NEW YORK – Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky maintains he never sexually abused children and portrays himself in a New York Times interview as a fatherlike figure to the kids in his life.
The Times reported Saturday that Sandusky also insisted he never spoke with Joe Paterno about any allegations of misconduct.
“They’ve taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever,” Sandusky said. “I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure. And they just twisted that all.”
Sandusky has been charged with 40 counts of molesting eight boys over 15 years and is free on bail while awaiting a preliminary hearing Dec. 13. A grand jury investigating Sandusky said in a report that some of the assaults occurred in the Penn State football showers, including a 2002 allegation in which a graduate assistant testified he saw Sandusky sodomizing a young boy.
University trustees fired Paterno – major college football’s winningest coach – on Nov. 9, four days after charges were filed against Sandusky, amid mounting criticism that school leaders should have done more when allegations came to their attention.
During a lengthy interview with the Times at his lawyer’s home, Sandusky painted a picture of chaotic but friendly scenes involving children he described as extended family at his State College, Pa., home. There were sleepovers, wrestling matches, and children playing with dogs at the house after football games.
The descriptions sharply contrast with the shocking allegations involving children outlined in the grand jury report.
Three attorneys representing one of the alleged victims released a statement Saturday, with attorney Andrew Shubin calling Sandusky’s comments “an entirely unconvincing denial and a series of bizarre explanations.”
Sandusky told the newspaper he and Paterno never spoke about the alleged 2002 incident or a 1998 child molestation complaint investigated by Penn State campus police.
“I never talked to him about either one,” Sandusky said. “That’s all I can say. I mean, I don’t know.”
Sandusky said that prosecutors have misconstrued his work with children. He described a family and work life that “could often be chaotic, even odd, one that lacked some classic boundaries between adults and children,” the Times reported.
“It was, you know, almost an extended family,” Sandusky said of his household’s relationship with children from the charity he founded, The Second Mile. He characterized his experiences with children he was close with as “precious times,” and said the physical aspect of the relationships “just happened that way.”
But Saturday’s statement from one accuser’s attorneys called such comments a “delusional rationalization.”
“Pedophiles often horribly mischaracterize the abuse they perpetrate as something that their victims sought or benefited from,” said Justine Andronici, who represents the same accuser as Shubin.