Jerry Sandusky Sex Abuse Case: Penn State prosecutors change date of key allegation

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach charged with sexually abusing boys, speaks to the media at the Centre County Courthouse after a bail conditions hearing in Bellefonte, Pa. Pennsylvania state prosecutors and Jerry Sandusky's lawyers are due in court Monday, March 12, 2012 to argue before a judge about how much information the attorney general's office should have to reveal before the trial.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File
In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, Jerry Sandusky speaks to the media at the Centre County Courthouse after a bail conditions hearing in Bellefonte, Pa.
File,AP Photo/Alex Brandon

(CBS/AP) HARRISBURG, Pa. - Prosecutors have changed the date of a key allegation of assault in the case of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, according to new court documents.

Pictures: Who's who in the Penn State abuse scandal

Previously, prosecutors had filed documents, including a grand jury report, alleging that Sandusky sexually assaulted a boy in a Penn State locker room shower on March 1, 2002. But new filings indicate that investigators have now concluded the alleged attack took place around Feb. 9, 2001.

Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant at the time, has said he complained to coach Joe Paterno of seeing the boy in the shower naked with Sandusky. He testified in December that he believed Sandusky was molesting the boy and "having some type of sexual intercourse with him." He said that because of his vantage point, he could not be certain it was intercourse.

Penn State's trustees have said they fired Paterno as coach partly because of his response. Paterno reported the matter to Schultz and Curley, which trustees have called "his minimum legal duty" and "a failure of leadership." Paterno was fired as coach in November and died in January of lung cancer.

Lawyers for Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, two former administrators who are fighting allegations that they lied to a grand jury and failed to properly report suspected child abuse, issued a statement accusing prosecutors of filing charges before knowing the facts.

"Now, it is clear that Mike McQueary was wrong in so adamantly insisting that the incident happened the Friday before Spring Break in 2002," their statement said. "Whether or not Mr. McQueary's insistence was the result of faulty memory, or questionable credibility, there is no dispute that the statute of limitations has expired on (the failure to report charge), and it will be dismissed."

The judge has issued a gag order prohibiting lawyers on both sides from speaking about the Sandusky case.

Scranton defense lawyer Joseph D'Andrea, who is not involved in the Sandusky case, said the one-year time change may not affect the prosecution, assuming all other relevant facts remain consistent. He said recollections of dates over a 10-to-12 year time span are naturally imperfect.

"If all the other facts match up to be identical, I think it's just an error without any harm for the prosecution," D'Andrea said. "However, if there are other inconsistencies, it gives the defense a reason to create some doubt about the credibility, sincerity, honesty and true recollection of what McQueary had to say."

The prosecution filing comes ahead of a hearing Wednesday in Bellefonte about defense subpoenas and any remaining disputes over what material must be disclosed to the defense.

Sandusky, 68, awaits a June trial on 52 criminal counts related to alleged sexual abuse of 10 boys over 15 years. He has denied the allegations.

Monday's filing said that investigators relied on "specific and authenticated findings" to conclude the shower incident occurred in 2001. Prosecutors have said they don't know who the boy was.

Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola has maintained the 2002 date was incorrect. He has said a young man told him that he believed he might be the boy described in the shower allegation and that Sandusky had not abused him. Then, Amendola said, the young man got a lawyer and cut off contact.

Complete coverage of the Penn State sex abuse scandal on Crimesider