Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator at Penn State now charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing children, including rape, told the New York Times this week that he is "not the monster everyone made me out to be."
Sandusky, in a wide-ranging four-hour interview over two days this past week, insisted he never sexually abused any child. But he did confirm some of the details that prosecutors have charged him with.
"These allegations are false, I didn't do those things. I'm not the monster everyone made me out to be. I didn't engage in sexual acts."
Sandusky faces a preliminary hearing on Dec. 13 for allegedly molesting eight boys over the course of 15 years. He also faces a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Philadelphia in which a 29-year-old man known only as John Doe A says Sandusky abused him
"more than 100 times between 1992 and 1996, at the Penn State locker room, on trips to Philadelphia, at a bowl game and at Sandusky's home."
John Doe A's lawyer, Marci Hamilton is a Benjamin Cardozo School of Law professor and an advocate for sex abuse victims. She told the Daily News that by continuing to go public with his defense, Sandusky shows he is both a narcissist and compulsive.
"He's incapable of staying out of the public eye. It's the re-victimization of the victim every time he goes out and tries to explain (his alleged actions) as a good thing. For the survivors, it's cruel. But it shows you the typical mindset of a compulsive pedophile from their side of it. They don't get how much harm they've actually done to children. They only way that they're ever stopped is by the law."
The New York Times interview reveals that Sandusky says Coach Joe Paterno never spoke with him about any suspected misconduct with minors. And he made it clear that the charity he worked for never limited his access to children until he became the focus of a criminal investigation in 2008.
But it was Mr. Paterno's failure to act immediately after he found out in 2002 that Sandusky had molested a 10-year old boy in the showers of the university's football building, that ultimately led to his firing.
During the Times interview, Mr. Sandusky insisted he never sexually abused any child, but he did confirm the details of some of the events that prosecutors have included in charging him with 40 counts of molesting young boys, all of whom Sandusky met through the charity he founded, called the Second Mile.
Among the behaviors he admitted to, Mr. Sandusky said he regularly gave money to the disadvantaged boys at the Second Mile, opened bank accounts for them, and gave them gifts like computers and golf clubs. Prosecutors say Mr. Sandusky used these gifts as a way to build a sense of trust and loyalty among boys he then allegedly repeatedly abused. But Sandusky says he was being benevolent, not crafty.
“I would call kids on the phone and work with them academically. I tried to reward them sometimes with a little money in hand, just so that they could see something. But more often than not, I tried to set up, maybe get them to save the money, and I put it directly into a savings account established for them.”
He also tried to find work for his kids at his football camps. Sometimes he bought them shoes or a shirt with his own money. And sometimes, he passed along gifts to them that had been given to the charity by donors. Sandusky claims,
“I never bought a computer for any kid; I had a computer given to me to give to a kid. I never bought golf clubs. People gave things because they knew there would be kids. They wanted to get rid of things.”
Sandusky agreed to the Times interview because he said his many years of working with children had been misunderstood and distorted by the prosecutors.
“They’ve taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever. I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure. And they just twisted that all.”
Still, Sandusky described what he called was a family and work life that was often chaotic, even odd, since it lacked classic boundaries between adults and children, and thus opens the door to interpretation. He can either be seen as a generous mentor or a serial predator.
When he describes his home in State College, Pa., he calls it a kind of recreation center or second home for dozens of children from his charity. It was a place filled with game playing, wrestling, sleepovers, and a base from where trips to out-of-town sporting events were launched. When the Times asked him directly why he was willing to interact with children who were not his own without many of the safeguards that most adults would use, he responded that essentially he viewed those children as his own. The activities involved showering with them, sleeping alone with them in hotel rooms, and blowing on their stomachs.
Regarding Sandusky's view of his household's relationship with the charity children, he said,
“It was, you know, almost an extended family,”
And he says he had a special phrase for specific children he took under his wing. He called those moments, "precious times" and said the physical aspects of the relationships, "just happened that way." As for the wrestling and hugging, Sandusky says,
“I think a lot of the kids really reached out for that."
Sandusky admits that his wife, Dorothy, known as Dottie, eventually became concerned about the household dynamics and warned him not to neglect his own children. There were six adopted children living in the Sandusky home, including one from the Second Mile.
At one point during the interview, Mr. Sandusky's lawyer, Joseph Amendola, pointed out his client's predicament:
“All those good things that you were doing have been turned around and the people who are painting you as a monster are saying, ‘Well, they’re the types of things that people who are pedophiles exhibit.’ ”
Mr. Sandusky did open up as the interview wore on about his relationships with several of the eight people cited as victims by prosecutors. He admitted that his relationships with more than one of them had extended for years after the suspected episodes of molestation or inappropriate behavior.
In 1998, the mother of a child reported her concerns to the Penn State campus police when she learned her son had showered with Mr. Sandusky at the university. After an investigation, Mr. Sandusky told the police and child welfare authorities that he had most likely done something inappropriate, according to prosecutors. The local district attorney chose not to prosecute.
In the Time interview, Sandusky said the same boy and his mother were part of his life for years. He said that the mother sought him out for tickets to Penn State games for her son, and that Mr. Sandusky had contributed financially years later, when the young man, interested in the ministry, went on a mission.
“He went to Mexico in the poverty-stricken areas and worked with the kids and things like that. He showed me, he sent me pictures of he and the kids.”