Tyler Perry Calls Boy in Penn St Case 'Hero,' Offers Support as Victim

December 1, 2011 - 8:00 AM
People Tyler Perry

FILE - In this April 19, 2011 file photo, Tyler Perry arrives at the premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" in Los Angeles. Perry was honored, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, with the Chairman's Award by Al Sharpton's National Action Network. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, file)

Philadelphia (AP) — Filmmaker Tyler Perry is expressing his support for an alleged victim in the Penn State child sex-abuse case, calling him a hero for coming forward.

The producer and director, who went public last year with his own story of childhood molestation, made his comments in an open letter published Monday by Newsweek.

It is addressed to a boy who was 11 when he reported alleged sexual abuse by former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. Authorities arrested Sandusky on Nov. 5 and charged him with molesting eight boys over 15 years. Sandusky says he is innocent.

"Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down?" Perry wrote. "All of the ones who didn't go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods."

Two Penn State administrators have been charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to report a 2002 allegation against Sandusky to authorities. Football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were ousted following criticism they should have done more after learning of the accusation.

Perry said he didn't have the courage to speak up when he was 11. When he finally did tell a family member about his own abuse, Perry said, the relative did not believe him.

"I suffered in silence," he wrote. "But not you, my young strong hero, you have done what many of us wish we could have done. You used your voice!"

Perry later added: "No matter what happens next, just know that the hardest part is over."