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For the first time since his firing and the subsequent charges of child sex abuse against ex-defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno has spoken out.

Telling Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post that he’s “shocked and saddened” by what has become of his former football program, the iconic coach admitted he “didn’t know which way to go” after he was informed Sandusky had been caught engaging in appropriate behavior with a child in the shower.

Asked what coach Mike McQueary told him about the 2002 incident – in which the assistant swore to the grand jury that he heard “slapping” sounds emanating from the shower and then witnessed Sandusky seeming to anal raping a young boy – told him 10 years ago, Paterno said:

Philadelphia Eagles Helmet

“He didn’t want to get specific. And to be frank with you I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best. I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it.”

After six decadees of coaching the football team, Paterno was fired by the Board of Trustees over the phone, an action wife Sue still finds inappropriate.

“After 61 years he deserved better,” Sue Paterno said. “He deserved better.”

Paterno is now 85 and has been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer. He isn’t sure what to do with his life, but concludes:

You know, I’m not as concerned about me. What’s happened to me has been great. I got five great kids. Seventeen great grandchildren. I’ve had a wonderful experience here at Penn State. I don’t want to walk away from this thing bitter. I want to be helpful.”