Disappearance amid scandal
The statue’s disappearance from the grounds of Beaver Stadium came a week after the university released an audit by former FBI Director Louis Freeh describing how Paterno and other Penn State leaders concealed information about Sandusky’s abuse.
The Penn State board had fired Paterno eight months earlier, when the allegations became public. His former assistant, Sandusky, ultimately would be convicted of 45 counts of abuse of 10 victims over a 15-year period.
Top university officials were also charged — with obstructing justice, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children. Criminal cases are still pending against former Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz. Former Penn State President Graham Spanier has filed a lawsuit seeking to get the case against him thrown out.
Paterno died before charges were filed against administrators.
Days before Paterno’s statue was concealed, a plane flew over Beaver Stadium hauling a banner that declared: “Take down the statue or we will.”
At the time, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said the memorial had “become a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”
He added, “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.”
The Paterno statue was taken down July 22, 2012. Workers landscaped the site, leaving no trace the tribute ever stood.
Penn State officials have been tight-lipped about what they did with the statue. Contacted last week, university spokesman David La Torre would only say it is safe and secure.
Asked why Paterno memorabilia remains on exhibit inside Beaver Stadium, La Torre said the museum is a “separate entity” that makes its own decisions. Ken Hickman, director of the All Sports Museum, didn’t return calls seeking comment for this story.
DiMaria, the sculptor, acknowledged his piece’s location is “the million-dollar question.” DiMaria said he’s been told, unofficially, that it’s no longer on campus.
DiMaria designed the statue in 2001 at the request of friends of the Paternos, who paid for the work privately.
“This thing is not over yet,” he said. “You can’t take away a legacy.”