Even though support for victims of alleged child sexual abuse in the Penn State scandal has poured out, those victims may feel guilty seeing the school’s legendary football program torn apart as a result of the charges against the team’s former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, an attorney for one such victim said on TODAY Monday.
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Speaking with Ann Curry, attorney Ben Andreozzi said the eight victims currently involved in charges against Sandusky all became part of the Penn State football team’s inner circle and developed deep attachment to the program.
“I think it’s fair to say the victims could be thinking to themselves right now that as a result of (my) coming forward, look what’s happened to this football program,” Andreozzi said.Story: Penn State assistant coach: 'I did the right thing'
“These folks were involved in the Penn State football community — they were on the sidelines at football games, they were spending significant amounts of time travelling with the team and/or in the locker room with the team and getting to know members of that football team.”
Andreozzi added that his client, who is now in his 20s, is grieving. “To say that he’s torn apart, I think would be an emotion that would really explain where he’s at right now.”Video: Disturbing Sandusky interview surfaces (on this page)
The eight victims all took part in the charity Second Mile, founded by Sandusky in 1977 to help troubled boys, but in the end, became part of an alleged cover-up at the school to hide Sandusky’s criminal behavior. Then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary allegedly saw Sandusky sexually assault a boy in the football team’s shower stalls in 2002 and reported it to the school’s legendary football coach, Joe Paterno.
Paterno then reported the incident to the school’s athletic director, Tim Curley, but police were never notified in the case, prosecutors charge. Curley and former senior vice president Gary Schultz have been charged with lying to a grand jury investigating Sandusky, while Paterno and school president Graham Spanier were fired last week.Story: Through charity, coach had access to vulnerable
Meanwhile, Sandusky is free on $100,000 bail while facing 40 criminal counts of child sexual abuse from 1994 to 2002.
Also speaking with Curry on TODAY Monday, Jeff Dion, deputy director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, said it’s not uncommon sexual predators become part of children advocacy organizations to be to freely interact with children.
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“Predators often seek out and sometimes create organizations that will give them access to children, particularly children that would be vulnerable to specialized attention from an adult that they look up to,” Dion said. “That’s why organizations need to be absolutely vigilant about who’s in their mix.”
Andreozzi added that while many organizations have stepped forward offering counseling to Sandusky’s alleged victims, those victims still face a painful process trying to sort through the emotions of being part of a criminal case against a university football program that in many ways was like a second family to them.Video: Attorney says sex abuse victim emotionally torn (on this page)
“They’ve got a real complex emotional response to what’s going on right now,” Andreozzi said.
“The general public may think that an abuse victim would automatically have feelings of negative toward the university, and while I think he’s very disappointed in the way that members of the university community handled his situation involving a cover-up…he was interwoven into this Penn State football community.”
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