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Sandusky clarifies his position toward young people

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:39 PM EST, Sat December 3, 2011
Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky said that children at his charity were like an
Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky said that children at his charity were like an "extended family."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: An alleged victim's lawyer rips what she calls Sandusky's "delusional rationalization"
  • "I enjoy spending time with young people," Sandusky says
  • Sandusky says Paterno never spoke with him about allegations of misconduct
  • The scandal has left much missing from his life, Sandusky says

(CNN) -- Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal, attempts to clarify in a new interview how he feels about his relationships with young people.

"If I say, 'No, I'm not attracted to young boys,' that's not the truth," Sandusky said in an extensive interview with The New York Times in a story published Saturday. "Because I'm attracted to young people -- boys, girls -- I ..." His lawyer, who was present at the interview, spoke up at that point to note that Sandusky is "not sexually" attracted to them.

"Right. I enjoy, that's what I was trying to say, I enjoy spending time with young people. I enjoy spending time with people," Sandusky continued. "I mean my two favorite groups are the elderly and the young."

A grand jury report, made public last month, detailed 40 charges against Sandusky in a child sex abuse scandal involving at least eight alleged victims and spanning 15 years.

In a recent interview with NBC's Bob Costas, Sandusky was asked directly: "Are you sexually attracted to underage boys?"

Sandusky repeated the question, paused, and responded, "No. I enjoy young people."

The former Penn State defense coordinator has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation -- saying he only "horsed around" with the disadvantaged boys in his care -- and is currently free on $100,000 bail.

An attorney -- this one representing Victim 6, as identified in the grand jury report -- predicted Sandusky's latest interview with the newspaper will not help his case. Howard Janet called the ex-coach's remarks "another failed attempt to manipulate the public and potentially manipulate the future jury pool."

"He's not accomplishing ... his desired goal," Janet said, calling much of the interview "uncomfortable to watch" and "disingenuous." "Every time he opens his mouth, virtually, he puts his foot in it."

According to the New York Times story, Sandusky stressed that he and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno never discussed the allegations of sexual misconduct.

"I don't know that he didn't know," he told the newspaper. "I know that he never said anything to me. I know that."

The Board of Trustees removed Paterno and President Graham Spanier on November 9, amid the allegations that also implicated high-level university officials.

Athletic Director Tim Curley, 57, and the school's vice president for finance and business, Gary Schultz, 62, have since been charged in the scandal. Each faces one count of felony perjury and one count of failure to report abuse allegations.

Paterno, 84, has not been charged in the investigation, but has received criticism for not alerting authorities to the alleged misconduct. He has said he did his duty in referring the allegations to his superior; according to the grand jury report, Paterno called Curley to report allegations of Sandusky "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."

Spanier also was informed of "a report of an incident involving Sandusky and a child in the showers on campus."

The New York Times' with Sandusky honed in on two separate allegations of misconduct in 1998 and 2002.

When Sandusky retired in December 1999, an investigation of his alleged actions a year before had never been made public, but were later detailed in the grand jury's report.

A mother had come forward, saying the coach had showered with her son and hugged her boy, naked from behind. Two campus police detectives eavesdropped on conversations in May 1998 when the mother confronted Sandusky. Police later monitored a second conversation that month, in which the mother told Sandusky to stay away from her son.

"I understand. I was wrong," Sandusky said, according to the grand jury report. "I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."

Four years later, the report said, graduate assistant Mike McQueary claimed to have seen Sandusky sodomizing a boy in a locker room shower.

Sandusky told The New York Times that Curley, Penn State's athletic director at the time, confronted him about the alleged misconduct.

"He was concerned about it," he told the newspaper. "He was coming to me with a concern because, in his words, somebody had talked to him about inappropriate behavior in the shower."

Sandusky said he responded by saying "it didn't happen."

"In my mind, there wasn't inappropriate behavior," he said.

The former coach said Curley then told him that "he didn't want me to bring kids (into university facilities) and work them out anymore," according to the interview.

But, he told the Times, Curley never commandeered his keys to the facility.

"And I still went in there and worked out," the former coach said.

The four-hour interview was conducted at the home of his lawyer over two days, where he insisted that his decades of work with troubled youths as part of his charity the Second Mile had been "twisted" by prosecutors.

"They've taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever," Sandusky said. "I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure. And they just twisted that all."

But an attorney for a 29-year-old alleged victim of Sandusky's, who is not among the eight people named in the grand jury report, said the interview is further evidence that the former coach "cannot resist center stage."

"Sandusky is making Joe Paterno look reckless and negligent," said Marci Hamilton, whose client is suing the school, Sandusky and the charity he founded for sexual abuse the man allegedly suffered at the hands of the former coach during the 1990s.

Sandusky, meanwhile, told the the Times that he misses his old job at Penn State, as well as the work he did at the Second Mile.

He added that children at the charity were like an "extended family," calling himself an "extended father."

Sandusky described how the scandal has taken a toll on his life and relationships.

"I miss coaching. I miss Second Mile. I miss Second Mile kids," he said. "I miss interrelationships with all kinds of people. I miss my own grandkids."

But a lawyer for one alleged victim, who is part of the criminal investigation, said that the interview only further pains Sandusky's accusers.

Justine Andronici, who is part of the legal team advising the client and other rape victims with the intention of later filing lawsuits, decried what she called Sandusky's "delusional rationalization" and said she was taken aback by his assertion that some victims' "got pulled into" the investigation and pointing out positive things he'd done for them.

"Sandusky needs to know that with every denial, every attempt to cast himself as the victim in this case, he inflicts more suffering," Andronici said in a statement.

CNN contributor Sara Ganim and CNN's Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

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