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Joe Paterno Statue Taken Down At Penn State

The Joe Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium at Penn State has been removed, an effort by the school to distance itself farther from the deceased coach who was named in an investigation to be among many school administrators who helped cover up Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse for years.

Workers lifted the statue off its base and used a forklift to move it into Beaver Stadium as up to 150 students watched and chanted, “We are Penn State.”

Construction vehicles and police arrived shortly after dawn Sunday, barricading the street and sidewalks near the statue, erecting a chain-link fence then concealing the statue with a blue tarp.

Penn State president Rod Erickson said he decided to have the statue removed and put into storage because it “has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”

“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,” Erickson said in a statement released at 7 a.m. Sunday.

He said Paterno’s name will remain on the campus library because it “symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University.”

The statue’s sculptor, Angelo Di Maria, said it was upsetting to hear that the statue had been taken down.

“It’s like a whole part of me is coming down. It’s just an incredibly emotional process,” Di Maria said.

“When things quiet down, if they do quiet down, I hope they don’t remove it permanently or destroy it,” he said. “His legacy should not be completely obliterated and thrown out. . .  He was a good man. It wasn’t that he was an evil person. He made a mistake.”

The bronze sculpture has been a rallying point for students and alumni outraged over Paterno’s firing four days after Sandusky’s Nov. 5 arrest — and grief-stricken over the Hall of Fame coach’s Jan. 22 death at age 85.

But it turned into a target for critics after former FBI Director Louis Freeh alleged a cover-up by Paterno, ousted President Graham Spanier and two Penn State officials, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz. Their failure to report Sandusky to child-welfare authorities in 2001 allowed him to continue molesting boys, the report found.

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