Report: Penn State fired Joe Paterno over lack of action in 2002 incident

Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno leaves the team's football building on Nov. 8, 2011 in University Park, Penn.
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Former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno
Rob Carr/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Penn State's trustees decided to fire legendary football coach Joe Paterno over what they said was his failure to go to authorities with a report of alleged sexual assault of a child by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky nearly a decade ago, according to a report published Thursday in The New York Times.

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Several of the 13 trustees interviewed by the Times said they were also troubled by Paterno greeting fans and supporters on his front lawn and leading them in school cheers. The happened after the release of a grand jury report detailing child sex abuse allegations against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The trustees said although they were concerned about Paterno's ability to lead the team during the recent scandal that also resulted in the ousting of university President Grahm Spanier, the more pressing concern was the feeling the coach had failed to do enough after learning of a 2002 incident involving Sandusky and a boy in an on-campus shower.

"Every adult has a responsibility for every other child in our community. ...We have a responsibility for ensuring that we can take every effort that's within our power not only to prevent further harm to that child, but to every other child," said trustee Kenneth Frazier.

The alleged 2002 shower assault ultimately resulted in charges against two university officials, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. They're charged with failing to report suspected child abuse and perjury related to their testimony before the grand jury.

Meanwhile, Paterno's attorney defended the coach's actions in a statement, saying Paterno passed on a report about an alleged assault to his superiors at the university believing they would investigate and act appropriately.

Sandusky is charged with sexually assaulting 10 young boys he met through The Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977. He denies the allegations.

Complete coverage of the Penn State child sex abuse case on Crimesider