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Report: Penn State knew of Jerry Sandusky sex abuse as early as 1976

Joe Paterno

As if it was possible for the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State child sex abuse scandal to sink any lower, a report from PennLive Thursday evening says the school became aware of claims against its longtime defensive coordinator as early as 1976. That's a full 35 years before the school was forced to take any action.

The report stems from a single line in a court order on a related insurance coverage case, which states, one of Penn State's insurers has claimed "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky."

The same report says an unnamed assistant coach reported separate incidences between Sandusky and unnamed children in 1987 and 1988. Word of Sandusky's crimes never went beyond the Penn State athletics department.

Penn State is seeking reimbursement for more than $60 million in payments it has doled out to Sandusky's victims. Penn State's insurer maintains it has no duty to cover the school's payments.

"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, via Penn Live.

"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."

Paterno is four years gone, his legacy toppled like his down statue, and Sandusky will meet his end in prison. Former athletics director Tim Curley and former vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz await trial for failing to report a crime. The NCAA punishments have come and gone. It is unlikely, outside of a recorded statement of Paterno admitting he had specific knowledge of Sandusky's dealings, that any still in the former coach's camp will ever change their minds.

So, outside the result of the pending insurance suit, these new allegations, if proven true, will not change anything except to further illuminate the sad depths of Sandusky's particular brand of evil and the extreme failure of those around him to do anything about it.