The former Penn State assistant football coach at the heart of a massive sex scandal said he showered with young boys and hugged them but called the allegedly criminal contact "horseplay."
Jerry Sandusky told NBC News' "Rock Center" on Monday night that he was not a pedophile but, in retrospect, should not have showered with the boys he's charged with sexually assaulting.
In an interview with Bob Costas, Sandusky, once considered the heir apparent to coaching legend Joe Paterno, proclaimed his innocence in the face of a series of startling allegations detailed in a grand jury report issued last week.
"I am innocent of those charges," Sandusky said. "... I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."
Sandusky is accused of sexually assaulting eight boys over a 15-year span, with some of the alleged crimes happening at Penn State, where he had access to campus as an emeritus professor following his 1999 retirement as Paterno's top defensive assistant.
Asked whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys, he said "sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."
Asked if there was anything he had done wrong, Sandusky said, "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
When pressed about how two people could claim to have witnessed Sandusky engaged in sexual contact with boys on two different occasions, Sandusky replied that "you'd have to ask" them.
The scandal has hit hard the community called Happy Valley, where "success with honor" is the motto. Paterno and University President Graham Spanier have lost their jobs and Athletic Director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz face perjury charges.
The interview with Costas was Sandusky's first public comment on the charges. He had previously maintained his innocence through his attorney, Joe Amendola.