Saturday, November 12, 2011

No medal for Paterno?

No medal for Paterno? Paterno loses support for presidential medal. HARRISBURG, Pa. - Along with his job as head football coach at Penn State, Joe Paterno may also lose a shot at the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Pennsylvania's U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, said Thursday they are rescinding their support for Paterno's nomination for the nation's highest civilian honor, citing recent events at the school.

Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson also nominated Paterno earlier this year, but wouldn't say Thursday whether he would also withdraw Paterno's name.

The trio submitted Paterno's name in September, citing his contributions to athletics and higher education. Paterno was fired Wednesday amid a child sex abuse-scandal centered around former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Sandusky, Paterno's onetime heir apparent, has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years. Athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report the 2002 assault to police, as required by state law.

All three maintain their innocence.

Paterno is not a target of the criminal investigation, having fulfilled his legal requirement by reporting what then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who witnessed the alleged 2002 incident, told him to Curley and Schultz. But the state police commissioner called Paterno's failure to contact police or follow up on the incident a lapse in "moral responsibility."

There are also questions about how much Paterno actually knew of the alleged abuse. He has reportedly had contact with a high-profile criminal defense attorney.

A source told NBC that Paterno's advisers Thursday reached out to J. Sedgwick Sollers, who had previously represented President George H.W. Bush in the Iran-Contra affair. NBC said that the attorney has not met with the ex-coach and no retainer agreement has been formalized.

Sollers offered no comment on Thursday and Paterno's spokesman said via email that "no lawyer has been retained." Paterno's son, Scott, also wrote on Twitter Thursday evening: "To be clear, no lawyer has been retained. Not sure where that report originated."

Paterno has acknowledged that he should have done more but has not said why he didn't go to the police, nor has he said whether he was aware of any earlier alleged assaults. Aside from a few brief comments outside his house and two statements, Paterno has not spoken publicly since Sandusky was indicted.

McQueary, now the team's wide receivers coach, told the grand jury that he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy of about 10 in the showers at the Penn State football building in March 2002. Presidential medal of freedom highest civilian honor, U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, Jerry Sandusky, Presidential medal of freedom highest civilian honor,

McQueary later told Paterno, Curley and Schultz, although it is not clear how detailed his description was. Schultz, in turn, notified Spanier.