Two top Penn State officials charged with covering up allegations of an explosive child-sex abuse scandal related to former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky stepped down late Sunday after an emergency meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees.
Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley will be placed on administrative leave at his request and Gary Schultz, vice president for finance and business, will step down and go back into retirement, according to university President Graham Spanier.
Curley and Schultz were charged Saturday after a grand jury investigation of Sandusky, who has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. Lawyers for all three men have said their clients are innocent.
In a statement issued Sunday night, Penn State football Coach Joe Paterno said he was shocked, saddened and as surprised as everyone else to hear of the charges.
“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 a statement issued by his son, Scott.
Sandusky, 67, retired from coaching in 1999, but maintained a presence around the team for another decade. He continued to use the school’s facilities for his work with The Second Mile, a foundation he created in 1977 to help at-risk children. His alleged victims were all part of that program.
Curley, 57, and Schultz, 62, are expected to turn themselves in on Monday in Harrisburg, Pa.
The two men are accused of failing to alert police — as required by state law — of their investigation of the allegations. In 2002, according to grand jury testimony, a graduate student reported seeing inappropriate behavior between Sandusky and a young a boy in a shower. He told Paterno, who then brought it to Curley’s attention.
Curley and Schultz met with the graduate assistant about a week and a half later, according to state Attorney General Linda Kelly. She said there is no indication that anyone at the school attempted to find the boy or follow up with the witness.
“Despite a powerful eyewitness statement about the sexual assault of a child, this incident was not reported to any law enforcement or child protective agency, as required by Pennsylvania law,” Kelly said.
Curley denied that the assistant had reported anything of a sexual nature, calling it “merely ‘horsing around,'” the 23-page grand jury report said. But he also testified that he barred Sandusky from bringing children onto campus and that he advised the university’s president.
The grand jury said Curley was lying, Kelly said, adding that it also deemed portions of Schultz’s testimony not to be credible.
Nils Fredricksen, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, said the apparent lack of action is unconscionable.
“Certainly to witness or to hear about potential child abuse and not take steps to report it is reprehensible,” Fredricksen said. “To allow a pattern of conduct to go on potentially for years goes beyond that.”
The allegations have sent shockwaves through Penn State’s fan base.
“The reaction has just been such disappointment in the Penn State leadership. Everybody. It’s the saddest story in Penn State history,” said Neil Rudel, who is managing editor of the Altoona Mirror newspaper and has covered the Nittany Lions since 1977.
Paterno’s teams were revered both for winning games — including two national championships — and largely steering clear of trouble. Sandusky, whose defenses were usually anchored by tough-guy linebackers — hence the moniker “Linebacker U” — spent three decades at the school. The charges against him cover the period from 1994 to 2009.
Sandusky, 67, was arrested Saturday and released on $100,000 bail after being arraigned on 40 criminal counts.
The allegations against Sandusky range from sexual advances to touching to oral and anal sex. The young men testified before a state grand jury that they were in their early teens when some of the abuse occurred; there is evidence even younger children may have been victimized. Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola said his client has been aware of the accusations for about three years and has maintained his innocence.
“He’s shaky, as you can expect,” Amendola told WJAC-TV after Sandusky was arraigned. “Being 67 years old, never having faced criminal charges in his life and having the distinguished career that he’s had, these are very serious allegations.”
A preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday would likely be delayed, Amendola said. Sandusky is charged with multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor, as well as single counts of aggravated indecent assault and attempted indecent assault.
Tim Lambert of member station WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report, which contains material from The Associated Press.