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Former Penn State Coach Tells NBC He's Innocent

Nov 15, 2011
Originally published on November 16, 2011 8:39 am
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It's Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Jerry Sandusky says he is innocent. The one-time Penn State assistant coach, indicted on multiple counts of child sexual abuse, was interviewed last night by NBC's Bob Costas on the program "Rock Center with Brian Williams." Jerry Sandusky is at the center of a scandal that has rocked Penn State, and led to the ouster of the university's president as well as its longtime head football coach, Joe Paterno. We reached NPR's Tom Goldman in State College, Pennsylvania, home to Penn State.

Good morning, Tom.


MONTAGNE: And Tom, we're going to listen to some of the NBC interview. And we should mention, right here, that some of what we're going to talk about for the next few minutes includes pretty graphic language, not suitable for most children.

So Jerry Sandusky agrees to this phone interview with NBC. And he's adamant about his innocence in the face of a damning grand jury report. Does Sandusky deny everything in the report?

GOLDMAN: He denies the most damning stuff, Renee - the accounts of alleged rape and oral sex. But Sandusky does admit to contact with young boys, boys from his Second Mile program for troubled youth that he started back in 1977.


MONTAGNE: That's Jerry Sandusky.

Now, the most inflammatory part of the grand jury report is a 2002 incident where Penn State - now assistant football coach Mike McQueary claims he witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a young boy in the shower at the football facility. That was the same incident that McQueary reported to Coach Paterno, and which essentially got Paterno fired - because he didn't do more with the information. Does Jerry Sandusky deny McQueary's account?

GOLDMAN: He does. He says what McQueary told the grand jury was false. And when asked why would McQueary make it up, Sandusky says: You'd have to ask him.

Now, another interesting twist, Renee, in this part of the scandal was reported last night. McQueary has been blasted because the grand jury report said he didn't intervene when he witnessed the alleged sexual assault. But NBC has obtained an email from McQueary to former Penn State football teammates saying, in part: I didn't just turn and run. I made sure it stopped. I had to make quick, tough decisions.

So that's new stuff. It's startling.

MONTAGNE: It is, indeed. So let's get back to the Jerry Sandusky interview. At one point, NBC's Bob Costas asks Sandusky whether the scandal at Penn State was his fault. What's his answer?

GOLDMAN: His answer is no. But he says he, obviously, played a part. Asked what that part was, Sandusky said this.


GOLDMAN: Now, Renee, he obviously has a tough battle to fight with a very skeptical public. In one part of the interview, in particular, he really didn't help his cause. It came after Costas asked, are you sexually attracted to underage boys?


GOLDMAN: I think most people watching were kind of stunned by his meandering answer that finally worked its way to no.

MONTAGNE: So Tom, do you think going public helped Jerry Sandusky at all?

GOLDMAN: You know, a few legal experts quoted afterwards said no; that his lawyer is taking a big risk because everything Sandusky said is admissible in court.

But Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, was on the set with Costas, and he even revealed some defense strategy. He says he's anticipating several victims from the grand jury report testifying they never said the things included in the report.

The New York Times is reporting that close to 10 new victims have come forward to authorities since Sandusky was arrested and charged, earlier this month.

MONTAGNE: And that's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

Thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.