DEVELOPING: Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky admitted to showering and horsing around with young boys but said he is not a pedophile in an exclusive interview with Bob Costas for NBC News’ Rock Center airing tonight at 10 pm/9 CT.
“I say that I am innocent of those charges,” said Sandusky in a phone interview with Costas.
When asked by Costas, “Are you a pedophile,” Sandusky responded “No.”
Joe Paterno’s one time defensive coordinator was charged earlier this month with 40 counts of sexually abusing eight boys. He is currently free on a $100,000 bond and has denied any wrongdoing. The allegations date back to 1994, according to a grand jury report. A grand jury report detailed claims of alleged sexual encounters with young boys in Sandusky’s home, hotels and Penn State locker rooms.
“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,” said Sandusky.
When pressed by Costas about what Sandusky was willing to concede that he’d done was wrong, Sandusky said, “I shouldn’t have showered with those kids.”
The scandal has tarnished the reputation of the once heralded football program, leading to the departure of coaching legend Paterno and three other university officials. It’s also left students and residents of State College, Penn., shocked.
The sight of the 67-year-old Sandusky in handcuffs is hard to reconcile with his public image of a devoted father of six adopted kids who founded a charity to help at risk youth. That charity, The Second Mile, has also come under fire.
All of the alleged sex abuse victims met Sandusky through their participation in The Second Mile. Sandusky founded the charity in 1977 as a group foster home for troubled boys. It spawned into a non-profit organization that has raised millions of dollars to help young boys and girls. Today, Chief Executive Officer Jack Raykovitz’s resignation was announced by the non-profit organization’s board of directors. Grand jury testimony alleges that Raykovitz was aware of at least one of the allegations against Sandusky.
In an NBC News interview from 1987, Sandusky joked that he started The Second Mile because he was a “frustrated playground director.”
“I enjoy being around children. I enjoy their enthusiasm. I just have a good time with them,” Sandusky said.
Sandusky gave up his day to day duties at the organization in 2010. By that time, at least two people had allegedly witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing two different boys in showers on Penn State’s campus, according to a grand jury report.
While Sandusky retired as a coach at Pennsylvania State University in 1999, he continued to have access to Penn State’s facilities. In 2002, he was banned from bringing minors to campus athletic facilities after then graduate student Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Sandusky molesting a boy, according to the grand jury report. The incident was never reported to police or investigated by university police. Sandusky allegedly violated the order not to bring minors to campus by bringing at least one victim to the campus after 2002, according to the grand jury report.
The alleged victims testified that they were abused in hotel rooms, Sandusky’s own home and on Penn State’s campus. Some victims testified that Sandusky would visit them frequently at their schools when they didn’t return his phone calls, according to the grand jury report.
Editor’s note: Bob Costas’ exclusive interview airs on Rock Center tonight at 10pm/9 CT on NBC.
In an earlier edition of this report, we mistakenly identified a location of Sandusky’s alleged sexual encounters as Paterno’s home. According to the grand jury report, it was Sandusky’s home.