New Allegations on Paterno, Penn State's Response

May 9, 2016

Court documents last week set off new discussion of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Pennsylvania State University -- in ways that are highly damaging to Penn State. New court rulings suggest that Penn State's insurer may not be liable for all the settlements the university has reached with those who as children were molested and raped by now imprisoned former assistant football coach Sandusky. As The New York Times recounted, the latest legal documents contain allegations that Joe Paterno, the now deceased Penn State head football coach, may have been told about Sandusky's abuse as far back as 1976 -- not in 1998 or 2001, the dates that have been assumed since the scandal broke. Because Penn State did not inform the insurer of the potential liability in a timely fashion, the insurer is not responsible for paying the claims brought by Sandusky's victims, the court documents indicated.

Paterno's family members have denied the allegations that Paterno knew of the abuse, which have prompted many to say that the tragedy has become much worse, with the idea that much of the abuse might well have been prevented had Paterno acted in 1976.

Adding to the discussion about the scandal, the Associated Press reported that payments Penn State has made cover alleged abuse as far back as 1971, 40 years before Sandusky was arrested.

On Sunday, Penn State President Eric Barron released a statement in which he reiterated that he is "appalled" by what Sandusky did.

But Barron said that there was no evidence to back up the latest allegations, and he criticized the press coverage. "I want you to know I am appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment that have accompanied the media stories surrounding these allegations. All too often in our society, people are convicted in the court of public opinion, only to find a different outcome when all the facts are presented," he said. "In contrast, over the last two days we have worked to be diligent in reanalyzing the record of reports and depositions to ensure that our reactions and comments are both responsible and trustworthy …. The allegations related to Penn State are simply not established fact. The two allegations related to knowledge by Coach Paterno are unsubstantiated and unsupported by any evidence other than a claim by an alleged victim. They date from the 1970s. Coach Paterno is not alive to refute them. His family has denied them."

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