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Alleged victims' lawyers rip Sandusky interview as 'disingenuous'

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:00 PM EST, Sun December 4, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The lawyer for an alleged victim calls the interview "unconvincing" and "bizarre"
  • "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) -- Attorneys for alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky lashed out Saturday at a new interview with the former Penn State football coach, with one calling it "another failed attempt to manipulate the public."

Howard Janet, who represents the person identified as Victim 6 in the grand jury report that led to Sandusky's indictment, said Sandusky also attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to "manipulate the future jury pool."

"He's not accomplishing ... his desired goal," Janet said. He called much of Sandusky's interview with The New York Times, which published on Saturday, "uncomfortable to watch" and "disingenuous."

"Every time he opens his mouth, virtually, he puts his foot in it," Janet said.

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Among other statements, Sandusky attempted to clarify his relationships with young people in the extensive interview with the newspaper.

"If I say, 'No, I'm not attracted to young boys,' that's not the truth," he said, according to 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."

The 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 long-time 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.

Andrew Shubin, another lawyer for an alleged victim named in the criminal probe, dismissed the interview as odd and unpersuasive.

"Once again, Jerry Sandusky has chosen to provide the national media with an entirely unconvincing denial and a series of bizarre explanations," Shubin said in a statement.

In 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 said. "I know that he never said anything to me."

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 dove into an allegation made in 1998, a year before Sandusky retired from Penn State, that wasn't then made public but was later detailed in the grand jury report.

The mother of Victim 6 -- who is represented by Janet -- 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."

Janet said the then-coach never directly answered her questions about whether he'd showered with her son and if his "private parts" had come into contact with the boy.

"I think the ultimate answer was maybe," the lawyer said.

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, then confronted him about the alleged misconduct.

"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, adding 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.

In the four-hour interview at his lawyer's home, Sandusky 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," he said. "I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure."

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

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

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