With former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky imprisoned following his conviction on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse against 10 young boys, the attention is turning towards those at Penn State University who may have enabled the sexual predator or turned a blind eye toward the abuse.
According to a CNN report, former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno may have played a more prominent role in the University's handling of the situation than had previously been known. Information obtained by CNN indicates that PSU president Graham Spanier approved via email a decision by athletic director Tim Curley -- who, along with retired vice president Gary Schultz, faces criminal charges alleging that he didn't report the crimes -- to hold off on reporting Sandusky in 2001. The report details emails allegedly exchanged between Spanier, Curley and Schultz and suggests that a conversation between Curley and Paterno may have altered a plan to report Sandusky to the Department of Welfare.
"After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps," Curley wrote, per CNN.
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NBC News had previously reported on the discovery of Spanier's emails from 2001 discussing the incident reported at that time. KDKA in Pittsburgh, the local CBS TV affiliate, also reported that Schultz had a "secret file" pertaining to Sandusky.
When Sandusky's initial arrest first rocked the Penn State campus in November 2011, the 23-page grand jury report indicated Paterno was notified by assistant coach Mike McQueary of the 2001 incident of abuse involving the team's former defensive coordinator. Prosecutors said Paterno, who was fired days after the first arrest, informed Curley, the athletic director at the time.
Shortly after Sandusky's initial arrest, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan publicly chastised Paterno. After admitting that the winningest coach in college football history met his legal requirement by reporting the abuse to his superiors, Noonan went to say that Paterno should have done more given the nature of the allegations.
"I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone," Noonan said during a press conference. "Not whether you're a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us."
In an interview with the Washington Post not long after he was fired, Paterno indicated that he had left the situation to his superiors.
"I just did what I thought was best," he told the Post. "I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it."
Months later, and after Paterno's death in January 2012, the details of the emails reported by CNN and NBC indicate that perhaps Paterno played a more active role in the situation at Penn State than he had indicated.
Dan McGinn, a spokesperson for the Paterno family, defended the late coach to CNN saying he did the right thing.