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segunda-feira, 7 de novembro de 2011

2 Penn State officials tied to sex abuse case step down

(CNN) -- Two Penn State university officials who are accused of misleading a grand jury in its investigation into child sexual abuse allegations against former coach Jerry Sandusky have stepped down, the university said early Monday morning.

Penn State Athletic Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, the university's senior vice president for finance and business, face charges of one count of perjury each.

They stepped down late Sunday after an emergency meeting of the university's board of trustees.

Curley and Schultz "allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys," Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said over the weekend.

Earlier, Penn State President Graham Spanier said Curley and Schultz have his "unconditional support."

Penn State\'s Timothy Curley, left, and Gary Schultz
Penn State's Timothy Curley, left, and Gary Schultz

"I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former university employee," he said, adding that the charges are "groundless."

Curley requested to be placed on administrative leave so he could devote time needed to defend himself, the university said Monday. Schultz will go into retirement, it said.

The man at the center of the case is former assistant football coach Sandusky, 67, who served 23 years as defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions.

Sandusky allegedly engaged in fondling, oral sex and anal sex with young boys over a period of more than 10 years, according to an investigative grand jury's summary of testimony.

"This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys," Kelly said Saturday.

On Sunday, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno called the charges "shocking."

"If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters. While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can't help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred," Paterno said in a statement.

According to the grand jury, Sandusky -- in some cases -- promised the boys gifts or invited them to football games and sleepovers. Some of the incidents allegedly occurred in Penn State athletic facilities.

Sandusky, who retired from coaching in 1999, maintains his innocence.

Sex abuse cover-up at Penn State?

He was founder of the Second Mile, a charitable organization that began as a group foster home "dedicated to helping troubled boys," the grand jury said.

"Through the Second Mile, Sandusky had access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations," it added.

Sandusky, who was arrested and released Saturday on $100,000 unsecured bail, faces seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and numerous other charges, including aggravated indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, but defense attorney Joseph Amendola told CNN affiliate WJAC he expects it be postponed in order for attorneys to have enough time to bring in witnesses.

Sandusky has known about the allegations for three years, the lawyer said.

"Jerry feels like because of his background and reputation it took a long time to reach this conclusion and he's been ready for it," Amendola told WJAC.

The grand jury investigation was initiated by the claims of one boy who alleged that Sandusky had "indecently assaulted" him and engaged in sex acts while the boy was a guest at his home, according to the attorney general.

The victim met Sandusky through the former coach's Second Mile charity, Kelly said. Sandusky allegedly used expensive gifts such as trips to professional and college games, golf clubs, a computer and money, Kelly said.

The relationship, which began in 2005 and lasted into 2008, included overnight stays at Sandusky's home, where touching led to sexual acts, according to Kelly and grand jury testimony.

"One of the most compelling and disturbing pieces of testimony in this investigation came from an eyewitness to a late-night sexual assault that allegedly occurred in March of 2002, in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus," Kelly said. "Hearing what sounded like sexual activity in the showers of a building that was supposed to be empty, a graduate assistant reportedly observed Sandusky sexually assaulting a naked boy who appeared to be about 10 years old."

The assistant reported the incident to Paterno, who in turn alerted athletic director Curley, Kelly said.

"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators," Paterno said.

But instead of reporting the incident to authorities, Curley and Schultz banned Sandusky from having children from Second Mile visit the football building, Kelly said.

Specifically, the grand jury found that Curley committed perjury in repeatedly denying that he had ever been told that Sandusky had engaged in sexual misconduct with a child, Kelly said.

"Assertions by Schultz that the allegations concerning Sandusky were 'not that serious' and that he and Curley 'had no indication that a crime had occurred' were in direct contradiction to other testimony and constituted perjury," Kelly wrote.

In all, the grand jury identified eight boys, ranging in age from about 8 to 14, who were the targets of similar sexual advances or assaults by Sandusky from 1994-2009. All of the victims first encountered Sandusky through Second Mile activities, Kelly said.

Authorities said they are continuing to search for additional victims and that the case remains active.

CNN's Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.


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