Paterno statue removed from Penn State campus

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — The statue of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been removed from outside the campus’ stadium, CNN affiliate WTAJ said.

The 900-pound bronze statue is being stored in a “secure location,” according to a statement from Penn State President Rodney Erickson. The tribute to Paterno had become an object of contention after the child rape scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno’s statue and legacy came under fire after the release of the Freeh Report, the scathing investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The report found several Penn State officials concealed evidence that Sandusky had sexually abused minors. Freeh concluded that Paterno could have prevented further sexual abuse had he taken action. Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 victims.

“I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond,” Erickson said.

“I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse,” he added.

On Sunday, Penn State employees began placing fencing around the statue, as well as a tarp. Local and university police were at the scene, and some students have gathered near the football field, Beaver Stadium.

Another tribute to Paterno — the university library that bears his name — will remain as it is, Erickson said.

“The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno’s commitment to Penn State’s student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts coach Paterno had on the university,” he wrote.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called Paterno “a powerful man who acted selfishly” who “deserves no public honors whatsoever.”

“We’re glad the statue is gone but that’s just a tiny step forward,” SNAP spokesman David Clohessy said in a statement. “We as a society must learn that a good way to deter child sex cover-ups is to punish, not praise, those who instigate such cover-ups.”

The NCAA, which oversees college sports, announced on its Twitter feed that it plans to hold a press conference regarding Penn State at 9 a.m. Monday.

CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

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