Jerry Sandusky regrets showers with boys at Penn State

Jerry Sandusky, former defence coach for Penn State's football team 5 November 2011 Jerry Sandusky is facing 40 criminal charges

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The former Penn State football coach at the centre of a child abuse inquiry that has shocked the US has admitted in an interview showering with young boys, but denies being a paedophile.

Jerry Sandusky told NBC News that he had "horsed around with kids", hugged them and touched their legs, but was innocent of the charges against him.

In a phone interview, he said he should not have showered with the children.

Mr Sandusky, 67, is accused of abusing at least eight boys over 15 years.

According to grand jury testimony, a witness saw him raping a boy as young as 10 in the Penn State showers in 2002.

'Sexually attracted?'

In an interview with NBC News' Rock Center programme broadcast on Monday night, Mr Sandusky said: "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."

When asked if he had done anything wrong, he said: "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."

Asked if he was a paedophile, he said: "No".

The former defensive co-ordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions was also asked if he felt sexual attraction to under-age boys.

"Sexually attracted?" Mr Sandusky said. "You know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."

In an interview with CNN on Monday evening, Mr Sandusky's lawyer, Joe Amendola, described his client as a "big overgrown kid" and said athletes have a culture of showering together.

Mr Amendola said his client had been "destroyed" by the charges - that bricks had been thrown through the windows of his home.

The lawyer added: "We have an answer for every allegation."

Mr Sandusky was formerly assistant to Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, who was fired last week amid criticism he did not do enough about the allegations.

On Monday, Mr Paterno's name was taken off the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy, also known as the Big Ten.

Meanwhile, the president of Mr Sandusky's charity for disadvantaged children resigned. Jack Raykovitz said he hoped his exit would help restore faith in the organisation.

Mr Sandusky - who was arrested a week ago - allegedly groomed victims through the Second Mile, which he founded in 1977.

He retired from Penn State in 1999, but continued to use the university's facilities for his work with the charity.

It emerged on Sunday that the judge who granted Mr Sandusky unsecured bail had donated to the charity and worked as a volunteer for the group.

State College District Judge Leslie Dutchcot did not immediately respond to questions about whether she would recuse herself from the case.

The Penn State scandal also claimed the job last week of the university's president, Graham Spanier.

Meanwhile, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice-president Gary Schultz deny charges they covered up the alleged abuse.

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