NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Back in November, Penn State’s trustees agonized over the future of legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
But they ultimately decided to fire the Hall of Famer in part over what they said was his failure to go to authorities with a report of alleged sexual assault of a child by an assistant coach nearly a decade ago, according to a report published Thursday in The New York Times.
Some of the 13 trustees interviewed by the Times said they were also troubled by Paterno greeting fans and supporters on his front lawn — and leading them in school cheers — just after the release of a scathing grand jury report detailing child sex abuse allegations against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
“I was laying in bed that night shaking,” board member Ira M. Lubert told the paper. “And I couldn’t sleep — thinking: We just terminated Joe Paterno.”
The trustees said they were also concerned about Paterno’s ability to lead the team during the scandal that also resulted in the ouster of university President Graham Spanier, but most jarring was the feeling the coach had failed to do enough after learning of a 2002 incident involving Sandusky and a boy in an on-campus shower.
“He should have told us a lot more,” Lubert said of Spanier. “He should have let us know much more of the background. He was able to legally share his testimony and I think that he had an obligation to do that with the board so we could get more engaged with the problem.”
The alleged 2002 shower assault ultimately resulted in charges against two university officials, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. They’re charged with failing to report suspected child abuse and perjury related to their testimony before the grand jury.
Paterno’s attorney defended the coach’s actions in a statement, saying Paterno passed on a report about an alleged assault to his superiors at the university believing they would investigate and act appropriately.
Sandusky is charged with sexually assaulting 10 young boys he met through The Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977. He denies the allegations.
“Every adult has a responsibility for every other child in our community,” said trustee Kenneth Frazier. “We have a responsibility for ensuring that we can take every effort that’s within our power not only to prevent further harm to that child, but to every other child.”
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