Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Man Alleges Joe Paterno Heard Of Abuse By Jerry Sandusky In 1976

In newly released court documents, a man alleges he was abused by Jerry Sandusky as a 14-year-old and quickly told Penn State head coach Joe Paterno — who brushed it off.

According to the man, called "John Doe 150" in the court documents, this happened in 1976. That's decades before Paterno, who died in 2012, said he first heard of allegations against Sandusky, an assistant coach for his team.

In a 2014 deposition, Doe says he was visiting Penn State for a football camp, PennLive reports. He says Sandusky committed a specific sexual act in a shower, and that Doe told Paterno the next day. The Associated Press has more:

"The man identified as John Doe 150 said in 2014 that other boys in a shower heard him yell that Sandusky had just touched him sexually.

"He said he told several adults about it, then sought out Paterno.

" 'Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, "I don't want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?" ' a lawyer for Penn State's insurance carrier asked the man. 'Specifically, yes,' the man replied.

" 'I was shocked, disappointed, offended, I was insulted,' John Doe 150 testified. 'I said, is that all you're going to do? You're not going to do anything else?'

"He said Paterno then 'just walked away.' "

"Penn State's president has previously said the 1976 allegation is unsubstantiated and unsupported," reports Ben Allen of member station WITF. "It has not been tested in court."

Paterno's family said in a statement that elements of this specific allegation "defy all logic and have never been subjected to even the most basic objective examination."

Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys in the '90s and 2000s; he is currently serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.

A year before his death, the AP reports, Paterno told a grand jury that he first heard allegations that Sandusky was abusing boys in 2001.

There have been multiple claims of sexual assaults by Sandusky that happened in the '80s, some of which were allegedly witnessed by or reported to other members of the coaching staff, the AP notes.

The 1976 allegation by John Doe 150, as well as a number of other allegations predating Sandusky's convictions, are coming to light as part of an extended legal saga involving Penn State and its liability insurer.

The university paid out millions of dollars over dozens of claims of sexual abuse by Sandusky. The school and its insurer are now fighting over who is responsible for covering the cost of those claims, as the Centre Daily Times reported earlier this year.

As a result of their dispute, some of the details of those claims are being made public.

Meanwhile, Sandusky is attempting to appeal his own conviction. And as the Centre Daily Times reports, a third Sandusky-related court case might eventually uncover more information about abuse claims settled by Penn State.

That suit involves the NCAA and the estate of Joe Paterno. The estate is claiming that the NCAA defamed the once-legendary coach by placing blame on Paterno and imposing sanctions on Penn State.

To defend against the charge of defamation, the NCAA has been seeking more details about the claims by two alleged victims.

"To be clear, the NCAA has no desire to embarrass or harass the victims of this horrific tragedy — quite the opposite," a lawyer for the organization wrote in court documents.

One of those victims is John Doe 150, whose testimony was revealed Tuesday. The other is John Doe 71, who reportedly said he was raped by Sandusky in 1971 and told Paterno over the phone of the assault.

Both men have asked the courts for protection of their identities.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.