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May 05, 2016

Report: Paterno may have known of Sandusky's child abuse as early as 1976

According to a report from, former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno may have known what convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky was up to as far back as 1976, decades before the former long-time Nittany Lions assistant was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison.

While digging through court files related to an insurance case stemming from the Sandusky scandal, Charles Thompson came across a claim made by one of Penn State’s insurers that "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky."

Here’s more: 

The order also cites separate references in 1987 and 1988 in which unnamed assistant coaches witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and unidentified children, and a 1988 case that was supposedly referred to Penn State's athletic director at the time.

All, the opinion states, are described in victims' depositions taken as part of the case, but that, according a PennLive review of the case file, are apparently under seal.

"There is no evidence that reports of these incidents ever went further up the chain of command at PSU," Judge Gary Glazer wrote, in determining that because Penn State's executive officers weren't aware of the allegations, he would not bar those claims from insurance coverage.  []

Back in November, on the four-year anniversary of Paterno’s ouster by the Board of Trustees, the late coach’s wife, Sue, published an open letter on in which she maintained that Paterno was unjustly fired by the board and university administration:

November 9 is the fourth anniversary of Joe's firing by the Board of Trustees and their wholesale indictment of the football program and the Penn State culture. Joe and I knew they had acted rashly, but we were hopeful that, with the benefit of time, they would correct their mistakes and set the record straight.

While much progress has been made in the last four years, the Administration, the NCAA and Louis Freeh have yet to acknowledge fully the extent of their errors. Worse yet, they are still waging an all-out campaign to keep the facts from ever seeing the light of day.

On Thursday, the Paterno family issued a statement regarding the new revelations.

"Over the past four-and-a-half years Joe Paterno's conduct has been scrutinized by an endless list of investigators and attorneys," the Paterno family's attorney, Wick Sollers, said in a statement, according to

RELATED: Convicted child molester Sandusky gets May 20 hearing

"Through all of this review there has never been any evidence of inappropriate conduct by Coach Paterno. To the contrary, the evidence clearly shows he shared information with his superiors as appropriate.

"An allegation now about an alleged event 40 years ago, as represented by a single line in a court document regarding an insurance issue, with no corroborating evidence, does not change the facts. Joe Paterno did not, at any time, cover up conduct by Jerry Sandusky."

No matter what your thoughts are on Paterno, Sollers has a point -- at least legally speaking. And considering that the insurance companies involved have millions of reasons to find fault with how the university handled these allegations, there’s very little proof of that here. 

The judge in the insurance case wrote that “there is no evidence that reports of these incidents ever went further up the chain of command at PSU," but considering when they happened — the 70s and 80s — it’s not like there’s an email archive through which one can search. 

Could Paterno have passed them up the chain? Sure. Could he have completely ignored them? Sure.

But given what the Freeh Report suggested -- despite the family's claims that JoePa handled the allegations properly by informing his superiors -- this latest bombshell doesn’t look good for Paterno or Penn State. 

For the full story and more details, click here.

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