Joe Paterno May Have Known of Jerry Sandusky Abuse Before 2001, Per CNN Report

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2017

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 1999, file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno paces the sideline in the first quarter against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. The one constant in college football over the last 80 years has been the AP poll. It has helped link the past with the present and provided perspective. (AP Photo/Tom Strickland, File)
TOM STRICKLAND/Associated Press

A report from Sara Ganim of has cited evidence that bolsters the claim Penn State head coach Joe Paterno "knew years before Jerry Sandusky's arrest that his longtime assistant might be sexually abusing children."

A police report acquired by Ganim outlined an account from former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary, in which McQueary said Paterno told him a 2001 allegation the assistant coach made against Sandusky "was the second complaint of this nature he had received," according to the police report that followed Sandusky's 2011 arrest.

McQueary told Paterno he had witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the showers of Penn State's facilities in 2001. 

Paterno said on multiple occasions that he had no idea of Sandusky's actions or any indications that he might be sexually abusing boys before 2001, and his family has argued that claim after his death, as noted in the CNN report.

However, court documents show concerns about Sandusky were raised both by assistant coaches in the 1980s and even earlier in the 1970s by two unidentified men. Per Ganim, "emails released in 2012 as part of Penn State's internal investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh show Paterno was mentioned as part of email discussions in 1998 involving a similar allegation against Sandusky."

That McQueary's statement to police didn't surface in Sandusky's trial, however, was no mistake. The prosecution was afraid of making the case about Paterno and Penn State rather than Sandusky.

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"We structured the whole case around avoiding Penn State," a source close to the prosecution told Ganim. "We were terrified (of acquittal)."