The family of the late Joe Paterno released a report Sunday morning that absolved the coaching great of blame in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and said a prior review commissioned by Penn State University was "factually wrong, speculative and fundamentally flawed. "
Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh put together the new report, the Paterno family said in a written statement.
"The experts determined that the conclusions of the (university) report are based on raw speculation and unsupported opinion - not facts and evidence," Thornburgh said, according to the statement.FULL STORY
On the anniversary of the death of Joe Paterno, a few dozen people visited a mural depicting the image of the college football coaching legend whose legacy was tarnished by the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
With the temperature in single digits, about 40 fans in State College, Pennsylvania, stopped by the mural that depicts Paterno and other prominent figures in Penn State University history, according to video shot by CNN affiliate WHP.
Paterno died January 22, 2012, at age 85 in a State College hospital, according to his family. He had been suffering from lung cancer and a broken pelvis.
He had been the all-time leader in major college football victories for a coach, with 409 wins. But a decision by the governing body of major college sports struck 111 victories from his record, beginning in 1998 - a move that posthumously bumped him from the top of the list.FULL STORY
[Updated at 1:01 p.m. ET] New charges have been filed against three former Penn State officials in the Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal, accused of having "used their positions to conceal and cover up for years the activities of a known child predator," Pennsylvania's attorney general said Thursday.
Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier - charged for the first time in the case - and former Athletic Director Tim Curley and ex-Vice President Gary Schultz now face the same five charges: obstruction of justice, perjury, conspiracy, endangering the welfare of children and failure to report allegations of child abuse.
Jerry Sandusky's lawyers are seeking a new trial for their client, according to court documents filed Thursday in Centre County court in Pennsylvania.
The convicted sex abuser and former Penn State assistant football coach was sentenced to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison after being convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys during a 15-year period.
The once-beloved coach, whose abuse triggered a scandal for one of the nation's most storied college football teams, was given credit for 112 days served.
In addition to requesting a new trial, his lawyers also filed a motion Thursday to reconsider the sentence.
The lawyers argue that there was insufficient evidence to convict Sandusky, and that the court didn't allow them enough time to prepare for trial. They also argue, among other things, that certain counts should have been dismissed on the grounds that they were too general and non-specific, preventing Sandusky from preparing an adequate defense.
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison at a hearing on Tuesday. It is, effectively, a life sentence.
Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, and faced a maximum of 400 years in prison.
Four of Sandusky's victims were in court with their families. The victims were emotional as they addressed the court and faced down the convicted pedophile.
Sandusky remained stone-faced, while his family looked down during the victims' testimony. Matt Sandusky, an adopted son of Jerry Sandusky who at the end of the trial accused the former coach of abusing him, was not in the courtroom, CNN's Laura Dolan reported. Matt Sandusky's birth mother, Debra Long, sat in the back row of the courtroom.
One of Sandusky's victims, known as Victim No. 5, addressed the court during his sentencing.
Editor's note: Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, after a judge handed down a prison sentence Tuesday for his convictions on child sexual abuse charges. Judge John Cleland said Sandusky will face no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years, with credit for time served. He was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. The 68-year-old had faced a maximum of 400 years in prison. His attorneys have 10 days to appeal the decision. They have already vowed to appeal his conviction. Follow along below as we learn more details.
[Updated at 11:57 a.m. ET] Sandusky attorney Karl Rominger said that should the defense team succeed in getting a new trial, one of the strategies will be to argue that Sandusky may have crossed boundaries by showering with children, but that nothing illegal happened.
Rominger was responding to a question from In Session, after Tuesday’s sentencing, about how Sandusky’s showering with children can be defended.
“I don’t think it was ever couched as normal behavior ... but crossing boundaries may be Sandusky’s best defense,” Rominger said.
Rominger said that in a new trial, a psychologist would testify that crossing boundaries can “create victims that don’t exist."
“Nobody is saying (showering with children) is completely appropriate, but it’s not criminal,” Rominger said.
The defense team said it will appeal for a new trial, contending, among other things, that it was granted too little time to prepare for the case (see 10:45 a.m. entry). Sandusky contends he is innocent of the charges, and his team says he could have been acquitted if his lawyers had more time to examine the case.
[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET] Here's a little detail of how Judge John Cleland explained his sentence in court:
The law allows a sentence of hundreds of years, the judge told Sandusky, but he called such a sentence too esoteric.
The judge wanted to give Sandusky a sentence that wasn't so “abstract,” something that Sandusky could understand, CNN’s Jason Carroll reported.
The judge effectively gave the 68-year-old Sandusky a life sentence, Carroll reported.
Sandusky will be 98 when he is first able to ask for parole.
Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky may be sentenced on October 9 after a hearing to determine if he's a sexually violent predator, according to court documents.
After a three-week trial featuring emotional and often graphic testimony from eight of the former Penn State assistant football coach's victims, a 12-person jury convicted him on 45 of 48 counts. There were convictions related to all 10 victims alleged by prosecutors, with the three not-guilty verdicts applying to three individuals.
The verdict prompted people in central Pennsylvania to breathe a sigh of relief, believing a man many called a "monster" would pay the price for his crimes and their impact on his victims, as well as the Penn State community.
Jurors did hear from eight young men who testified that as boys, Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts in showers in Penn State's athletics facilities, hotel rooms, the basement of his home and other places. The abuse spanned at least 15 years.
More on the Penn State scandal:
The Penn State football team started its first season since former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.
The Nittany Lions' home game against Ohio University also will be the first time since 1966 that the team starts a season without Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, two months after the board of trustees fired him for allegedly failing to take his knowledge of the scandal to appropriate authorities.
Though Sandusky was convicted in June, many parts of the Sandusky matter have not been resolved. Here is where things stand in the scandal:
A brick bearing Jerry Sandusky's name and that of his Second Mile charity has been removed from a walkway in downtown State College, Pennsylvania.
The brick is one of nearly 3,000 along Centennial Walkway in the downtown part of campus. The bricks bear the names of many notable figures from Penn State, including former President Graham Spanier and his wife as well as other alumni.
The Sandusky brick had gone mostly unnoticed as students passed through McAllister Alley, not far from the school's Old Main building, until it was noticed on Wednesday by the student-run independent Penn State blog Onward State and photographed by others, including a CNN journalist in State College.
The photo prompted calls for it to be pulled up, considering the school had torn down a statue of legendary former coach Joe Paterno in the wake of a scandal that has left Sandusky jailed for sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years. The school had no authority to remove the brick, many mentioned, since it wasn't on Penn State property.
Pat Daugherty, owner of the Tavern, a restaurant located along the walkway, said he received a call from State College Borough Manager Thomas J. Fountaine II on Thursday morning saying he had received calls after the photos circulated online.
"We honestly were not aware the brick was there until a day or two ago," Fountaine said.
He said it took a couple days to figure out whether officials could remove the brick, because ownership of the pedestrian walkway was unclear, but it wasn't specifically borough property.
That's when Fountaine called Daughterty, who offered to remove the brick.
"There was some vandalism that was occurring as well," Fountaine said. "Because of that and other issues, we thought it was appropriate to remove it."
Daugherty said he would probably return the brick to the borough because somebody had probably paid to have it put there during the school's centennial celebration.
Penn State will have to return all of the football trophies they won during a 14-year span as a result of sanctions handed down by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for school's role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, a school official said on Wednesday.
The move is another blow to the State College community, which has been plagued by the scandal for nine months.
Earlier this summer the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, banned the football program from bowl games for four years, stripped scholarships and vacated the team's wins from 1998 to 2011 following the Freeh Report, which issued a scathing statement about how much the university knew and when.
Some of the trophies that the school will have to return include their bowl game wins. Penn State won the Outback Bowl in 1999 and 2007, the Alamo Bowl in 1999 and 2007, the Orange Bowl in 2006 and the Capital One Bowl in 2010.
While those residing in Happy Valley are still trying to resurrect their image in the wake of the scandal and show they still back their team, they do have one thing to smile about this week as they head into their first football game without famed coach Joe Paterno in more than four decades.
Their spirit has won them $10,000 for the school's general scholarship fund after they beat out more than 200 other schools in a voting campaign hosted on ESPN.com, according to a press release sent out by the school.
Penn State led the competition from start to end, the release said.
“We are elated to see this incredible expression of Penn State pride, spirit and support demonstrated by our students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends and fans in winning the Pledge Your Allegiance contest,” Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, said in a statement. “This national victory is what Nittany Nation is all about. We know Penn Staters everywhere will join us in celebrating by wearing their blue and white with great pride.”
Penn State football fans will no longer be singing "Sweet Caroline" while cheering on their Nittany Lions, according to university officials.
Neil Diamond's classic song, often sung at sporting events and particularly at Boston Red Sox baseball games, has been rotated out of the playlist for Beaver Stadium this year.
Chatter quickly began building on the State College campus and on social media platforms after the Altoona Mirror newspaper reported that officials were concerned about the lyrics to the song, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at the university, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He continues to maintain his innocence.
But those words, and the scandal, have nothing to do with removing the song from the game day playlist, Penn State spokesman David La Torre told CNN.
"Absolutely no song changes were made based on lyrics. This song has come up on the list in recent years because it happens to be played in so many other professional and collegiate venues and has no real origination here at Penn State," he said. "So while wholesale changes to what happens on game day are not in store, some 'updating' is going to occur, including the music playlist."
La Torre said the updating happened to include "Sweet Caroline" and noted that these changes happen "each year for both recorded music and the Blue Band," which plays at the games. The Altoona Mirror has recently updated its story to reflect that the choice was not made because of song lyrics.
While the playlist update may not be a result of the scandal, there has been one change that grew out of the Sandusky incident.
The numerous athletic facilities around Penn State will no longer be available to the public, a decision that Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers tells CNN was made as a result of several factors.
Penn State faced a multiyear shutdown of its football program had it not agreed with the sanctions imposed by the NCAA earlier this week, university President Rodney Erickson told ESPN.
The football program at Penn State faced a four-year "death penalty," a complete cessation of football activities, Erickson said, according to the ESPN report, as well as fines well in excess of the $60 million levied.
The four-year death penalty option was confirmed by NCAA President Mark Emmert, who said in a separate interview with ESPN that what the network termed "a core group of NCAA school presidents" had agreed on the unprecedented sanctions.
Once Penn State learned of the NCAA intentions, school officials engaged in five days of secret discussions with the NCAA that resulted in the penalties announced Monday, ESPN reported. Those include the record $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, a four-year reduction in football scholarships and five years of probation. Penn State also was forced to vacate its football victories since 1998, including 111 by the late coach Joe Paterno.
The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that rocked Penn State University and football fans across the nation culminated this week in an unprecedented fine of $60 million against the school and severe sanctions for the Division I football program. The Nittany Lions are banned from the postseason for four years, will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons and had 14 seasons of football victories from the late coach Joe Paterno vacated.
But there's also the issue of how the Penn State community will now come together. Alums have responded in force, tweeting, posting photos and defending their school - not for the actions that occurred - but to show the rest of the world they won't let this scandal be their school's best known chapter.
Some have posted photos with the "WE ARE" Penn State chant but somewhat altered. One said: "Don't let people who don't know who 'we are' ... tell us who WE ARE." It has been a rallying cry of sorts, joining together alums from long ago with recent graduates. Many have been tweeting with the hashtag #WeAreAndAlwaysWillBe. Groups on Facebook have been created so alums and current students can share their views, including one called "We Are (still) Penn State."
"This is a group dedicated to healing the scars of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, recognizing and honor the victims and rebuilding the reputation of Penn State University and its football team as one of the premier institutions of higher learning and athletic tradition not only in the country but in the entire world," the group's page said. "We still believe that 'Success With Honor' is who we are, and that Coach Bill O'Brien is the best man to carry on that tradition on and off the field. The actions of an evil man and those that enabled and apologized for him do not define us, and it is our responsibility to write the next chapter in the history of Penn State."
Patterson Weaver, a lawyer who graduated from Penn State in 2001, posted a lengthy note on Facebook describing how he cannot reconcile what happened with the school he knows. Weaver said the world should know the actions of the few responsible should not define the culture of the university as a whole.
Weaver has given CNN permission to post his note in entirety below:
"Apparently, Sports Illustrated will run a cover this week that reads 'We Were Penn State.' Sports Illustrated and so many others clearly have no understanding of who We are. As a second-generation Penn State grad, I have grown up idolizing Penn State, Joe Paterno, and the excellent institution of higher learning that Penn State was, is, and will always be. I am one of hundreds of thousands that consider the Penn State community something unique and special. This goes beyond a football field. This goes beyond school pride. The culture at Penn State, in no small part because of Joe Paterno, taught all of us how to be better people, better friends, and better members of our families and our community.
"So how do I reconcile that with the allegations that a few individuals, including Joe Paterno, remained silent about the terrible actions of Sandusky? Honest answer is I can’t. The allegations do not gel with what each of us learned from our university, and yes, from Joe Paterno. Penn State has always been a beacon of how to do things the right way. Of putting academics and building quality young men and women ahead of fame and wins. I cannot reconcile these allegations with the culture that helped mold who I am. The culture that helped teach me that success is only sweet when done right. That a loss with integrity is better than a win without it. That who we are as men and women is more important than fleeting glory. I cannot reconcile what people are saying of my school with the school I lived and experienced.
The NCAA on Tuesday spelled out how it is relaxing some rules to allow Penn State football players to transfer to other schools after the governing body of college athletics announced unprecedented sanctions Monday.
The Penn State football program, one of the top programs in the NCAA's major-school division, may be crippled by the sanctions announced Monday in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up. The program is losing 20 scholarships a year and cannot play in postseason bowl games for the next four years, which is expected to drive many of its best athletes to other schools.
"The NCAA recognizes that current football student athletes will be negatively impacted by the Penn State sanctions," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. "We want to allow those eligible student athletes as much flexibility as possible while still being mindful of some of the transfer safeguards our membership has put in place." FULL POST
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier said he would never have ignored accusations of child sex abuse on campus because, among other things, he "personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child," according to a letter he sent to the school's board of trustees.
"It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth... would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children," Spanier said in the letter - which was dated Sunday and obtained by CNN Tuesday.
While Spanier has not been criminally charged in the case, an investigation by ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh concluded that he helped university officials conceal allegations of sexual abuse against the former assistant football coach.
Spanier disputes these findings in his letter, saying "at no time during my presidency did anyone ever report to me that Jerry Sandusky was observed abusing a child or youth or engaged in a sexual act with a child or youth."
Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.
More on the Penn State scandal:
The NCAA's actions on Monday seem to be about more than just punishing Penn State's future football teams for the school's role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
In addition to the fines, bans and other sanctions it handed down that will hurt the storied program for a long time, in some eyes, the NCAA has wiped out almost all of the success of teams under coach Joe Paterno starting the moment he learned about Jerry Sandusky's actions but didn't do anything about it.
"Obviously, the 1998 date was selected because that's when the first reported incidents of abuse occurred and that's when the failure to respond appropriately began," NCAA President Mark Emmert said during a news conference on Monday. "And that was the point of time from which one could make an argument, of course, that the failures began inside the institution, so it seemed to both me and the executive committee that that was the appropriate beginning date."
Emmert's message was clear: The NCAA was choosing to punish a culture of silence, a culture that protected the program above all moral obligations and those responsible for making it that way.
Vacating wins has long been a debate in all sports. And so there is no surprise that the NCAA's ruling on Monday sent the debate over the decision to vacate the wins into a tailspin. But it raised questions about the implications the sanctions will have on past and current players, Paterno's legacy and ultimately Penn State's place among the best football programs.
Some say you can erase the wins, but it is an empty punishment that does nothing to move the university forward and doesn't ultimately change the facts. Others say it is the best way to punish a school: by wiping out a massive chunk of its history.
ESPN analyst and lawyer Jay Bilas told CNN that while the Penn State situation is egregious, the NCAA failed in doling out the penalties to the right people.
He believes the NCAA hammered the institution but failed to really hit those he believes are responsible, including former President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, former Interim Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz and Paterno.
“All any of them had to do was communicate (the Sandusky reports) to someone else. And all of them chose to be silent,” he said. “That’s unforgivable and unconscionable. The suggestions or implication that the football culture made them abandon their human decency is kind of offensive. Football didn’t do that; that was done by four individuals in positions of authority that could not be counted upon to do the right.”
And the message sent by the NCAA and Penn State based on the consent decree, Bilas believes, is that the culture of football was at fault, and so that institution should be punished. But Bilas believes that message neglects to get at the really heart of the issue.
“Putting this off on football just glosses over the fact that individuals were at a fault here, and they are not being held to account,” he said.
Bilas said he understood the frustration and anger of current and former Penn State players who say that by punishing the institution, the NCAA was punishing them, too.
Saying it is "a stark wake-up call to everyone involved in college sports," the NCAA announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and took away 14 seasons of football victories from the late Joe Paterno.
The school's football team was also banned from the postseason for four years and will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons, NCAA President Mark Emmert said.
Emmert said the unprecedented fine will be paid over five years to fund programs that serve the victims of child sexual abuse.
The Big Ten Conference also acted Monday, ruling Penn State ineligible for its conference title football game and saying the Nittany Lions' share of bowl revenues for the next four seasons - approximately $13 million - will be donated to charities that "protect children."
So what does that mean for the future of Penn State football? Five experts weigh in:
Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel says a year of the "death penalty," a complete ban on football, would have been preferable to the sanctions Penn State received.
"It could've been abolished for a year, continued mostly business as usual and been back long before these recruiting sanctions will endure," Wetzel writes of Penn State football.
"It's nearly impossible to recruit a great or even good player when he knows he can't participate in the postseason until he is, at best, a senior. Any player worth his scholarship wants to compete for championships. Penn State players can't. So why wouldn't recruits just go to Michigan or Alabama or wherever?"
Dan Levy, national lead writer for the Bleacher Report, calls the sanctions "murder by suicide, college football style."
"Make no mistake: The NCAA sanctions are a death knell for Penn State football," Levy writes.
"The NCAA stepped in to make it virtually impossible for Penn State to field a competitive team this year, next year or any year in the next half decade," Levy says. "If that's not death, what is?"
Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock lines up with Wetzel and Levy.
"The sanctions cripple Penn State football. The four-year bowl ban, four-year scholarship reductions and the freedom granted to current players to transfer immediately without penalty or simply decline to play while maintaining their scholarships will make Penn State the Vanderbilt of the Big Ten," Whitlock writes. (Vanderbilt is a longtime doormat in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference.)
Editor's note: The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and banned its football team from the postseason for four years. The school will also forfeit all football wins from 1998, NCAA President Mark Emmert said. That decision strips the late Joe Paterno of the title of winningest coach in major football college history.
[Updated 10:53 am ET] The Big Ten conference added its own sanctions against member Penn State after the NCAA announced its penalties on Monday.
Penn State will not be allowed to participate in the Big Ten conference title game for the same four years in which it is banned from post season bowl games by the NCAA. Penn State will also not be allowed to share in the conference's bowl revenues for those four years, about a $13 million hit, according to a Big Ten press release. That money will be donated to children's charities, the release said.
[Updated 10:36 am ET] The NCAA sanctions against Penn State include the following restrictions on scholarships it can offer:
"Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period."
That means the football program can only offer the equivalent of 15 full scholarships to incoming freshmen or transfer students per year for four years beginning with the 2013-14 academic year and can only offer 65 full scholarships total each year beginning with the 2014-15 academic year. Scholarships may be divided among players as partial scholarships.
Former Penn State player Derek Moye says the vacating of victories ordered by the NCAA can't erase his memories of what he has been a part of:
They can take away whatever games they want to, I know I was apart of win 400 409 and all the other games WE won while at PSU—
Derek Moye (@dmoye6) July 23, 2012
Former Penn State player A. Q. Shiplet tweets a picture of rings he won at Penn State:
AQ Shipley (@aqshipley) July 23, 2012
[Updated 10:20 am ET] Former Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark tweets on his reaction to the NCAA sanctions:
This is beyond sad man...—
Daryll Clark (@CaptainClark17) July 23, 2012
[Updated 10:03 am ET] A statement from current Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien on the NCAA sanctions:
"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.
I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university."
NCAA veteran David Berst, of SMU fame, called the Penn State sanctions "As severe as any that i can recall."—
Pete Thamel (@PeteThamelNYT) July 23, 2012
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9:00 am ET - NCAA announces Penn State sanctions - One day after the Joe Paterno statue was removed outside Beaver Stadium, the NCAA will reveal "significant, unprecedented" penalties against Penn State University over the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
A decision will be made on the future status of the embattled statue of former head football coach Joe Paterno "within seven to 10 days," Penn State spokesman David La Torre told CNN on Wednesday.
A small plane flew around the Penn State campus on Tuesday carrying a banner that read, "Take the Statue Down or We Will," a reference to the statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium.
The statue is among many vestiges left from Paterno's 46 years as head coach of the Nittany Lions, a run that ended in disgrace in November when he was fired in the wake of a sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
"I'm a Penn State employee that thinks we have failed miserably, and I'm sad for the damage that has been done, but this is just upsetting," Diane Farley, a PSU alumnus who spotted the plane on Tuesday told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. "It's just stirring up everything."
Many people are calling for the Paterno statue to be torn down.