Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno spoke out Monday against bullying after learning that one of the victims of Jerry Sandusky's alleged sex abuse recently dropped out of his high school because of harassment and scorn.
The victim's mother, whose allegations against Sandusky set off the investigation that culminated in the former assistant coach being charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse, said that her son was forced to transfer high schools because the students blame him for setting off the firestorm that resulted in the firing of Paterno.
"Coach Paterno strongly condemns harassment or bullying of any kind and he asks anyone who truly cares about Penn State to conduct themselves honorably and with respect for others," Paterno's attorney J. Sedgwick Sollers told ABC News.
Psychologist Michael Gillum, who has been counseling the young man since he first came forward with the abuse allegations three years ago, told ABC's Good Morning America that bullying is often a concern for victims when they decide to go public about abuse.
"You wonder what kind of push-back or what kind of reaction and how far that reaction might go in terms of people in the community," he said. "Will people threaten you? How hostile will things become?"
Although Sandusky's defense team is preparing to disprove the victim's claims because his story has evolved and changed over the years, Gillum said it is not uncommon for victims to withhold information or change their stories until they feel they can fully come to terms with what has happened.
"The level of humiliation, the level of insight into how deviant what's occurred is, means that they're not going to reveal that until they really feel comfortable," he said. "And that may take months, that might take a year or two."
The scandal has rocked Penn State University since it broke earlier this month, costing many administrators their jobs after it was discovered that there had been earlier allegations of abuse, but no action was taken against Sandusky to stop it.
Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz resigned shortly after learning they would face perjury charges for lying to a grand jury and not involving police after various witnesses brought it to their attention that Sandusky was abusing boys.
Paterno, who had planned to retire at the end of the football season, was fired even though he fulfilled a legal obligation to tell his superiors about the allegations after they had been brought to his attention by then graduate assistant Mike McQueary.
McQueary, now a receivers coach, told Paterno he witnessed Sandusky raping a young boy in the school showers. He has been placed on an indefinite paid administrative leave.