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Court Opinion Reveals Joe Paterno Reportedly Knew Of Jerry Sandusky Molesting Children As Early As 1976

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Philadelphia County judge Gary Glazer’s opinion today in a lawsuit between Penn State and its insurance company revealed that witnesses testified Joe Paterno knew about Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of children as early as 1976. Other witnesses in the case report members of the coaching staff observed “inappropriate contact” in 1987 and sexual contact in 1988 while another 1988 incident alleged a child’s report of being molested was referred to Penn State’s athletic director. All involved Joe Paterno’s assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.

Despite these incidents, Sandusky remained involved with the Penn State football program until a week before his arrest. He was convicted of 45 sex crime-related counts in 2012.


Throughout most of the Sandusky scandal, Joe Paterno claimed that he was unaware that his assistant coach was sexually abusing children; 2012's Freeh Report showed that Paterno was aware of a 1998 incident and told Sandusky he could keep coaching. Today’s opinion from Judge Glazer—relying on sworn deposition from numerous witnesses—holds that Paterno knew about Sandusky’s behavior much earlier.

From the decision:

Sandusky was employed by PSU as an Assistant Football Coach and Assistant Professor of Physical Education from 1969 until his retirement in 1999.1 PMA claims Sandusky committed several acts of molestation early in his career at PSU: in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Football Coach Joseph Paterno, that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky; in 1987, a PSU Assistant Coach is alleged to have witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and a child at a PSU facility; in 1988, another PSU Assistant Coach reportedly witnessed sexual contact between Sandusky and a child; and also in 1988, a child’s report of his molestation by Sandusky was allegedly referred to PSU’s Athletic Director.


Penn State claims that since Joe Paterno and the athletic department did not inform the university’s Risk Manager of the incidents, the university wasn’t in violation of a clause in its insurance that existed between 1992 and 1999. That clause shielded the insurance company from paying out on lawsuits or settlements resulting from abuse or molestation under certain circumstances—circumstances the judge found held:

As alleged in the underlying complaints filed by Sandusky’s victims, PSU could be liable to those children for its negligent employment, investigation, and retention of Sandusky. Since the bodily injury suffered by all his victims arose out of such negligence by PSU, Section (b) of the AME bars insurance coverage for those claims. As a result, PSU has no coverage under the 1992-1999 Policies that contain the AME with respect to the injuries Sandusky inflicted on children during that time period.


You can read the full decision below.


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