The tentacles of the PSU scandal keep reaching out, far from State College. Yesterday Mayor Luke Ravenstahl asked Franco Harris -- a friend of fired coach Joe Paterno's -- to step down from the board of the Pittsburgh Promise college scholarship program, but the program's director and Harris himself are refusing the mayor's request. Harris's son Dok ran against Ravenstahl for mayor in 2009.
"I had to re-read it several times to fully comprehend the callous disregard and indifference for the victims of sexual abuse at Penn State," Mr. Ravenstahl stated in the email.
"To so adamantly and vocally defend one man while maintaining silence for those powerless to defend themselves, shows me that you are the wrong man to represent the Pittsburgh Promise and the ideals it embodies.
Saleem Ghubril, the executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, said Mr. Harris is a "dedicated and respected" leader of the scholarship program.
Mr. Harris, who played football at Penn State under Joe Paterno decades ago, said Penn State was wrong to fire the famed coach because Mr. Paterno did what he was legally required to do in 2002 by informing a superior about allegations that an assistant coach had sexually assaulted a boy in a campus shower.
Mr. Harris issued a statement later today, saying he was greatly saddened that his personal opinions about a friend and mentor had been interpreted as a disregard for the victims of the alleged abuse.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "My heart aches for those young people and their families who were violated in the deplorable events at Penn State.