"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case," the long-time Penn State football coach said in a statement. "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief."
Paterno, who has been the school's head football coach for more than four decades, is in the last year of his contract. A legend on campus, his legacy has been tainted by the sex-abuse allegations against his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009. Philadelphia's Fox 29 News is reporting that the number of accusers may have risen to as many as 17 since the news broke Monday.
While Paterno apparently told the school's former athletic director about a 2002 incident in which Sandusky allegedly raped a 10-year-old boy in the showers at the school's athletic complex, he has been criticized for not following up or intervening further. A source told the AP that Sandusky maintained an office in the locker room for years and had access to the weight room as recently as last week.
"This is a tragedy," Paterno said in his statement. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
University trustees will appoint a special committee to investigate the scandal, including "what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure that this never happens at our university again," Reuters reports. The trustees are "outraged by the horrifying details contained in the grand jury report," they said in a statement.
Still, some students are standing by Paterno. ESPN reports that several hundred rallied outside his home Tuesday night and were thrilled when the coach emerged to greet them: