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Former Penn State coaches try to distance themselves from scandal

The Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse allegations were so scandalous that they shook the state of Pennsylvania to its core. The scandal also created significant fallout for certain Penn State employees, and that fallout continues to this day.

When the truth about Sandusky’s horrendous acts of child sexual abuse finally came to light, many wanted to know who among Sandusky’s colleagues and employers might have ignored the warning signs or otherwise failed to intervene. Now, two former Penn State football coaches are fighting to distance themselves from the scandal in order to salvage their careers.

The two plaintiffs include former offensive coach Bill Kenney and former quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, who is also the son of the late Joe Paterno. The two men were fired in January 2012 in the midst of an investigation conducted on behalf of the NCAA. The university later accepted the results of the investigation, summarized in a document called the Freeh report.

Since their firing, the two men have reportedly been unable to find other coaching jobs at the collegiate or professional levels. They are suing Penn State, alleging that the university’s acceptance of the Freeh report was an “unreliable rush to judgment.” Their firing also “had the effect of branding and stigmatizing plaintiffs as participants in the Sandusky scandal,” the men claim.

It may be impossible to determine what these two men knew about Jerry Sandusky’s actions (if anything) and when they knew it. Nonetheless, this case highlights both the moral and practical messes caused by one man’s crimes and the decidedly inappropriate response to them by officials at Penn State.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Paterno's Son Rails Against 'Rush to Judgment,” Andrew Thompson, July 21, 2014

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