PSU's Jerry Sandusky 'found his victims' at Second Mile group home
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Jerry Sandusky grew up as an only child living in an apartment over the Brownson House in Washington, Pa., a youth athletic center that also served as a second home for many local children. Two decades later while a linebacker coach at Penn State University he founded his own home for wayward boys, calling it The Second Mile.
The charity's name came from the collection of moral lessons from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, specifically from Matthew 5:41: "And whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two."
The state Attorney General's office on Saturday charged Mr. Sandusky, 67, with 40 sex charges against boys from 1994 to 2005, all of whom he met through the Second Mile Foundation he founded in 1977. Started as a small home for six troubled boys outside State College, it has grown to a statewide organization whose mission is to help "young people to achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing opportunities for them to develop positive life skills and self-esteem."
Mr. Sandusky and his wife Dottie have six adopted children and had cared for foster children, which led them to start the nonprofit. Mr. Sandusky was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and received awards for Second Mile including the 1993 NAACP Human Rights Award, the 1995 YMCA Service-To-Youth Award and the 1996 SGMA Heroes Award. President George Bush nationally recognized it as a philanthropic "Point Of Light" in November 1990.
"After we had taken in some foster children," Mrs. Sandusky told Sports Illustrated in 1982, "we saw the opportunities that some kids just hadn't had. But we'd gotten to the point where we couldn't take in any more, so Jerry started thinking about starting a group home."
It was also within the charity that Mr. Sandusky "found his victims," a grand jury presentment stated. "Through The Second Mile, Sandusky had access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations."
Mr. Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999 to devote his time to Second Mile, where he would stay on until 2010. Efforts to reach the foundation's CEO Jack Raykovitz were not successful, but he released a statement to the Patriot-News Friday.
"We have many policies and procedures designed to protect the children involved in our programs, including employee and volunteer background checks, training and supervision," he said. "As a result, other than occasional bumps and bruises, we have never had an incident impact the safety, health or well-being of children during our programs, and we will continue to do everything in our power to maintain the trust placed in us by the families and professionals with whom we partner to keep that record intact."
Second Mile does work with at-risk children statewide, though most of it is in central and south-central Pennsylvania. It issues motivational and educational training cards called "Nittany Lion Tips," sponsors four-day conferences for high school sophomores on community leadership and week-long camps for children with behavioral and academic problems, and has a mentor program that matches collegiate volunteers with at-risk elementary students.
Mr. Sandusky usually met his victims, the grand jury report said, in their second year at Second Mile camps at the Penn State campus, when they were 7 to 12 years old. They would often stay over at the Sandusky home, sleeping in the basement, and attend Penn State football games with him. He would then provoke sexual encounters with the boys in the basement room, Penn State showers and other athletic facilities, it said.
There are multiple links between the charity and Penn State. Mr. Sandusky was given full access to university facilities in his 1999 retirement agreement, and the presentment says a 1998 investigation of an alleged encounter between Mr. Sandusky and a boy in a football shower was reviewed with the knowledge of then-university counsel Wendell Courtney, who remains counsel for Second Mile.
After a graduate assistant reported seeing Mr. Sandusky anally rape a boy in the football building showers in 2002, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley told the assistant the incident had been reported to Second Mile. Mr. Curley told the grand jury that he informed the Second Mile CEO, Mr. Raykovitz, about the report and told Mr. Sandusky he was prohibited from bringing youths onto campus.
Mr. Sandusky has long been the foundations's lead fundraiser. In 2010 it suffered a $228,000 loss in cash flow, which the foundation warned was hurting its youth programs.
"The children we serve have often experienced many broken promises in their young lives; that's why our mantra has always been 'No broken promises, ever.' We need to continue to be the family they can count on," Second Mile's 2010 annual report said.
It had $2.2 million in revenue versus $2.4 in expenses according to a January 2011 report to the Internal Revenue Service. Though it has little presence in the Pittsburgh area -- other than an annual Pitt vs. Penn State golf fundraiser -- one of its goals for his year is to "expand our professional partnerships and service, particularly in the Southwest Region," according to the charity tracker GuideStar.
The roots for Second Mile come from the state's southwest too.
Mr. Sandusky's father, Art Sandusky, served as live-in director of the Brownson House athletic center in Washington for many years. The facility's athletic field was named in honor of the elder Mr. Sandusky.
The Sandusky family moved into the center in 1953, when Jerry was 9. It was the kind of place where children could keep out of trouble at a time when there were few after-school programs available.
David Johnson, Mr. Sandusky's high school football coach, said Mr. Sandusky occasionally came home to Washington, including in recent years when his father and mother passed away.
He said he has "all the respect in the world" for Mr. Sandusky and doesn't know what to make of the charges now leveled against him.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's not true until I see more evidence," Mr. Johnson said.
Ken Bonnell, a high school friend of Mr. Sandusky's, agreed. "I don't want to believe it," he said. "But it sure doesn't look good for Jerry."