- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Jerry Sandusky is in jail, but the revelations about the sex abuse scandal at Penn State and an alleged cover-up by university officials are far from over.
CNN dropped a potential bombshell Friday, reporting it has seen emails that show former university officials agreed not to report allegations against Sandusky to outside authorities. The emails began in February 2001 after former graduate assistant Mike McQueary told football coach Joe Paterno that he had seen Sandusky sexually assault a boy in the team locker room shower.
According to the emails obtained by CNN, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Shultz intended to report the allegations to child welfare services but later changed course. The emails reportedly were uncovered as part of the school's independent investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh. Penn State president Rodney Erickson said the Freeh report could be released by the end of July.
Potentially the most damaging email concerns Paterno, and was sent from Curley to former Penn State president Graham Spanier.
"After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps," Curley wrote to Spanier, according to CNN. "I am having trouble with going to everyone but the person involved. I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation."
Spanier's response to Curley further suggests a cover-up.
Spanier wrote back and agreed with that approach, calling it "humane and a reasonable way to proceed," according to the report. But he also worried about the consequences.
"The only downside for us is if message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it, but that can be assessed down the road," the email said, according to CNN.
Paterno said his role had been limited to relaying what McQueary had told him to Curley. While Paterno, who died in January, said he wished he had done more, he hadn't been implicated in any legal wrongdoing, and his defenders pointed to the fact he passed along what he knew. There had been no firm evidence that Paterno had a role in deciding how to follow up on the Sandusky allegations.
Curley's email suggests the coach may have helped steer officials away from notifying outside authorities.
We might never know what Paterno fully knew about the allegations against his former assistant, although the Freeh report surely will shed some light on the potential cover-up. The emails could add to the troubles for Curley and Schultz, who face perjury charges, as well as Spanier.