tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 12, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PST
just unroll, add ingredients, roll and bake. and the crowd goes wild. crescent bacon cheddar pinwheels. game day ideas made easy. game day at a school rocked by scandal as shell-shocked penn state nation bows its head in silence. state secrets. the growing investigation into who knew what when. plus so many conflicting state laws about reporting sexual abuse. forced out. silvio berlusconi steps down in italy as cheering crowds take to the streets. our own richard engle is there. debate night in south carolina. the first showdown since rick perry's awkward moment as newt gingrich soars in the polls and rescue mission.
tonight inside the daring operation to save a kidnapped tonight inside the daring operation to save a kidnapped baseball star. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. on a fall saturday afternoon in state college, pennsylvania, there's usually nothing more important than penn state football. but the sea of blue that filled the stadium stands today worn by fans in solidarity with the victims of sexual abuse said it all as the legendary nittany lions lost their first game in 46 years without coach joe paterno. today was penn state's first home game since the sickening allegations of child sexual abuse by former defensive coordinator jerry sandusky. and accusations of coverup against those who should have known better, costing coach paterno among others their jobs. 17-14 loss to nebraska was played against a backdrop of security threats, recrimination and bewildering disappointment as the scope of the scandal threatens to widen.
nbc's ron mott leads our coverage from state college tonight. ron, good evening. >> reporter: lester, good evening to you. another coach who wasn't here is an assistant coach mike mcqueary who told a grand jury about being a young boy being sexually assaulted in a campus shower stall back in 2002. but the shame and outrage his testimony produced was clearly here today. game today at beaver stadium afforded the usual staples. burgers sizzling on the grill. painted faces. that all-familiar chant. but there were also strange new sights and sounds added to the rituals. donation buckets for victims of child abuse. a call to silence in their honor. the battle charge turned somber walk minus joe paterno, whose replacement instead greeting the head opponents. >> he's been the heart of penn state my entire life.
and i just have a heart for him. >> reporter: paterno was on the turf. son jay, the quarterback's coach. white outside his father's home people left notes of goodwill. back at the stadium, tightened security to prevent a repeat of wednesday night's violence. on tv today, penn state's new president. >> and we will rebuild the trust, honor and pride that have endured for generations. >> reporter: even president obama weighed in last night, challenging others to also look within. >> i think it's a good time for to us do some soul searching. every institution, not just penn state. about what our priorities are. and making sure that we understand that our first priority is protecting our kids. >> reporter: as penn state continues absorbing the shock of a child abuse investigation, the faithful donned blue, both for their team and in support of those victimized by sex trauma. many former penn state players returned todayed to show their support for joe paterno and the football program but also they say to express deep concern about the allegations that were uncovered here.
>> hopefully by bringing awareness to what has happened, what has occurred, we can prevent this from happening ever again. >> reporter: the home team fought to come back, they fell short by three points. afterwards, reflections went beyond a lost game. jay paterno on espn. >> dad, i wish you were here. we love you. >> reporter: and while victory escaped penn state on the field, the throngs who cheered in defeat hope their biggest win is yet to come, the one they're tackling right now off the field. late this afternoon, another campus vigil was held. they're trying to keep this attention on these alleged victims. meantime tonight, fans have gathered outside joe paterno's home. they're hoping he will come out to be saluted one more time. lester? >> ron, thanks. the man at the center of this scandal, former defensive coordinator jerry sandusky is accused of molesting eight boys
over a 15-year period. however, the investigators are digging deeper tonight into his contacts with other children. nbc's national investigative correspondent michael isakoff has the latest. >> reporter: investigators tell nbc news they are vigorously pursuing new leads about other possible victims of alleged sex offender jerry sandusky. sandusky has denied all charges and is free on $100,000 bail. he has even reportedly been spotted at the local mall wearing a penn state sweatshirt. >> i'm furious. it's the fact that what he has done and now he can walk the streets, sleep in his own bed, spend time with his family. >> reporter: patty coble quit this week as a volunteer for the chart sandusky founded, the second mile, where he met all of his alleged victims. >> you sit back and think about it now. it's disgusting. >> reporter: there are now four ongoing investigations into this
scandal. the pennsylvania state police, penn state university, san antonio police who are investigating reports that sandusky molested a boy he took to the alamo bowl in 1999. and the u.s. department of education, trying to determine whether penn state officials broke a federal law by failing to properly report suspected sex crimes on campus. >> the fact that this was allowed to go on for so long is mind boggling to me. >> reporter: and there's also the threat of civil lawsuits that could result in millions of dollars in damages. >> i think there's no doubt about it. they're going to get whacked. it's likely we'll see dozens of victims potentially filing suit. >> reporter: tonight there are growing concerns about what those potential lawsuits could cost penn state university, which is already covering the legal costs of two former top officials charged in the case. a credit rating agency is reviewing penn state's bond rating because of the risk of civil liabilities and the damage
to its reputation. michael isakoff, nbc news, state college, pennsylvania. >> and a program note. tomorrow morning on "meet the press "more of the penn state scandal, pennsylvania governor tom corbett will be among david gregory's guests. the prime minister of italy silvio berlusconi is out, handing in his resignation late today to that country's president. after years of scandal it was ultimately an economic crisis that brought him down. our chief correspondent richard engle is in rome tonight. >> reporter: buffoon, crowds shouted tonight in front of the presidential palace in rome. and mafioso. the demonstrators hope their insults would reach inside the palace as silvio berlusconi
handed in his resignation. when word came that deed was done and berlusconi was out they sang, danced, and toasted the end of the political career of a man many considered an embarrassment. >> reporter: berlusconi has just stepped down as italy's prime minister. and tonight thousands are saying good riddance. >> we're happy because we want a leader who is serious, who represents us. >> reporter: berlusconi was brought down by italy's economic crisis, not his many scandals or boonga sex parties as he called them. in rome, earlier today, "hallelujah" one woman said. finally we got rid of him, agreed this man. for years berlusconi, a media tycoon worth $9 billion, seemed untouchable. he's been in court 2,500 times
by his own count, accused of attempting to bribe a judge, corruption and abuse of power. there was ruby, the dancer he allegedly had sex with when she was only 17. berlusconi laughed it off, and ruby became a celebrity. many italians shrugged off the scandal. but they could not tolerate when international creditors lost faith in italy's economy and its leaders. so today italy passed its own tough austerity measures with more to come. and berlusconi was forced out. protestors are now in front of berlusconi's home, trying to make sure he does not get any sleep tonight. the new prime minister here is widely expected to be mario monti, a respected economist and university professor, somebody most people consider serious, even understated. >> richard engle in rome tonight. richard, thanks.
in a surprise symbolic move, the arab league voted today to suspend syria, warning the regime of because sure al assad end the bloody crackdown on protestors or face tough sanctions. the president praised the move making those comments at the economic summit in hawaii where he announced the outline of an agreement to create a transpacific trade zone. he said that zone would increase american exports and help create jobs. meantime the republican candidates for president are gearing up for tonight's presidential debate in south carolina. the first showdown since rick perry's embarrassing memory loss moment. and newt gingrich's sudden rise in the polls. nbc's viqueira has our report. >> reporter: rick perry's wife, anita, going door-to-door today in south carolina where her husband's big debate mistake has hit home. >> thank you. thank you. >> let's see. i can't. the third one i can't. oops.
>> reporter: after his now famous brain freeze in wednesday's debate. perry gets another try tonight when the gop field meets in spartansburg, this time to talk foreign policy. as perry falls, a familiar face has new momentum. newt gingrich places second in two major polls out this weekend. this after a rough summer that saw his campaign in debt, key staffers walk out, and a controversy over a charge account of up to $1 million at tiffany's. >>. [ inaudible ] >> reporter: the gingrich rise has come in part at the expense of herman cain. >> when people say are you doing this because you want to be rich and famous? no. i was on my way to cruise control. >> reporter: though still among the front runners, cain's support among women and the tea party is slipping amid allegations of sexual harassment.
staying above the frey, mitt romney. steady in the polls but unable to break out from the pack. and still facing doubts from the party's conservative base. >> the more chaos there is in the republican primary field, the better it is for mitt romney. the last thing the romney campaign wants is for a bunch of these candidates to start dropping out, which would mean the romney alternative, whoever that person is, is able to emerge. >> reporter: and lester, there's been a bit of predebate trash talk in south carolina today, mostly aimed at frontrunner mitt romney. herman cain says he would not serve as mitt romney's vice-president if he asked because he doesn't like his economic plan. newt gingrich told a crowd of supporters, if you want someone to manage d.c. mitt romney is your man. if you really want change to come to washington, newt gingrich says he's the man for the job. >> mike, thank you. now to the daring mission to rescue a major league baseball star kidnaped south america.
tonight washington's catcher wilson ramos is back safe with his family after a late-night gun battle in the mountains of venezuela. >> reporter: wilson ramos was greeted with hugs and tears after 50 harrowing hours of captivity. military commandos rescued ramos friday night in a dramatic gun battle with his alleged kidnappers. all six were captured alive. the 24-year-old catcher had just finished his rookie season with the washington nationals and was home for the winter baseball season in his native venezuela, a country crazy about baseball but terrorized by violent crime. ramos was grabbed at gunpoint from the front porch of his parents' home. the getaway vehicle was later found burned in a neighboring town. the kidnappers never made any public demands. ramos says they never physically harmed him. but psychologically he says they did. he said he's still nervous in his ordeal.
u.s. security experts say he and others in venezuela have good reason to be. >> it is becoming rapidly an unlivable country. can you imagine living under that fear all the time of crime? this is the way everybody lives. >> reporter: experts say ramos is just one of hundreds of people kidnaped in venezuela this year. his fame and wealth from playing baseball in the u.s. made him a target. >> these are in essence high value targets. these are individuals with a lot of money. they are easily accessible. >> reporter: ramos told a reporter from mlb.com his dramatic rescue lasted about 15 minutes. "there was a gun fight. i was under the bed. i was so afraid. all of a sudden i hear the police calling my name. wilson. wilson. i answered, i'm here i'm here. they got me off the floor and got me back home. i am so grateful". so too are his fans who celebrated in his hometown. the country's information minister says with the rescue of wilson ramos, police hit a
tremendous home run. charles hadlock, nbc news, miami. when nightly news continues, calls for changes in reporting sexual abuse in pennsylvania and beyond. and later, the emotional toll on the people who call penn state home. abuse and beyond. and the emotional toll on people who call penn state home. g small on small business saturday. one purchase. one purchase is all it takes. so, pick your favorite local business... and join the movement. i pledge to shop small at big top candy shop. allen's boots... at juno baby store. make the pledge to shop small. please. shop small on small business saturday.
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there are some states where witnesses are not required to alert authorities about what they've seen. and that is prompting calls for some tougher laws. we get our report from justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: whatever moral obligation penn state coaches had when they heard about children abused on the campus, state officials say joe paterno appears to have complied with the legal requirements when he told the school's athletic director what what he had herd about former coach jerry sandusky and a young boy. that's because pennsylvania's law does not require teachers or coaches to report suspected child abuse directly to local authorities. instead it says school employees "shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution who in turn must notify authorities". a member of the pennsylvania legislature wants that loophole closed immediately. >> my bill will mandate that those who witness sexual abuse or suspect that sexual abuse is occurring must report it to the police if they are coaches, teachers, or medical
professionals. >> reporter: pennsylvania is not alone. five other states, georgia, massachusetts, missouri, south dakota and virginia, have similar laws requiring school personnel to report suspected abuse only to an administrator, not directly to the police. >> if my bill had been on the books then you would have seen more reports to the police. that's a greater likelihood that sandusky would have been stopped a long time ago. >> reporter: in two-thirds of the states, only certain adults have any legal duty at all to report suspected child abuse. that includes doctors, teachers, members of the clergy, daycare staffers, people who work with children. but some advocates for child safety say laws in those states should be tightened up to impose that requirement on all adults. >> we believe that everybody who witnesses or even suspects abuse or neglect should report it. and we believe that that reporting should go to the child protective service agency in that particular state. >> reporter: making it more likely, they say, that abuse will not be covered up even though tougher laws cannot
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limestone pinnacles broke off during the 5.8 quake which also damaged the nearby washington monument. safety remain in place until all repairs are complete for the first time since japan's earthquake and tsunami back in march members of a news media were allowed inside the crippled nuclear power plant today. dozens of journalists put on protective hazmat suits and respirator masks in order to get an up close view of the damage. up next here tonight, is it the end of innocence in a place they call happy valley? over the south pacific in 1943. vietnam, 1967. i got mine in iraq, 2003. u.s.a.a. auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation, because it offers a superior level of protection and because u.s.a.a.'s commitment to serve the military, veterans, and their families is without equal. begin your legacy. get an auto insurance quote. u.s.a.a. we know what it means to serve.
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and join the movement. i pledge to shop small at big top candy shop. allen's boots... at juno baby store. make the pledge to shop small. please. shop small on small business saturday. finally tonight, the sex abuse scandal that has rocked penn state has also shaken one of its most enduring institutions, football. but the penn state nation has some call it is more than sports. it is a deeply-engrained tradition that spans across generations but one that may never again be quite the same. here's nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: with all the
rituals here, the marching band parading through the streets, the nittany lions' heroic pre-game arrival, there was something comfortably familiar about this fall saturday, even if everything had changed. >> it does get into your blood. >> reporter: that's why tens of thousands of penn state fans returned to beaver stadium today, still stunned by the horrific allegations of child sexual abuse but here to show their love and loyalty to the blue and white they so revere. after a week of turmoil, game day offered state college a sorely-needed distraction. >> i think that is one of the things that kind of helps us like stay together. couldn't have come a better timing for the football game. >> reporter: ron watson class of '73 has only missed a single home game in the last 14 years. >> it's not the building. it's really not the individual
people. it's everything. >> the community. >> the community. it just becomes branding you. >> reporter: this week here in an area known as happy valley, fans have been overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. from anger following the firing of their legendary coach joe paterno who commanded this program since lbj was in office. to empathy for the victims. 10,000 gathering for a candlelight vigil. >> it's the end of innocence. it's the end of camelot. this is camelot. >> reporter: penn state football has long celebrated success with honor. but now this campus is in mourning as one fan described it it's like losing your favorite uncle. this community that pro claims "we are penn state" today trying to recapture its proud identity. peter alexander, nbc news, state college, pennsylvania. >> and that's nbc nightly news
for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" then right back here tomorrow evening. "today" then right back here tomorrow evening. good night. captions paid for by nbc-universal television at bank of america, we're lending and investing in the people and communities who call the bay area home. from funding that helped a local entrepreneur start a business... to providing grants to a nonprofit which offers job training and placement...