Former Pennsylvania State University head football coach Joe Paterno was aware as early as 1976 that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had molested children, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday. Paterno, who died in 2012, had previously said he was not aware of the abuse until 2001.
According to the documents, a man identified as John Doe 150 testified in 2014 that when he was 14 he was molested by Sandusky, and that he reported the abuse to Paterno. "I don't want to hear about any of that kind of stuff," Paterno allegedly told the boy. "I have a football season to worry about." The documents include several allegations that other Penn State officials ignored claims of abuse against Sandusky for decades, as well.
In 2012, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child abuse and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison. The NCAA, stepping outside its usual enforcement process, imposed a series of historic sanctions against the university, though it has since reversed many of them. The university has so far settled with 32 of the victims for $93 million.
"Penn State’s overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky," Eric Barron, Penn State's president, said in a statement. "While individuals hold different opinions, and may draw different inferences from the testimony about former Penn State employees, speculation by Penn State is not useful. Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves. Speculation also serves to drive a wedge within the Penn State community."
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