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Lawyers for Penn State officials blast move to delay hearing

By Matt Smith and Joe Sterling, CNN
updated 9:34 AM EST, Wed November 16, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Finance records: Second Mile board member raised money for judge
  • State lawmaker wants judge who granted bail to Sandusky to step down
  • Penn State coach denies rumors that a bowl offer would be declined

(CNN) -- Lawyers for two Penn State University officials charged with failing to report sexual abuse claims against a former football coach blasted prosecutors Tuesday for trying to delay an upcoming hearing, saying their clients deserve a speedy trial.

Pennsylvania's attorney general's office filed court papers Tuesday saying it was "not available to proceed" with a preliminary hearing for Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business. The hearing had been set for Thursday.

The attorney general's office proposed several dates in early December as an alternative, but offered no further explanation for the requested delay.

Curley and Schultz "are anxious to face their accusers, clear their good names and go on with their lives," their attorneys said in a joint written statement.

The scandal revolves around former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing eight boys -- and allegations that Penn State officials failed to contact police when complaints about Sandusky reached them.

The grand jury report led last week to the firing of legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier, while Mike McQueary -- a graduate assistant coach who allegedly found Sandusky having sex with a pre-teen boy in a Penn State locker room in 2002, according to the grand jury -- was put on administrative leave.

The grand jury report says Sandusky molested young boys after developing close relationships with them through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youths. He has been freed on $100,000 bail, against the wishes of prosecutors.

Sandusky told NBC's Bob Costas on Monday that he has been falsely accused, saying that he only "horsed around" with kids in the shower after workouts.

Asked if Paterno had ever spoken to him about his behavior or expressed disapproval, Sandusky said simply, "No." And asked if he felt guilty over the spreading fallout that has affected the university and prominent university figures, including the fired Paterno, Sandusky responded, "I don't think it was my fault. I obviously played a part in this. ... I shouldn't have showered with those kids. That's what hits me the most."

Sandusky denied being sexually attracted to young boys, and his lawyer, Joe Amendola, told CNN on Monday night that showering with children does not equate automatically to sexual assault.

"Jerry Sandusky is a big, overgrown kid. He's a jock," Amendola told CNN's Jason Carroll. "The bottom line is jocks do that -- they kid around, they horse around."

Sandusky's release on unsecured bail has fueled criticism of the Centre County judge who approved it. Judge Leslie Dutchcot was at one point a volunteer for Sandusky's The Second Mile charity, according to her biography on a law firm website. It is not clear whether she has any current affiliation with the organization, and the judge did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

Campaign finance records released by a Philadelphia area state representative reveal a Second Mile board member raised money for Dutchcot.

Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, sent letters Tuesday to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald D. Castille and Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly calling for Dutchcot to recuse herself from the Sandusky case.

"If a conflict of interest does exist for Judge Dutchcot, as it appears to due to her connections with the Second Mile, the only appropriate action is for Judge Dutchcot to recuse herself from the case," Vereb wrote in his letter to Castille.

Vereb did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Robert and Sandra Poole, according to one document, hosted a fundraiser at their home on October 9, 2007, for the Committee to Elect Leslie A. Dutchcot District Judge. The event raised $1,463.02. Robert Poole is chairman of The Second Mile.

Another document shows the Pooles contributed $1,000 on October 31, 2007, to the Committee to Elect Leslie A. Dutchcot District Judge.

Sandusky was arrested on November 5, after the release of the grand jury report detailing crimes that he allegedly committed between 1994 and 2009.

After Sandusky was charged, Judge Dutchcot freed him on $100,000 bail, against the wishes of prosecutors.

A biography of Dutchcot posted on the website of the law firm Goodall & Yurchak listed her as a volunteer for The Second Mile. As of Tuesday, the Dutchcot attorney profile was unavailable on the law firm's website. There was no answer at her law office telephone.

The Sandusky case has led to investigations by the U.S. Department of Education, the university and The Second Mile, as well as by state prosecutors.

On Monday, the board of directors for The Second Mile announced that Jack Raykovitz, the charity's CEO of 28 years and a licensed psychologist, had resigned.

The Second Mile has said that Sandusky has not been involved with its children since November 2008, when he told officials he was being investigated over "allegations made against him by an adolescent male."

In the NBC interview, Sandusky flatly denied one of the charges in the grand jury report -- that McQueary had walked in on him raping a boy about 10 years of age. McQueary said he told Paterno what he had seen, and Paterno then alerted Curley, but law enforcement didn't learn of the alleged incident until years later, according to the report.

Sandusky said instead that he and the boy were in the shower, "snapping towels" and engaging in horseplay.

And Amendola said, "The kid was messing around and having a good time" in the shower with Sandusky, adding that McQueary felt "uncomfortable" witnessing it.

Amendola denied the more graphic details offered in that and other allegations, asserting that the prosecution lacked evidence and witnesses.

Meanwhile, Penn State's interim coach denied rumors Tuesday that the embattled football team would decline a bowl bid at season's end.

We've been assured that's not the case for the bowl game," Tom Bradley told reporters. He also said that the possibility of the team not playing next year hasn't come up, and he praised his players for weathering the storm around the scandal.

Paterno's firing has been a "distraction," Bradley said, but the players "were great yesterday at practice."

Penn State is 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten Conference, remaining in contention for the league title. Its next game is Saturday against Ohio State.

CNN's Mary Snow and Sarah Hoye reported from State College; Josh Levs, Monte Plott and Dana Ford from Atlanta; and Barbara Starr from Washington.

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