Legal Ethics

Penn State's Former Top Lawyer Says He Had No Inkling About Sandusky Allegations Till 2009

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The lawyer who formerly served as counsel for Penn State says he was never told of child molestation allegations against Jerry Sandusky until 2009.

A state grand jury report making contrary assertions is wrong, according to the lawyer, Wendell Courtney, a partner at McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pa.

Courtney worked at McQuaide Blasko and served as counsel for Penn State beginning in 1980, when he passed the bar, until 2008, the Centre Daily Times reports. He tells the publication he was never asked about whether to notify police of earlier allegations.

“Had I ever been asked, my response would have been, ‘Absolutely and immediately,’ ” Courtney said. “Had I ever had any inkling that Sandusky was engaging in behavior with children that was even remotely improper, nothing on God’s green earth would have kept me from making certain that the allegations were reported to the police authorities and thoroughly investigated.”

Courtney also spoke to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the New York Times. He said a grand jury report wrongly alleged he was told of a 1998 incident in which a mother reported to university police that her 11-year-old son had showered with Sandusky. The District Attorney decided not to prosecute.

Nor was he aware of allegations by assistant coach Mike McQueary that he had seen Sandusky raping a boy who appeared to be about 10 years old, Courtney said. He told the New York Times he might have been notified that Sandusky was being investigated, but he was never given even general information about the nature of the allegations.

“At no time, whether in 1998 or in 2002 or any other point in time, was I made aware or did I have knowledge of Jerry Sandusky engaging in sexual misconduct with young children,” Courtney told the New York Times. “Had I had any idea that there was even remotely improper conduct with children on any day since the beginning of time, nothing in the world would have kept me from being absolutely certain that it was reported to the police immediately. That is my duty.”

Courtney also said the grand jury report was wrong when it said he was counsel for the charity founded by Sandusky, The Second Mile, as far back as 1998. Courtney says he first did work for the charity in 2009 after it learned of a report of alleged misconduct by Sandusky.

David Woodle, vice chairman of the charity’s board of directors, confirmed in an interview with the Centre Daily that Courtney wasn’t hired by the group until 2009, though he did periodically give legal advice before that time.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office stood by the grand jury report, the Post-Gazette says. “It’s clear from the findings of the grand jury that Mr. Courtney had direct dealings with both Penn State and The Second Mile and he had knowledge and was aware of the 1998 incident,” spokesman Nils Frederiksen told the publication. “If he wants to engage in semantics, so be it.”

Sandusky has said he showered with boys but there was no molestation.

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