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Prosecutor: Claim that coaches saw Sandusky abuse unreliable

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 1999, file photo, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, right, poses with his defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky during Penn State Media Day at State College, Pa. Joe Paterno's son said Friday, May 6, 2016, that an allegation made by insurers that a boy told the longtime Penn State University football coach in 1976 that he had been molested by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is "bunk." In a tweet , Scott Paterno wrote that "it would be great if everyone waited to see the substance of the allegation before they assume it's true. Because it's not." (AP Photo/Paul Vathis, File)

Prosecutors are dismissing as unreliable allegations that two assistant coaches at Penn State witnessed Jerry Sandusky having inappropriate or sexual contact with children in the late 1980s, more than two decades before his arrest and conviction as a serial child abuser.

"The reports turned out to be double and triple hearsay and of no value, with the coaches in question each denying they saw anything," Solicitor General Bruce Castor said. "So dead ends there all around."

A Philadelphia judge's ruling last week in a lawsuit by Penn State against an insurance company made public the previously undisclosed allegations, which came from depositions by some of Sandusky's accusers.

The insurer was quoted in the ruling as claiming an assistant coach saw "inappropriate contact" between Sandusky and a child in a school facility in 1987 and another witnessed "sexual contact" between Sandusky and a child in 1988.

The court document did not provide any other details, including the names of the coaches.

Sandusky, a former assistant coach, was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sex abuse and is serving a lengthy prison sentence. The case became a major scandal at Penn State after an investigation concluded university officials failed to respond properly to complaints against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.

Former Penn State administrators Gary Schultz, Tim Curley and Graham Spanier await trial on charges of failure to report suspected abuse and child endangerment for their handling of complaints about Sandusky.

Coach Joe Paterno told a grand jury in 2011 that he did not know of child molestation allegations against Sandusky before 2001, when assistant coach Mike McQueary told him he saw Sandusky attacking a boy in a team shower. Paterno, who did not face criminal charges, died in 2012 just months after being fired.

Penn State officials have labeled as unsubstantiated the latest allegations cited by its insurer, including a claim that a child told Paterno in 1976 that Sandusky had molested him. But the university, which since Sandusky's conviction has paid out more than $90 million to settle more than 30 claims, acknowledged Sunday that the abuse allegations date as far back as 1971. Sandusky began working at the university full time in 1969 and retired in 1999.

Castor, hired by the state attorney general as her second-in-command, told The Associated Press a 1971 claim was known to investigators, but they found no supporting documentation from that period.

"The victim in that case had a civil lawyer who asked us in 2014 not to interview him formally because of a pending lawsuit," Castor said. "We abided by his wishes after determining that this victim's information was too remote in time to be useful in our cases against the PSU administrators."

Two assistant coaches who worked with Sandusky and Paterno, Booker Brooks and Dick Anderson, were witnesses for Sandusky's defense at his 2012 trial.

Anderson testified he occasionally saw Sandusky showering with boys after workouts but never saw anything inappropriate. Other coaches would come in and out as well, Anderson testified.

Brooks defended Sandusky as "a great guy" and said it was not unusual for boys and men to shower together in locker rooms.

A man identified by prosecutors as Victim 4 testified that former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley walked in on him and Sandusky showering together in the late 1990s.

"I can't say what his thoughts were, but I think he was suspicious of something because he stayed in there until everything was done," Victim 4 testified.

Bradley, now a coach at UCLA, did not respond to telephone and email messages, and other coaches from the late 1980s did not return messages in recent days.

Through his attorney, Sandusky has denied the latest allegations. He is appealing his conviction and maintains his innocence.

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