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Artist removes halo from Joe Paterno mural

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- An artist has removed a halo from a mural of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno amid the school's child sex-abuse scandal, and some critics say a statue in his honor should also come down.

The mural artist, Michael Pilato, had put a halo over Paterno's image after the beloved coach's death in January. He felt he had to remove it Saturday after a report that Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier and others buried allegations of child sex-abuse against ex-assistant Jerry Sandusky. Paterno's family denies the claim.

Pilato added a large blue ribbon on Paterno's lapel symbolizing support for child abuse victims, a cause the artist said Paterno had endorsed.

Pilato earlier removed Sandusky from the downtown mural. He said he hasn't made a decision on Spanier's image. Spanier has not been charged. Sandusky has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

A 7-foot bronze statue of Paterno towers outside the stadium where the coach built a storied football program. Some football fans and former colleagues, most notably his old friend and former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, say the statue should be removed.

The future of the statue became a coast-to-coast debate overnight, with talk radio hosts, Internet forums and sports columnists weighing in.

"Penn State should keep the Joe Paterno statue," Sports Illustrated's Mike Rosenberg said in a column. "Just move it so he is looking the other way."

"Let the statue of JoePa stand in Happy Valley forever," The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla wrote. "Erasing history can't be done, no matter how many amps of anger are pumped into the project."

The statue stands less than a mile from the football training facilities where former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky molested at least one young boy in the locker room showers. Sandusky, once Paterno's main defensive coordinator, was convicted last month of 45 counts related to sexually assaulting 10 young boys over 15 years.

The Penn State board of trustees has not decided whether the statue will be removed. Trustees will discuss the issue with the Penn State community before coming to a decision, university spokesman David La Torre said.

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