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Why there are new allegations against Paterno's Penn State, and why more could emerge

There's a newly public allegation that Paterno didn't "want to hear" about Jerry Sandusky's abuse.

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Joe Paterno's legacy has been the subject of pitched debate since the 2011 revelation that longtime Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky had allegedly committed dozens of counts of sexual abuse against minors while on Paterno's staff, for which Sandusky was eventually convicted.

This week in court documents and an interview given to CNN, one of Sandusky's victims declares the former Penn State head coach was aware of Sandusky's abuse and helped to cover it up.

Back in May, a court order was made public that claimed Paterno knew of Sandusky's behavior as far back as 1976.

It regards a legal battle between Penn State and insurance companies over who's ultimately responsible for $60 million in settlements to Sandusky's victims. The insurers seek to avoid reimbursing money to PSU.

A single line suggested Paterno's knowledge of Sandusky's abuse could go back far further than previously thought, according to the insurance company.

The line in question states that one of Penn State's insurers has claimed "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky."

And in 2014 testimony revealed on Tuesday, one of Sandusky's victims claims he reported the coach's abuse to Paterno. According to the victim, Paterno responded: "I don't want to hear any of that stuff," saying he had a football season to "worry about."

Paterno has been implicated in the university's failure to stop Sandusky before, most notably in the Freeh Report, a law firm's 2012 investigation headed by a former FBI director and commissioned by Penn State. But that concerned allegations of abuse that began in the late 1990s. It based most of its conclusions on PSU's failure in response to a specific allegation brought by former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary in February 2001.

Paterno isn't the only member of Penn State's coaching staff alleged to have heard about Sandusky long before 2001.

NBC News reports on the second explosive claim of the May-released court order, that two Penn State assistant coaches witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and children in 1987 and 1988.

NBC also cites multiple sources in reporting that four other assistants witnessed incidents, one coach in the 1970s and three coaches in the 1990s. NBC reports a source says an incident was discussed in the coaches' meeting room.

CNN's report, written by Sara Ganim -- who earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for work on Sandusky -- delivers excruciating detail from one of Sandusky's victims. He says he not only told a man whom he identified as Paterno, but was urged by that man to drop his pursuit of justice.

(Ganim refers to the man as Victim A, but he is not the Victim A of the prosecution against Sandusky, who revealed his identity in October 2012. Though prosecutors knew of these newly public allegations, they were not included in the charges that resulted in Sandusky's sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison, because of the statute of limitations.)

According to Victim A, he was raped by Sandusky in 1971, when he was 15 and Sandusky was a 27-year-old linebackers coach at Penn State. A day later, his foster father called Penn State against Victim A's wishes. The child ended up on the phone with two men, "Jim and Joe."

Victim A says both men disbelieved him and pressured him to "stop" his allegation, saying they would contact authorities. While Victim A told Ganim he does not know who "Jim" was, he was clearer on "Joe."

"There was no question in my mind who Joe was," he said. "I've heard that voice a million times. It was Joe Paterno."

Some of Tuesday's newly released testimony includes more from McQueary, who claims former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley told him fellow assistant Greg Schiano heard about a 1980s Sandusky incident in the 1990s.

The response from Schiano, now at Ohio State:

And Bradley, now at UCLA:

At no time did Tom Bradley ever witness any inappropriate behavior. Nor did he have any knowledge of alleged incidents in the '80s and '90s. He has consistently testified as such. Any assertions to the contrary are false. When he became aware of the 2001 incident it had already been reported to the University administration years earlier.

Paterno's legacy remains the property of the public square, and it has been vigorously defended by Paterno's family and its allies.

The family took issue with the Freeh Report with a statement that included the sentence, "The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept."

It responded to the removal of Paterno's statue from Penn State's campus by saying such a decision "does not serve victims" and asserting that "the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth."

It commissioned its own report, the Paterno Report, which cast Sandusky as a master deceiver and moved much of the blame to higher-ups like former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley.

The family chimed in back in May, too.

On the initial allegation, made public in May, that a child had gone to Paterno with a report that Sandusky molested him:

"Because of a single sentence in a court record of an insurance case, Joe Paterno's reputation has once again been smeared with an unsubstantiated, forty year old allegation," the family said in a written statement.

"Over the past four and a half years, numerous allegations that were taken as fact when they were initially communicated have been proven false. It is in this context that the latest claim should be viewed."

On the allegation that Paterno, in a phone call, urged one victim not to push police to investigate Sandusky:

"Joe Paterno's life has been scrutinized endlessly the last four and a half years. The facts that have emerged have repeatedly confirmed that he acted appropriately."

In addition, last year, the Paterno family lawyers told CNN, "The suggestion that Joe Paterno participated in the call described is in direct conflict with the facts as we know them and contrary to the way he lived his life."

In May, Penn State released a statement of its own, citing "concern for privacy" and "strict confidentiality commitments that govern our various settlement agreements." It noted, "Coach Paterno is not here to defend himself."

All of this reporting adds to a collection of allegations against Paterno's program, and more could be coming.

Penn State's insurers will continue trying to get off the hook, which could produce more.

Curley, former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz and former Penn State president Graham Spanier will likely stand trial for their alleged roles in covering up Sandusky's abuse, too, and all three would have incentive to shift blame toward Paterno. (A judge threw out many counts against them in January for procedural reasons, but all still face charges of child endangerment, among others.)

Those three are named in a summary paragraph of the Freeh Report: "four of the most powerful men at The Pennsylvania State University ... failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

The fourth is Paterno, whose tenure was the longest. If true, the allegations revealed in the last two days would mean his failure to protect spanned four decades.

If true, that would mean most of Paterno's illustrious career came after he accused a victim of making the story up. If true, it would mean Paterno aided and abetted.

Penn State's president previously condemned a "rush to judgment" and says he's "appalled" by the way his school has been treated.

In a response released back in May, Penn State university president Eric Barron let loose on the media and defended both his school and its former head football coach. Barron -- who's beholden to Penn State's trustees and, to some extent, the university community at large -- said Penn State has faced a trial by media over the new reporting.

Unfortunately, we can't control the 24/7 news cycle, and the tendency of some individuals in social media and the blogosphere to rush to judgment. But I have had enough of the continued trial of the institution in various media. We have all had enough. And while Penn State cannot always comment on allegations that emanate from legal proceedings, I thought it was important to let you know my reaction to the media frenzy that has ensued over the past few days. I am appalled.

Barron said Penn State couldn't find any evidence to corroborate the newly revealed allegations.

First, the allegations related to Penn State are simply not established fact. The two allegations related to knowledge by Coach Paterno are unsubstantiated and unsupported by any evidence other than a claim by an alleged victim. They date from the 1970s. Coach Paterno is not alive to refute them. His family has denied them.

Second, we cannot find any evidence, related to a settlement or otherwise, that an alleged early assault was communicated to Coach Paterno. This raises considerable credibility issues as to this press report.

We have no good way of evaluating the truth.

Paterno is not here to defend himself. His family will continue to do so.

This information can't precisely be used against him in a court of law. The legal process will determine if it will impact the school he was intertwined with. Victims seeking justice and Penn State stakeholders will have to make the same judgments for themselves.

As long as there is a drip of new information, there will be a cycle of allegations and defenses. And little will change, except perhaps the volume of the conversation.