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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky said in interview excerpts broadcast Monday that a key witness against him misinterpreted him showering with a young boy in Penn State football team facilities more than a decade ago.
Sandusky told documentary filmmaker John Ziegler, in recordings played on NBC's “Today” show, that he does not understand how Mike McQueary concluded “that sex was going on” when he witnessed Sandusky showering with a boy in 2001.
“That would have been the last thing I would have thought about,” Sandusky said during what Ziegler described as 3½ hours of interviews. “I would have thought maybe fooling around or something like that.”
McQueary, a graduate assistant in 2001, testified at trial that he heard “skin-on-skin smacking sound” and had no doubt he was witnessing anal sex.
In a transcript posted online, Ziegler said he asked Sandusky about McQueary's claim he made eye contact with Sandusky at the end of that incident, but Sandusky said he did not recall seeing McQueary or even know who had made the complaint until years later.
Sandusky acknowledged, however, that McQueary avoided contact with him about a decade later — around the time the investigation against Sandusky was heating up.
McQueary's father, John McQueary, declined comment, and there was no answer at McQueary's lawyer's office early Monday. Mike McQueary has filed a defamation and whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State over how he was treated after Sandusky's arrest.
The boy, identified as Victim 2 in court records, was not a witness at trial. A team of four lawyers has said they are representing Victim 2 and posted online audio recordings of voicemails purportedly from Sandusky and left for the boy.
The lawyers — Joel Feller, Matt Casey, Justine Andronici and Andrew Shubin — issued a statement Monday saying Victim 2 and their other clients “have heard enough from Jerry Sandusky” and are focusing on “healing and holding Penn State accountable for choosing to protect Jerry Sandusky and themselves instead of protecting children from years of horrific sexual abuse.”
Sandusky also told Ziegler he was not sure whether head coach Joe Paterno, who was fired after Sandusky's November 2011 arrest, would have let him keep coaching if he suspected Sandusky was a pedophile. Sandusky was investigated by university police for a separate shower incident in 1998, but remained one of Paterno's top assistants through 1999.
“If he absolutely thought I was, I'd say no,” Sandusky said in the audio recording. “If he had a suspicion, I don't know the answer to that.”
Sandusky said he did not touch the boys inappropriately, Ziegler wrote.
“Yeah, I hugged them,” Sandusky said, according to Ziegler. “Maybe I tested boundaries. Maybe I shouldn't have showered with them. Yeah, I tickled them. I looked at them as being probably younger than even some of them were. But I didn't do any of these horrible acts and abuse these young people. I didn't violate them. I didn't harm them.”
Ziegler, who is working on a defense of Paterno, said the interviews were conducted during three sessions, and told the AP on Monday that additional excerpts will be posted online over the coming days. The transcripts were posted by Ziegler on his site, www.framingpaterno.com.
He describes himself as an author, broadcaster, commentator and maker of films, including the 2009 movie “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.”
Along with the Sandusky interview material, Ziegler posted a piece about himself that anticipates critical media coverage of his background. As an example, he noted he has been “fired in radio lots of times for saying things which seem outrageous.”
“This is actually true. It is totally and completely irrelevant to the findings of my findings on the Sandusky scandal and whether Joe Paterno was railroaded by you, but yes, this charge is mostly true,” Ziegler wrote.
Wick Sollers, a Paterno family lawyer, said in a statement released Sunday that Sandusky had an opportunity to testify at trial but “chose not to do so.”
“The Paterno family would prefer to remain silent on this matter, but they feel it is important to make it clear that they had no role in obtaining or releasing this recording,” Sollers said. “Moreover, they believe that any attempt to use this recording as a defense of Joe Paterno is misguided and inappropriate.”
Penn State issued a statement that said Sandusky's latest remarks “continue to open wounds for his victims, and the victims of child sexual abuse everywhere.”
Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence after being convicted last year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. He maintains his innocence and is pursuing appeals.