Paterno will have to face the Sandusky situation

One day later this week some reporter is going to ask the question all Penn State fans have been dreading since March.

"What did Joe Paterno know, and when did he know it?"

The question refers to the on-going grand jury investigation of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who has not been with the Nittany Lions since he retired after the 1999 season.

But his invisible presence will be felt at the Big Ten Football Media Days on Thursday and Friday.
On March 31st, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, citing five different sources, said Sandusky has been the subject of a grand jury investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted a teenaged boy.  The grand jury, the Patriot said, has been sitting for 18 months.

Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola of State College, did not respond to an Inquirer message seeking comment this week.  But he strongly maintained Sandusky's innocence.

According to the Patriot's report, the allegations were made in 2009 by a 15-year-old from Clinton County. The teen told authorities Sandusky had inappropriate contact with him over a four-year period, starting when he was 10. Penn State coach Joe Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley and retired university Vice President and Treasurer Gary Schultz were among those who appeared before the grand jury, the Patriot said.
In that same March story, the Patriot also said that early this year, state police in Centre County began calling witnesses to a May 1998 report by Penn State University police, detailing an earlier allegation of inappropriate contact against Sandusky by another boy, who was 12 at the time.

The boy’s mother told The Patriot-News she was specifically instructed by state police not to speak with reporters. No charges were ever filed against Sandusky.

Where this leaves Penn State and Paterno is hard to see. But Sandusky's retirement after the 1999 season, when he was only 55, will surely be looked at in a different light now. The retirement had been announced before the season and was not a spur of the moment move, but the timing now will surely be looked at as suspicious.

And the question of whether university offials were aware of the allegation filed with its police force in 1998 will dog everyone who was there at that time. Reporters already have asked if Sandusky's retirement was encouraged or even forced by university officials and whether those officials kept it quiet for more than a decade.

Sandusky, of course, started the Second Mile Program in 1977, to help children develop emotionally and to develop self-esteem as a means of reaching their full potential.

He is a Penn State icon, who played for the Nittany Lions from 1963 to 1965 and served continually on the staff from 1969 to 1999. 

There would seem to be no way that Joe Paterno could avoid any fallout from this case, should it result in criminal charges.