Monday, November 7, 2011

Legends and Leaders: Not at Penn State

Former Penn State defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with sexually assaulting 8 young boys from 1994 through 2009.  According to the grand jury report [pdf], Sandusky engaged in sexual touching to fondling, to oral and anal sex. To make the situation even worse, if even possible, all eight victims were part of the non-profit foundation to help troubled youths, the Second Mile, which Sandusky founded.

Reading the grand jury report is enough to make one physically ill and is very depressing.  If the allegations are true, Sandusky is a pathological rapist who used his position of influence within the university and as founder of the Second Mile to prey on the very kids he was ostensibly helping.

But the story doesn't end there: Penn State Athletic Director, Tim Curley, and Vice President, Gary Schultz, have been indicted for perjury and withholding material testimony from the grand jury.

[At the bottom of this post is my summary of the key events from the grand jury report - pdf]

While Paterno and University President Graham Spanier have not been charged, their moral compasses appear to be completely fucked.  Paterno apparently didn't think to ask the obvious questions that could have prevented further child rape, and Spanier failed to report an incident that he knew of to the police - instead opting to tell Sandusky to just not rape kids on his campus.

Both Paterno and Spanier should be fired.

It is truly astonishing that McQueary, Paterno, Schultz, Curley, and Spanier never thought to involve the police in a case of child rape or to investigate further to determine the true extent of the incident.  It is as if they were all intent to remain willfully ignorant and negligent of the specifics of the situation.  

The attorney general has indicated that Paterno is not a targets of investigation, currently, as he fulfilled his legal duty to report the incident to his supervisor, Curley.  While that may satisfy the law, that should not satisfy the Penn State community or society.  

It is utterly incomprehensible how Paterno could learn of what he described as "fondling or doing something sexual in nature to a young boy" and not demand that McQueary tell him everything he knew about a situation so serious and which implicated a man with whom Paterno had spent decades.   I would like to know what possibility I am not considering:
  1. Paterno truly did not know or inquire as to the specifics of what McQueary saw.  In this case, Paterno is willfully ignorant and negligent
  2. Paterno knew through McQueary, Curley or Shultz the true extent of the incident.  In this case, he is complicit in covering up the actions of a child rapist
Even having fulfilled his legal obligation to report the incident to his supervisor, he failed his moral duty to ensure the sexual assault was properly reported to the police.  Passing the buck where "fondling or doing something sexual in nature to a young boy" is at issue is not acceptable.  It is not acceptable for McQueary, Paterno, Curley, Schultz or anyone else that had this information.

Spanier, for his part, never reported the 2002 incident to the police, according to the grand jury report "in contravention of Pennsylvania law."   Instead, Curley, with Spanier's approval, informed The Second Mile Executive Director that Snadusky was prohibited from bringing any youths onto Penn State campus from that point forward, which Curley testified was unenforceable.

Spanier's approval of Curley's solution to essentially say 'keep your child rape off my lawn' is outrageous and infuriating.

Whether Spanier violated Pennsylvania law is for others to decide, but he should absolutely be held responsible by the university for such a callously ineffectual handling of a serious situation involving a grown man in a shower with a ten year old 'horsing around'.  

Yet, you will sill find staunch pockets of support for Paterno:
Joe Paterno, 84 years old and inductee of the College Football Hall of Fame, who is revered as a Leader and a Legend, is not a hapless underling.  We have rightly come to expect that a man of his stature and reputation is someone that will do the right thing.  Passing responsibility is not acceptable, regardless of how many football games have been won.

Meanwhile Graham Spanier has pledged his "unconditional support" for Curley and Schultz.  What happens if Curley and Schultz are, in fact, convicted? Would Spanier still support them?  Cause that's what 'unconditional' means.

At this point I don't understand how anyone can support (much less 'unconditionally') Paterno, Spanier, Curley, Schultz, or McQueary.  None of them lived up to the purported ideals of Penn State.

In this author's opinion, Penn State cannot move on until everyone associated with this scandal has been purged, starting with Paterno and Spanier.  If you are similarly outraged, please take the following actions:
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Here's the 'short' version of the key events:

  • A victim 6's mother reported that Sandusky had showered with her son to university police in 1998 which led to police eavesdropping (with the mother's cooperation) on a conversation between the mother and Sandusky where she confronted him and he admitted to the incident.  When asked by the mother if his private parts touched Victim 6, Sandusky replied "I don' think so...maybe"
  • This incident led to a police investigation where Sandusky admitted to showering with the victim and "Detective Schreffler advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and Sandusky said he would not"
  • In 2002, a 'graduate assistant', purported to be Mike McQueary, walked into the football team's locker room and upon hearing "rhythmic, slapping sounds" coming from the showers, "[h]e 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 next morning McQueary reported the incident to Paterno.  The report characterizes Paterno's characterization of McQueary's description of the incident as "fondling or doing something sexual in nature to a young boy".  It is not clear exactly how detailed McQueary's report to Paterno was
  • Paterno notified Curley, called a meeting with Schultz and McQueary.  Paterno did not attend.  McQueary's testimony, which the grand jury found to be highly credible, included the details of anal intercourse by Sandusky.  
  • "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""
  • "Schultz testified that the allegations were "not that serious" and that he and Curley "had no indication that a crime had occurred""
  • And this is particularly outrageous:
    • "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 identify the child in the shower in 2002.  No one from the university did so.  Schultz did not ask the graduate assistant for specifics.  No on ever did.  Schultz expressed surprise upon learning that the 1998 investigation by University Police produced a lengthy police report.  Schultz said there was never any discussion between himself and Curley about turning the 2002 incident over to any police agency.   
  • President Graham Spanier testified that Curley and Schultz came to him in 2002 describing it as "Jerry Sandusky in the football building locker area in the shower with a young child and they were horsing around in the shower"

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