Filmmaker claims Sandusky interview exonerates Paterno


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In a recorded phone conversation from prison with documentarian John Ziegler, broadcast on the "Today" show, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky questioned the validity of former assistant coach Mike McQueary's testimony.

Mr. Ziegler claimed that information from Mr. Sandusky, convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, regarding Victim 2 would debunk the allegations of a coverup by former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. He is working on a documentary called "Framing Paterno," a defense of the late coach.

Mr. Ziegler said he had identified Victim 2, but "Today" host Matt Lauer ordered him not to release the man's name on the air. Sandusky was accused of abusing Victim 2 in February 2001 at the Lasch Football Building.

Sandusky said in one of the phone conversations with Mr. Ziegler that Mr. McQueary's story, involving Victim 2 from February 2001, had changed a lot. Mr. McQueary testified he saw something "extremely sexual" in the Lasch Building showers involving Sandusky and a young boy. He then told Paterno, who reported the incident to former athletic director Tim Curley. Mr. Curley, former president Graham Spanier and former vice president of finance Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report and conspiracy, among other charges, related to this incident.

"I don't understand how anybody would have walked into that locker room or where he was and heard sounds that were associated with sex going on," Sandusky said. "I mean that would have been the last thing I would have thought about. I would have thought fooling around or maybe something like that."

Sandusky was convicted in June. He did not testify at his trial.

The Paterno family released a statement after midnight on Monday, condemning Mr. Ziegler's interview before they had seen it.

"The Paterno family would prefer to remain silent on this matter, but they feel it is important to make it clear that they had no role in obtaining or releasing this recording. Moreover, they believe that any attempt to use this recording as a defense of Joe Paterno is misguided and inappropriate."

Mr. Ziegler said one of the Paterno family's investigators had spoken with him before and after he interviewed Sandusky and had told him some questions to ask Sandusky.

"This is all about Joe Paterno's alleged culpability, which I don't believe the facts back up," Mr. Ziegler said on the show. "I believe he was railroaded."

The "Today" show played a clip of Sandusky speaking about Paterno as to whether he thought Paterno would have kept him on the staff if Paterno thought he was a child molester.

Sandusky said, "If he absolutely thought I was [a pedophile], I'd say no. If he had suspicion, I don't know the answer to that."

The attorney for Victim 2 released a statement to the "Today" show questioning anything Sandusky would have to say regarding Victim 2.

Penn State spokesman David La Torre released this statement: "Jerry Sandusky's statements today continue to open wounds for his victims, and the victims of child sexual abuse everywhere. We have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. Penn State continues to take important steps, including the training of over 11,000 employees and volunteers on how to recognize and report suspected child abuse."

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Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, Twitter @mdent05 First Published March 25, 2013 12:45 PM


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