Joe Paterno Reportedly Knew About Jerry Sandusky’s Sex Abuse As Early As 1976

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Former Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno. Photo: Rob Carr/2011 Getty Images
Former Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno. Photo: Rob Carr/2011 Getty ImagesPhoto: Rob Carr

Back in 2012 Jerry Sandusky, a former Pennsylvania State University assistant coach, was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse of young boys between 1994 and 2009, bringing Joe Paterno, the school’s beloved head coach, down with him. Paterno’s supporters have claimed he was deceived by Sandusky, but new court documents allege Paterno knew of Sandusky’s sexual abuse as early as 1976.

The documents in question are reportedly part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by a Penn State insurance company, which is seeking to be reimbursed for the $60 million in payments it’s made to Sandusky’s victims. In the documents, the company claims that, “In 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky.” 

They also reference two separate cases in 1987 and 1988, in which other Penn State assistant coaches witnessed “inappropriate contact” between Sandusky and children — the university’s athletic director at the time was supposedly informed of the 1988 incident, Pennsylvania’s Patriot-News reports.

Judge Gary Glazer, who’s overseeing the case, determined that, “There is no evidence that reports of these incidents ever went further up the chain of command at PSU.”

Paterno died shortly after the charges against Sandusky came to light, and no charges were ever filed against him. But the Freeh Report, which was written by former FBI director Louis Freeh and published in July 2012, concluded that Paterno knew about Sandusky’s behavior years before it was made public, ignored it, and even helped to cover it up.

Paterno’s family has fought to clear his name since the scandal broke, and on Thursday night they released a statement calling claims in the court documents, “an unsubstantiated, forty-year-old allegation.”