Joe Paterno’s Son: Legendary Coach Feared Accusing Sandusky Wrongly

In a new book that hit bookstores this week, Jay Paterno — son of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno — said his father feared wrongly accusing now-convicted child molester and former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky after allegations of his molesting a boy in a football facility shower first came to light, the Associated Press reported.

In the book “Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father,” Jay talks in depth about father Joe Paterno’s fear of wrongly accusing Sandusky, noting why the case was never brought to police until a decade later when Sandusky was under investigation for another case of molestation.

“Jay Paterno writes that his father said he didn’t want to accuse somebody of something he didn’t witness or know to be true.

“‘I didn’t know that he’d done all that stuff,’ Joe Paterno told his son, according to the book. ‘I had no idea. I just didn’t know.'”

In an interview with the AP, Jay explained when his father finally came to realize that he would not have been wrongly accusing Sandusky if he had brought the allegations to police when they were originally brought to him.

“In a phone interview Friday with The Associated Press, Jay Paterno said his father first realized Sandusky may be a child molester in late 2010, when he got word that a grand jury was investigating, long after Sandusky’s retirement.

“Paterno had fielded a complaint about Sandusky in a shower with a boy nearly a decade earlier and told the school’s athletic director about it. Police weren’t notified, however, and the report languished until a fresh complaint in 2008 caused police to investigate Sandusky.”

In a separate interview with PennLive, Jay spoke of his father’s firing shortly after Sandusky was charged with molestation and said he still has regrets from that period. It should be noted that his father died some three months after his firing.

“His greatest regret about that week?

“Jay Paterno said it remains that no one on the board reached out to Joe Paterno between Friday, when the first news of Sandusky’s impending arrest became known, and the following Wednesday, when the vote to fire Joe Paterno was taken.”

Jay goes on to note that his father’s years of wisdom and experience dealing with the media could have been a benefit to the university at the time.

So what do you think? Should Paterno have been worried about wrongly accusing Sandusky? And do you think it was right of Jay Paterno to bring the issue up at all? Tell us in the comments section below.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]