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September 09, 2017

Report: Joe Paterno admitted he heard an earlier Sandusky sexual abuse claim

A police report obtained and described by CNN on Saturday shows further evidence that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno may have known for years that his longtime defensive coordinator might be sexually abusing children.

Jerry Sandusky, who served on Paterno's coaching staff for 30 years until his retirement in 1999, was arrested in 2011 and convicted in 2012 for sexually abusing 10 boys in 15 years.

The one-page police report describes an account from former Penn State player and assistant coach Mike McQueary, who reportedly alerted Paterno in 2001 of an incident he had just witnessed in a locker room between Sandusky and a young boy. The report, written after Sandusky's arrest, states that Paterno allegedly told McQueary at the time that his claim was the second complaint of that nature he had received, according to CNN.

Here's more on that exchange from CNN's report:

McQueary testified in March that Paterno, upon hearing the graduate assistant's allegation in 2001, "slumped back in his chair and put his hand up on his face, and his eyes just kind of went sad." In July 2013, McQueary testified about that same moment, saying Paterno "slumped back in his chair," was "significantly saddened," and even "dropped his eyes a little bit."

Also in his 2013 testimony, McQueary said Paterno in the years after 2001 made passing remarks about how Sandusky "was a sick guy" and said the university "screwed up" in its handling of the 2001 allegation.

Paterno's family has accused McQueary of inconsistency in his retelling of what he saw in the locker room, though prosecutors have praised him for handling several trips to the witness stand matter-of-factly.

McQueary has testified in court about the 2001 incident and his subsequent exchange with Paterno, but he never revealed – nor was he asked to under oath – details about Paterno hearing another complaint prior to that incident, CNN reported.

McQueary also claimed Paterno's wife, Sue Paterno, once told the head coach that Sandusky's wife, Dottie Sandusky, "told her Jerry doesn't like girls," according to the report.

Paterno took McQueary's complaint to two then-university administrators – former athletic director Tim Curley and former senior vice president Gary Schultz – but the head coach's critics point to his failure to alert police at the time.

Curley and Shultz did not notify authorities of the matter. Both pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor child endangerment and were sentenced in July.

Affectionately called "JoePa" by some, Paterno established the Nittany Lions as a perennial college football power in 45 years at the helm. He was dismissed in 2011 amid the scandal, which would taint his legacy.

Testimony in court from a man in 2014 alleged that Paterno ignored his complaints in 1976 that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, the Washington Post reported at the time. The man was reportedly 14 when he was allegedly abused.

In a letter published by USA Today last September, Jay Paterno, Paterno's son and the Nittany Lions' current quarterbacks coach, stated that his father never enabled Sandusky and that he reported the 2001 allegation to the fullest extent of the law. He also argued that the media made Paterno a central figure in the case, even though the former coach testified as a witness for only seven minutes in a three-year-long grand jury investigation.

Sandusky was sentenced in October 2012 to 30 to 60 years in prison, essentially a life sentence for the 73-year-old.