Joe Paterno : Is he the victim of a lynch mob mentality, or does he truly deserve to go?

It’s a sad day indeed when one of the very, very greatest icons of American sport, 84 year old Joe Paterno, renowned not only as the winningest coach of all time but also honored for running one the cleanest programs of the country, looks likely to be forced into retirement if not worse by the news that Jerry Sandusky, his assistant of more than 30 years and for many years his heir apparent as Penn State’s head coach, is a serial child molester and Paterno knew about it, and fell short of expectations in his handling of it.

The media’s version of Paterno’s involvement has been explained thusly: In March 2002 graduate assistant Mike McQueary (now the wide receivers coach at Penn State) came to Paterno and told him that he he had witnessed what Paterno would later refer to “fondling or something inappropriate” between Sandusky and a 10 year old boy, at 9:30pm in the football shower room. Paterno reported this to athletic director Tim Curley the next day. Paterno’s involvement in the episode ends there, and the state attorney general has asserted that he is not a target of the investigation, while Curley and Senior Vice President Tim Shultz have been arraigned on charges that they failed to follow Pennsylvania law by not reporting the incident to law enforcement authorities, and lied to a grand jury investigating the matter. While authorities state unequivocally that Paterno is not a target; they will not rule out Penn State University President Graham Spanier. “Joe Paterno was a witness who cooperated and testified before the grand jury,” said Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office. “He’s not a suspect.”

Against this backdrop, the calls for Paterno’s immediate resignation have been loud and aggressive, and relatively few voices have been raised in his defense. Why is that? Is the case so clearcut that decisions can be reached based on initial press reports without delving more deeply into the facts, which are complicated and unfolding?

The argument being put forward is not that Paterno broke the law — no one is saying that. But they are saying, in essence, that even if he reported the matter to the athletic director, his supervisor, that this wasn’t enough — that he should have pursued this matter to ensure that police reports were filed, that justice was served, and that the victim was protected.  Paterno, the argument goes, may have technically been subordinate to the athletic director but no one doubts that when it comes to clout, Paterno was “the man” at Penn State and he should not be allowed to claim he followed the “chain of command”.

In contemplating this on Monday, the day it all started coming out, I was genuinely troubled not only by the news, but by my own reaction to it. Was my instinctive reaction — which I would characterize as — “wait a minute, let’s see what the whole story is” — evidence that in some fashion I am in denial about the heinousness of the crime? Or, on the other hand, is “let’s wait until all the facts are in” just a prudent and appropriate response. But if so — why are all these people so all-fired sure Paterno should go, and go now, without further due process?

As I reached the end of my workday a couple of hours ago I started trying to seriously dig through the press reports that are out there and try to find some answers to the questions that kept popping into my mind. What, exactly, did the graduate assistant McQueary report to Paterno? What, exactly, did Paterno report to Curley? What, exactly, are Paterno’s legal responsibilities? What happened after the report that would have either shown Paterno that actions were being taken consistent with the seriousness of the incident or, conversely, that it was being covered up?

To me it seemed wrong to be leaping to conclusions about Paterno without finding answers to most if not all of these questions — but the answers weren’t in the press reports.

I finally found a copy of the Grand Jury Presentment — all 23 pages of lurid detail — and there I began to find some answers. You can view a copy of the Grand Jury document here. sandusky-grand-jury-presentment.  This document is not for the fainthearted.  It presents in lurid detail actions by Sandusky that are beyond disgusting, carried out on numerous victims, multiple times, in spite of clear efforts by most of the boys to avoid being entrapped by Sandusky’s unwanted advances.

But the relevant part — or at least the part that I was most interested in — was the portion that dealt with Paterno’s involvement. I have reprinted that section (which runs to six pages) in its entirety at the end of this post so you can read it for yourself — meanwhile, here are the key points:

  • According to the Grand Jury testimony, McQueary says he saw Sandusky having “anal intercourse” with the victim.  Presumably this is based on testimony from McQueary but the report doesn’t say that.
  • Paterno says that when McQueary told him about it the next morning, he did not provide graphic description, only that McQueary reported that he had seen Sandusky ” fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.”
  • The report is silent on what McQueary says he told Paterno — and this is key.  Will McQuery contradict Paterno’s assertion that he was not specific in what he reported to Paterno?
  • Two weeks later McQueary was called in to meet with Senior VP Schultz and Athletic Director Curley.  How McQueary described the incident to the two men is the subject of debate.  Curley and Schultz say that McQueary denied that he saw a sexual act and instead characterized it as “horsing around”.  The Grand Jury concluded that portions of the testimony  of Curley and Shultz were “not credible”, and that both Schultz and Curley made “materially false” statements, thereby perfuring themselves, when they described the incident to the Grand Jury in the terms cited above.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the incident Sandusky, who at that time was a retiree with an office in the Lasch Building that housed the football operations, was stripped of his office and informed that he could not bring underage minors onto the campus.
So, what are we to make of this as it pertains to Paterno, beyond the straightforward fact that he was told that something inappropriate had happened, and he reported it up the chain of command once — and seems to have let go of it after that?
First, I’m struck by the context.  Sandusky was not just some naked guy in the shower.  He was Paterno’s assistant of more than 30 years, his heir apparent until something happened in 1999 to cause Paterno and the athletic department to inform him that he would not be Paterno’s successor.  (There was another sexual incident a year earlier involving Sandusky and a minor and this one was reported to the campus police, but there is no indication the Paterno was ever told of it.  Still, you have to wonder……was that why in 1999 he dumped Sandusky?)  Still, regardless, Sandusky was someone who had given his life to Paterno and Penn State football, and it’s not heard to imagine that Paterno had deep feelings for Sandusky, and this complicated his response.
Secondly, the graduate assistant McQueary first went to his father the night of the incident, sought his advice, then went to Paterno the next day. He has never to this day contradicted Paterno’s rendering of what he told Paterno – -i.e. that he saw “fondling or something of a sexual nature” — not a full on anal assault.  Why?  Could it be that even at this early juncture, people like McQueary and his father could already see the writing on the wall as to where this could lead for Paterno, and so shielded him?  Or was it just squeamishness in describing something so shocking to a 75 year old revered icon?  Did McQueary just pussyfoot around the description out of ‘delicadessa”?  Or did he state the matter more clearly, with the implication that Paterno is lying?  This is key, and McQueary’s silence these few days is interesting.
Thirdly, if Curley and Schultz were willing to lie to the Grand Jury in saying that no crime occurred and as far as they knew it was “just horseplay”, then may it not be presumed that they probably lied to Paterno too if/when Paterno followed up with them?  Either they would have said “Joe, we’ve got this”, or “Joe, it wasn’t that serious – we talked to McQueary, no crime occurred, it was just horseplay.”  How might this have affected Paterno’s decision-making about whether to escalate this to a higher level than Curley and Schultz?
And finally — what did Paterno see happen after the incident to tell him that action was, or was not, being taken?  He saw Sandusky stripped of his access almost immediately.  If Paterno saw this, and then was told by Curley and Schultz “we’ve got this”, might he not also have reasonably assumed that an investigation was underway.  And Paterno has been around the block long enough to know that investigations take time.
Now … the foregoing is an extremely favorable interpretation to Paterno and it may turn out that it’s too favorable.
But my question — why the rush to judgment?  Are there not enough questions in what has just been put forward to cause a reasonable person to slow down and wait for more information before calling for Paterno to step down.
I’m just sayin…..

 

GRAND JURY PRESENTMENT — EXCERPT RE VICTIM 2

(WARNING: While not as graphic as the rest of the report, this passage does contain graphic descrptions that may be disturbing.)

VICTIM 2
On March 1, 2002, a Penn State graduate assistant (“graduate assistant”) who was then 28 years old, entered the locker room at the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus on a Friday night before the beginning of Spring Break. The graduate assistant, who was familiar with Sandusky, was going to put some newly purchased sneakers in his locker and get some recruiting tapes to watch. It was about 9:30 p.m. As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught. The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen. His father told the graduate assistant to leave the building and come to his home. The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to report what
he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno (“Paterno”), head football coach of Pemi State. The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno’s home, where he reported what he had seen.
Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant’s report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley (“Curley”), Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno’s immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.

Approximately one and a half weeks later, the graduate assistant was called to a meeting with Penn State Athletic Director Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz (“Schultz”). The graduate assistant reported to Curley and Schultz that he had witnessed what he believed to be Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in the Lasch Building showers. Curley and Schultz assured the graduate assistant that they would look into it and determine what further action they would take. Paterno was not present for this meeting. The graduate assistant heard back from Curley a couple of weeks later. He was told that
Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away and that the incident had been reported to The Second Mile. The graduate assistant was never questioned by University Police and no otherentity conducted an investigation until he testified in Grand Jury in December, 2010. The Grand Jury finds the graduate assistant’s testimony to be extremely credible. Curley testified that the graduate assistant reported to them that “inappropriate conduct” or activity that made him “uncomfortable” occurred in the Lasch Building shower in March 2002. Curley specifically denied that the graduate assistant reported anal sex or anything of a
sexual nature whatsoever and termed the conduct as merely “horsing around”_ When asked whether the graduate assistant had reported “sexual conduct” “of any kind” by Sandusky, Curley answered, “No” twice. When asked if the graduate assistant had reported “anal sex between Jerry Sandusky and this child,” Curley testified, “Absolutely not.” Curley testified that he informed Dr. .lack Raykovitz, Executive Director of the Second Mile of the conduct reported to him and met with Sandusky to advise Sandusky that he was prohibited from bringing youth onto the Penn State campus from that point forward. Curley testified that he met again with the graduate assistant and advised him that Sandusky had been directed not to use Perm State’s athletic facilities with young people and “the information” had been given to director of The Second Mile. Curley testified that he also advised Penn State University President Graham Spanier of the information he had received from the graduate assistant and the steps he had taken as a result. Curley was not specific about the language he used in reporting the 2002 incident to Spanier. Spanier testified to his approval of the approach taken by Curley. Curley did not report the incident to the University Police, the police agency for
the University Park campus or any other police agency. Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Joe Paterno and Tim Curley, in which Paterno reported “disturbing” and “inappropriate” conduct in the shower by Sandusky upon a young boy, as reported to him by a student or graduate student. Schultz was present in a subsequent meeting with Curley when the graduate assistant reported the incident in the shower involving Sandusky and a boy. Schultz was very unsure about what he remembered the graduate assistant telling him and Curley about the shower incident. He testified that he had the impression that Sandusky might have inappropriately grabbed the young boy’s genitals while wrestling and agreed that such was inappropriate sexual conduct between a man and a boy.

While equivocating on the definition of “sexual” in the context of Sandusky wrestling with and grabbing the genitals of the boy, Schultz conceded that the report the graduate assistant made was of inappropriate sexual conduct by Sandusky. However, Schultz testified that the allegations were “not that serious” and that he and Curley “had no indication that a crime had occurred.” Schultz agreed that sodomy between Sandusky and a child would clearly be inappropriate sexual conduct. He denied having such conduct reported to him either by Paterno or the graduate assistant.

Schultz testified that he and Curley agreed that Sandusky was to be told not to bring any Second Mile children into the football building and he believed that he and Curley asked “the child protection agency” to look into the matter. Schultz testified that he knew about an investigation of Sandusky that occurred in 1998, that the “child protection agency” had done, and he testified that he believed this same agency was investigating the 2002 report by the graduate assistant. Schultz acknowledged that there were similarities between the 1998 and 2002 allegations, both of which involved minor boys in the football showers with Sandusky behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner. Schultz testified that the 1998 incident was reviewed by the University Police and “the child protection agency” with the blessing of then-University counsel Wendell Courtney. Courtney was then and remains counsel for The Second Mile.

Schultz confirmed that University President Graham Spanier was apprised in 2002 that a report of an incident involving Sandusky and a child in the showers on campus had been reported by an employee. Schultz testified that Spanier approved the decision to ban Sandusky from bringing children into the football locker room and the decision to advise The Second Mile of the 2002
incident.

Although Schultz oversaw the University Police as part of his position, he never reported the 2002 incident to the University Police or other police agency, never sought or reviewed a police report on the 1998 incident and never attempted to learn the identity of the child in the shower in 2002. No one from the University did so. Schultz did not ask the graduate assistant for specifics. No one ever did. Schultz expressed surprise upon learning that the l998 investigation by University Police produced a police report. Schultz said there was never any discussion between himself and Curley about turning the 2002 incident over to any police agency. Schultz retired in June 2009 but currently holds the same position as a senior vice president with Penn State, on an interim basis. Graham Spanier testified about his extensive responsibilities as President of Pemi State and his educational background in sociology and marriage and family counseling. He confirmed Curley and Schultz’s respective positions of authority with the University. He testified that Curley and Schultz came to him in 2002 to report an incident with Jerry Sandusky that made a member of Curley’s staff “uncomfortable” Spanier described it as “Jerry Sandusky in the football building locker area in the shower with a younger child and that they were horsing around in the shower.” Spanier testified that even in April, 2011, he did not know the identity of the staff member who had reported the behavior. Spanier denied that it was reported to him as an incident that was sexual in nature and acknowledged that Curley and Schultz had not indicated any plan to report the matter to any law enforcement authority, the Commonwealth of Pemisylvania Department of Public Welfare or any appropriate county child protective services agency. Spanier also denied being aware of a 1998 University Police investigation of Sandusky for incidents with children in football building showers.

Department of Public Welfare and Children and Youth Services local and state records were subpoenaed by the Grand Jury; University Police records were also subpoenaed. The records reveal that the 2002 incident was never reported to any officials, in contravention of law.

Sandusky holds emeritus status with Penn State. ln addition to the regular privileges of a professor emeritus, he had an office and a telephone in the Lasch Building. The status allowed him access to all recreational facilities, a parking pass for a vehicle, access to a Penn State account for the internet, listing in the faculty directory, faculty discounts at the bookstore and educational privileges for himself and eligible dependents. These and other privileges were negotiated when Sandusky retired in 1999. Sandusky continued to use University facilities as per his retirement agreement. As a retired coach, Sandusky had unlimited access to the football facilities, including the locker rooms. Schultz testified that Sandusky retired when Paterno felt it was time to make a coaching change and also to take advantage of an enhanced retirement benefit under Sandusky’s state pension.
Both the graduate assistant and Curley testified that Sandusky himself was not banned from any Perm State buildings and Curley admitted that the ban on bringing children to the campus was unenforceable.

The Grand Jury finds that portions of the testimony of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are not credible.

The Grand Jury concludes that the sexual assault of a minor male in 2002 should have been reported to the Department of Public Welfare and/or a law enforcement agency such as the University Police or the State Police. The University, by its senior staff, Gary Schultz, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business and Tim Curley, Athletic Director, was notified by two different Perm State employees of the alleged sexual exploitation of that youth. mandatory reporting statute for suspected child abuse is located at 23 ?63l1 (Child Protective Services Law) and provides that when a staff member reports abuse, pursuant to statute, the person in charge of the school or institution has the responsibility and legal obligation to report or cause such a report to be made by telephone and in writing within 48 hours to the Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth of Pemisylvania. An oral report should have been made to Centre County Children and Youth Services but none was made. Nor was there any attempt to investigate, to identify Victim 2 or to protect that child or any others from similar conduct, except as related to preventing its re-occurrence on University property. The failure to report is a violation of the law which was graded a summary offense in 2002, pursuant to 23 ?6319.2

The Grand Jury finds that Tim Curley made a materially false statement under oath in an official proceeding on January 12, 2011, when he testified before the 300? Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, relating to the 2002 incident, that he was not told by the graduate assistant that Sandusky was engaged in sexual conduct or anal sex with a boy in the Lasch Building showers.

Furthermore, the Grand jury finds that Gary Schultz made a materially false statement under oath in an official proceeding on January 12, 2011, when he testified before the 30rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, relating to the 2002 incident that the allegations made by the 2 The grading of the failure to report offense was upgraded from a summary offense to a misdemeanor of the third degree in 2006, effective May 29, 2007.graduate assistant were “not that serious” and that he and Curley “had no indication that a crime had occurred.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *