Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno says he “didn’t know which way to go” after an assistant coach came to him in 2002 saying he had seen retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a boy.
In his first public comments since being fired two months ago, Paterno told The Washington Post that assistant Mike McQueary “didn’t want to get specific” about details in his 2002 allegation involving Sandusky, who he claimed was showering with a boy in the Penn State football facility.
The Post reported Saturday that Paterno was hesitant to make follow-up calls because he didn’t want to be seen as trying to exert influence either for or against Sandusky.
“I didn’t know which way to go ... And rather than get in there and make a mistake,” he told the Post before trailing off.
A day after he heard McQueary’s allegation, Paterno reported it to his superiors. Paterno said he previously had “no inkling” Sandusky might be a child molester.
Sandusky was criminally charged on Nov. 5 and faces dozens of counts. Paterno was ousted four days later.
Paterno, 85, also is fighting lung cancer that was diagnosed days after his dismissal. He was re-admitted to the hospital Friday for observation for what his family called a minor complication from treatments.
The Post portrayed Paterno as frail from the treatments and wearing a wig. Also recovering from a broken pelvis, Paterno spoke Thursday from a wheelchair.
He said he was initially reluctant to speak because “I wanted everybody to settle down,” but the Post reported Paterno was so eager to defend his record that he insisted on continuing the interview from his bedside Friday morning, though ill.
If Sandusky is guilty, “I’m sick about it,” Paterno said.
Paterno said he wished he knew how allegations against Sandusky didn’t come to light until years after the alleged assaults occurred. “I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “It’s hard.”
Asked to respond to the Paterno interview, Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola said in a statement to The Associated Press the former Penn State assistant was “greatly dismayed by the knee-jerk reaction” of the Penn State Board of Trustees in firing Paterno.
OREGON: Quarterback Darron Thomas says he’s skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior passed for 2,761 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns this past season.