Yorkers who've worked with former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky through his charity said they're shocked about the child-sexual abuse allegations against him but are hoping the organization survives.

Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing eight boys between 1994 and 2009, after making contact through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youth.

The coach retired in 1999 but used the prominence of his former position to raise money for the foundation. He has visited York numerous times for banquets and events, many of which he helped organize or served as featured guest.

The list of members for the York County Chapter of The Second Mile reads like a Who's Who of the York community, and the charity gained traction locally through golf events and other outings.

Sandusky
Sandusky

Sandusky has been featured guest at York Area Sports Night, a decades-old annual program held to give fans an opportunity to meet sports heroes. There are interviews, awards and demonstrations, as well as silent auctions to benefit charitable causes such as The Second Mile.

Mike Harvey, talent coordinator and vice president of the York Area Sports Night board, said he has met Sandusky several times.

"I thought he was a top-shelf, class-act guy," Harvey said. "Second Mile was his biggest passion, football being his first."

He said people are "not guilty until found so," and he doesn't think people should forget all the lives Sandusky has touched in a positive way.

"The victims, I have grandchildren, so I have to think about that," he said. "When it involves children, that's a whole other ballgame to me. The counts and the number of people involved, it looks pretty bleak."

He said The Second Mile, founded in 1977, is "still a good organization."

It wouldn't be fair to the at-risk youth to pull support because the leader has been charged criminally, he said, but whether there will be support coming from York remains to be seen.

Harvey said the board will meet before the Jan. 15 event to discuss whether it will make a contribution to The Second Mile this year.

He said he suspects the allegations could hurt the organization's ability to raise money, but he hopes they don't.

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He said he has been inactive in the group recently, but "I'm highly disappointed in what's going on there."

He said he has met Sandusky, and "he was a good guy."

"I would have never, ever guessed that in a million years," he said. "It seemed like a very noble enterprise at the time."

He said a lot of people in the York community have met Sandusky, and he doesn't see how the allegations won't hurt The Second Mile because Sandusky has been seen on multiple channels doing "the perp walk."

Paterno? Police have said head coach Joe Paterno is a witness, and is not under investigation.

According to the indictment, several of the alleged crimes took place on the college's State College campus, in the Lasch Football Building.

In the spring of 2002, a graduate assistant reported he witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a young boy in the shower.

The assistant told Paterno, who alerted athletic director Tim Curley. Curley called in Gary Schultz, the university's senior vice president for finance and business. A week and a half later, both met with the graduate assistant, but never contacted police.

On Sunday, both men resigned amid charges they failed to report the abuse. They also face perjury charges.

Harvey said he respects Paterno and thinks he "may have done what he thought was the right thing, following the chain of command."

He said he isn't sure whether Paterno should have followed up on the complaint.

"I think Joe might be so focused on his position that he might be naive on this one," Harvey said. "I think he thought somebody took care of it."

-Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com, or follow her on Twitter at @dispatchbizwiz.