Pa. Paper Reported Sex Abuse Allegations ... in March

Harrisburg Patriot-News' months-long coverage largely ignored
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2011 8:24 AM CST
In this Nov. 11, 2011 file photo, people gather in front of the Old Main building for a candlelight vigil on the Penn State campus in State College, Pa., in support of the alleged victims.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Newser) – The nation—not to mention State College, Pa.—was rocked by the Penn State sex abuse allegations, which were first reported on November 5. Except that's not when they were first reported. The Harrisburg Patriot-News covered the initial allegations to surface against Jerry Sandusky ... in March. That's eight months before he was arrested, and eight months before the nation took notice. The Los Angeles Times reports on the local paper's coverage—and dismay with the utter lack of reaction.

"According to five people with knowledge of the case, a grand jury meeting in Harrisburg has been hearing testimony for at least 18 months" about allegations made in 2009, wrote reporter Sara Ganim. The ripples? Basically none. "AP rewrote it as a brief," says editor David Newhouse. "But other than a report in the Centre Daily Times, it wasn't even on the front pages of any daily newspapers in Pennsylvania." More articles followed in April ("details of the investigation"), August ("the grand jury had found multiple victims"), and on November 4. Newhouse faults the culture surrounding Penn State's football program for the lack of attention. "You can see how there was an atmosphere where they wouldn't want to believe" it. (In other surprising news, Sandusky is still being paid by Penn State. Click for that story.)

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