Report: Paterno Contacts Criminal Defense Attorney
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBS) — A published report says dismissed Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno has contacted a criminal defense attorney.
A source told NBC News that Paterno’s advisers on Thursday reached out to attorney J. Sedgwick Sellers, who has represented President George H. W. Bush during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.
NBC News said the attorney has not met with Paterno, and no retainer agreement has been formalized, CBS News reports.
Sollers did not issue a comment on Thursday night, and a spokesman for Paterno said via e-mail that “no lawyer has been retained,” CBS News reported. Paterno’s son, Scott, also put out a tweet Thursday night, reading: “To be clear, no lawyer has been retained. Not sure where that report originated.”
Paterno has not been charged with a crime, and NBC News says he has been characterized as a cooperating witness. Authorities have said previously that he is not a target of the criminal investigation at Penn State. The decision sparked riots among Penn State students in State College, Pa.
Paterno, 84, was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees on Wednesday night, despite saying he would retire as coach after the season ended, in the wake of horrific sexual abuse allegations against his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.
Also dismissed was university President Graham Spanier.
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A recent grand jury report presented graphic and shocking allegations against assistant coach Sandusky, claiming that while heading up the Second Mile charity home for at-risk youth in State College, Pa., he sexually abused eight boys between the ages of 10 and 13.
Once considered Paterno’s heir apparent, Sandusky retired in 1999 but continued to use the school’s facilities for his work with The Second Mile. The charges against him cover the period from 1994 to 2009.
In one incident, the report alleges, a Penn State graduate assistant – since identified as published reports as Nittany Lions wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary – walked into the locker room at the Lasch Football Building on campus one day in March 2002. He found Sandusky engaging in sex with a young boy.
He left distraught and called his father, then reported the incident to head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno immediately reported to the incident to his own boss, athletic director Tm Curley, who now faces charges of perjury for lying to the grand jury about the matter.
Also charged with perjury is Penn State senior vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz, who told a grand jury he knew of an earlier 1998 investigation of sexually inappropriate behavior by Sandusky.