Monday, November 14, 2011

Penn State's Sandusky denies he is a pedophile

jerry sandusky
Jerry Sandusky
(Reuters) - Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State University assistant football coach charged with child sex abuse, says he is not a pedophile, but admits he showered with young boys.

In a full-court media press across two television networks, Sandusky and his attorney, Joe Amendola, said they have answers for all 40 charges that Pennsylvania prosecutors have leveled.

"I am innocent of those charges," Sandusky told NBC's Bob Costas in excerpts released by the network on Monday night.

The former coach and founder of The Second Mile charity for disadvantaged youth, acknowledged that after workouts he has showered with boys.

"I have hugged them and I have touched their leg without intent of sexual contact," Sandusky told Costas.

Sandusky is just a "big overgrown kid," Amendola told CNN in a separate interview on Monday night.

The lawyer painted a sympathetic picture of his 67-year-old client, saying he is worried for Sandusky's health.

Amendola said he had advised Sandusky and his wife to leave State College, Pa., to relax, but Sandusky told him he would be recognizable anywhere.

For each charge, "We have an answer," Amendola said.

The defense team is having trouble finding some of the alleged victims mentioned in a grand jury report that was released November 4, Amendola said.

Sandusky, once considered a likely successor to legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, is accused of sexually assaulting eight boys over more than a decade.

He is free on bail and is technically free to go anywhere ahead of his next court appearance, provided he does not contact witnesses, alleged victims, or any minor.

The allegations led to the firings of Penn State President Graham Spanier and Paterno. Athletic Director Tim Curley was placed on administrative leave and Gary Schultz, interim senior vice president for finance and business, retired.

Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999. The grand jury alleged, among other charges, that Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in a Penn State football locker room in 2002 and university officials failed to report the incident.

Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary, who witnessed the alleged incident, is on paid administrative leave from the university.

The Big Ten athletic conference said on Monday it will remove Paterno's name from the trophy that will be given to the winner of its first-ever championship game, scheduled to be played in Indianapolis in December.

"The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement.

The intertwined relationship between Penn State, its football program and The Second Mile charity continues to be a focus of the developing scandal.

On Sunday it was reported that the district court judge who ordered Sandusky to be freed on $100,000 unsecured bail had donated to the charity and worked as a volunteer for the group. Prosecutors had requested a $500,000 bail for Sandusky and that he be required to wear a leg monitor.

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