The state Attorney General's Office on Saturday charged Sandusky, 67, with 40 sex crimes involving boys from 1994 to 2005, all of whom he met through the Second Mile Foundation, which he founded in 1977.
Started as a small home for six troubled boys outside State College, it has grown to a statewide organization whose mission is to help "young people to achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing opportunities for them to develop positive life skills and self-esteem."
Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, have six adopted children and had cared for foster children, which led them to start the nonprofit organization.
"After we had taken in some foster children," Dottie Sandusky told Sports Illustrated in 1982, "we saw the opportunities that some kids just hadn't had. But we'd gotten to the point where we couldn't take in any more, so Jerry started thinking about starting a group home."
It was also within the charity that Sandusky "found his victims," according to a grand jury presentment. "Through the Second Mile, Sandusky had access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations."
Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999 to devote his time to Second Mile, where he would stay until 2010. Efforts to reach Jack Raykovitz, the foundation's chief executive, were unsuccessful, but he released a statement to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg on Friday.
"We have many policies and procedures designed to protect the children involved in our programs, including employee and volunteer background checks, training, and supervision," he said. "As a result, other than occasional bumps and bruises, we have never had an incident impact the safety, health or well-being of children during our programs, and we will continue to do everything in our power to maintain the trust placed in us by the families and professionals with whom we partner to keep that record intact."
Second Mile works with at-risk children statewide, though most of its work is in central and south-central Pennsylvania. Its website lists an office in King of Prussia, but there was no answer there Saturday.
According to the website, its honorary board includes a number of prominent names, among them Sandusky's old boss at Penn State, head coach Joe Paterno, Eagles coach Andy Reid, and former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil.
Second Mile issues motivational and educational training cards called "Nittany Lion Tips," sponsors conferences for high school sophomores on community leadership and weeklong camps for children with behavioral and academic problems, and has a mentor program that matches collegiate volunteers with at-risk elementary-school students.
The grand jury report said Sandusky usually met his victims in their second year at Second Mile camps at the Penn State campus, when they were 7 to 12 years old. They would often stay over at the Sandusky home, sleeping in the basement, and attend Penn State football games with him. He would then initiate sexual encounters with the boys in the basement room, Penn State showers, and other athletic facilities, it said.
There are multiple links between the charity and Penn State. Sandusky was given full access to university facilities in his 1999 retirement agreement, and the presentment says a 1988 investigation of an alleged encounter between Sandusky and a boy in a football shower was reviewed with the knowledge of then-university counsel Wendell Courtney, who remains counsel for Second Mile.
After a graduate assistant reported seeing Sandusky assault a boy sexually in the football building showers in 2002, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley told the assistant the incident had been reported to Second Mile. Curley told the grand jury that he informed Raykovitz of the report and told Sandusky he was prohibited from bringing youths onto campus.
Raykovitz was a youth counselor in the State College Area School District from 1980 through 1983, when he began to work for Second Mile. He received his Ph.D. from Penn State in 1985 and became a licensed psychologist in 1987.
David Johnson, Sandusky's high school football coach, said Sandusky occasionally came home to Washington, including in recent years when his father and mother died.
He said he had "all the respect in the world" for Sandusky and did not know what to make of the charges against him.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's not true until I see more evidence," Johnson said.