November 17th, 2011
01:45 PM ET
Millions of fans know Vince Gill as a country music superstar and 20-time Grammy winner, but the sexual abuse scandal involving Penn State has the artist reflecting on an incident from his past: He was a near-victim of sexual abuse as a preteen.
The 54-year-old singer-songwriter made the revelation to CNN and "Showbiz Tonight" before a show at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, California - a venue he last played 35 years ago as a fledgling artist. Gill was sharing stories about his new album, "Guitar Slinger," when talk turned to Penn State.
"It conjured up something that happened in my past when I was about that age, as a 12-year-old kid starting 7th grade," he confided. "There was unfortunately a gym teacher at our school that wound up being the same kind of thing...and there were some advances made towards me that were very awkward."
Gill says "nothing happened," but continues that when "it started to get weird, I had either the good fortune or the good luck to jump and run. I jumped up and ran. But I was so young I didn't know what to do, I didn't know much about sexuality, didn't know anything about all that stuff."
Gill believes the tools for handling such incidents are better now than when he was young.
"I grew up in the '60s. We didn't know about therapy, we didn't know about inappropriateness, we didn't know any of that stuff. We just figured it out in the sandlot, fought it out on the playground, or whatever the hell you did. And I turned out fine, I don't need therapy, I'm not nuts."
Gill concedes he was lucky.
"Nothing happened, but it could have been a lot worse and my situation could have been a lot different. But there's just no telling how often this goes on and nobody knows."
He says keeping an open dialogue between parents and children is key.
"I have a 10-year-old kid now, so it's all of a sudden red flag, red flag, red flag, red flag. I just want to go to her and say, 'Please! Tell me anything that makes you feel awkward or weird that anybody says or does.'"
While he's careful not to jump to any conclusions in the Penn State case, the father of three daughters says anyone who takes advantage of children is "just beyond evil."
"There are a lot of people unfortunately preying on kids," he says, "and it doesn't get any sicker than that."
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