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Joe Paterno statue: Penn State brings down 'obstacle to healing' (+video)

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Over the years, the Paterno family had made large financial contributions to the university.

Paterno’s fall from Penn State football grace came with the horrific reports of child sexual abuse committed over years by Paterno’s chief assistant and friend Jerry Sandusky.

Mr. Sandusky now awaits sentencing for his conviction last month on 45 charges of child sex abuse involving 10 boys over 15 years.

All along Paterno (who was in his 80s when he died in January of problems related to an illness that his family had announced some time earlier) maintained that he had no idea that Sandusky was a pedophile whose abuse of many boys stretched over years.

But he acknowledged being told of one instance reported in 2001 by Mike McQueary, at the time a graduate assistant in Penn State’s football program, who said he witnessed what looked like Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the team locker-room shower.

In an independent report on the whole affair, former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote that Paterno was among a group of senior university officials who “in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity … repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large.”

Along with Penn State President Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz, and athletic director Tim Curley, Paterno “never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest,” Mr. Freeh said in a statement releasing his report earlier this month.

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