Retired Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky chats with reporters during Hanover Rotary Sports Night in January 2006 at South Western High
Retired Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky chats with reporters during Hanover Rotary Sports Night in January 2006 at South Western High School. According to reports, Sandusky is the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation into allegations that he indecently assaulted a teenage boy. (Daily Record / Sunday News -- File)
Jerry Sandusky, revered for his decades as an assistant football coach at Penn State and for his charitable work helping at-risk children, is being investigated by a state grand jury on allegations he indecently assaulted a teenage boy, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported.

Sandusky has not been charged. A grand jury examines accusations to determine if evidence warrants filing charges.

Even so, the investigative report, published Thursday by The Patriot-News, sent shockwaves across Pennsylvania.

"Even the rumors, I can't see them being associated with him," said Jon Witman, an Eastern York High School graduate who was recruited to Penn State by Sandusky. "He's the last person I would think. ... He's very professional. He's by the book on everything. His demeanor, I just didn't see that in him."

A message left by The Associated Press at a number listed for Sandusky in State College was not immediately returned.

His lawyer, Joseph Amendola, said in a statement that Sandusky maintained his innocence and was disappointed the newspaper published a story "prior to any determination by the Attorney General's Office that he did anything inappropriate at all."

"While Jerry has been aware of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General's Office for many months dating back to 2009, he has steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout this ordeal," Amendola said.

The Patriot-News in Harrisburg reported Thursday that it spoke to five anonymous sources with knowledge of the case who say a grand jury has been meeting in Harrisburg for 18 months to hear allegations made by a 15-year-old boy in 2009.

The paper reported the teen told authorities that there was inappropriate contact over a four-year period.

Amendola said that should "the allegations as set forth in today's newspaper article eventually lead to the institution of criminal charges against Jerry, Jerry fully intends to establish his innocence and put these false allegations to rest forever."

Sandusky retired after the 1999 season after 32 years as an assistant to Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

Once considered a potential successor to Paterno, Sandusky helped establish Penn State's "Linebacker U" reputation and drew up the defenses for the Nittany Lions' national-title teams in 1982 and 1986.

Sandusky, 67, also has been lauded for his work with The Second Mile, a charitable organization he founded in 1977 to help at-risk children.

He retired from the board of the charity in September, and executive vice president Katherine Genovese said then that he had been dialing back duties in recent years and was looking to spend more time with family and deal with his personal life.

This Dec. 28, 1999, file photo shows Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky being carried by players Rick Bolinsky (92) and Jason Wallace (88)
This Dec. 28, 1999, file photo shows Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky being carried by players Rick Bolinsky (92) and Jason Wallace (88) after the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. Sandusky, known for his charitable work helping at-risk children, is being investigated by a state grand jury on allegations he indecently assaulted a teenage boy, a newspaper reported. (Associated Press -- File)

"Given all he has done and all that he has driven in the context of philanthropy, I would want to reserve any judgment," said York College professor Lowell Briggs, who served as a board member for the Central York School District's Panther Foundation when Sandusky spoke at a fund-raiser here in 2006. "I'm shocked there would even be the allegation, but I would want to think highly of the man and his accomplishments and wait for the process to work out."

Paterno and Penn State athletic director Tim Curley were among those who appeared before the grand jury in January, the Patriot-News reported.

A spokesman for the athletic department declined to comment Thursday on behalf of athletics and Paterno. Lisa Powers, a spokeswoman for the university, also declined to comment.

The allegations surfaced in 2009 while Sandusky was a volunteer assistant high school football coach at Central Mountain High School in Clinton County, the Patriot-News reported. John DiNunzio, interim superintendent of the Keystone Central School District at the time, said the boy's mother reported an incident to the principal and head football coach.

According to the newspaper, DiNunzio, now interim superintendent at the Bellefonte school district, was told by the coach and principal that the boy alleged contact occurred while he and Sandusky were alone in the room on wrestling mats.

The report was passed on to Clinton County Children and Youth Services. The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, reported the boy told that department that there had been indecent contact several times over four years.

The case was forwarded to the Clinton County district attorney, who then forwarded it to his then-counterpart in Centre County, Michael Madeira, because the incidents where alleged to have taken place in Centre County. Madeira then referred the case to then-Attorney General Tom Corbett's office in March 2009.

DiNunzio told the Patriot-News he never heard from police "once it left his desk." Kelly Hastings, current superintendent of Keystone Central School District, told the newspaper said she has direct knowledge of the report and that documents from the school have not been subpoenaed.

Meanwhile, the Patriot-News also reported that state police in Centre County two months ago began calling witnesses to a May 1998 report by Penn State police detailing an earlier allegation of inappropriate contact against Sandusky by another boy.

No charges were ever filed against Sandusky.

The Patriot-News wrote that, according to several sources, that boy, who was 12 at the time, alleged he and Sandusky were showering in the football building on Penn State's campus when the incident took place.

The boy's mother told The Patriot-News she was specifically instructed by state police at Rockview not to speak with a reporter. Her name is being withheld by The Patriot-News to protect the identity of her son, the newspaper wrote.

Patriot-News editor David Newhouse said the newspaper contacted the attorney general's office with details of its Sandusky story, to ask if the newspaper was wrong and to ask if its report would harm the investigation. Newhouse said the newspaper would not have reported the story if it were told "yes," and that the attorney general's office declined to speak with the paper.

Newhouse wrote that, in response to a question from one of Sandusky's friends, the paper would report with equal veracity if charges are never brought and the inquiry dismissed.

"We would owe that to Coach Sandusky, Penn State, The Second Mile and all who have admired his life and work," Newhouse wrote.

More coverage

The Second Mile, the charity founded by Sandusky in 1977, issues statement

From the archives: Central York official says 'There is no finer fundraiser than Jerry'

From the archives: Sandusky announces his retirement from PSU in 1999

From the archives: Creation of the York Chapter of The Second Mile in 1997

From the archives: Jerry Sandusky hits the links at York County charity event

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Read the Patriot-News' full investigative story.

If you have any specific comments, questions or insight on this investigation, e-mail Daily Record/Sunday News sports editor Chris Otto at cotto@ydr.com.