PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The new president of a charity founded by a former Penn State assistant football coach accused of molesting young boys said Friday the organization is looking at three options for its future and may not close.
David Woodle, who was named president of The Second Mile this week after longtime leader Jack Raykovitz resigned, told The Patriot-News newspaper of Harrisburg that the organization was exploring how it could stay open and keep serving children.
"No decision has been made," he told the newspaper in a report posted on its website Friday after The New York Times reported that the charity was set to be closed down, its programs folded into other nonprofit organizations.
Woodle did not reply to messages from The Associated Press, and phone calls to several board members rang unanswered Friday night.
The charity was founded in 1977 by Jerry Sandusky, who retired from Penn State in 1999.
Sandusky, 67, was charged this month with molesting eight boys over a 15-year period in a scandal that rocked the Penn State campus in State College and brought down the university's beloved head football coach, Joe Paterno. Authorities say some assaults happened on the campus and were reported to administrators but not to police.
Penn State's board of trustees fired Paterno last week, saying he failed to act after a graduate assistant claimed he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a campus locker room shower in 2002. Paterno, major college football's winningest coach, has conceded he should have done more.
Sandusky has said he is innocent. He has acknowledged he showered with boys but said he never molested them.
Woodle was quoted by the Times earlier Friday as saying that the charity was "working hard to figure out how the programs can survive this event."
"We aren't protective of this organization that it survives at all costs," he said.
He told The Patriot-News that The Second Mile's options include having the programs continue, transferring them to another charity and closing.
"We hope (option No. 3) doesn't happen," Woodle told The Patriot-News. "We're only into this four days. We're figuring out what's viable."
But Lynne Abraham, a former Philadelphia district attorney hired by The Second Mile, said the damage to the charity might be irreparable.
"If we can reconstitute ourselves ... will the public and donors have faith in us?" she said. "There are lots of kids in need. The need doesn't go away if an organization closes. The need just goes someplace else."
State Sen. Jake Corman, who has been on the charity's board since last year, told the Centre Daily Times the organization is still studying its options.
Sandusky set up The Second Mile for youngsters from broken homes and troubled backgrounds, building it into an organization that helped as many as 100,000 children a year through camps and fundraisers.
But in the aftermath of the charges against him, questions have been raised about his role in the charity and whether its officials knew of the allegations against him before the release of a state grand jury report this month.
State prosecutors contend that running the charity gave Sandusky "access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations."
The grand jury said that Penn State officials in 2002 told Raykovitz that there had been an issue with Sandusky and a minor. But the charity took no action against Sandusky because, it said last week, Penn State did not find any wrongdoing.
Sandusky informed The Second Mile's board in November 2008 that he was under investigation. The charity says it subsequently barred him from activities involving children.
This week, the charity said it would conduct an internal investigation to assess policies and make recommendations regarding future operations, with the aim of releasing findings by the end of December.
Earlier this week, Gov. Tom Corbett withdrew a $3 million state grant to help The Second Mile expand its facilities. He said the organization had an admirable mission that helped many children and he hoped its programs could be continued in some fashion.