Penn State looks ahead but scandal fallout lingers

Penn State looks ahead but scandal fallout lingers

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Almost every time Penn State leaders try to move forward, some event or milestone invariably renews focus on its recent, painful past.

A year after retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's arrest on child sex abuse charges, the fallout from one of the worst scandals ever in higher education promises to linger still for months, if not years, to come. New charges that former university president Graham Spanier and two other officials conspired to conceal allegations against Sandusky provided the latest agonizing reminder.

Sandusky, 68, was sentenced last month to at least 30 years in prison after being convicted in June on dozens of criminal counts covering allegations on and off campus. He has maintained his innocence and is pursuing appeals.

Speaking Friday in Washington, university president Rodney Erickson said ``we can expect more fallout'' with civil lawsuits and more criminal proceedings on the horizon.

Many alumni, students and State College residents are weary of the seemingly endless trickle of developments since Sandusky's arrest on Nov. 5, 2011.

Most students at the Hetzel Union Building lounge paid no attention Thursday to the news about the charges against Spanier airing on the big-screen television. They were more engrossed in texting friends or working on laptops.

Others questioned before a Bruce Springsteen concert that night in State College expressed a mix of apathy and anger about the latest charges, fatigue over yet another development in a year full of shocking ones. Many said they were tired of the media scrutiny.

Asked to describe the Sandusky investigation, Joe McDonald of State College said, ``Let's wait until it all plays out, and then we'll know more.''

And how has the school handled the aftermath of the scandal a year later?

``I think treading water, but let's wait until everything comes out,'' McDonald said before walking away.

Lawyers for Spanier and the other officials charged, athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz, have maintained their clients' innocence.

``People of this character do not do, have not done what they're charged with,'' Schultz's attorney Tom Farrell said after his client and Curley were arraigned on the new charges Friday. Curley and Schultz have also maintained their innocence to earlier charges of perjury and failing to report an abuse allegation.

In the year since Sandusky was first charged, the school has appeared to accept the inevitable tide of changes but worked to maintain control where it could. A ``moving forward'' message established from the stately Old Main administration building is part of a $2.5 million contract with public relations firms to repair the school's image.

Erickson, who took over after Spanier left under pressure four days after Sandusky's arrest, promised this week at the university's inaugural conference on child sex abuse prevention research and treatment that the school would be a leader on such issues.

And many recommendations that resulted from the school's investigation into the scandal have been put in place, including tighter security restrictions around athletic facilities. The new leaders of the board have promised to closely study the report's recommendations to improve governance and oversight.

The most popular move university leaders made was the hiring of new football coach Bill O'Brien. In the face of NCAA sanctions that could weaken the marquee football program, he has galvanized support among alumni, students and fans.

``We've really rebuilt as a university,'' senior Ingrid Kaplan said Thursday at the campus student union. ``There's still a lot of rebuilding because of the new charges ... but I think overall we've really come together as a university to show that this will not bring us down regardless of how bad the situation is.''

Sophomore Alexandra Busalacchi of Bethlehem, said she thought the school's new leadership has done a good job in tackling the problem of child abuse and reaching out to abuse victims, and that Freeh's report ``was a good acknowledgement of the situation.''

``We're focused on efforts to get better and better,'' Busalacchi said while volunteering a table selling ear warmers for the THON student charity for pediatric cancer patients and research. ``I'm definitely proud to be a member of our student body, and I think we've responded well.''

But for some, another casualty of the scandal was faith in the university and its governing board of trustees. Penn State drew negative reviews from outside Pennsylvania, and a groundswell of distrust remains among many in an alumni base of about 560,000 and the untold thousands of others whose only ties to the school are as football fans.

It stems in large part from the trustees' firing of the late Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno on the same day that Spanier left his job. Paterno was beloved as much in the community for his philanthropic efforts and focus on education as for his two national titles and hundreds of victories.

Anger bubbled over again after the publication of the report summarizing the school's investigation into the scandal, headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The university-sanctioned report accused Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz of covering up allegations to protect Penn State's image. Paterno's family and the school officials firmly contend the allegations are untrue.

Alumni were irritated that trustees accepted Freeh's report without doing a detailed review of it and that they also left unchallenged the NCAA's assertion that Penn State had a ``football-first'' culture. NCAA data released last month showed the Penn State football team had a record graduation rate of 91 percent, well above the major college average of 68 percent.

``We're not going to lose sight of the past, but this is about the future,'' said Larry Schultz, a 1980 Penn State graduate who has organized two ``Rally for Resignations'' this fall. ``What we're asking for is very, very simple. ... We want answers. We want the truth.''

The fallout from the scandal was not limited to campus. The criminal investigation into Sandusky has become a political issue, too. The probe began in early 2009 while Gov. Tom Corbett was Pennsylvania's attorney general. Corbett, a Republican who was elected governor in 2010, has said politics played no role in the investigation.

Kathleen Kane, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has vowed that, if elected, she would demand an investigation into why it took years for Sandusky to be charged. Her Republican challenger, David Freed, has not ruled out a review of the case and has said that, if he were to come across any evidence that required a review, one would be done.

The fate of any investigation, yet another effect of the sex abuse scandal, will be decided in Tuesday's election. And the next day, Spanier is expected to be arraigned.



Penn State Progress site:

Alumni watchdog group:

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3

ATLANTA -- Josh Donaldson's bases-loaded single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Friday night after Luke Jackson allowed a tying, two-run homer to Victor Robles in the top half.

Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three hits, led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk off Rodney (0-3) and took second on Dansby Swanson's single. Freddie Freeman walked on four pitches, loading the bases.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez brought in left fielder Juan Soto as a fifth infielder, including three on the left side against the right-handed hitting Donaldson.

Donaldson hit a 2-0 pitch over Robles to center-field warning track, and the Braves boosted their NL East lead to 6 games over the second-place Nationals. Atlanta had lost its previous five home games against Washington.

Robles' homer went 446 feet to left, giving Jackson his seventh blown save in 24 chances.

Julio Teheran gave up one hit through five scoreless innings and retired 14 consecutive hitters before pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled with one out in the sixth. Anthony Rendon chased Teheran with a two-out RBI single.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin couldn't win on his 30th birthday while paired with catcher Yan Gomes, who turned 32. Corbin and Gomes became only the second pitcher-catcher tandem to start together on their birthdays since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman and catcher Jim Fanning did it against Pittsburgh on Sept. 14, 1957.

Corbin allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out Ozzie Albies with the bases loaded in the first and fanned Albies to end the fifth with two out.

Albies hit a two-out double in the fourth and scored on Austin Riley's double. Freeman was 2 for 20 in his career against Corbin before his RBI single in the fifth.

Acuna's RBI double against Tanner Rainey gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.


Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, on the 10-day IL since July 10 with an injury originally announced as a mid-back strain, was given a cortisone shot on Tuesday to address inflammation in the bursa sac under his right shoulder blade. Scherzer still has some discomfort and must throw a bullpen session before cleared to pitch in a game. With Scherzer unavailable, RHP Austin Voth is expected to start in Sunday night's series finale.

Braves: RHP Patrick Weigel, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his major league debut Saturday. RHP Wes Parsons also was recalled from Gwinnett. RHPs Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint were optioned to Gwinnett.


Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71) is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Braves, his former team.

Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will try to win his sixth straight decision on Saturday night. The 21-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to be selected an All-Star.


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A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

The Wizards are naming Tommy Sheppard their permanent GM after he served in the role on an interim basis since April 2. 

Let's take a look back at the moves which earned Sheppard the long-term GM job:

April 2: The Wizards fire GM Ernie Grunfeld. Tommy Sheppard takes over the role on an interim basis. 

June 20: The Wizards select Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Later in the evening, Washington acquires Jonathan Simmons and the draft rights to Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield from the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons was placed on waivers on July 7.

July 5: The Wizards acquire Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones, and a 2022 second-round draft pick as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers. 

July 6: The Wizards trade Dwight Howard to the Grizzlies in exchange for C.J. Miles and acquire Davis Bertans from the Spurs in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and San Antonio, sending the draft rights of Aaron White to the Nets. 

July 7: The Wizards re-sign center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal and trade guard Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls for a 2020 second-round pick.

July 9: The Wizards sign guard Ish Smith to a two-year deal.

July 10: The Wizards sign guard Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal.