Report: Penn State fired Joe Paterno over lack of action

Penn State coach Joe Paterno stands on the Penn State coach Joe Paterno stands on the field before his team's NCAA college football game against Northwestern. (Oct. 22, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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Penn State's trustees agonized over the future of legendary football coach Joe Paterno but ultimately decided to fire the Hall of Famer in part over what they said was his failure to go to authorities with a report of alleged sexual assault of a child by an assistant coach nearly a decade ago, according to a report published Thursday in The New York Times.

Some of the 13 trustees interviewed by the Times said they were also troubled by Paterno greeting fans and supporters on his front lawn -- and leading them in school cheers -- just after the release of a scathing grand jury report detailing child sex abuse allegations against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The trustees said they were also concerned about Paterno's ability to lead the team during the scandal that also resulted in the ouster of university President Graham Spanier, but most jarring was the feeling the coach had failed to do enough after learning of a 2002 incident involving Sandusky and a boy in an on-campus shower.

"Every adult has a responsibility for every other child in our community. ...We have a responsibility for ensuring that we can take every effort that's within our power not only to prevent further harm to that child, but to every other child," said trustee Kenneth Frazier.

The alleged 2002 shower assault ultimately resulted in charges against two university officials, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. They're charged with failing to report suspected child abuse and perjury related to their testimony before the grand jury.

Paterno's attorney defended the coach's actions in a statement, saying Paterno passed on a report about an alleged assault to his superiors at the university believing they would investigate and act appropriately.

Sandusky is charged with sexually assaulting 10 young boys he met through The Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977. He denies the allegations.

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