Senators pulling support for Paterno
Casey, Toomey had nominated coach for presidential medal.
U.S. senators from Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey (left) and Democrat Bob Casey. (Morning Call file photos)
U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey rescinded their Medal of Freedom nomination for Paterno in the wake of the child abuse scandal involving his former assistant coach.
U.S. House members who signed the nomination letter have not decided whether they too will take it back.
The award is considered the highest honor a civilian can receive. Toomey, Casey and U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, who represents State College, nominated Paterno in early September and the entire Pennsylvania delegation signed the letter.
"Coach Paterno over the years has shown tremendous character and loyalty," the lawmakers wrote to President Obama. "Throughout his time at Penn State, he has remained committed to reaching goals without sacrificing the ideals that are central to higher education."
Toomey and Casey released a joint statement Thursday afternoon.
"We hope the proper authorities will move forward with their investigation without delay," they said. "We should turn our attention to the victims of these atrocious crimes and ensure they get the help they need. Our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families."
Thompson said he's waiting to afford each House member who signed the letter the chance to decide whether to rescind before he does so.
"This isn't about Joe Paterno's nomination, it's about truth, accountability and never allowing for this to happen again," Thompson said. " My family and I will continue to keep the Penn State community, most especially all of those directly involved in these tragic events, in our thoughts and prayers."
Also Thursday, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced it would not be giving its top award for administrative excellence to Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, who has been accused of covering up the sexual abuse.
White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked about Paterno's firing at the daily White House briefing.
"We're not going to get into the decisions made by the university," Carney said, adding "the president's thoughts and prayers and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the abuse and the family members of those victims."