Mon, Dec 05, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Former Penn State coach confirms he gave gifts to boys


Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, charged with sexual abuse involving eight boys over 15 years, says his superiors did not confront him with the alleged misconduct.

In his most extensive interview since the scandal surfaced, Sandusky told the New York Times he gave money and gifts to boys he met through his charity and that legendary coach Joe Paterno, fired last month after a 62-year tenure, never spoke to him about the molestation accusations.

Sandusky, free on bail ahead of a preliminary hearing on Tuesday next week, said he never sexually abused a child, adding that prosecutors had distorted his decades of dedication to helping disadvantaged youth.

“They have taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever,” Sandusky told the Times in the interview published on Saturday. “I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure. And they just twisted that all.”

Sandusky said he regularly gave money to boys, opened bank accounts for them and provided them with gifts of items that had been donated to his charity The Second Mile, including computers and golf clubs.

Prosecutors say such gifts helped him build a bond of trust with victims.

“I would call kids on the phone and work with them academically,” he said. “I tried to reward them sometimes with a little money in hand, just so that they could see something. But more often than not, I tried to set up, maybe get them to save the money, and I put it directly into a savings account established for them.”

Paterno, US collegiate football’s all-time leader in wins as a coach, was fired last month after failing to take greater action after being told in 2002 that Sandusky molested a boy in a locker room shower.

Sandusky told the newspaper that Paterno never spoke with him about any suspected abuse in the years after the accusation was made or about a 1998 molestation incident investigated by campus police.

“I never talked to him about either one,” Sandusky said, adding that the damage to the reputations of Penn State and Paterno was not “fair.”

Sandusky said his home in State College, Pennsylvania, served as a second home for many of the children in his charity and he felt able to sleep alone with children or shower with them because the relationships were family-like.

“It was, you know, almost an extended family,” Sandusky said.

Sandusky also spoke of his life after the charges against him.

“I miss coaching,” he said. “I miss Second Mile. I miss Second Mile kids. I miss interrelationships with all kinds of people.”

“I used to have a lot of contact with a lot of people and so that circle is diminished,” he added.

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