed to be empty, a graduate assistant reportedly observed Sandusky sexually assaulting a naked boy who appeared to be about 10 years old," she said.

The assistant reported the incident to head football coach Paterno, who in turn alerted athletic director Curley, said Kelly.

Instead of reporting the incident to authorities, Curley and Schultz banned Sandusky from having children from Second Mile visit the football building, Kelly said.

Sandusky, who retired from coaching in 1999, was founder of the Second Mile, a charitable organization that began as a group foster home "dedicated to helping troubled boys," the grand jury states. He was arrested and released Saturday on $100,000 unsecured bail.

"If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers," Paterno said in his statement.

He added: "I understand that people are upset and angry, but let's be fair and let the legal process unfold. In the meantime I would ask all Penn Staters to continue to trust in what that name represents, continue to pursue their lives every day with high ideals and not let these events shake their beliefs nor who they are."

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