STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Churchgoers at embattled Penn State University offered prayers for victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse on Sunday, and the state's governor said more victims of alleged abuse by a former university football coach are likely to be found.
Jerry Sandusky, 67, the former defensive coordinator for Penn State's football team, was charged this month with abusing at least eight boys over a period of several years. He has denied the charges and is free on bail.
At the State College Presbyterian Church, roughly 200 parishioners gathered on Sunday morning to worship and try to move past the allegations that have rocked this close-knit community.
Mike McQueary, the suspended Penn State assistant football coach who usually attends the service at the old stone church just two blocks from the Penn State campus, was not there. According to the grand jury, McQueary saw Sandusky assaulting a young boy in 2002, but did not stop it or call police. Instead, the next day he told Penn State head coach Joe Paterno.
"We are still the same people we were a week ago, and we still care about the community," said Susan Reisinger, the church's interim pastor.
The church's assistant pastor, Joel Blunk, prayed for perpetrators of abuse, their victims and university officials fired over the scandal -- among them Paterno.
"We pray for the children. We pray for their healing and recovery. Help us to realize God, that when we suffer, you suffer with us," Blunk said. "May they know they are loved and not alone.
"We pray this day for perpetrators of abuse," Blunk said. "Help us to be merciful and just."
Their prayers came just hours after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said it was likely that more alleged victims would emerge.
"If I'm to speculate, I wouldn't be surprised if we had more victims come forward," Corbett said on "Fox News Sunday." As attorney general he had opened the grand jury probe into Sandusky.
But on Sunday at the State College Presbyterian Church, the message was one of healing and understanding.
Richard Rohr, a visiting Roman Catholic priest, delivered a sermon that explored the sociology of male power. He tried to make the case that Sandusky, Paterno and others erred partly due to those social constructs.
"We males can climb and climb high, without any wisdom at all," Rohr said. "That's very dangerous."
His sermon focused on a section of the biblical book of Matthew that Rohr said illustrated the need for men not to hold onto power too long -- a clear reference to Paterno, who was Penn State's head coach for more than 40 years until he was fired on Wednesday.
"If men have not made journeys of powerlessness, and try to hold onto power too long, they will almost always abuse it," said Rohr, a Franciscan priest who lives in a New Mexico hermitage.
There were also services at the Frank and Silvia Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the Penn State campus, where Paterno has worshiped in past but was not in attendance.
The priest there also delivered a lesson from the Book of Matthew, one on speaking and acting positively.
Worshiper Tony Campanell, 69, of Allentown said after the service that the homily had pointed to the need for personal accountability.
"Good overcame evil, and good will come of this," he said of the sex abuse scandal.
The church services came one day after Penn State's last home football game of the season, an equally emotional event that drew more than 107,000 to the school's Beaver Stadium.
Penn State lost the game to Nebraska 17-14.
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.