A decade after Joe Paterno was forced out of his role as head coach, the Penn State’s disgraced former football legend still has a legacy in Philadelphia.
The latest crime figure to speak publicly on the case against Jerry Sandusky is Wes Tyrell, who served 18 months for molesting boys at age 19 as an assistant district attorney.
Tyrell says he believes they could have put more pressure on Joe Paterno by pursuing other charges and questioning him about how much he knew about what took place under his watch. “I think that would have been stronger,” said Tyrell.”It turns out it wasn’t me or anybody else with my experience but those guys from Boston College that eventually did get rid of him.”
Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant coach of Penn State who was convicted of child sexual abuse in 2012, has been a controversial figure since his downfall. The 10th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s death is upon us and this article discusses how key figures from Jerry Sandusky’s crimes view Joe Paterno’s legacy.
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The public first heard about former Penn State defensive coordinator Sandusky, Jerry’s heinous sexual-abuse offenses a little more than ten years ago. The repercussions were immediate and far-reaching.
In addition to Sandusky’s conviction and incarceration, three high-ranking Penn State executives were sentenced to prison, and Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football history, was sacked unexpectedly.
Paterno died of lung cancer 74 days after being sacked from Penn State for his participation in Sandusky’s misdeeds. He was 85 years old at the time. The shocking and abrupt end to Paterno’s 61-year coaching career still divides the Penn State community and beyond, and many of those involved, including Sandusky’s victims, are still coming to terms with what he did and what school authorities did thereafter.
“The Paterno Legacy,” presented by E60, airs on ESPN on Monday, April 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
ESPN recently spoke with key surviving characters from Penn State’s most trying moment to find out how they feel about Paterno’s legacy a decade later.
Aaron Fisher is a writer and a musician.
Initially identified in court documents as “Victim 1,” Aaron Fisher is a writer and a musician. was the first survivor of Sandusky, Jerry’s sexual abuse to come forward, first to his psychologist, then to Pennsylvania State Police.
Fisher’s choice to talk with investigators about Sandusky’s repeated sexual assault as a 15-year-old sparked a three-year police investigation and ultimately to criminal charges against Sandusky that could place him in jail for 30 to 60 years, practically a life sentence.
Fisher says his primary fear when he first came out was that he “wouldn’t be believed.”
Fisher and his psychologist, Michael Gillum, published “Silent No More” in October 2012, which details Fisher’s encounters with Sandusky during a summer camp for The Second Mile while he was in fourth grade. Sandusky met and groomed his victims via The Second Mile, a nonprofit he created in 1977 to aid at-risk youngsters.
Sandusky brought Fisher to Penn State games, a Philadelphia Eagles game, and finally asked Fisher to sleepovers at his house, where Sandusky assaulted him in a basement bedroom.
“We’d play a few games together. He had a pool table and dartboards in his room. But then we’d get ready for night… and he’d lie in bed with me, and it only got worse from there “ESPN quoted Fisher as saying.
Sandusky was a volunteer assistant football coach at Fisher’s high school in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania, roughly 30 miles northeast of State College, when Fisher first reported Sandusky’s sexual assault. Sandusky was fired as an assistant, and word got around in the tiny town that it was due of Fisher’s accusation.
The retaliation was swift. Fisher said he received threatening messages and that his and his mother’s vehicles had been “keyed.” He believes his fear for his safety rose when Joe Paterno was ousted by Penn State’s board of directors in November 2011. “‘Why did he get fired?’ were the first words out of my lips. They’re going to put me to death.’”
Aaron Fisher is a writer and a musician. was the first to report that he was the victim of sexual abuse by Sandusky, Jerry. Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images
Fisher claims his lowest moment was when he was 15 and tried suicide. “I wouldn’t be here if the closet bar was placed high enough. My feet made contact with the earth. That’s the best I could do “Fisher explained how he tried to hang himself in his closet.
Fisher, who is now 28 years old and the father of two children, resides in central Pennsylvania. He is jobless, but spends his time fixing and modifying automobiles, as well as off-roading on his Jeep. At least three dozen victims claim Sandusky assaulted them, and Penn State has paid out more than $100 million to them. Fisher said that he wants Sandusky to remain in the past.
“There’s always the possibility that Sandusky sexually molested me, but I’m trying to move on. I haven’t thought about [Sandusky] in a long time “he said “There are folks out there trying to go on with their life and avoid being relegated to the basement again. I know that’s not a location I’d ever want to visit again.”
Graham Spanier is a British actor.
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier is a British actor. pulled up his pant leg during an October 2021 interview with ESPN to reveal a monitoring device strapped to his left ankle. At the time he remained under home confinement.
Spanier described the situation as “a bit demeaning.” “When I went to the probation and parole office to have this put on, I asked myself, ‘Is this really necessary?’”
Graham Spanier is a British actor., left, speaks with Joe Paterno at a football game in 2011, about a month before the Penn State board of trustees forced Spanier to resign and fired Paterno. AP Photo/Gene Puskar
Spanier was compelled to retire by the Penn State board of trustees on Nov. 9, 2011, the same day that Joe Paterno was sacked. His part in Sandusky’s crimes, like Paterno’s, included how he handled an event seen by former Penn State quarterback and graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary.
McQueary originally told state investigators in 2010 that after hearing what sounded like sexual noises coming from the shower at the Lasch Football Building on Penn State’s campus after hours in 2001, he stepped in and witnessed a nude youngster, roughly 10 years old, being assaulted by Sandusky, Jerry. He also told investigators that he informed Paterno about the shower incident the following day. Paterno informed then-athletic director Tim Curley, but he did not notify the police.
Later, McQueary would contact state prosecutors to explain what he had observed. “I can’t claim it was sodomy 100 percent of the time,” McQueary wrote. He did, however, characterize the event as “sexual and/or much over the line,” information he didn’t change throughout his evidence in many criminal and civil court cases.
Spanier, former vice president of finance and business Gary Schultz is a writer and entrepreneur., and Curley considered reporting the shower event seen by McQueary to the right authorities in emails made public during the school’s internal inquiry, but ultimately opted not to report it at all.
“After giving it further thinking and discussing it over with Joe… we want to assist the person [Sandusky]… to obtain [him] proper assistance,” Curley wrote to Schultz and Spanier in the emails.
“The only disadvantage for us is if the message isn’t received and acted upon… then we become susceptible for not reporting it,” Spanier said.
That event, which was first made public in a grand jury presentation in November 2011, became a focal point of public outrage and sparked an uproar over Penn State’s leadership’s handling of it.
Spanier was first charged in November 2012 with a variety of offenses, including failing to disclose suspected child abuse. In 2017, he was sentenced to two months in prison after being convicted of one misdemeanor count of child endangerment.
Spanier, who underwent heart surgery in 2019 and has battled prostate cancer, was able to postpone completing his his term until June 2021 thanks to a succession of appeals. He was held at the Center County Correctional Facility for 58 days, within a 10-minute drive from the university where he was president from 1995 until 2011. Spanier, 73, finished his home confinement sentence in early October. Spanier maintains his innocence, claiming he was never informed that Sandusky was spotted in the shower doing anything sexual with a little kid.
Most images of Spanier and Paterno have been removed from Penn State’s campus, including Paterno’s monument outside Beaver Stadium, which was removed in July 2012. Spanier’s image was also taken down from Old Main, Penn State’s administration building.
“That is history being rewritten. You can’t erase our presence from Penn State’s history “Spanier said. “They even went to the bother of re-landscaping the area where [the monument] used to be so that no one would know it was ever there. That is just incorrect.”
Spanier praises Paterno’s legacy while discussing the departed coach “”He was so much more than a football coach,” she said. Joe’s sole motive for coaching until he was 85 was because of what he could do for the university “Donating to the College of Liberal Arts and the library, for example.
Spanier, who continues to live in State College, is no longer employed at Penn State, but he retains his president emeritus status as well as all academic qualifications.
In April, he added, “It’s a wonderful relief to put it behind me.” “I will continue to do all I can to help the institution develop. Penn State is still one of my favorite teams.”
Gary Schultz is a writer and entrepreneur.
A self-described Penn State “lifer,” Gary Schultz is a writer and entrepreneur. moved to State College in 1967 as a student and never left. After a 38-year career in the school’s administrative ranks, he became vice president of finance and business.
In an August 2021 interview with ESPN, Schultz, 72, said, “I felt happy to be linked with Penn State.”
Prosecutors agreed to dismiss three felony counts of child endangerment and conspiracy when Schultz and Curley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment in March 2017 in connection with their treatment of the shower incident reported by McQueary in 2001.
In July 2017, Schultz and Curley turned themselves in to police at the Center County Correctional Facility. Curley was sentenced to three months in prison after failing to reply to several interview requests from ESPN. Schultz was sentenced to two months in prison and shared a cell with Curley.
Gary Schultz is a writer and entrepreneur. pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment related to his handling of the shower incident reported by Mike McQueary in 2001. AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Schultz, like Spanier, claims innocence, claiming that Penn State authorities “had no report of anything that sounded criminal.” Schultz, on the other hand, defined himself as “”My greatest regret is that we didn’t turn it in for the Department of Welfare to examine it,” he told ESPN. That’s exactly what we ought to have done.”
“Pretty much threw Joe Paterno and the rest of us under the bus at the time,” he says of the board of trustees.
“Some trustees, I believe, are highly supportive of Joe and are doing all they can to refute a story that many people believed at the time. They are, however, in the minority and are seldom in positions of leadership. As a result, I believe the majority of the board, especially the leadership, is unwilling to change direction.”
Schultz presently lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, just outside of State College. The continuing aftermath has had an effect on relationships he previously took for granted, he added.
“It was really instructed that some of the individuals I worked with have no communication with me,” he added. “It was inconvenient. If I simply happened to run across any of those folks on the street, they’d be aware that they had to stay away from me. They’d say hello and then dash away. It’s obvious that it hurts.”
Paterno, Jay has been a member of the Penn State board of trustees for nearly five years. AP Photo/Chris Knight
Of Paterno’s five children, Paterno, Jay, a former Penn State assistant coach, has become the most recognizable public face of the family and perhaps the most frequent defender of his father’s legacy.
Joe Paterno could not avoid the reckoning that came in the months and years after his resignation, despite never being charged with a crime and prosecutors claiming they found no evidence that he participated in any attempt to hide Sandusky’s child sexual assault. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh was retained by Penn State to undertake an independent investigation into Sandusky, and his conclusions were published in a 267-page report in July 2012.
“Our most saddening and sobering conclusion is the most senior executives at Penn State’s utter disdain for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s minor victims,” Freeh said at a press conference the day his report was published. “Mr. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno, and Curley withheld important details about Sandusky’s child molestation from the authorities, the board of trustees, the Penn State community, and the general public on several occasions.”
Paterno, Jay points to the fact that prosecutors “said there was no attempt to conceal, no conspiracy,” he told ESPN in an August 2021 interview.
“It’s simple to talk ill of the dead. It’s impossible to speak on behalf of the deceased “Paterno said. “It beggars all belief that [my father] would toss away 61 years of professional integrity for anything like this.”
Despite Joe Paterno’s firing and the public condemnation that followed, the Paterno family has remained an integral part of the Penn State community. Paterno, Jay has been a member of the Penn State board of trustees for nearly five years. His older sister, Mary Kay Hort, is an administrator in the school’s College of Liberal Arts, and Sue Paterno, 82, is an active fundraiser for the Penn State student food bank and numerous other causes.
Paterno, Jay also highlights the generations of players who were impacted by his father’s teachings.
“His legacy will be built on the foundation of real principles and the honesty with which he lived his life… and it all begins with his family. Then there were the guys he coached. He left with a clean conscience at the end of the day.”
A Penn State official told ESPN that the school has “no plans for further accolades or a reinstallation of the monument” in regards to Joe Paterno’s statue. The coach’s seven-foot, 900-pound bronze likeness is kept at an unidentified place.
Sandusky, Jerry, 78, is an inmate at the State Correctional Institute at Laurel Highlands in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, a low-security geriatric facility for male inmates roughly 100 miles northeast of State College. In an interview with ESPN, he maintained his innocence.
At Sandusky’s trial in June 2012, eight men testified that he sexually abused them as youngsters, and prosecutors eventually produced evidence pertaining to ten victims, resulting to Sandusky’s conviction on 45 of 48 charges of child sexual assault.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has refused Sandusky’s plea for a new trial four times, the latest recent in January. Sandusky’s 30- to 60-year jail sentence was affirmed in November 2019.
Sandusky filed his last appeal in federal court in early April, claiming that he was given insufficient legal representation. He won’t be able to apply for parole until he’s 98 years old.
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