Abuse experts concerned over kids showering with adults
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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Years ago, former Penn State assistant Dick Anderson would enter the code to get into the coaches' locker room showers and sometimes see Jerry Sandusky standing naked with a young boy. Occasionally, he and other coaches would shower with them.
"It was not uncommon," Mr. Anderson said during testimony at the Sandusky trial on Monday.
Youth sports and child behavior experts say that kind of activity shouldn't occur because it's unhealthy and could lead to trouble.
"It is not normal," said Brooke de Lench, author of "Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports" and a former college athlete. "It should never be done. ... There is absolutely nothing good that can come out of it."
Testimony from Mr. Anderson and former assistant coach Booker T. Brooks Jr., who were both called by the defense, helped corroborate stories told by Victim 4 last week. He said he showered with Mr. Sandusky routinely in the Penn State coaches' locker rooms and that assistant coaches Mr. Anderson, Tom Bradley and Fran Ganter saw them.
Mr. Anderson said Mr. Sandusky brought young boys into the private coaches' locker room and that other coaches would occasionally shower with them. He didn't find showering, naked, with young boys inappropriate. "I still do it," he said, referring to showers at the YMCA. "I do it all the time."
Joan Mills is the project manager at Pittsburgh's A Child's Place at Mercy, which provides care to victims of child abuse. She dismissed a comparison of a YMCA to the practice of an adult showering with young boys in the Penn State locker room and suggested that it is rare and inappropriate for adults to shower around young boys in gym environments as well.
"You go to a country club, you're not seeing men in the shower with children," Ms. Mills said. "You're seeing men with men, yes.
"They're just trying to lower people's repulsion by making it seem normal.
"What was the climate there? What were the barriers? Who was setting the limits? Those are the questions that it makes you ask."
When Victim 4 discussed the assistant coaches last week, he said they would say hello when they saw him with Mr. Sandusky. One time, he said, Mr. Bradley didn't leave until he and Mr. Sandusky were finished.
"I think he was suspicious of something because he stayed there," he said.
Mr. Bradley did not respond to attempts for an interview. Reached by phone last week, Mr. Ganter declined to comment.
Asked whether the university was aware assistant coaches had seen Mr. Sandusky shower with young boys, Penn State spokesman David La Torre said he could not comment, citing the ongoing trial. In response to the Sandusky allegations, Penn State in April approved new rules that imposed stricter guidelines for children using university facilities.
The revised rules require anyone who works with children on a Penn State campus or in a university-sponsored program to undergo a criminal background check. The rules also say parents and legal guardians must give written approval for their children to take part in campus programs. And during any activities involving minors, two or more adults must be present at all times.
First Published June 19, 2012 12:00 am