Second Mile CEO: Closing one option

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The Second Mile, the charity founded by former Penn State University defensive coordinator and accused child molester Jerry Sandusky, could close its doors by the end of the year, according to the group's new CEO, David Woodle.

Mr. Woodle said closing the charity's programs for at-risk youths is one option, but that two other possibilities exist: continuing to run scaled-down versions of its programs or transferring the programs to other nonprofit groups.

Leaders of the State College-based charity began talking with the group's largest donors this week to find out if they will continue supporting The Second Mile, he said.

Many are still trying to decide, while others have pulled their support.

"Look, we're facing an uphill battle, but we want these programs to survive," Mr. Woodle said. "If we just don't have any support, they may have to go away, but we're working hard to make sure that doesn't happen."

Until his resignation in September 2010 -- by which time he had been under grand jury investigation for months -- Mr. Sandusky had been the group's primary fundraiser. The charity has annual revenue of about $2.9 million, and about 20 staff members in three offices.

The New York Times reported Friday that leaders of The Second Mile plan to dissolve the charity and possibly transfer its programs to a small number of nonprofit groups. It also reported that the nonprofit's board of directors had agreed to hire Lynne Abraham and the law firm Archer & Greiner to independently investigate the extent of Mr. Sandusky's contact with the program's children, when the charity learned of allegations against Mr. Sandusky and how it responded.

Ms. Abraham served as Philadelphia's district attorney from 1991 to 2010. As a prosecutor, she led a five-year investigation into sexual abuse by priests in Philadelphia.

Mr. Woodle, who was interviewed by the Times for its story, spoke with other news organizations later in the day to refute the claim that a decision had been made, saying closure was just one of the charity's possible steps forward.

The question of just how long The Second Mile can continue operating is difficult to answer because some donors are still contributing, and the group has some flexibility in what programs continue operating and at what level, Mr. Woodle said. But he promised that a decision would be made by end of the year, if not before.

"This won't drag on," he said.

Mr. Sandusky was charged Nov. 5 with 40 counts of sexually abusing eight young boys, and currently is free on bail.

The charity's former CEO, Jack Raykovitz, testified to the investigating grand jury that he was notified in 2002 that a Penn State football staff member had reported seeing Mr. Sandusky in the football building's showers with a boy, that it had made the staff member uncomfortable and that subsequently Mr. Sandusky had been barred from bringing Second Mile children onto campus. Mr. Raykovitz resigned on Sunday after 28 years as the group's chief executive.


Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.


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