NEW YORK (AP) — Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky said in an interview with NBC that he is innocent of the child sex abuse charges that have rocked the university and cost renowned head football coach Joe Paterno his job, though the former defensive coordinator acknowledged he "horsed around" and touched kids.
In a telephone interview aired Monday night on NBC News' "Rock Center," Sandusky responded, "No," when Bob Costas asked if he was a pedophile.
"I am innocent of those charges," the 67-year-old Sandusky said. "... I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids, I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on its website late Monday that close to 10 additional suspected victims have come forward to authorities since Sandusky's arrest, according to people close to the investigation. The paper said police were working to confirm the new allegations.
The interview with Costas was Sandusky's first public comment on the charges. He had previously maintained his innocence through his attorney.
American football is hugely popular in the U.S. and Penn State has one of the largest and most loyal fan bases in college football, drawing more than 100,000 people to its home games. The team's success has brought in millions of dollars in television broadcast rights, merchandising and more.
The scandal has led to the departure of university President Graham Spanier and the dismissal of the legendary Paterno after law enforcement officials said they didn't do enough to stop suspected abuse when it was reported to them in 2002.
Sandusky, once considered Paterno's heir apparent, is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, with several of the alleged assaults occurring on Penn State property. Athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz are charged with perjury, and Paterno and president Graham Spanier were fired for not doing enough after Sandusky was accused of assaulting a young boy in the showers of the campus football complex in 2002.
The Associated Press has made several efforts to reach Sandusky by phone and through his attorney, but messages haven't been returned.
A spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly declined to comment on the interview, citing the active investigation.
Asked if there was anything he did do wrong, Sandusky said, "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
When Sandusky retired in 1999, at just 55, he cited his desire to devote more time to The Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977 to help at-risk kids. According to a grand jury report, however, Sandusky was a sexual predator who used the charity and his Penn State connections to prey on young boys.
Though he was not particularly close with Paterno, he remained a familiar sight around the Penn State football complex. He was given an office in the East Area Locker building, across the street from the football building, as part of his retirement package, and would bring Second Mile kids around the football facilities.
Wide receivers coach Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant, told the grand jury he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy about 10 years old in a shower at the team's practice center in March 2002. McQueary did not go to police but instead told Paterno, Curley and Schultz, although it is not clear how detailed of a description he gave.
Schultz, in turn, notified Spanier.
Paterno is not the target of any legal investigation, but he has conceded he should have done more. He and Spanier were fired because trustees felt they had not done enough after the 2002 incident.
The interview came on a day when the president of The Second Mile resigned. Jack Raykovitz, a practicing psychologist who had led the group for 28 years, said he hoped his departure would help restore faith in the group's mission. The Second Mile also announced it had hired Philadelphia's longtime district attorney as its new general counsel.
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