Pa. Gov. Corbett: Paterno's Failure to Follow Up Sexual Abuse Claims Doomed Him

Sunday, 13 Nov 2011 11:49 AM

By Amy Woods

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says state law should change with regard to how witnesses reporting crimes — such as the sexual abuse crimes alleged in charges against a former Penn State University football coach.

Former head football coach Joe Paterno, whom the university fired last week after 45 years leading the football program, met the legal requirement for reporting a rape incident on campus "but did not, in my opinion, meet a moral obligation that all of us would have," the Republican governor said today on “Meet the Press” on NBC.

Paterno was neither accused nor charged in the allegations against his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, although trustees fired the longtime coach in the fury surrounding the case.

Sandusky, who was Penn State's defensive coordinator for more than two decades, faces charges he abused at least eight boys over a period of years. Two former Penn State officials also have been charged for failing to report one of those incidents.

On “Fox News Sunday” today, Corbett, who is one of the trustees by virtue of being governor, defending the firing of Paterno and university President Graham Spanier for failing to take strong action after they heard about the allegations years ago.

"I've always have said, your actions speak louder than your words. That should not have been able to continue," Corbett said. "The actions or the failure to act while maybe not criminal, caused me not to have confidence in the president and in the coach."

"As governor, I have a requirement to make sure that we protect the children of Pennsylvania. That's my focus on this," he said. "In my opinion, when you don't follow through, when you don't continue on to make sure that actions are taken, then I lose confidence in your ability to lead. That would be the case here."

Corbett, who was the state attorney general when the grand jury began investigating Sandusky, said he expected more allegations.

"If I'm to speculate, I wouldn't be surprised if we had more victims come forward," he said.

On “Meet the Press,” Corbett said, "Should the law [on reporting crimes] be changed? Absolutely. I'm sure that, within the next few weeks, you will probably see bills become public. I wouldn't be surprised to see if a bill was passed between now and the end of this year."

The focus of the sexual-abuse scandal in State College should remain on the victims, Corbett said.

"I think one of the lessons that we need to learn from this is that, when people see something like this or hear about something like this, you need to investigate right away," Corbett said. "You need to report. We have lost the focus of what's in the best interest of the child when you see something like this."

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