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Penn State Abuse Scandal: A Guide And Timeline

Former Penn State defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky was found guilty of sexual abuse, convicted of 45 out of 48 counts on Friday, June 22. He was accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period in a scandal that has rocked the university's community. Several alleged victims have testified in the trial, which began on June 11.

Sandusky, 68, and his attorney maintained that he was innocent of the charges, which stem from a grand jury investigation. The former coaching assistant says he merely "horsed around" with the boys, all of whom he met through his Second Mile charity.

Penn State University fired long-time coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier on Nov. 9, four days after Sandusky was initially arrested. Two school officials who have stepped down from their posts — athletic director Tim Curley and a vice president, Gary Schultz — are accused of perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse.

When the investigation became public, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said that Paterno was "not regarded as a target." The former coach died of lung cancer in January.

Key Figures

Jerry Sandusky: The former defensive coordinator is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky, 68, maintains he is innocent. He played football at Penn State and was a coach there for 32 years — 23 of them as the team's defensive coordinator. He and his wife, Dottie, raised six adopted children.

Tim Curley: The Penn State athletic director, 57, denies being told of sexual misconduct by Sandusky in 2002 but is accused of covering up allegations tied to the scandal. He was named athletic director on Dec. 30, 1993. Curley went on administrative leave the day before his Nov. 7 arraignment.

Gary Schultz: As the school's senior vice president for finance and business — which gives him oversight of university police — Schultz, 62, has been charged with covering up abuse allegations. He served as Penn State's senior vice president and treasurer from 1993 to 2009, when he retired. Schultz returned to the same job in 2011, on a temporary basis. In early 2010, the university named a campus child care center after Schultz, who retired again on Nov. 6.

Joe Paterno: Coach "Joe Pa" died in January at age 85. He was fired from his job four days after Sandusky's arrest, having been an assistant or head coach at Penn State since 1950. The scandal had prompted Paterno to say he would retire after the 2011 season, but school trustees ended his tenure hours after the coach made that pledge. In a statement before he was fired, Paterno said, "This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

Graham Spanier: Spanier, 63, was fired along with Paterno on Nov. 9. He became the university's president in 1995, after serving at universities in Oregon, Nebraska, and New York. A faculty and staff member at Penn State from 1973 to 1982, Spanier's academic background is in sociology and family counseling.

Mike McQueary: In 2002, the then-graduate assistant told Paterno that he had witnessed Sandusky abusing a boy in a Penn State locker room shower. Paterno informed Curley, who later met with McQueary and Schultz. McQueary, who became an assistant coach at Penn State, reiterated his statement to the grand jury. He has reportedly said that he went to the police; the authorities dispute that claim. The school put him on administrative leave on Nov. 11.

Jim Calhoun: A temporary worker whose job as a janitor at Penn State lasted only eight months, Calhoun told co-workers and a supervisor in 2000 that he witnessed Sandusky engaging in sexual activity with a boy in a campus locker-room shower. Several staff members later said that Calhoun, a veteran of the Korean War, was visibly shaken by what he reported seeing. He now resides in an assisted living facility and reportedly has dementia.

Ray Gricar: Declared legally dead in July, Gricar was the Centre County district attorney from 1985 to 2005, when he disappeared. He chose not to prosecute Sandusky in 1998 after allegations of inappropriate contact with young boys surfaced. The decision helped to end a police investigation into the report.

Wendell Courtney: The former general counsel for Penn State University is also the longtime lawyer for Sandusky's charity foundation, The Second Mile. He was working for both organizations when, according to Schultz, he reviewed the 1998 university police report about Sandusky's behavior with boys.

Timeline Of Events

1977: Jerry Sandusky establishes The Second Mile in State College, Pa., "as a group foster home devoted to helping troubled boys," according to the grand jury's findings. The program evolves into a statewide charity whose honorary board members include Paterno and other sports figures.

1993: Tim Curley becomes Penn State's athletic director. That same year, Gary Schultz is named the school's treasurer and senior vice president.

1994: A boy identified as Victim 7 in the grand jury report meets Sandusky through the Second Mile program. Now 26, Victim 7 says that after a couple of years in the program, he often spent Friday nights at Sandusky's house and attended football games with him the next day. He says Sandusky touched him in ways that made him uncomfortable, primarily during car rides and when the two showered after a workout.

1998: An 11-year-old boy returns home with wet hair after an outing with Sandusky. Victim 6 tells his mother he took a shower with Sandusky and that the coach hugged him several times. The boy's mother contacts university police, triggering an investigation.

On May 13 and May 19, Det. Ronald Shreffler records the boy's mother during a call with Sandusky. Court papers say Sandusky acknowledges that he showered with the boy, as well as with others. When the mother cuts off contact with Sandusky after a second call, he tells her, "I wish I were dead," according to court papers.

On June 1, Jerry Lauro, an investigator from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, takes part in an interview of Sandusky by Shreffler. According to the grand jury report, Sandusky admits to hugging the boy in the shower, and says he will not shower with children again.

Shreffler speaks to another boy who reports similar treatment to that reported by Victim 6. But the investigation ends after District Attorney Ray Gricar decides the case warrants no criminal charges. Shreffler tells the grand jury that Thomas Harmon, who headed the campus police, told him to close the inquiry.

1999: Sandusky retires from Penn State's football program, but with an "emeritus" label that allows him continued access to campus facilities, including the locker room and an office in the Lasch Football Building. Schultz has testified that the timing of Sandusky's retirement was not related to the university police investigation a year earlier.

2000: Jim Calhoun, a janitor at the Lasch building, tells a co-worker and his supervisor that he saw Sandusky engaged in sexual activity with a boy in the assistant coaches' shower. The boy, referred to as Victim 8 in court papers, has never been identified.

Calhoun's colleague Ronald Petrosky, who reported seeing Sandusky's car in the parking lot later that night in the fall of 2000, says that members of the janitorial staff were concerned that they might lose their jobs if they spoke out about what had happened.

After Calhoun told his supervisor, Jay Witherite, what he had seen, Witherite told him whom he could report the incident to, if he chose to do so.

2002: A graduate assistant reports seeing Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the showers at Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus, around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1. The assault on the boy, who Kelly said "appeared to be about 10 years old," is reported to Paterno the next day. Paterno, in turn, passes the information to Curley one day later.

The graduate assistant, who has since been identified as current Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, meets with Curley and Schultz, but not Paterno, some 10 days later. According to McQueary, he told them that he had seen Sandusky having sex with a boy in the showers. No report is made to police or to any child protection agency — a breach of state law, prosecutors say.

Two weeks later, Curley tells McQueary that Sandusky's keys to the locker room have been taken away and that the incident was reported to The Second Mile charity.

Sandusky is banned from bringing children onto the Penn State campus in a decision reviewed and approved by Spanier, the university president.

2009: The mother of the boy identified by court papers as Victim 1 calls a high school in Clinton County to report that her son was sexually abused by Sandusky. The school district bans Sandusky from any of its campuses, and the police are notified.

2010: In December, the graduate assistant who had reported the 2002 assault testifies before a grand jury investigating Sandusky, detailing what he saw and what he told Paterno, Schultz and Curley.

And in 2010 or 2011, Victim 7 tells the grand jury that prior to his testimony, he received voice mails from Sandusky, his wife and a friend of Sandusky's. Victim 7 says he did not return any of the calls.

2011: In his Jan. 12 grand jury testimony, Curley says the graduate assistant reported only "inappropriate," not "sexual" conduct, calling the conduct "horsing around."

Also testifying on Jan. 12, Schultz says he met with Curley and Paterno about the abuse allegations. But he tells the grand jury that he was unsure about the details of what had happened and that he thought Sandusky and the boy might have been wrestling when the inappropriate contact occurred.

Nov. 5: The investigation into Sandusky, Curley and Schultz becomes public, with prosecutors accusing the former assistant coach of making inappropriate sexual advances or assaults on eight boys, from 1994 to 2009.

Nov. 6: Curley and Schultz vacate their university posts following an emergency meeting with school officials.

Nov. 7: Curley and Schultz are arraigned on charges of making false statements to the grand jury and failing to report the possible abuse of a child.

Nov. 9: Paterno, coming under increasing pressure to resign in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, announces that he will retire at the end of the 2011 season, when his three-year contract expires. In a statement, Paterno said, "This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

But a few hours after Paterno made his announcement, the Penn State Board of Trustees announces that it has fired both Paterno and school president Graham Spanier — "effective immediately," according to the board.

In their place, the trustees named executive vice president and provost Rodney A. Erickson as the school's interim president, and assistant coach Tom Bradley as the interim head football coach.

Nov. 11: Penn State places McQueary on administrative leave. The move comes one day after the school announced it would be "in the best interest of all" if McQueary did not attend the season's final home game, citing multiple threats made against him.

Nov. 13: The leader of The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded and, according to prosecutors, used to find his alleged victims, resigns. President and CEO Jack Raykovitz held the post for 28 years.

Nov. 14: The ongoing child-abuse investigation has found almost 10 other young men who may have been abused, according to a report in The New York Times. In a telephone interview with Bob Costas, Sandusky admits to showering with boys, but he says he is innocent of the charges, and that he only "horsed around" with them.

Nov. 17: City and university police dispute McQueary's claim that he spoke to police and "made sure it stopped" after allegedly witnessing Sandusky abusing a boy in 2002 — claims the assistant coach seemingly made in an email to friends after the scandal became public.

Nov. 21: Penn State announces that it has hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate the abuse allegations.

Nov. 30: A civil lawsuit is filed against Sandusky, The Second Mile and Penn State, claiming that Sandusky sexually abused the plaintiff more than 100 times when he was between 10 and 14 years old. The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, 29, is not among the eight alleged victims in the grand jury's initial report. The news comes one day after Second Mile urges its supporters to make future donations to another charity, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

Dec. 7: Sandusky is arrested and charged with abusing two more boys. The new cases mean that the former coach faces 52 charges, in the abuse of more than 10 boys. Like the other alleged victims, the young men say they first met Sandusky through his charity.

Dec. 13: Sandusky waives his right to a Dec. 13 preliminary hearing to establish probable cause on the charges. The move keeps Sandusky's accusers from providing early testimony in the high-profile case. The former coach's next court date is Jan. 11, 2012.


Jan. 6: Penn State hires Bill O'Brien as its new head football coach. Like Paterno, he is a graduate of Brown University.

Jan. 22: Former coach Joe Paterno dies, after a battle with lung cancer.

May 8: At prosecutors' request, Judge John Cleland allows documents related to some of McQueary's allegations against Sandusky to be altered. The revisions change the date of events McQueary had previously said happened in March of 2002; the papers now allege that the events occurred 13 months earlier, in February of 2001.

June 6: A nine-member jury consisting of five men and seven women is chosen for Sandusky's trial in Pennsylvania's Centre County. Several of the jurors have ties to Penn State, as either professors or students.

June 11: As the trial opens, prosecutor Joe McGettigan tells the jury that Sandusky is a "serial predator," and shows them photos of the alleged victims, taken when they were children. Defense attorney Joe Amendola tells the jurors that Sandusky's accusers are seeking financial gain.

June 18: After featuring the testimony of several alleged victims, the prosecution in the case rests. The defense begins with a successful request to remove one count, regarding victim 7, on the grounds that the charge was made under a statute that would not have applied at the specified time.

June 20: Sandusky's defense team rests its case, one day after his wife, Dottie, took the stand. Other defense witnesses included friends and young men who said Sandusky had helped them personally and through his charity. Despite hints otherwise, the former coach did not testify on his own behalf.

June 22: The jury finds Sandusky guilty of 45 out of 48 counts of sexual abuse.

Sections of this timeline are based on events as described by the investigating grand jury's findings.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.