Pa. senators no longer support Joe Paterno for Medal of Freedom

Pennsylvania's senators on Thursday announced they no longer support awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joe Paterno, the former Pennsylvania State University football coach.

Paterno was fired Wednesday in response to the arrest of Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for Paterno who has been charged with abusing young boys over a 15-year period.

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"In light of the recent events in State College, we are rescinding our support for the nomination of Joe Paterno for the Presidential Medal of Freedom," Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) said in a joint statement. 

"We hope the proper authorities will move forward with their investigation without delay. Penn State is an important institution in our commonwealth. We should turn our attention to the victims of these atrocious crimes and ensure they get the help they need. Our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families," the senator said.


It's unclear exactly how much Paterno and other officials in the football program knew about the alleged abuse. But Paterno was aware of at least one incident where Sandusky was allegedly caught sexually assaulting a young boy in a shower. Paterno reported that incident to the Penn State athletic director.  

In a statement Wednesday, Paterno expressed regret for not doing more to stop the abuse, calling it "one of the great sorrows of my life."

The abuse charges are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education, which is trying to determine whether the university handled the incidents in accordance with the law.