Former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno knew his assistant, Jerry Sandusky, had been seen molesting a child, grand jury testimony said on Friday.
Paterno’s testimony was read in court during a preliminary hearing for two senior university officials accused of lying to a grand jury about what they were told of an incident of alleged child sex abuse by Sandusky.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge William Wenner ruled that prosecutors have enough evidence to send their cases against Penn State team officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz to a trial.
The two are facing charges they lied about and failed to report the alleged sexual assault. Both had testified before an earlier grand jury that they did not think a crime had been committed.
Paterno was fired last month in the wake of the scandal and said he regrets that he did not do more when told by assistant coach Mike McQueary about seeing Sandusky molesting a boy in a locker room shower in March 2002.
Sandusky has been accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over an 11-year period.
During two hours on the stand, McQueary made his first public comments on Friday about the incident he witnessed first hand.
He said he heard slapping sounds in a shower and saw Sandusky standing behind a boy facing a wall with his hands around the boy’s waist.
“It was very clear that it looked like there was intercourse going on,” McQueary said.
When he told Paterno of what he saw, the iconic US college football coach slumped deep into his chair, McQueary said.
“He said: ‘I’m sorry you had to see that,’” McQueary said.
According to Paterno’s grand jury testimony, McQueary reported to him that Sandusky was doing something with a “sexual nature” to the boy.
Paterno told McQueary he had “done the right thing” by telling him.
McQueary said the coach appeared shocked and saddened and said he would talk to others about what McQueary had told him.
“I didn’t push Mike ... because he was very upset,” Paterno said. “I knew Mike was upset and I knew some kind of inappropriate action was being taken by Jerry Sandusky with a youngster.”
Paterno did report the incident to university officials, but did not pursue the matter with police. He was fired a few days after the grand jury indictment of Sandusky became public, with critics saying he should have done more.
McQueary said he did not provide explicit details of the March 2002 incident to Paterno, but did so about 10 days later when contacted by Curley, the university’s athletic director, and Schultz, the head of the school’s police.
“I told them that I saw Jerry in the showers with a young boy and that what I had seen was extremely sexual and over the lines and it was wrong,” McQueary said. “I would have described that it was extremely sexual and I thought that some kind of intercourse was going on.”
Sandusky’s case is also to go to trial, after he waived a preliminary hearing this week.