2 years later, Penn State scandal has left its mark

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Two years after former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on child molestation charges, the scandal continues to play out with a criminal trial still ahead, litigation in the works and policy changes being made around the country.

Sandusky and two high-ranking Penn State administrators were first charged on Nov. 5, 2011, the beginning of a criminal case that left him serving a decades-long sentence as one of the nation's most notorious criminals. It forced the university to accept unprecedented NCAA sanctions and address a tarnished reputation.

Penn State has been adopting many of the reforms recommended in a report it commissioned by a group led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, changing its internal governance and administration and taking new steps to protect children on campus.

University President Rodney Erickson released a statement on Monday in connection with the second anniversary of Sandusky's arrest that indicated he was pleased with the university's progress.

"Our missions of teaching, research and service are at the heart of what we've done, and all indications are that we are continuing to experience a great deal of success in those areas," Erikson said. "Through the work of many individuals, the university is a safer, stronger and better-governed institution."

The school announced last week it had reached settlement agreements with 26 of the 32 young men who have approached the university with claims of abuse at Sandusky's hands, and would be paying nearly $60 million to resolve those claims. Talks with other claimants were continuing.

Other lawsuits have been threatened or filed as well, including one that pits longtime coach Joe Paterno's family and others against the NCAA. The case went before a judge last week, who did not say when he would rule on the NCAA's request to have it thrown out in the preliminary stages.

The Pennsylvania Legislature has been developing changes to laws governing child safety, an effort that has produced some results and remains a work in progress. Similar reviews have been launched on campuses and in statehouses around the U.S.

In September, the AP reported that 55 of 69 BCS football schools had reviewed or strengthened their policies regarding minors on campus in as a result of the Sandusky matter. At least 18 state governments have adopted new laws, most adding university employees and volunteers to those who must report child sex abuse.

The scandal broke in March 2011, when The Patriot-News of Harrisburg revealed a grand jury investigation involving Sandusky, a retired coach and the founder of a charity for children, about improper contacts with boys.

The charging documents made public two years ago painted Sandusky as a serial predator who had abused children by using his status as a Penn State sports legend and head of The Second Mile charity to find and groom victims.

The court papers also made allegations against the university's athletic director, Tim Curley, and vice president for business and finance, Gary Schultz, saying they had mishandled complaints about Sandusky and lied to a grand jury.

The arrests drew immediate and intense public interest as it involved a major research university with one of the country's premiere college football programs.

Within a week the board of trustees had forced out President Graham Spanier and fired Paterno, a man who over six decades had become a living symbol of the university and a driving force in its prodigious fundraising.

Paterno died from complications relating to lung cancer more than two months later, at age 85.

After eight of Sandusky's victims testified against him, he was convicted in June 2012 of 45 of 48 counts and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

About a year ago, more charges were added against Curley and Schultz, and Spanier was charged for the first time. They are expected to face trial together, although the county judge in Harrisburg handling the matter has not scheduled it.

Sandusky, who turns 70 early next year, is likely to die in prison unless he can persuade an appeals court to reverse the conviction, a request that the state Superior Court recently rejected. Last week, he asked the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

He maintains his innocence and recently declined another request by The Associated Press for an interview, saying his lawyers did not think it was a good idea.

"There is so much I would like to say," Sandusky wrote. "Trying to say just a little bit about it doesn't seem to work. I'm sorry."

KEY FIGURES

Two years after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky on child molestation charges, the scandal continues to play out. An update on some of the key figures:

Jerry Sandusky

Role: Former assistant football coach and founder of The Second Mile charity for children, he was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

Background: Arrested in November 2011 after a long investigation by a statewide grand jury. He had been

a successful defensive coach for the Nittany Lions for 30 years, and prosecutors say he used his fame in the community and his charity to attract victims.

Charges: Convicted in June 2012 of indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and endangering a child's welfare.

Status: Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, effectively a life term. Last week his lawyers asked the state Supreme Court to consider his case on appeal.

Joe Paterno

Role: The longtime head football coach was told by former assistant football coach Mike McQueary in 2001 that he was deeply disturbed by seeing Sandusky and a boy in a shower on campus. Paterno relayed the report to Curley and Schultz.

Background: Penn State's head coach from 1966 through 2011 and major college football's winningest coach when he retired, Paterno offered to resign at the end of the 2011 season but trustees ousted him for "failure of leadership" surrounding allegations about Sandusky. He died of complications from lung cancer in January 2012. An investigation led by ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh said Paterno "was an integral part of this active decision to conceal" the abuse and that his firing was justified.

The NCAA has since vacated 111 of Paterno's 409 career wins as part of a package of scandal-related sanctions against the football team and university. The university removed his statue from outside the football stadium. Paterno's family maintains he did not know Sandusky was a pedophile and did not cover up anything.

His relatives and others have sued the NCAA over the Penn State sanctions and on other grounds, and last week the presiding judge heard oral argument regarding the NCAA's bid to have the case dismissed. The judge did not indicate when he will rule.

Graham Spanier

Role: Penn State's longtime president, he was forced out of the top job by university trustees after Sandusky's arrest but remains a tenured faculty member on paid administrative leave.

Background: Freeh concluded that Spanier failed in his duties as president by not informing trustees about the allegations against Sandusky or the subsequent grand jury inquiry. Spanier told investigators he wasn't notified of any criminal behavior by Sandusky during his 16 years as president.

Spanier has initiated a lawsuit against Freeh, and said last month in a request to delay the matter that the Freeh report was false and defamatory as it pertains to him.

He has been charged, along with former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, with an alleged criminal cover-up of complaints about Sandusky. The Harrisburg judge handling the case has not set a trial date.

Charges: Perjury, child endangerment, conspiracy, obstruction, failure to report suspected child abuse. Awaits trial and denies the allegations.

Mike McQueary

Role: Former assistant football coach. He was a graduate assistant in 2001, when he says he witnessed Sandusky pressing himself against a boy in a team shower. McQueary took his complaint to Paterno.

Background: He testified at Sandusky's trial that he had "no doubt" Sandusky was molesting the boy. He has since filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university, claiming he lost his $140,000-a-year job and was defamed by administrators. The case remains in its preliminary stages.

McQueary testified that Paterno told him "Old Main screwed up" -- referring to university administrators -- in its response to the scandal and warned McQueary that the school would try to make him a scapegoat.

Tim Curley

Role: Penn State athletic director, now retired.

Background: Curley fielded McQueary's complaint about Sandusky in a team shower with a boy in early 2001. He told a grand jury he instructed Sandusky not to be inside university athletic facilities with any young people but said he did not think that anything criminal had occurred.

Charges: Perjury, child endangerment, conspiracy, obstruction, failure to report suspected child abuse. Awaits trial and denies the allegations.

Gary Schultz

Role: Penn State senior vice president for business and finance, now retired.

Background: Schultz told the grand jury that Paterno and McQueary reported the 2001 shower incident "in a very general way" but did not provide details. He said he believed Sandusky and the boy were "horsing around" but that no criminal activity occurred.

Charges: Perjury, child endangerment, conspiracy, obstruction, failure to report suspected child abuse. Awaits trial and denies the allegations.

Tom Corbett

Role: Republican governor of Pennsylvania, he was attorney general when the investigation into Sandusky was launched by that agency.

Background: Corbett is an ex-officio member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, although he did not actively participate until after Sandusky was charged.

Corbett filed an antitrust lawsuit over the NCAA sanctions but his case was dismissed earlier this year by a federal judge who said she could

find nothing "that might nudge its conspiracy claim into `plausible' territory."

Corbett is seeking a second term during next year's election. Questions about his handling of the matter could be a factor in the campaign.

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