Sen. Toomey: Penn State scandal, Paterno firing are 'devastating'

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) on Thursday expressed regret over the departure of Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno, but said the sexual-abuse charges brought against another former coach required serious action.

"A monster was prowling and victimizing the most defenseless," Toomey said on MSNBC.

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Paterno's assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years, with some of the abuse taking place in the football complex at the university. 

Paterno was removed as head coach of the Penn State football team on Wednesday night in the wake of the scandal. Penn State President Graham Spanier was also removed in what the board called a necessary "change in the leadership" at the school.

A grand jury investigation revealed that Paterno had been told of an alleged inappropriate incident involving Sandusky and a young boy in 2002. Paterno and Spanier have been criticized for their handling of the allegations, but not charged. Paterno expected to retire at the end of the season.

Toomey called Paterno an "icon" and credited his record as head coach for Penn State, where he has the most victories of any coach in NCAA Division I college football history. He said he has not read the grand jury report and did not want to second-guess the decision to remove Paterno, whom he was reluctant to criticize earlier in the week. 

Toomey said the scandal has been "devastating" to the college and to the state.