STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A day after the former Penn State assistant football coach who is charged with sexual abuse of boys declared his innocence in a television interview, an email surfaced from a key witness against him, saying he stopped an alleged attack in the team’s showers.
Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who a grand jury report said saw Jerry Sandusky allegedly sodomizing a boy in the locker room, said he stopped the act and went to police. That added confusion to the already emotionally raw situation that has enveloped Penn State University and resulted in the firing of coach Joe Paterno, the ousting of president Graham Spanier and charges of perjury against the athletic director and a former senior vice president.
The Nov. 8 email from McQueary to a friend, made available to The Associated Press, said: “I did stop it, not physically ... but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room ... I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police .... no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds ... trust me.”
McQueary is a former player and current assistant coach who was placed on indefinite paid leave last week after school officials said he had received threats. Emails sent to him seeking comment were not immediately returned.
On Monday night, Sandusky said in an NBC television interview that he showered with and “horsed around” with boys but was innocent of criminal charges, a statement that has stunned legal observers. Sandusky’s comments, they said, could be used by prosecutors trying to convict him of child sex-abuse charges.
“Mr. Sandusky goes on worldwide television and admits he did everything the prosecution claims he did, except for the ultimate act of rape or sodomy? If I were a prosecutor, I’d be stunned,” said Lynne Abraham, the former district attorney of Philadelphia. “I was stunned, and then I was revolted.”
The state grand jury investigation that led to Sandusky’s arrest followed a trail that goes back at least 13 years, leading to questions from some quarters about whether law enforcement moved too slowly.
The grand jury report detailed a 1998 investigation by Penn State police, begun after an 11-year-old boy’s mother complained that Sandusky had showered with her son in the football facilities. Then-District Attorney Ray Gricar declined to file charges.
Another apparent missed opportunity came in the 2002 incident that McQueary reported to Paterno.
The case took on new urgency about two years ago, when a woman complained to officials at her local school district that Sandusky had sexually assaulted her son. School district officials banned him from school grounds and contacted police, leading to an investigation by state police, the attorney general’s office and the grand jury. Gov. Tom Corbett took the case on a referral from the Centre County district attorney in early 2009 while he was serving as attorney general.
He bristled Tuesday when asked whether it was fair for people to criticize the pace of the probe.
“People that are saying that are ill-informed as to how investigations are conducted, how witnesses are developed, how backup information, corroborative information is developed, and they really don’t know what they’re talking about,” he told reporters.
The attorney general’s office declined to comment on the pace of the investigation.
The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported Monday that only one trooper was assigned to the case after the state took it over in 2009. After Corbett became governor early this year and his former investigations supervisor in the attorney general’s office, Frank Noonan, became state police commissioner, seven more investigators were put on it, the newspaper said.
Printed on Thursday, November 17, 2011 as: Email outlines reaction to alleged Sandusky attack, adds twist to case