— Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said he was not told the "very specific actions" contained in a grand jury report that spurred the sexual abuse charges brought against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and that he was shocked and deeply saddened by the allegations.
Paterno, in a statement issued Sunday by his son, Scott, referred to his grand jury testimony in which he testified that he was informed by an assistant coach in 2002 that he had witnessed an incident between Sandusky and what appeared to be a 10-year-old boy in the shower of the team locker room. Prosecutors have said Paterno passed on that information to Athletic Director Tim Curley.
In the grand jury report released Saturday, the assistant coach said he witnessed Sandusky having sex with the 10-year-old boy in the showers. The assistant coach testified that he met with Paterno the next day and told him what he saw.
But Paterno said the specific actions alleged to have occurred in the grand jury report were not relayed to him.
"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report," Paterno said in the statement. "Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators."
Sandusky retired from his assistant's job in 1999. He is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years.
Since the charges were announced, at least one state legislator has called for an investigation. State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, suggested university trustees investigate how Penn State officials handled the alleged reports of sexual abuse, according to The Patriot-News in Harrisburg.
Sandusky met the victims through his Second Mile organization, a statewide nonprofit organization that Sandusky founded, devoted to "helping troubled young boys," the grand jury report said. The organization has seven chapters statewide, including one in the Lehigh Valley and one affiliate.
Paterno in the statement said he's troubled that someone he thought he knew may have harmed young people. Paterno said he and wife, Sue, have devoted their lives to helping young people reach their potential.
"The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling," he said. "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."
Curley and Gary Schultz, the university's senior vice president for finance and business, were charged Saturday with failing to report to state and county officials the account the assistant coach told them in 2002.
Schultz and Curley were both also charged with perjury. Lawyers for all three men have said they are innocent.
"I understand that people are upset and angry, but let's be fair and let the legal process unfold," Paterno said in the statement. "In the meantime, I would ask all Penn Staters to continue to trust in what that name represents, continue to pursue their lives every day with high ideals and not let these events shake their beliefs nor who they are."
"If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters," he said. "While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can't help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun