Charity seeks new home for donations

Updated: November 29, 2011, 3:43 AM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- A charity for at-risk children founded by a former Penn State assistant football coach now charged with molesting boys asked its donors Monday to instead give money to a Pennsylvania group that assists sexual-assault victims.

The Second Mile's recommendation that donations be made to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape was told to The Associated Press before it was posted on its website. It is the latest sign that the nonprofit's days may be numbered, although the group said its December programs would continue as scheduled.

"The events reported over the past few weeks have saddened and horrified us," the unsigned one-page statement read. "We are determined to do all we can to help the survivors with the healing process."

The Second Mile was founded in 1977 by Jerry Sandusky, who was charged this month with sexual abuse of eight boys over a 15-year period. Prosecutors say Sandusky met victims through the charity, from whose board he resigned in 2009. He has denied the allegations and is free on bail while he awaits a preliminary hearing next month.

Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said The Second Mile contacted her organization about a week ago and was given its approval for the idea to divert donations.

"They are recognizing that a lot of people are really torn up and saddened by this and want to help," Houser said.

Last week, The Second Mile said it was considering restructuring, transferring programs to other organizations or ceasing operations. The statement released Monday said it was making formal reports of any child abuse allegations to the proper authorities, and it encouraged others to do the same. Through a spokesman, it declined to comment further.

Lawyers for one of the people described in a grand jury report as a victim of repeated sexual attacks by Sandusky are seeking a court order to prevent the charity from unloading its assets. Messages seeking comment about the filing from the lawyers, Benjamin Andreozzi and Jeffrey Fritz, were not immediately returned Monday.

The Second Mile filed its objections in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on Monday, saying the lawyers' motion should have been filed with the Orphan's Court in Centre County, where the charity is headquartered. It is seeking dismissal based in part on an argument that granting the lawyers' request for an injunction would destroy its ability to manage its affairs.

The Second Mile attached to the filing a list of assets that included $1.2 million in unrestricted cash, $5.2 million in donor-restricted cash and $3.3 million worth of real estate. It also listed $1.8 million in liabilities, for a net asset total of $7.9 million.

Also Monday, two lawyers who represented victims of a clergy sex abuse scandal in the Philadelphia archdiocese said they had been hired by someone known as Victim 1, whose allegation that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him in 2008 preceded the grand jury investigation. Lawyers Michael Boni and Slade McLaughlin said in a statement that they would be representing Victim 1, who authorities say was among the eight boys Sandusky molested, and his mother. Boni said he anticipates filing a lawsuit against Sandusky and others "when the time is right."

Penn State said Monday that student government leaders and high-ranking administrators would participate later this week in a town hall forum for students about the child sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the university, which is based in State College.

And a team with the U.S. Department of Education arrived in State College as part of the federal investigation into whether the school violated reporting mandates for campus crime.

The federal investigation centers on whether reporting provisions of the Clery Act were complied with in the Sandusky case. State prosecutors also charged athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz with not properly reporting suspected child abuse and perjury before a grand jury.

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the university was "pulling a lot of data and archival information" for the U.S. Department of Education investigators.

"They will either be meeting with a long list of people even beyond the police force or reviewing their data, areas like student affairs, human resources, counseling services, residence life, athletics and senior administrators," she said.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson, who took the top job after Graham Spanier was forced out in the aftermath of the arrests, said the school has been doing its best to provide the records the Department of Education seeks.

Violations of the Clery Act, named for a Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered in her dorm room by another student in 1986, can bring fines and a loss of federal student aid.

The student forum, planned for Wednesday at Heritage Hall on the University Park main campus, will be restricted to students who obtained tickets ahead of time by showing valid Penn State identification. It will be broadcast by the Pennsylvania Cable Network and streamed over the Internet. Viewing areas also are being established at all of Penn State's other campuses.

Erickson and two student government leaders will make introductory remarks, and other participants include several university vice presidents. The moderators are sociology lecturers Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey. Space for two dozen reporters will be provided at the rear of the hall, but the reporters will not be allowed to ask questions.

The school also plans three forums for students that will be run by its counseling and psychological services center: the first on Tuesday and Thursday this week, and the last on Dec. 7. Potential topics include the criminal allegations, Penn State's image, the reactions of others to the scandal and stress.

The university on Monday also encouraged people to report sexual assaults and relationship violence through a newly activated telephone hotline. Its Office of Student Affairs said the hotline applies to all its campuses across the state.

The sex abuse scandal has resulted in the ouster of head football coach Joe Paterno and has cast a shadow over one of college football's most legendary programs. Curley has been placed on leave, and Schultz, who oversaw the university's police department, has stepped down.

Schultz and Curley have denied the allegations and await preliminary hearings next month. Sandusky acknowledges he showered with boys but says he never molested them.

Paterno, major college football's winningest coach, is not the target of any legal investigation but has conceded he should have done more about allegations against Sandusky. Spanier has said he would have reported a crime if he had suspected one had been committed.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press