Friday, January 13, 2012
Second Mile to sell 60-acre site
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A charity established by a former Penn State assistant football coach charged with molesting boys said Friday it was putting up for sale a 60-plus-acre property where it had been building an educational center.
The Second Mile said funding had stopped for its Center for Excellence after founder Jerry Sandusky was charged in November with sexually abusing several boys, some of them on Penn State's campus. Construction began at the central Pennsylvania site last year, but the project was canceled two months ago.
The nonprofit said it was evaluating its options for the future and was trying to preserve programs, calling the Bellefonte property sale a key step in reaching that objective.
"While we are saddened that the Center for Excellence will not be built, those feelings pale in comparison with the anguish we feel for the victims of the abuse reported by the attorney general," it said in a written statement, which did not reveal the property's price tag.
The charity said programs scheduled for the coming months, including a leadership institute in early April, will continue. Its future remains uncertain amid layoffs, and on Nov. 28 it encouraged donors to give money instead to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, an organization for sexual-assault victims.
In November, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett put on hold a $3 million state grant for the project, saying he had earlier approved it because not doing so might have disclosed information about the abuse investigation, which he oversaw in his previous position as attorney general. The grant had been approved under then-Gov. Ed Rendell and again under Corbett last year.
"I could not act ... on this without saying certain things that would have possibly compromised the investigation," Corbett said in Philadelphia on Nov. 16, less than two weeks after Sandusky was arrested.
Corbett's office said in November the grant was "under review," and on Friday a spokesman for the governor said it was finally terminated last month.
A note from Sandusky in The Second Mile's 2008 annual report described the project as the charity's future permanent home, consisting of an outdoor recreational complex "where a kid can simply be a kid" and an educational and recreational building. He said the center was a way for the organization to "always keep its promise to children."
The state grant was to fund the first phase of the learning center, including sports fields, dorm space, a gym and classrooms. Forty acres of the property were purchased by The Second Mile from Penn State, which is based in State College, for about $168,000 in 2002.
Sandusky, 67, founded The Second Mile in 1977 to help at-risk youths. Investigators allege that he met most of his victims, if not all, through the State College-based charity.
In November 2008, Sandusky told The Second Mile he was being investigated, and the charity has said he was separated from programs involving children at that time. Sandusky resigned from the charity's board in 2009 and retired in September 2010 from day-to-day involvement with it, saying he wanted to spend more time with family and handle personal matters.
A recent court filing by The Second Mile listed assets of $1.2 million in unrestricted cash, $5.2 million in donor-restricted cash and $3.3 million worth of real estate. The charity also had $1.8 million in liabilities and net assets of $7.9 million.
Sandusky, who was an assistant to former coach Joe Paterno, has been charged with 52 criminal counts for what state prosecutors have said was the sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He maintains his innocence and is out on bail while he awaits trial.