By Jessica Hopper
UPDATED: Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky admitted to showering and horsing around with young boys, but said he is not a pedophile, in an exclusive interview with Bob Costas broadcast Monday night on NBC's Rock Center.
"I say that I am innocent of those charges," Sandusky said in the phone interview.
When asked by Costas, "Are you a pedophile," Sandusky responded, "No."
Joe Paterno’s one-time defensive coordinator was charged earlier this month with 40 criminal counts accusing him of sexual abuse of minors. He is currently free on a $100,000 bond and has denied any wrongdoing. The allegations date back to 1994, according to the grand jury report filed November 5 in Pennsylvania state court. The report detailed claims of alleged sexual encounters with as many as eight boys in Sandusky's home, hotels and Penn State locker rooms.
"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," said Sandusky.
When asked by Costas to concede any wrongdoing, Sandusky said, "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, verified Sandusky's voice and asserted his client's innocence.
"I believe in Jerry's innocence. Quite honestly, Bob, that's why I'm involved in the case," Amendola said.
"We expect we're going to have a number of kids, now how many of those so called eight kids we're not sure, but we anticipate we're going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say this never happened. This is me, this is the allegation, it never occurred. In fact, one of the toughest allegations...what [Mike] McQueary said he saw, we have information that that child said that never happened," Amendola said.
McQueary is currently on paid administrative leave from his job as an assistant coach for Penn State's football team. In 2002, while a graduate assistant, he witnessed Sandusky allegedly engaged in a sexual act with a minor in the Penn State locker room's showers, according to the grand jury report. He told Paterno what he witnessed, according to the grand jury testimony.
Sandusky said McQueary's claims are false.
"We were showering and horsing around and he [the boy] actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel," Sandusky said. McQueary's allegations were never reported to the police.
Sandusky also addressed allegations that he apologized to the mother of one of the alleged victims and said "I wish I were dead" in 1998.
"I didn't say, to my recollection, that I wish I were dead. I was hopeful that we could reconcile things," Sandusky said.
The scandal has tarnished the reputation of the once-heralded football program, leading to the departure of coaching legend Paterno and three other university officials. It’s also left students and residents of State College, Penn., shocked. Sandusky said that right now isn't "the best days of my life."
"How would you think I would feel about a university that I attended, about people that I worked with, about people that I care so much about and how do you think I would feel about it? I feel horrible," Sandusky said.
When asked if he felt responsible for damaging Penn State's image, Sandusky said, "I don't think it's my fault. I've obviously played a part in this, but I don't think I should be accused as I have been."
The sight of 67-year-old Sandusky in handcuffs is hard to reconcile with his public image of a devoted father of six adopted kids who founded a charity to help at risk youth. That charity, The Second Mile, has also come under fire.
According to the grand jury report, all of the alleged sex abuse victims met Sandusky through their participation in The Second Mile. Sandusky founded the charity in 1977 as a group foster home for troubled boys. It spawned into a non-profit organization that has raised millions of dollars to help young boys and girls. Today, Chief Executive Officer Jack Raykovitz’s resignation was announced by the non-profit organization’s board of directors.
Sandusky gave up his day-to-day duties at The Second Mile in 2010. While Sandusky retired from Pennsylvania State University in 1999, he continued to have access to Penn State’s facilities.
"I don't know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now. I would just say that if somehow people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight for my innocence, that's about all I can ask right now. Obviously, it's a huge challenge," Sandusky said.
When asked if he had a sexual attraction to underage boys, Sandusky said, "I enjoy young people. I love to be around them, but no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."
Editor's Note: In an earlier edition of this report, we mistakenly identified a location of Sandusky's alleged sexual encounters as Paterno's home. According to the grand jury report, it was Sandusky's home.