Penn State president 'appalled' by media reports on Paterno

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New Penn State Allegations Reopen The Scar

May 8 (Reuters) - The president of Penn State said on Sunday he was appalled by the media coverage surrounding allegations the university's late head football coach Joe Paterno knew about child sex abuse by his assistant coach as far back as the mid-1970s.

New allegations about Paterno, a legendary figure at Penn State and still revered by many supporters, surfaced last week in court documents in a civil case over settlements with victims of his assistant Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno, who died in January 2012, was fired in 2011 after disclosures that he knew Sandusky sexually abused a young boy in the school's football showers in 2002 and that, while he told university officials, he failed to notify police.

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Penn State president 'appalled' by media reports on Paterno
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - DECEMBER 13: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives witrh his with his wife Dottie at Centre County Courthouse, on December 13, 2011 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Sandusky, who was charged with sexual abuse involving 10 boys he met through the Second Mile nonprofit organization, will face his accusers during today's preliminary hearing. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Sandusky faces more than 350 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - JUNE 22: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in handcuffs after a jury found him guilty in his sex abuse trial on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts in the sexual abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was charged with sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Jerry Sandusky arrives for his hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Michael Kubel/Allentown Morning Call/MCT via Getty Images)
Dottie Sandusky, the wife of Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, for a hearing for her husband on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
Penn State University Office of the Physical Plant workers remove the concrete landing area that held the Joe Paterno statue, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in State College, Pennsylvania. The statue was removed on Sunday in the wake of the Louis Freeh report and Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - JULY 22: Members of the Hells Angels from Connecticut visit the site where the statue of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno once stood outside Beaver Stadium on July 22, 2012 in State College, The statue was removed by workers after Pennsylvania. Penn State's president Rodney Erickson made the decision Sunday in the wake of the child sex scandal of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. According to an FBI report, it is believed that Paterno had detailed knowledge of Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing children before and after Sandusky retired from coaching at Penn State. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett speaks at a news conference following a night of rioting in response to the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal on November 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Corbett is the former state attorney general who launched the investigation in 2009 that eventually brought criminal charges against three former Penn State officials this week. As governor, Corbett is an ex-oficio member of Penn State’s board of trustees. Paterno was fired amid allegations that former former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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The new allegations involve alleged incidents that are years older.

"I am appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment that have accompanied the media stories surrounding these allegations," Eric Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University, said in an open letter on the school's website.

None of the fresh allegations, which threaten to reopen a scandal that rocked the school's vaunted football program and college sports in general, have been substantiated in a court of law and they are unsupported by any evidence, Barron said.

They came in a court opinion by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Glazer, who wrote that witnesses testified in depositions that Paterno was told in 1976, 1987 and 1988 about sex abuse by Sandusky.

Glazer's opinion was filed in a lawsuit involving the school's former insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association.

Since Paterno did not report the three incidents to top university officials or police, Glazer said, the university can legally claim it was unaware of them and thus remains insured for any settlements with victims prior to 1992, when the liability policy was changed to exclude sexual abuse.

The civil case aims to determine whether the school or its insurer should pay millions of dollars in damages to Sandusky's victims.

Paterno's son, Scott Paterno, dismissed as "bunk" the allegations that his father was told about abuse decades ago.

Sandusky, 72, is serving 30 years to 60 years in prison after a jury convicted him of molesting 10 boys in incidents dating back to the 1990s.

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