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July 2, 2012
The Smoking Gun at Penn State
When Joe Paterno was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees on November 9, 2011, some brave souls (including one at American Thinker) argued that the board had acted precipitously. After all, when Mike McQueary told him about the incident he had witnessed in the shower, Paterno had promptly reported it to the Athletic Director and to the Vice President who oversaw the campus police. In the face of universal revulsion and anger at the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, the board had panicked. It had not been JoePa's responsibility to pursue the matter. The coach had committed no illegal act and ought to have been permitted to finish out the season.
This view was always dubious. Paterno must have been aware that Sandusky was continuing to visit the Penn State football facility, the Lasch Building, with boys from The Second Mile. If he didn't know, he ought to have made it his business to find out. Then he ought to have phoned the Veep
McQueary's account should have set off alarm bells for another reason. Three years earlier, Sandusky had been investigated by the District Attorney's office. With detectives listening in, the former defensive coordinator had admitted to the mother of the boy who would later be identified as Victim 6 that his "private parts" had touched her son when he hugged him in the shower.
Though no charges were filed, it's hard to believe JoePa and top Penn State administrators did not know about the investigation. I speculated that the decision the following spring not to have Sandusky succeed Paterno as head coach may have been a direct consequence. Paterno and his superiors assumed that Jerry would take a head coaching job somewhere else. He would be someone else's problem. They did not count on Sandusky's devotion to his charity, with its fringe benefits.
Now the case for JoePa is no longer plausible, and the future looks a lot dimmer for Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and former University President Graham Spanier. Emails exchanged by the administrators in February 2001 and now released to CNN disclose some disturbing information. Schultz, the VP, proposed to do three things after he and Curley met with McQueary: talk to Sandusky, notify The Second Mile, and contact the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, which had undertaken the 1998 investigation. The administrators were legally obliged to do the latter.
But then Curley had some reservations. "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps," he wrote to Schultz and Spanier. He recommended instead that they simply talk to Sandusky (always referred to as "the individual") and help him "get professional help." Only if the former defensive coordinator were "uncooperative" would they inform The Second Mile and outside authorities.
The President agreed. "The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed," he replied. For Schultz, too, this was " a more humane and upfront way to handle" the case, though he recommended telling the charity, whether or not Sandusky agreed.
It's hard to avoid the impression that it was Paterno's advice that helped steer Penn State down a very slippery slope.
It's been speculated that JoePa may have felt his own job was at stake. He'd had a dismal 5-7 season. He was 74. The black eye for the program that would have followed a second investigation into Sandusky may have led to pressure on him to retire.
The emails also reveal that the administrators knew about the earlier investigation. They planned to mention it to Sandusky.
There was just one hitch. "The only downside for us," Spanier wrote, "is if the message [to Sandusky] isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road."
It never was.
Sandusky continued to sodomize boys from the charity over the next decade. The mother of one of them, Victim 9, testified that her son never put his underwear in the laundry. He told her that he'd had an accident and had thrown it out. This is the same victim who testified that he screamed while being raped in the Sandusky basement. No one responded.
If the emails have been reported accurately, the blood of Victim 9 - and Sandusky's semen - is on the hands of Spanier, Schultz, Curley, and the most successful and revered coach in the history of college football.
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