11/17/2011 04:48 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Penn State Scandal: Abuse, Silence Could Predate Current Sandusky Investigation

The first target of the public's outrage and disgust in the wake of shocking charges of sexual abuse emanating from Penn State was the Nittany Lions' former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The longtime assistant under Joe Paterno had been charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse against eight boys over a 15-year span.

As details emerged surrounding the alleged crimes, the spectre of guilt spread beyond Sandusky and engulfed Paterno and other university officials who may have enabled the alleged crimes by not adequately dealing with the accusations over the years. Athletic director Tim Curley and university senior vice president Gary Schultz both recently surrendered to police on charges that they had committed perjury during the grand jury investigation and not reported the alleged crimes when they had been appraised of the allegations years earlier.

Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly noted that Pateno had fulfilled his legal obligation by bringing a 2002 allegation of abuse to Curley. However, Penn State's Board of Trustees still chose to relieve the 84-year-old of the coaching duties that he had held for decades. Although the student body rallied to support the former coach, Paterno was held accountable by many for creating a culture in State College that placed the football program -- and perhaps his own legacy -- over the lives of the young boys who may have been victimized.

According to another alleged victim of abuse, a culture of silence at the insular University Park campus could have predated the Sandusky allegations contained in the grand jury report. Paul McLaughlin alleges that he was sexually abused from 1977-81 by Jack Neisworth, a noted PSU professor in the field of child development who is known for work with autistic children.

McLaughin claims, now 45 years old and living in Phoenix, claims to have elicited a confession from Neisworth in 2001, but has had his calls for the university to investigate flatly denied.

"I was treated with hostility, denials," McLaughlin told ABC News. "I was told that my complaints were hearsay despite the fact that I offered them tape-recorded evidence."

McLaughlin had no success persuading Penn State officials to investigate the respected professor during 2001 and 2002 -- a time span that includes the shower rape by Sandusky that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary alleges to have witnessed. Did the same university officials handle both matters?

"They said they wouldn't be investigating anything of that nature, that Neisworth was a respected and important part of Penn State and, basically, how dare you make such an accusation," recalls McLaughlin.

Neisworth was charged with multiple counts of child sexual abuse in 2005. The charges were brought against him in Cecil County, Maryland but ultimately dropped by prosecutors. He is currently listed as a professor emeritus of education on the Penn State website.

McLaughlin's allegations of abuse by a respected Penn State representative during the late 1970s became widely known just as reports emerged of claims that Sandusky's own alleged crimes may have begun around the same time and on the same campus. Sara Ganim of The Patriot News reported on Thursday that one of the new victims to come forward since Sandusky conducted a telelphone interview with Bob Costas on Monday alleges that abuse dates all the way back to the 1970s, around the time that Sandusky began his charity and that McLaughlin claims Neisworth was abusing him.