On November 5, 2011, Jerry Sandusky, 67, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions was arrested on 40 counts of sexual offenses against children. He had been indicted by a grand jury the day before, following a nearly three-year investigation into claims of sexual abuse involving children.
In 1977, Sandusky founded The Second Mile, a charitable organization that helped disadvantaged youth. It is unknown how many children The Second Mile has served, but in 2001, it was reported that it had reached as many as 100,000 children through their programs. Sandusky is accused of preying on children who he had access to through The Second Mile program.
Gerald Sandusky was born in Washington, Pennsylvania and played for Joe Paterno at Penn State from 1963 to 1965, as defensive end. It appears Sandusky is a bright fellow, one who finished first in his class with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. Following his graduation, he put in a year as a graduate assistant under Joe Paterno in 1966 and then spent a year each as an assistant coach at Juniata College and Boston University before returning to Penn State in 1969.
Sandusky spent a little more than three decades at Penn State in an official capacity, all of which were spent as an assistant coach under the legendary Joe Paterno. Sandusky started out as a linebacker coach in 1970 and moved up to the role of defensive coordinator in 1977, a job he maintained for the next 23 years of his career. Sandusky is credited with coaching numerous squads renowned for their defensive achievements and, as a result, Penn State became synonymous with top-notch linebacker play, earning the nickname “Linebacker U.” Sandusky was known as the “Dean of Linebacker U.”
Sandusky was offered at least one head coaching job — at the University of Maryland — during his career (and probably several more) but turned it down, presumably in the hope that Paterno would pass the torch onto him upon the head coach’s retirement. Sandusky, however, never saw that hope become a reality, and finished his career on a high note, with a 24-0 shutout against Texas A&M at the Alamo Bowl in Texas. It is, of course, popular opinion that the team was inspired to honor their retiring defensive coordinator and did so in spectacular fashion. At the close of the game, he was doused with a water bucket and carried across the field on the shoulders of the players — an honor not usually bestowed upon assistant coaches.
In 2002 (the same year Mike McQueary reportedly observed Sandusky raping a child in the locker room), Sandusky was honored with a “Congressional Angels in Adoption” award from former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, a current Republican presidential hopeful.
Sandusky is the author (or co-author) of several books, mainly books regarding football — Coaching Linebackers (Art & Science), 101 Linebacker Drills, and Developing Linebackers the Penn State Way. Interestingly, he wrote a 2001 autobiography, with the once sentimental but now eerie title, Touched. The book includes a quote from Dick Vermeil, former coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, who spoke fondly of Sandusky, “He could very well be the Will Rogers of the coaching profession.”
According to reports, Sandusky routinely opened his home to some of the children he met through The Second Mile, who spent the night numerous times. Children reportedly accompanied Sandusky to restaurants, coaches meetings, Penn State games, both at home and away. At least one child, according to the grand jury report, traveled to Texas with Sandusky for a bowl game. Texas officials are currently investigating the claim that Sandusky abused the child when they shared a hotel room while in Texas.
Sandusky also reportedly took children swimming and to the gym at Penn State, where they would “work out” and proceeded to shower with at least several of them, the grand jury found. On one occasion, he was reportedly observed performing oral sex on a child. Another time, he was reportedly seen raping a child in the shower. Other times, he would give children back rubs or bear hugs or have soap fights, according to the grand jury report on Sandusky.
Troy Craig, who participated in The Second Mile program, told ABC News this week that he attended a sleep-away camp that was run by The Second Mile on the Penn State campus. Craig said he was never sexually abused but asserts that he felt Sandusky’s behavior was inappropriate. He told people about the way Sandusky would hug him or put his hand on his leg and people “found it hard to believe, or that I was overreacting.”
Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999. That was one year after the district attorney investigated Sandusky based on claims of inappropriate sexual behavior made by a child from The Second Mile program. It seemed odd at the time that he would retire at the age of 55, which is not terribly old for a college football coach. It is even more peculiar when you consider that Sandusky was universally well-liked and successful in his role as the defensive coordinator, and was widely considered the “heir apparent” to Joe Paterno, who was then 72. One can only assume that Paterno’s right-hand man (they spent 30+ years together on a football field) also thought he was the next in line to the throne, as it were. The fact that he suddenly retired was surprising.
However, in light of the information that has surfaced about Jerry Sandusky — most notably, the 1998 investigation into sexual abuse allegations by a child from The Second Mile program, his retirement might not seem quite so peculiar. And, one has to also wonder about the terms of Sandusky’s retirement. It’s been made pretty clear that Sandusky’s retirement ended his “official” capacity on campus but it certainly didn’t sever ties.
He has reportedly had use of all facilities as well as his own office in the Lasch football building since his retirement. In 2007 — FIVE years after McQueary said he told administrators he had seen the retired Sandusky raping a child in the locker room — Penn State asked Sandusky to speak at the commencement ceremony for the College of Health and Human Development.
In fact, reports place Sandusky working out on campus several times in the days before he was indicted. It was not until he was charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse of children that Sandusky was banned from the Penn State campus. However, it was reported back in March that Sandusky was under grand jury investigation for sexual abuse of children. Since two Penn State officials — including then-coach Joe Paterno — had already testified before the grand jury in January, it’s beyond peculiar that this news came as a shock to anyone at Penn State.
Another interesting footnote that might develop into more than a footnote is this: Attorney Wendell Courtney served as general counsel for Penn State at the time of the first investigation in 1998. Courtney reportedly reviewed the university police report before turning it over to the Centre County District Attorney. Coincidentally, at that time, he was also the attorney for The Second Mile. It’s true: He served as “primary counsel” for Penn State as well as the pro bono lawyer for The Second Mile.
After Sandusky was arrested, Courtney claimed that he had only begun representing The Second Mile in 2009 and asserted that the grand jury was wrong. The attorney general refuted Courtney’s claim in a statement: “It’s clear from the findings of the grand jury that Mr. Courtney had direct dealings with both Penn State and The Second Mile and he had knowledge and was aware of the 1998 incident.” Courtney resigned from The Second Mile two days after Sandusky’s arrest.
That raises some questions, wouldn’t you think? Did Wendell Courtney not advise The Second Mile of this information? At the very least, representing both Penn State and The Second Mile would be a tremendous conflict of interest in this instance. It also begs the question, precisely how is Courtney connected to Penn State and The Second Mile and the people associated in both? It sure looks Wendell Courtney and Graham Spanier, the now former president of Penn State University, were pretty well acquainted, from the looks of a 2007 photo that has surfaced.
One thing seems imminent: Jerry Sandusky’s behavior, by all accounts, was quite bold and brazen. It would appear that numerous individuals suspected or knew something sinister was taking place. It has yet to be revealed just how many…and what, if anything, they did to attempt to stop him — or what may have been done to cover up his crimes. I would imagine that it’s possible that no one covered up for Sandusky — but from what we’ve heard so far, it doesn’t seem likely.