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Students rally at Paterno's home amid Penn State sex abuse scandal

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 9, 2011 -- Updated 0252 GMT (1052 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Paterno says he is praying for victims
  • Reports of Paterno's retirement "premature," son says on Twitter
  • Sandusky's preliminary hearing rescheduled to December 7
  • Two other university officials are charged with failing to report abuse

(CNN) -- Penn State students and supporters of head football coach Joe Paterno rallied Tuesday evening outside his home amid growing calls for him to resign related to his response to child sex abuse allegations brought against a former assistant.

The crowd in State College, mostly young people, greeted and cheered Paterno hours after his weekly news conference was canceled.

Speaking outside and from a window at his residence, the 84-year-old Nittany Lions legend said he was praying for victims in the case.

Paterno, a longtime coach with a largely spotless record, is under pressure because of his response to allegations brought to him in 2002 by a graduate assistant who said he had seen retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in the shower at the campus football complex.

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Paterno reported the allegations to his boss, and Pennsylvania's attorney general said it appeared that the coach had met his obligations under state law. Still, some critics have said that he should have reported the suspected abuse to police.

"We don't yet know who is legally guilty," SI.com columnist Michael Rosenberg wrote on the website. "But several prominent employees at the state university are morally guilty. And one of them is Joe Paterno."

On Tuesday, Paterno's son, Scott Paterno, said on Twitter that reports in the New York Times, citing people briefed on the matter, that university officials were planning an end to Paterno's 46-year coaching tenure were "premature."

"No discussions about retirement with JVP," Paterno said, using his father's initials. He said the decision to cancel the news conference was not his father's.

"Due to the ongoing legal circumstances centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today's press conference cannot be held and will not be rescheduled," the university said in a statement.

Joe Paterno said Tuesday afternoon that he hopes to hold another news conference soon.

"I know you guys have a lot of good questions, and I'd like to answer them, but I can't do it now," Paterno said after practice.

A preliminary hearing for Sandusky, originally set for Wednesday, has been rescheduled for December 7, officials said Tuesday afternoon. Sandusky's attorney has said more time was needed to bring in witnesses.

On Sunday, Penn State announced that two university officials accused by state authorities of failing to report suspected abuse had stepped down, one of them returning to retirement and the other taking administrative leave.

Attorney General Linda Kelly said Monday that the alleged failure of Penn State Athletic Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, the university's senior vice president for finance and business, to report abuse claims "likely allowed a child predator to continue to victimize children for many, many years."

Curley and Schultz, who are each charged with one count of perjury and one count of failure to report suspected abuse, were released Monday on $75,000 bail each. At the arraignment hearing, their attorneys said the men were innocent of the charges and would fight to clear their names.

Sandusky is accused of sexual offenses, child endangerment and "corruption of a minor" charges involving eight boys, most or all of whom he met through the Second Mile, the charity he founded to help troubled youth, according to prosecutors.

Sandusky's involvement with the group provided him with "access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations," the grand jury said. The former coach is said to have engaged in fondling, oral sex and anal sex with young boys over at least 15 years, according to the investigative grand jury's summary of testimony.

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A source with direct knowledge of the investigation confirmed to CNN's Jason Carroll that a man walked into a Montoursville, Pennsylvania, state police station and claimed he was victimized by Sandusky. Interviews with the man will determine whether he's a ninth victim, the source said.

Sandusky, who served 23 years as defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions football team before retiring in 1999, is free on $100,000 bail.

His attorney, Joseph Amendola, has not returned a message from CNN seeking comment.

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The grand jury investigation that led to the charges began with the claims of one alleged victim who said Sandusky had "indecently assaulted" him and engaged in sex acts while he was a guest at the coach's home, according to the attorney general.

The victim met Sandusky through the Second Mile, and Sandusky allegedly used expensive gifts such as trips to professional and college games, golf clubs, a computer and money, Kelly said.

The relationship, which began in 2005 and lasted into 2008, included overnight stays at Sandusky's home, where touching led to sexual acts, according to Kelly and grand jury testimony.

However, the most explosive charges in the grand jury report involve a 2002 incident in which a graduate student reported seeing Sandusky in the shower performing anal sex on a young boy, according to the grand jury and prosecutors.

"One of the most compelling and disturbing pieces of testimony in this investigation came from an eyewitness to a late-night sexual assault that allegedly occurred in March of 2002, in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus," Kelly said. "Hearing what sounded like sexual activity in the showers of a building that was supposed to be empty, a graduate assistant reportedly observed Sandusky sexually assaulting a naked boy who appeared to be about 10 years old."

The assistant reported the incident to Paterno, who in turn alerted Curley.

Paterno said in his statement that he had done his duty in informing Curley.

"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators," Paterno said.

But instead of reporting the incident to authorities, Curley and Schultz took Sandusky's locker room keys and banned him from having children from Second Mile visit the football building, Kelly said.

In his statement, Paterno called the charges "shocking."

"While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved, I can't help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred," he said in the statement.

Prosecutors have not ruled out the possibility of additional charges or victims in the case.

CNN's Jason Carroll and Kiran Khalid contributed to this report.

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