(Note: In this country, every person is innocent until proven guilty. From a legal standpoint, Jerry Sandusky, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz innocent men at this moment. Even as I write this, I am conscious that Sandusky has not been proven to be guilty, regardless of what appears to be strong, even devastating eye-witness testimony, anecdotal indications, and three previous allegations that all seem to tie together logically. But the evidence was enough to convince a grand jury to indict Sandusky, and Penn State University to fire the most beloved coach in their history. It therefore seems that the evidence is strong enough to use as a springboard for discussion, as changes must be made immediately if the allegations are true.)
It isn’t over in State College, PA. And it shouldn’t be. Unless I am grossly in error, it’s just starting.
I truly feel for every Penn State alum, every football player and coach who knew nothing of this travesty, every faculty and staff member who put their sweat equity and their love into the university, every fan of the Nittany Lions, and every student who didn’t take part in the riots the other night. It’s not enough that the university officials shamed the school, but then a group of idiot students went out and threw gasoline on the flames–quite literally in some cases. I do know that the vast majority of Penn State students weren’t responsible for the sickos rioting to protest the firing of a man who allegedly abetted child rape.
However, while what we have seen so far might seem to be more than just the tip of the iceberg, much still floats just below the surface. In an article on April 3, 2011, Mark Madden of “The Beaver County Times,” wrote in an article cleverly entitled, “SANDUSKY A STATE SECRET,” that, "Allegations of improper conduct with an underage male first surfaced in 1998, while Sandusky was still employed by Penn State. That incident allegedly occurred in a shower at Penn State’s on-campus football facility. No charges were filed."
WHERE WAS THE BOARD?
Frankly, while I think the trustees did nothing illegal, their inaction from the time the story broke until now (at least six months) is highly suspicious. Why would they not act? Here’s some food for thought: The current Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Stephen Garban, who was on the board of trustees in 1998. He happened to be Gary Schultz’s predecessor as the Senior Vice President of Financial Operations for Penn State. He was also captain of the Penn State football team at one time. Conflict of interest? Perhaps. In fact, of the approximately 27 current acting members of the Penn State Board of Trustees, 21 are Penn State alumni and five have been on the football team, two playing for coach Paterno.
I understand the necessity of having regents and/or trustees familiar with and enthusiastic for the school for which they have such great responsibility, but at what point do the loyalties to the university and its football team begin to create a conflict?
The board of trustees (to a person, impressive pillars of the community) need to explain exactly why they failed to act for six months after the story became public. They have a competent police department, and even if they suspected complicity or conflict of interest among the department, a private firm could have investigated this situation very effectively. I understand that a concurrent investigation can sometimes interfere with the grand jury process. But how about a simple public statement to that effect? How about something that acknowledges the situation and promises decisive action? When your senior executives are under a grand jury investigation, you might want to consider at least a paid leave. Without a satisfactory explanation, it would seem that chairman Stephen Garban’s failure to act, combined with his apparent sympathies, might impact on his past and future abilities to do the right thing in a difficult situation.
Analyst Mike May of ESPN spoke passionately and eloquently about this issue this week on College Football Live. “For McQueary to still be on the sidelines for another game, much less another minute I think that strikes a signal that this board of trustees and this coaching staff still doesn’t get the point. This is much bigger than football. This is much bigger than sport. This is much bigger than Joe Paterno. This is about the integrity of our youngsters and your university….get rid of the entire coaching staff.”
Yesterday, the board of trustees announced the creation of a Special Investigative Committee to determine the facts surrounding the case, the causes and the perpetrators. It is a good thing. It is needed. It is 6 months late.
“WHERE THE PUBLIC WANTS TO UNDERSTAND BUT DOES NOT RECEIVE ANY OFFICIAL ANSWERS, THERE ARE RUMORS. RUMORS ARE THE BLACK MARKET OF INFORMATION.” MARK SCHINDLER
Anybody who has ever been on a team of any kind, especially one where you and your teammates are bonded as strongly as a top-flight college football team, know that the team becomes your life. It is routinely considered to be your family. The Nittany Lions (nearby Mt. Nittany is the home of mountain lions, hence the name) football team has repeatedly referred to themselves as a family in the wake of the recent scandal. If you’ve been on one of these types of teams, you know that any rumor, story, speculative tidbit, especially one which involves actions detrimental to the entire team spreads like a windblown brush-fire.
To anyone who knows this reality, the thought that Defensive Assistant Mike McQueary’s horrible discovery in the showers in 1998 was kept a complete secret is an absurdity. There is no question in any knowing person’s mind that a great many people knew about Sandusky’s crime.
Again, Madden writes very astutely for the “Beaver County Times” that the timeline of the discovery and Sandusky’s "retirement" from Penn State gives rise to credible speculation as to the reason for his departure. He was by all accounts an ambitious man whose biggest ambition was to be the head coach at Penn State. At the time of his retirement only 55 years old, he was second in command at Penn State football and the obvious successor to Paterno, who was 70. Rumors were that Paterno was considering retirement. There could be no more inexplicable time for Sandusky to quit.
Sandusky had been voted the top assistant coach in 1986 and 1999, which would make him a lock-tight cinch to be offered a head-coaching job at a major college football powerhouse. And indications are that before 1998 he was courted several times by big-name schools. But then, at the peak of his career, with his goal in sight, he retired without a convincing explanation. Even then, maybe especially then, football schools should be wearing out the front door of (a newly available) Sandusky’s house carrying wads of cash. But nobody did. Hmmmmmm. Assistant Coach of the year, heir apparent to the legendary Joe Paterno, and at 55, a relatively young age for a head coach, a pillar of the community with his own charitable organization, but nobody was interested in his services. Maybe they didn’t like white hair?
Could it be that the rumors went well beyond State College? You’re intelligent people, what do you think? If it was possible to track the spider-web of this rumor, how far would it go? Something (or someone) was warning off other schools. There can be no doubt of that. I doubt that many (if any) were told bluntly of his crimes, but they were certainly warned of something.
The people that bear the responsibility for this moral and ethical failure are those that knew the whole story and did nothing. Every single one. The buck can’t be allowed to stop prematurely. Anybody who could have stopped the serial rape of children at that point is responsible for not doing so.
I personally believe that the school believed McQueary’s 1998 allegation to be true, especially in light of the Sandusky "showering" allegations of several years prior. I also believe that news of McQueary’s discovery likely spread through the team as the years went on. When their assistant coach abruptly retires the next year, you’re telling me that nobody on the football team had any idea of why? Paterno didn’t seem to protest. Forcing Sandusky to retire at the pinnacle of his career could not have been done without Joe Paterno’s approval. And Joe would not have given it without knowing why.
In December, 1999, Sandusky brought victim #4 to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. This is verified by photos in Sports Illustrated. According to testimony from #4, when he at first refused further sexual advances from Sandusky, he was threatened with being flown home.
If the above is true, Sandusky has violated U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 117, § 2421, informally known as the “Mann Act” which is the federal crime of transporting any person across state lines to engage in sexual activity for which a person can be charged with a criminal offense (such as sex with a minor). This is a 10 year felony investigated by the FBI. And the sex doesn’t even need to occur. If the attempt is made, the crime has occurred. It’s like a bank robbery. If you point a gun and ask for money and don’t get anything, the crime has still occurred.
Concealing any federal crime (such as violation of the Mann Act) is in itself the crime of “Misprision of a Felony” which is a 3 year federal felony. Additionally Penn State receives federal money. It must be determined whether any of that money was utilized in the concealment of the crime.
If the head coach and the university president conspired to conceal a felony to protect a member of the team, what does the NCAA do? Teams get huge penalties for simply paying their players under the table. What if a one coach is raping children in the shower and another is conspiring to hide the crime?
As a former FBI agent, I worked large cases and conspiracy cases. Two things I know from this: First, the prosecutor will not give up all of his charges and evidence in the Grand Jury. Why? Because that’s just the first round. I would give the defense lawyers more time to review it, and it spells out the prosecution game plan. Sandusky and Paterno know what that’s about. No, the prosecutor gives the Grand Jury the minimum they believe is required to obtain an indictment and an arrest. Certainly, because of the notoriety of the case and the persons involved, more had to be given to this Grand Jury to obtain indictments, but much was held back. This could not be a close call, because close calls always go to the Nittany Lions in State College, Pennsylvania.
Also, attempting to get Joe Paterno indicted on the first run past the Grand Jury would be extremely difficult. But what is the difference between what Curley and Schultz did and what Paterno did (or didn’t do?) There are 9 victims (so far) and 40 counts against Sandusky. I’m afraid of what the other 38 counts will contain. No, this case has just started, and likely the indictments have just started.
The final question comes in the form of a question from May at ESPN, asking why McQueary didn’t physically stop Sandusky. I wonder also. McQueary was 28, a former Penn State player, and a big guy. Would he have stopped him if the crime happened in the bushes and the victim was a screaming female? Did he think it was consensual? There is no legal consensual sex between a 10 year old boy and a 55 year old man. It does not exist. Sadly, this was a shortfall of honor. This was a shortfall of decency. This was a shortfall of manhood all around.