PENN STATE SCANDAL

Penn State abuse: Obama calls for 'soul-searching' as campus holds vigil

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

(AP, ABC7) Students gathered on Penn State's campus Friday to remember the victims of alleged child sex abuse at the hands of a former coach.

(Photo: Associated Press)

President Barack Obama has called the alleged sex abuse of more than half a dozen children by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky "heartbreaking."

Obama says that the Penn State sex abuse scandal should lead to "soul-searching" by all Americans, not just Penn State.

He told Westwood One Radio that the scandal shows that Americans' first priority needs to be protecting kids. The president added that when people see someone mistreated, it's their responsibility to step up and take responsibility – and not rely on bureaucracy.

Candles try to brighten a dark week at Penn State

Meanwhile candles, not police lights, have lit Penn State's campus as more than 1,000 students and supporters gather for the victims in a child sex abuse scandal roiling one of the nation's largest universities.

Friday night's vigil was organized by students in the wake of a shocking grand jury report that accuses a retired assistant football coach of sexually assaulting boys, sometimes at university facilities. The report suggests school officials didn't aggressively investigate or report the activity.

Penn State senior and vigil organizer Jessica Sever says she wants the vigil to put the focus back on the boys, especially after police had to break up a violent student rally touched off by Wednesday's firing of longtime football coach Joe Paterno.

More: When did Sandusky's abuse start?

Paterno says he wishes he had done more about allegations against one of his former assistants.

The Penn State scandal has cost football coach Joe Paterno his job. He was faulted for not alerting police after he was told about sex abuse by a former assistant coach.

A grand jury report details the allegations against Sandusky. The abuse, according to the report, stretched over years and targeted eight victims.

The mother of one of the victims of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky named in a grand jury statement spoke publicly for the first time in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

The woman, the mother of the boy named 'Victim 1' in the grand jury report, spoke with ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

'You know, maybe we should have come to this conclusion earlier -- you should have told me,'" the mother, whose face was shadowed and voice altered, said during the interview.

"Even if they had the slightest inclination that anything inappropriate was going on it should have been reported," she said.

More: Mother of 'Victim 1' speaks out

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus