The child sex-abuse accusations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky are staggering and yet familiar. Mr. Sandusky, the founder of the Second Mile charity for troubled boys, generously brought them to football games and treated them to food, clothes and gifts, eight men told a grand jury. He also fondled them or exposed himself or had sex with them, they testified. One might think it would be easy to prosecute such accusations made by men, now in their late teens or 20s, who tell remarkably similar stories. But federal data show that less than half of suspects in child sex-abuse cases are brought to trial, mostly because no crime can be proved against them. "It's really tough" to get justice on child sexual abuse, said Bill Murray, a Los Angeles community activist who leads the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse.
Prosecutors claim Jerry Sandusky sexually abused boys ranging in age from 8 to 17, eight of whom were molested on the Penn State campus, according to a document with new details about the case filed Thursday. The Pennsylvania attorney general's office said in the document that crimes involving one of the 10 alleged victims took place in Florida and Texas, while another boy was abused at his own school. Prosecutors were more specific in the document about the ages of the boys than in earlier reports, but much of the information is similar to details revealed in grand jury presentments issued last year that formed the basis for charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach.
Connecticut lawmakers are holding a public hearing to discuss whether state law needs to be changed in the wake of the child abuse scandal at Penn State University. The informational hearing before the Legislature's Judiciary Committee and Select Committee on Children on Tuesday is focusing on expanding the statute that requires teachers, health professionals and others to report suspected child abuse.
STATE COLLEGE, PA. -- Joe Paterno sat in a wheelchair at the family kitchen table where he has eaten, prayed and argued for more than a half-century. All around him family members were shouting at each other, yet he was whispering. His voice sounded like wind blowing across a field of winter stalks, rattling the husks. Lung cancer has robbed him of the breath to say all that he wants to about the scandal he still struggles to comprehend, and which ended his career as head football coach at Penn State University. The words come like gusts. "I wanted to build up, not break down," he said. Crowded around the table were his three voluble sons, Scott, Jay, David, daughter Mary Kay, and his wife of 50 years, Sue, all chattering at once. In the middle of the table a Lazy Susan loaded with trays of cornbread and mashed potatoes spun by, swirling fast as the arguments. "If you go hungry, it's your own fault," Paterno likes to say. But Paterno, 85, could not eat. He sipped Pepsi over crushed ice from a cup. Once, it would have been bourbon. His hand showed a tremor, and a wig replaced his once-fine head of black hair. Paterno's hope is that time will be his ally when it comes to judging what he built, versus what broke down. "I'm not 31 years old trying to prove something to anybody," he said. "I know where I am." This is where he is: wracked by radiation and chemotherapy, in a wheelchair with a broken pelvis, and "shocked and saddened" as he struggles to explain a breakdown of devastating proportions. Jerry Sandusky, his former assistant coach at Penn State from 1969 to 1999, is charged with more than 50 counts of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period. He maintains his innocence. If Sandusky is guilty, "I'm sick about it," Paterno said.
When details of sexual abuse allegations against two prominent college assistants -- Penn State's Jerry Sandusky and Syracuse's Bernie Fine -- became public last month, the news hit sports like a thunderbolt. But sports as an environment for sexual abuse is hardly new. Experts say it has all the significant ingredients that can lead to such abuse: coaches have close relationships with children and unsupervised access to them, while holding a position of trust and authority that can often keep children from reporting the problems to their parents or other authority figures.
For almost two decades, lawyers at the Bridgeport firm of Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney have taken seriously the complaints of child sexual abuse plaintiffs. The firm took on the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport and Hartford's St. Francis Hospital, winning millions in damages. Now, the details of a long-running grand jury investigation have rocked Penn State University with a stunning child sexual abuse scandal. Public opinion and awareness has markedly changed since the late Paul Tremont, a founding partner, filed his first suits against pedophile priests in 1993. "It was a very unwelcoming climate for these kinds of cases," says partner Cynthia Robinson, who has focused her practice on child sexual abuse cases.
As the Penn State sexual assault scandal continues to unfold, the story takes place against a media and legal backdrop that has evolved considerably in light of previous sex abuse cases. Plaintiffs attorneys and legal experts who have worked with victims of sexual abuse note the sea change in the way such cases have been covered and litigated. And the changes in how the media and the public discuss these topics have had a significant impact on how judges and juries think and act. "Thirty years ago if you brought a case against a revered institution"--be it Penn State, the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts, says trial attorney Raymond Boucher--"the jury would look at you with a jaundiced eye." Over the past three decades, the media, too, have become less jaundiced, says Boucher, a partner at Kiesel Boucher & Larson and the lead attorney for plaintiffs who brought clergy sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles--which garnered one of the largest settlements of its kind with the church in 2007. Cindy Robinson's Connecticut firm, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney, was among the first to start litigating clergy
The Similarities Between the Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal and the Catholic Church Sexual Abuse ScandalAfter seeing this quote in an Op Ed piece written by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times "Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports, as my former fellow sports columnist at The Washington Star, David Israel, says, is "an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully." Penn State rakes in $70 million a year from its football program." Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney starting looking at he Penn State sex abuse scandal and the clergy sex abuse scandal and found that they have an alarming amount of similarities. In both instances: