Paterno Family Vehemently Denies 1976 Allegation

A beef between Penn State and an insurance company has led to serious accusations against the late coach. His family's attorney is taking a hard line on the matter.

The late Joe Paterno’s family wasted little time vehemently denying a report that the longtime Penn State football coach was aware of then Nittany Lion assistant coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing children as early as 1976.

In a statement first reported by Thursday night, Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers said, “Joe Paterno did not, at any time, cover up conduct by Jerry Sandusky."


Penn State is in a legal fight contending an insurance company should cover most of the $60 million in civil awards against the university stemming from the Sandusky scandal. According to a report by Thursday night, in a short passage of a court order from the case, an insurance company claims, "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky."

It is not clear how or why a child would be able to report alleged sexual abuse to a college football coach. Further, there is no publicly documented case of Sandusky abusing children before 1994.

In 2012, Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 boys between 1994 and 2008. His final year as an assistant at PSU was 1999. He joined the Penn State staff in 1969.

Though Paterno was fired shortly after Sandusky was charged in November of 2011, the veteran head coach was never charged with any crimes. Then PSU president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schulz and athletic director Tim Curley are all still fighting criminal charges stemming from the scandal.

In July of 2012, Paterno was accused of covering up Sandusky's actions by the university sponsored Freeh Report. However, most of the NCAA sanctions stemming from the Freeh Report — including the removal of 111 of Paterno's victories — were invalidated in January of 2015.

Paterno died in January of 2012 following a short fight with cancer.


"Over the past four-and-a-half years Joe Paterno's conduct has been scrutinized by an endless list of investigators and attorneys. Through all of this review there has never been any evidence of inappropriate conduct by Coach Paterno. To the contrary, the evidence clearly shows he shared information with his superiors as appropriate.

"An allegation now about an alleged event 40 years ago, as represented by a single line in a court document regarding an insurance issue, with no corroborating evidence, does not change the facts. Joe Paterno did not, at any time, cover up conduct by Jerry Sandusky."

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