Former Penn State football grad assistant Matt Paknis, who was sexually assaulted over a three-year period in his childhood, told WFAN New York host Mike Francesa on Tuesday that he believes recently ousted PSU head coach Joe Paterno knew about Jerry Sandusky's alleged sexual abuse against children years ago.
Pankins, a graduate assistant on the Nittany Lions football staff in 1987 and 1988, remembered how Sandusky would tickle and pinch little boys during football camps, sometimes putting them in headlocks, describing Sandusky as the pied piper with kids always around him.
I always felt he was a little too touchy and grabby with the kids, Paknis said. I just knew. I thought it was a boundary issue more than anything else.
At the same time, while Paknis said that he never saw Sandusky in a sexual, intimate way with anybody, the sexual abuse incidents kept piling up to the point where Sandusky had no choice but to retire as defensive coordinator in 1999. And, he believes Sandusky and Paterno came to that mutual understanding.
I think that the incidents piled up and [Paterno] said 'There's no way that you can become head [coach] because this is going to come out,' Paknis said. 'There's too much going on around here.'
When Francesa asked Paknis about the possibility that Paterno could be unaware of reports on Sandusky's behavior, Paknis said it was impossible.
Joe knows everything -- everything that goes on on that campus, everything that goes on in the football program, he said. Paknis even alluded to the fact that players on the team would call Paterno The Rat because he knew so much about what went on in the program.
Paknis also said that he could envision a scenario where Paterno attempted to cover up Sandusky's actions, reinforced by the fact that Paterno held so much power.
Fights, behavioral problems, anything like that never even reached the local paper, he said. It was a controlled environment. There's no question.
Paknis, who heard of the Sandusky incident from his best friend, called Paterno's actions while Sandusky was abusing boys inexcusable.
When he [Paterno] had the opportunity to demonstrate true integrity and character, he turned and protected himself, Paknis said. That was his M.O. He was always protected. And so, instead of going out and helping an eight-year-old kid or a ten-year-old kid who was being sodomized by his key assistant, he just dropped the ball.
Paknis was frank about Sandusky himself, too.
The way he set up that not-for-profit, he was like the fox in the henhouse, he said. You have to remember these kids, they were just vulnerable. They didn't have any dads; they didn't have the financial support. So, he knew they didn't have anywhere to turn. It's just the most evil thing I think I've ever seen.
Listen to Francesa's interview with Paknis here.