HARRISBURG -- At a preliminary hearing for three former Penn State University administrators charged in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, a witness testified that former football coach Joe Paterno said the school's administration had "screwed it up."
At Monday's hearing, prosecutors put former assistant football coach Mike McQueary on the stand to testify about a 2001 meeting he had with former athletic director Tim Curley and retired senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz after witnessing Sandusky assaulting a child in a locker room.
Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report shortly after Sandusky was indicted in November 2011. Former Penn State president Graham Spanier was charged in November 2012 with the same crimes. All three men have said they are innocent.
All three were also charged with endangering the welfare of children, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say they engaged in a "conspiracy of silence," knowing about an eyewitness account of a sexual abuse incident by Sandusky and failing to tell law enforcement.
Sandusky was found guilty in June 2012 of 45 counts of child sex abuse; he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
"I told them I had seen Jerry Sandusky involved in a sexual situation, molestation incident in a Penn State locker room," Mr. McQueary said of his meeting with Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz.
He said he was told by Mr. Curley: "We'll follow back up. Let us look into it."
When questioned under cross-examination why he didn't pursue this issue further over the years with administration officials, Mr. McQueary replied, "I didn't handle this the quote unquote perfect way. ... When authority tells me something, I go with it. ... I'm at fault for that. I take responsibility."
Mr. McQueary also said now-deceased coach Mr. Paterno told him -- years after the 2001 incident -- "Old Main screwed it up," referring to the administration's response to the Sandusky investigation.
As the events in the scandal were becoming public, Mr. Paterno also advised Mr. McQueary to not trust the university's lawyers and to get his own attorney to avoid becoming a scapegoat, Mr. McQueary testified.
"Don't trust [PSU general counsel] Cynthia Baldwin. Don't trust Old Main," Mr. McQueary testified Mr. Paterno told him.
The court also heard testimony Monday from two former administrative assistants to Mr. Schultz.
Joan Coble, who worked for Mr. Schultz for 14 years, recalled him telling her to never look in a confidential file he had about Sandusky, kept in a locked drawer in his office.
"He told me not to look in that file. ... His tone of voice was very stern," she testified.
She never looked in the file, Ms. Coble stated.
"I remember thinking at the time, I wonder what Jerry has done. I thought later, it couldn't be anything that serious, because he continues to coach."
She said she later assumed the file must be related to a precursor to a retirement contract for Sandusky. Ms. Coble retired from PSU in 2007.
The file was later removed from Mr. Schultz's office after his arrest in 2011, by then-administrative assistant Kim Belcher, she testified Monday.
Ms. Belcher stated she was not instructed to remove the file, and indeed did not even know of its existence until after Mr. Schultz had left Penn State and she was retrieving some personal files and items from his office on his behalf.
"It occurred to me that if there was a file on Sandusky, it would be in that bottom drawer [where confidential files were kept]," she told the court.
She said she initially removed the file, which contained notes about 1998 and 2001 locker room incidents involving Sandusky, and gave it to Mr. Schultz because "I wanted to be helpful."
When she later became concerned about having removed the file, she spoke to Mr. Schultz, she said.
"He told me, if I was asked about it, I should tell the truth," she told the court.
Testimony resumes today at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg.
Kate Giammarise: email@example.com First Published July 29, 2013 3:45 PM