Local PSU students react to child sex case

November 7, 2011 3:34:40 PM PST
The entire Penn State community is reacting to the news of child-sex abuse scandal and potential cover-up involving former school officials.

RELATED: Grand jury report in Penn State case - Graphic content

In our area, students from Penn State's Abington Campus are reeling at the news that former football Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 criminal counts of child molestation.

"I think it is like a black eye on us. I mean, you're here at the Abington campus; we don't really have anything to do with the situation, yet it's tarnishing the Penn State name," student Mary Zollo of Holland, Pa. said.

Meanwhile, the mood at Main Campus in Happy Valley is somber.

"Right now shock, shock, a little bit of anger, but definitely more shock than anything," senior Chad Shirley said.

Athletic director Tim Curley and vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury and failing to report the allegations to police. Attorneys for all three men maintain their innocence.

"We have this motto: 'We are Penn State,'" said Abington freshman Darren White-Green. "So, it's pretty shocking, at a prestigious school, to hear something like that."

"I don't think it's a reflection of our university because it was a big shock to everyone because Penn State is known as success with honor; Joe Paterno has built the legacy he has here," Happy Valley junior Alex Klein said.

It is now a legacy in question.

The grand jury indictment says head coach Joe Paterno was informed of one case of abuse in 2002, and that he immediately reported it to Curley.

Authorities say law enforcement was not informed.

Some students on the Abington campus believe Paterno should have done more, while others argue he told his administrator who - he trusted - would investigate the allegations.

"He's supposed to be the face of our school. It seems he knew about the incident which is pretty disappointing," said freshman Emeka Akpunonu. "Honestly I'm not too sure. Maybe it's time to resign."

"He's still a good coach, a great coach. I don't think he should resign," said freshman Alan Wong.

Happy Valley is also mixed when it comes to Paterno.

"I think he did the right thing, I don't blame JoePa at all; I think it was more Curley's fault ignoring it and not going to police himself," sophomore Rachel Pelt said.

"I love Joe Paterno, but if he knew about something, it should've been taken further," senior Laura Chicchi said.

Sandusky retired back in 1999, but continued to use school facilities for The Second Mile, an organization he founded to help at risk youths.

He is accused of molesting 8 of those boys over a 15 year period. No one was available for comment at the group's King of Prussia office on Monday morning, but the central office released a statement saying the alleged incidents took place outside their programs and events.

They say they parted ways with Sandusky back in 2008 upon learning he was being investigated.

Sandusky declined to comment to ABC News, deferring to his attorney.

In the wake of this scandal, Maureen Martinez of the child and victim's advocate organization Justice4PAKids is calling for the Pennsylvania state legislature to repeal the statute of limitations on child abuse civil cases and create a one-time window to allow victims to press cases where the statute of limitations has expired.

"Unfortunately there are probably a lot of victims that are out there right now, possibly victims of Sandusky, that are beyond the statute of limitations and they're not going to be able to have their day in court, they're not going to be able to seek justice," Martinez said.

Critics say Pennsylvania's law protects the predators, not the victims and they are looking to change that.

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