NEW YORK -- Jerry Sandusky said in an interview with NBC that he is innocent of the child sex abuse charges that have rocked Penn State University and cost longtime football coach Joe Paterno his job, though the former defensive coordinator admitted he "horsed around" and touched kids.
In a telephone interview aired Monday night on NBC News' "Rock Center," Mr. Sandusky responded, "No," when Bob Costas asked if he was a pedophile.
"I am innocent of those charges," Mr. Sandusky, 67, said. "... I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."
Mr. Sandusky, once considered Mr. Paterno's heir apparent, is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, with several of the alleged assaults occurring on Penn State property. Athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz are charged with perjury. Mr. Paterno was fired and president Graham Spanier resigned for not doing enough after Mr. Sandusky was accused of assaulting a young boy in the showers of the campus football complex in 2002.
The interview with Mr. Costas was Mr. Sandusky's first public comment on the charges. He had previously maintained his innocence through his attorney.
NBC News also obtained an email from Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, who told the grand jury he saw Mr. Sandusky sodomizing a boy about 10 years old in a shower at the Nittany Lions' practice center in March 2002.
Mr. McQueary has not spoken publicly since the Penn State scandal broke. But, last week, in an email, he told friends and former teammates:
"I did the right thing ... you guys know me ... the truth is not out there fully ... I didn't just turn and run ... I made sure it stopped ... I had to make quick tough decisions."
The Associated Press has made several efforts to reach Mr. Sandusky by phone and through his attorney, but messages haven't been returned.
A spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly declined to comment on the interview, citing the active investigation.
Asked if there was anything he did do wrong, Mr. Sandusky said, "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
When Mr. Sandusky retired in 1999, at just 55, he cited his desire to devote more time to The Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977 to help at-risk kids. According to a grand jury report, however, Mr. Sandusky was a sexual predator who used The Second Mile and his Penn State connections to prey on young boys.
Mr. Sandusky was given an office across the street from the football building as part of his retirement package and would bring Second Mile kids around the football facilities.