Penn State: Unable to evaluate latest claims against Joe Paterno

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Penn State says it doesn't have records from 40 years ago to help evaluate a claim that former football coach Joe Paterno was told by a boy in 1976 that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky molested him.

In a statement issued Friday, Penn State said a claim attributed to an insurance company in a coverage dispute with the university amounts to allegations that aren't established facts.

"The university has no records from the time to help evaluate the claims," the statement said. "More importantly, Coach Paterno is not here to defend himself. Penn State does not intend to comment further, out of concern for privacy, and due to the strict confidentiality commitments that govern our various settlement agreements."

Paterno died in 2012.

Penn State's insurer claims there is evidence of several early acts of molestation by Sandusky, and not just the one by a boy who allegedly went to Paterno with his report in the 1970s, according to the ruling by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer. Glazer said the events are described "in a number of the victims' depositions.''

Glazer's ruling this week also says the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Co. claims there's evidence one assistant coach saw "inappropriate contact" between Sandusky and a child at the university in 1987 and a second assistant "reportedly witnessed sexual contact" between Sandusky and a child one year later.

Details of the testimony remain hidden inside a sealed deposition in Penn State's court fight with the insurance company. They became publicized in a report Thursday.

Paterno family members immediately dismissed the accusation, and even an attorney for victims of Sandusky cautioned that he did not know of irrefutable evidence supporting the claim.

Sue Paterno defended her husband's legacy and said the family had no knowledge of new claims.

"It is time to end this endless process of character assassination by accusation," she said in a letter read Friday to Penn State's board of trustees. She asked board members to seek the truth "in the spirit of our love for Penn State and our duty to the victims."

Sandusky's lawyer said he talked to him about the reports and that he denies those incidents occurred.

Sandusky is serving a lengthy prison sentence for his conviction in the sexual abuse of 10 children.The university has also paid out more than $90 million to settle 32 civil claims involving Sandusky. How far back in time all the acts occurred has not been made public.

Paterno was not charged with any crime, and his family is pursuing a lawsuit against the NCAA for commercial disparagement.

Three university officials await trial on criminal charges for their handling of the Sandusky scandal.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.