Son: Joe Paterno feared wrongly accusing Sandusky
HARRISBURG - Former Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno told his son the day after his firing that he hadn't informed the coaching staff about allegations that Jerry Sandusky might be a child molester because he was unsure whether they were true, Jay Paterno writes in a new book.
In Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons From the Life and Death of My Father, which hit the shelves at some central Pennsylvania bookstores last week, Jay Paterno writes that his father said he didn't want to accuse somebody of something he didn't witness or know to be true.
"I didn't know that he'd done all that stuff," Joe Paterno told his son, according to the book.
The book takes a defensive tone toward the elder Paterno, who lost his job shortly after Sandusky's arrest in November 2011 and died of lung cancer just months later.
Jay Paterno, who abandoned a candidacy for lieutenant governor before this year's Democratic primary after his nominating petitions were challenged, is involved in two lawsuits in which Penn State is the defendant.
"I am not writing to exonerate my father because he did not commit a crime that needs a pardon," he wrote. "If anything, he is guilty of failing to possess the God-like qualities ascribed to him by others, qualities that Joe was the first to insist he never had."
In a phone interview, Jay Paterno said his father first realized Sandusky might be a child molester in late 2010, when he got word that a grand jury was investigating, long after Sandusky's retirement.
The elder Paterno had fielded a complaint about Sandusky in a shower with a boy nearly a decade earlier and told the school's athletic director about it. Police weren't notified, however, and the report languished until a fresh complaint in 2008 prompted police to investigate Sandusky.
For Jay Paterno, the realization about Sandusky came within a few days of his father's testimony before the grand jury in January 2011.
Until then, he said, he had thought of Sandusky as someone who was doing a lot of good for people - Sandusky had established a charity for at-risk children in the 1970s, and prosecutors later determined he used it to find and groom victims.
"When you know somebody for so long, it's awfully hard to believe bad things about someone, when every sign in his life points the other way," he said.
Jay Paterno and another former assistant, Bill Kenney, filed a federal lawsuit last week seeking more than $1 million for their dismissal from the team when a new coach was hired in early 2012.