Lawyer Says Sandusky Hasn't Discussed A Plea

Melissa Block talks with NPR's Tom Goldman about the latest from the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, an update on the Penn State child sex abuse scandal and the man at its center, Jerry Sandusky. Yesterday, the lawyer for the former assistant football coach suggested his client might be considering a guilty plea.

Well, today, the lawyer walked that back, but he still says it is a possibility if the allegations of abuse continue to pile up. And it seems they are piling up. Since Sandusky was arrested and charged with sex crimes last month, there are reports that as many as six more individuals have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse.

NPR's Tom Goldman is following this story, and he joins me now. And Tom, Jerry Sandusky will be back in court on December 13th. Are additional charges expected at that hearing?

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Well, we don't know, and I'm not sure that that's the venue where charges would be filed, Melissa. But right now, we do know that Sandusky faces 40 counts related to alleged sexual abuse of eight boys over a 15-year period. Now, that doesn't include the additional alleged victims you just mentioned.

The preliminary hearing could include more testimony and evidence, and what happens there will determine whether this case goes to trial.

BLOCK: And Tom, there are a lot of other investigations under way - up to seven investigations, by some counts. What are they looking for?

GOLDMAN: Well, there are lots of tentacles in this case. There's an investigation of the Second Mile program for at-risk kids that Sandusky started in 1977. That's the program where he allegedly found his victims. The Penn State Board of Trustees looking into what happened, or didn't happen, at the university. Then the U.S. Department of Education is investigating whether federal laws were broken related to the reporting of crimes on campus.

BLOCK: There was also, Tom, a report in the Huffington Post recently that moved the story off the Penn State campus - moved it to a local high school. Why don't you explain what was in that report?

GOLDMAN: You know, it had to do with the so-called Victim One, who came forward with his mom to officials at this high school, alleging that Sandusky had sexually assaulted the boy. Sandusky was a constant presence at the high school as a volunteer coach, and a mentor to kids, through the Second Mile program. And it was Victim One's allegations that prompted the grand jury investigation, which started in 2009.

Now, this Huffington Post article that you mentioned - it's pretty startling. It was written by a freelance reporter named Ryan Buell, and it's the most detailed account yet by Victim One's mother of what she says happened at the school. She says school officials were not sympathetic to her concerns and her son's extreme distress about Sandusky when the mother reportedly said, we've got to go to the police. The story says school officials told her to go home and think about it.

And this apparent resistance contradicts what the Pennsylvania attorney general said and the grand jury report said, that the school acted properly and quickly.

BLOCK: So Tom, where does that leave the school?

GOLDMAN: You know, it's way too early to tell. The story is disconcerting, and it's being looked into. It's unclear how quickly the school reported the possible sexual abuse. Pennsylvania law says it has to be reported immediately by phone, and followed up with a written report within 48 hours.

We have calls into the school district, and haven't heard back yet. The state's attorney general's office won't say anything beyond there's an ongoing grand jury investigation.

Now, there are also questions about Jerry Sandusky's access to children at the school during the school day. The Huffington Post story based, again, on these interviews with the mother of Victim One, says Sandusky had free access to the boy without the mother's knowledge or consent.

BLOCK: OK. NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thank you.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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