Prosecutors are trying to assess whether the school’s handling of Mr. Parker suggests a broader pattern of inaction by the athletic department when it came to complaints of sexual misconduct, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation who are not authorized to discuss it publicly.
A lawyer for Mr. Curley declined to comment on the Parker case, saying that education law prohibits the release of information about students and that questions should be directed to Penn State.
Mr. Parker has no direct connection to the criminal case against the university officials and he faces no legal problems. He has consistently said that the rape accusation, in which he and a friend were accused of assaulting a drunken woman, was false, and that the encounter was consensual. And he said through his lawyer that he was never told of any exposure complaint, and that no such incident had occurred.
“This is the first Mr. Parker has ever heard of this,” David J. Matlof, his lawyer, said in an email. “He recognizes the seriousness of the issue, but this claim is completely untrue.”
But in recent weeks, investigators from the attorney general’s office have questioned the woman, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the matter. They have also talked to the former Penn State wrestling coach, Troy Sunderland, and Robert Krimmel, a former assistant athletic director at the school.
Mr. Krimmel said in a recent interview that the investigator was largely concerned with how Penn State had handled Mr. Parker in relation to the rape case. But the investigator had asked, Mr. Krimmel said, about the exposure complaint, which Mr. Krimmel said that he did not remember.
Others, though, including Mr. Sunderland, and a State College police detective, have said in interviews or statements that they remember the complaint.
It is unclear whether the material being collected about Mr. Parker’s time at Penn State will be introduced at the coming trial, expected to begin next year. The three administrators are charged with failing to report sexual abuse by Mr. Sandusky, who was convicted of molesting 10 young boys. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office declined to comment on its investigation.
Though the reporting requirements for universities regarding acts of sexual misconduct are more comprehensive today, even in 2000, schools were on notice that they had to provide all students with a safe environment under Title IX, the federal law that mandates gender equity in education, according to some legal experts.
“Just because the person to whom he allegedly exposed himself didn’t report it to the police doesn’t matter at all,” said Diane Rosenfeld, director of the gender violence program at Harvard Law School. “It doesn’t relieve the school of its responsibilities.”
Mr. Parker was eventually kicked off the wrestling squad for team infractions in February 2001. That fall, while still awaiting trial, he was able to transfer to the University of Oklahoma. After wrestling there, he was removed from that team for head-butting an opponent. Officials at Oklahoma said that they did not believe the university was aware of Mr. Parker’s pending rape case when they admitted him.
As for Penn State, officials there said they could not discuss their disciplinary process because of student confidentiality rules. But the university said in a statement that “our clear expectations today are that an incident such as a student-athlete exposing himself to a student trainer must be reported and investigated.”
When Mr. Parker was charged with rape in 1999, the university did suspend him from the team for a year. But in a lawsuit his accuser later filed against the university, she said that he had then harassed her, showing up, for example, one day outside her dormitory despite a university directive that they stay away from one another. Mr. Parker denied the harassment. The woman later settled her 2002 lawsuit with the university and received a payment of $17,500.
Though Mr. Parker was cited for violating the directive, officials eventually returned him to the wrestling team by the fall of 2000. That November, the student trainer said in an interview with the Times, Mr. Parker exposed himself to her. She said he had been “zeroing in” on her for awhile, paying her enough unwanted attention that she had asked her boyfriend to walk her home at night.
Then one day in a training room while she was giving him a routine back treatment, she said that Mr. Parker turned around to face her. He said that he wanted to show her something, she said, then slid his pants down, exposing the top half of his penis.
“I was shaken,” the woman said. “I was crying.”
She reported the incident to the team’s assistant athletic trainer, Dan Monthley, who said in an interview that he wanted to help her because she “deserved respect.” Mr. Sunderland, then the wrestling coach, said in a statement that Mr. Monthley had approached him, but he had asked Mr. Monthley to forward the complaint directly to their athletic department supervisors because he already had a strained relationship with Mr. Parker.
The student trainer said she then met with Mr. Curley and other athletic officials. They encouraged her to report it to the police, she said. But she decided not to pursue it further, she said, because she feared the impact that such a move might have on her college experience. She is not being identified because she is the possible victim of sexual misconduct.
“It was my decision not to report,” she said.
That meeting appears to have been the end of the issue for Penn State. Mr. Parker continued wrestling for several more months until February 2001, when he was removed from the team for what the university described only as violating team rules. Chris Weaver, the State College detective who led the investigation into the rape charge, said that he did not learn about the exposure accusation until almost a year later, in the fall of 2001.
He said that earlier that spring, he had asked the university about the circumstances of Mr. Parker’s leaving the team, because Mr. Parker was still facing trial. Detective Weaver said that Mr. Krimmel, the assistant athletic director, did not mention the exposure accusation at that time.
Mr. Krimmel said that he does not recall such a conversation with Detective Weaver.
Baine Kerr, a lawyer in Boulder, Colo., who specializes in Title IX law, said that Penn State should have done more to review the exposure complaint, even if the trainer did not want to pursue criminal charges.
“The fact that she’s an athletic trainer escalates the obligations of the school, I think,” he said, “because they’re so vulnerable to the male athletes they’re constantly having to take care of.”