With convicted serial child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky behind bars, new questions are surfacing about what Penn State officials knew about a 2001 incident involving the former assistant football coach's encounter with a boy in the shower -- and whether they covered up the incident.
Sandusky sexually abused other boys in the years after the 2001 incident and before his arrest.
CNN does not have the purported e-mails. However, the alleged contents were read to CNN.
The messages indicate former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two other former university officials knew they had a problem with Sandusky after a 2001 shower incident, but apparently first decided to handle it using a "humane" approach before contacting outside authorities whose job it is to investigate suspected abuse.
"This is a more humane and upfront way to handle this,' Gary Schultz, who was a university vice president at the time, allegedly wrote.
Records show no authorities were ever contacted and Sandusky was eventually charged with having sexual contact with four more boys after the 2001 incident. On June 22, Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 boys over 15 years.
In an exchange of messages from February 26 to February 28, 2001, Spanier allegedly acknowledges Penn State could be "vulnerable" for not reporting the incident, according to two sources with knowledge of the case.
"The only downside for us is if the message (to Sandusky) isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it," Spanier purportedly writes.
The alleged e-mails among Spanier, Schultz, 62, and former Athletic Director Tim Curley, 57, never mention Sandusky by name, instead referring to him as "the subject" and "the person." Children that Sandusky brought on campus --some of whom might have been victims -- are referred to as "guests."
The purported exchanges began 16 days after graduate assistant Mike McQueary first told Head Coach Joe Paterno on February 9, 2001, that McQueary believed he saw Sandusky make sexual contact with a boy in a locker room shower.
Since the scandal broke, Schultz and Curley have publicly maintained McQueary reported only inappropriate conduct -- horsing around. The purported e-mails indicate the men could be at additional risk for not disclosing the matter to authorities. Schultz and Curley are currently charged with perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury and failing to report suspected child abuse. They have pleaded not guilty.
Paterno testified before a grand jury that McQueary was "very upset" and said he saw Sandusky "doing something with a youngster. It was a sexual nature," according to a transcript. Paterno testified he told his boss, Curley. Curley and Schultz contacted McQueary about a week and half later about the incident.
In an alleged e-mail dated February 26, 2001, Schultz writes to Curley that he assumes Curley's "got the ball" about a three-part plan to "talk with the subject asap regarding the future appropriate use of the University facility," ... "contacting the chair of the charitable organization" and "contacting the Department of Welfare," according to a source with knowledge of the case.
(The "subject" is Sandusky and his Second Mile charity is the "charitable organization," according to a source with knowledge of the e-mails. Pennsylvania law requires suspected child abuse be reported to outside authorities, including the state's child welfare agencies).
But then, something changes.
The next evening, February 27, Curley allegedly writes to Spanier; Schultz, who's out of the office for two weeks, is copied.
Curley refers to a meeting scheduled that day with Spanier and indicates they apparently discussed the Sandusky incident two days earlier.
Curley indicates he no longer wants to contact child welfare authorities just yet. He refers to a conversation the day before with Paterno. It's not known what Paterno may have said to Curley.
Curley allegedly writes: "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps."
The athletic director apparently preferred to keep the situation an internal affair and talk things over with Sandusky instead of notifying the state's child welfare agency.
"I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved," Curley allegedly continues.
Curley writes he'd be "more comfortable" meeting with Sandusky himself and telling him they know about the 2001 incident and, according to a source with knowledge of the case, he refers to another shower incident with a boy in 1998 that was investigated by police but never resulted in charges against Sandusky.
Curley purportedly writes to Spanier, saying he wants to meet with Sandusky, tell him there's "a problem," and that "we want to assist the individual to get professional help."
In the same purported e-mail provided to CNN, Curley goes on to suggest that if Sandusky "is cooperative," Penn State "would work with him" to tell Second Mile. If not, Curley states, the university will inform both Second Mile and outside authorities.
Curley adds that he intends to inform Sandusky that his "guests" won't be allowed to use Penn State facilities anymore.