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The Second Mile, charity founded by Jerry Sandusky, will dissolve

May 25, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • FILE - This March 26, 2012 file photo shows the sign outside the State College, Pa. office of The Second Mile. The charity for troubled youths started by Jerry Sandusky more than three decades ago said Friday, May 25, 2012, it is seeking court approval to shut down and transfer its programs.
FILE - This March 26, 2012 file photo shows the sign outside the State College,… (AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar )

The Second Mile -- the charity founded by a former Penn State football coach who has been charged with sexually abusing children -- is seeking to transfer its program to a Texas-based ministry because it's having difficulty operating and raising funds.

The organization, founded by former coach Jerry Sandusky, announced on Friday that it wants to transfer its programs and about $2 million in cash and other assets to Arrow Child & Family Ministries Inc., a Houston nonprofit. Like the Second Mile, Arrow helps at-risk children and their families.

Second Mile submitted a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Orphans' Court Division, outlining the proposed transfer of programs and dissolution of local charity.

“Over the past several months, representatives of The Second Mile, based in State College, have been in discussions with parents, school partners and donors to determine what steps should be taken after criminal charges were announced against founder Gerald Sandusky,” the charity said in a statement on its website. “The board learned that there is overwhelming support for the programs, but that there would not be adequate support, including financial, from donors, volunteers and referring social service agencies to continue The Second Mile as its own entity.”

Court action could last several months, Second Mile said. The charity said it would be a legal entity even after it dissolves and will continue to “cooperate fully with any investigations.”

“The Second Mile has made a positive difference in many peoples' lives, and we are very pleased that Arrow will continue this good work,” interim chief executive David Woodle said in the statement. “Arrow's mission is consistent with the goals and objectives of The Second Mile's programs. While we are sad that The Second Mile will not continue running programs, we are heartened that the important work of helping children – and their families – reach their full potential will go on.”

The announcement of the impending dissolution of the charity has been expected ever since the child sex-abuse scandal rocked the Penn State area. Sandusky, a former assistant coach, is charged with more than 50 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 children, including clients of Second Mile.

Some of the abuse is alleged to have occurred at Penn State, where Sandusky was seen showering with a boy. Though the former coach has insisted that nothing improper took place in the shower, the incident eventually cost revered head football coach Joe Paterno his job; the university president was fired from the top post for failing to contact police. Two other university officials also face criminal charges in connection with the scandal.

The charity has been attempting to deal with the diminishing support by considering restructuring into a smaller organization, but eventually decided to go with Arrow after talking to more than 15 organizations. Arrow currently operates in Pennsylvania.

“Our priority is to ensure children continue to be served by these programs,” Mark Tennant, founder and chief executive of Arrow Child & Family Ministries, said in a prepared statement. “We were shocked and saddened by the events that led us here, but we are committed to the future of these children and their families and look forward to building on the outstanding work done by so many individuals who have been a part of The Second Mile over the years.”

Tennant said he was born and raised in Pennsylvania and was physically and sexually abused as a child.

“I grew up not far from Penn State and the hurt created by these shocking circumstances affected me personally. I felt the need to turn my heart home and be a part of the healing process,” Tennant said in a statement on the Arrow website.

According to the group, Arrow works with abused and neglected children and has expanded to Maryland, California, Honduras and Altoona, Pa., where Tennant’s extended foster family still lives.

Arrow Child & Family Ministries currently has 382 employees and, since its formation in 1992, has served approximately 40,000 children and families.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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