STATE COLLEGE – Nine months after being convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys –a scandal that destroyed the once unimpeachable reputation of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno – Jerry Sandusky is again claiming he did nothing wrong.
Sandusky, a Washington native, has rarely spoken about the allegations, although he has consistently maintained his innocence since his November 2011 arrest. The latest statements came Monday in portions of a taped interview aired on NBC’s “Today” and transcripts posted on the website of a filmmaker who aims to clear Paterno’s name.
In the interviews, the former Penn State assistant coach denied having inappropriate contact with the boys, although he acknowledged he may have “tested boundaries.”
“Yeah, I hugged them,” Sandusky said, according to transcripts posted on the filmmaker’s site. “Maybe I tested boundaries. Maybe I shouldn’t have showered with them. Yeah, I tickled them.
“I looked at them as being probably younger than even some of them were. But I didn’t do any of these horrible acts and abuse these young people. I didn’t violate them. I didn’t harm them.”
Although Sandusky’s comments aired and posted Monday were given to a man endeavoring to clear Paterno’s name, the late coach’s family has distanced themselves from the statements.
Wick Sollers, a Paterno family lawyer, said in a statement that Sandusky’s statements are “transparently self-serving and yet another insult to the victims.”
“The Paterno family would prefer to remain silent on this matter, but they feel it is important to make it clear that they had no role in obtaining or releasing this recording,” Sollers said. “Moreover, they believe that any attempt to use this recording as a defense of Joe Paterno is misguided and inappropriate.”
Sandusky told filmmaker John Ziegler he was not sure whether Paterno, who was fired after Sandusky’s arrest, would have let him keep coaching if he suspected Sandusky was a pedophile. Sandusky was investigated by university police after showering with a boy on campus in 1998, but remained one of Paterno’s top assistants through 1999.
“If he absolutely thought I was, I’d say no,” Sandusky said in the audio recording. “If he had a suspicion, I don’t know the answer to that.”
Not long after his arrest, Sandusky also denied wrongdoing in an interview on NBC’s “Rock Center.” In halting statements, he acknowledged showering with young boys and engaging in what he called “horseplay.”
On the eve of his sentencing in October, Sandusky told a Penn State radio station he was the victim of a “well-orchestrated effort” by his accusers, the media, Penn State, plaintiffs’ attorneys and others.
“I speak today with hope in my heart for a brighter day, not knowing if that day will come,” Sandusky said in October. “Many moments have been spent looking for a purpose. Maybe it will help others, some vulnerable children who might have been abused, might not be, as a result of the publicity.”
Ziegler said the interviews were conducted during three sessions, and told the AP Monday that additional excerpts will be posted online over the coming days. The transcripts were posted by Ziegler on his site, www.framingpaterno.com.
He describes himself as an author, broadcaster, commentator and maker of films, including the 2009 movie, “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.”
Along with the Sandusky interview material, Ziegler posted a piece about himself that anticipates critical media coverage of his background. As an example, he noted he has been “fired in radio lots of times for saying things which seem outrageous.”
Penn State, which funded an investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded Paterno and other top university officials covered up allegations against Sandusky in order to protect the school’s reputation, issued a statement that said Sandusky’s latest remarks “continue to open wounds for his victims, and the victims of child sexual abuse everywhere.”
Attorneys for a young man who says he is “Victim 2” – the boy whose assault in a team shower in 2001 was witnessed by then graduate assistant Mike McQueary – said Sandusky’s victims “have heard enough from Jerry Sandusky.”
The lawyers – Joel Feller, Matt Casey, Justine Andronici and Andrew Shubin – issued a statement Monday saying Victim 2 and their other clients are focusing on “healing and holding Penn State accountable for choosing to protect Jerry Sandusky and themselves instead of protecting children from years of horrific sexual abuse.”
Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence in SCI-Greene after being convicted last year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. He is pursuing appeals.