As ESPN reported, effective Wednesday night the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Joe Paterno. President Graham Spanier resigned. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has been appointed acting interim head coach. Two other administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, have lost their jobs and been indicted for perjury. All in the wake of a scandal to cover up long-term child sexual abuse which took place in the Penn State football complex, perpetrated by defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
The basis for this article is the Grand Jury Report, 23 pages of absolutely horrific reading, as published by the Washington Post. Background on the culture of “blindness” by Joe Paterno and the Penn State administration is taken from an opinion piece in The Baltimore Sun by Chris Korman, alumnus and former correspondent for the student newspaper The Daily Collegian.
Author’s note: All descriptions used in this article from the Grand Jury Report are “alleged” and have not yet been proven in a court of law. Sandusky maintains his innocence, and in this country that takes precedence until proven otherwise.
In terms of sports scandals, it certainly ranks up there with
OJ Simpson, the Black Sox [and] Pete Rose
The winningest coach in college football, surpassing Coach Eddie Robinson. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. On the sidelines at Penn State since 1950. Joe Paterno’s accomplishments were universally respected. How we reached this sad day can best be attributed to the overriding desire by one powerful man to retain his position and influence. And belief in his own omnipotence. I don’t enjoy exposing the ugly truth about a revered coach, especially one who has played such a pivotal role in Alabama football history, but the grand jury testimonies are too damning to ignore. And the irrevocable harm perpetrated on an untold number of defenseless children gives us a MORAL IMPERATIVE to not let Paterno off the hook just because of his iconic stature.
NPR has compiled a summary of the Penn State employees involved in the scandal as well as a timeline. ESPN has also provided a a summary of employees and timeline of key events in the case.
New state and federal investigations
may focus on Paterno
After reviewing the testimony, it seems Joe Paterno should at the very least be indicted for lying to the Grand Jury alongside the other former Penn State administrators already indicted for perjury. Paterno’s testimony about the 2001 rape of a 10 year old boy -- reported directly to him by graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary – contradicts McQueary’s testimony. The Grand Jury found McQueary to be the credible witness. However, at this time the Pennsylvania Attorney General does not plan to pursue perjury charges against Paterno.
Yahoo! Sports reports the Pennsylvania Attorney General may further investigate Paterno for “heightened legal responsibility to report seeing Sandusky and a child together at their team’s practice” in 2007, years after Paterno had clear and direct knowledge of Sandusky’s child molestation.
ESPN reports the U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into whether Penn State “violated federal law requiring the disclosure of criminal offenses on campus and warnings of crimes posing a threat to the community in its handling of the allegations” pursuant to the Clery Act. The Secretary of Education was petitioned by U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Penn.
Paterno “retired” Sandusky in July 1999 after
an investigation of two child sex abuse cases in 1998
An excellent article by the Milwaukee Bucks blog lays out the evidence that Joe Paterno was informed of the 1998 incidents and investigative findings of the University Police, and subsequently forced Sandusky to retire. That’s a full THREE YEARS before the 2001 incident.
Paterno was universally acknowledged as holding all the power in the Penn State athletics department and probably the University administration as well. Nothing happened anywhere near Penn State football that didn’t have Paterno’s knowledge or seal of approval. The former Athletic Director Tim Curley, now indicted for lying to the Grand Jury, was a quarterback under Paterno. Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, also indicted for perjury and who oversaw the University Police, went to Paterno’s house for meetings instead of requiring Paterno to come to his office.
According to the indictment, Penn State football employees witnessed Sandusky raping a boy, showering naked with boys, and other acts of sexual assault on at least three occasions in 1998, 2000 and 2001. University Police in 1998 prepared a lengthy report about two of the victims, then subsequently closed its investigation at the direction of Penn State administrators.
Despite logic and evidence that Paterno knew of Sandusky’s illicit actions as early as 1998, Paterno inexplicably kept Sandusky on staff with emeritus status and full access and privileges in the football program. The indictment's finding of facts allege that Sandusky continued to bring unchaperoned 7-13 year old boys to the football complex, games and events for another EIGHT YEARS that we know about.
As a result of Joe Paterno’s indifference and enablement,
Sandusky was allowed to victimize more boys after 1998
MOST OF THE BOYS WERE MOLESTED AT THE PENN STATE FOOTBALL FACILITIES, in addition to the hotel/resort where the football team stayed the night before home games and out-of-state hotels where the football team stayed for bowl games. Victims testified specifically that Sandusky began to bring the boys to the newly constructed Lasch Football Building in 1999 because areas were more “secluded” for his purposes. AFTER Paterno already knew about Sandusky.
Sandusky has been charged with 40 criminal counts of molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009 through his charity for at-risk youths, The Second Mile. Since his Nov. 5th arrest and arraignment, SEVENTEEN more victims have come forward to investigators. We don’t yet know how many of the newly discovered cases took place on the Penn State campus, under the noses of Paterno and the administration that turned a blind eye.
Even after directly receiving an eyewitness report
about the horrifying crime in 2001,
Paterno never attempted to prevent
Sandusky’s access to children
Paterno was a fundraiser and Honorary Board Member for The Second Mile. As the Grand Jury testimony indicates, Wendell Courtney, the attorney for both Penn State and The Second Mile, oversaw the 1998 cases investigated by University Police. Paterno and Courtney also were well aware of the 2001 atrocity. At no time did either man, despite their knowledge of the child abuse, make any attempt to prevent Sandusky’s access to children through the charity. Sandusky continued his unchaperoned contact and travel with children for another TEN YEARS. (The charity’s website disputes it had any knowledge of Sandusky’s sexual abuse until the end of 2008, contrary to Grand Jury testimony.)
Paterno also began to turn a blind eye to outbreaks of crime
and violence committed by his football players
In 1999, Paterno defended linebacker LaVar Arrington after he assaulted a defenseless Pitt punter in the middle of a game. Then in 2000 he allowed quarterback Rashard Casey to start every game despite being charged with assaulting a cop.
In subsequent years according to Chris Korman, “Players were constantly getting into violent altercations with other students…. There were fights at the ice skating rink, the union building at the center of campus, frats, apartments, houses.” Former Ravens cornerback Anwar Phillips was accused of sexual assault, yet was allowed to “play in a bowl game before serving his two-semester suspension”. Korman looked into “probably a half-dozen others [sexual assault cases] that never went to trial. Women were fearful they'd never get a fair trial in State College. Victims of beatings knew the scales of justice were already tilted against them. ESPN actually compiled numbers to show just how rambunctious it got in Happy Valley, reporting that from 2002 to 2008 there were 46 players charged with 163 counts.”
In 2006, LaVon Chisley, a defensive end who spent three years in the program, killed a fellow student by stabbing him 93 times. This was after he took loans from sports agents and became academically ineligible to play football. However, he was allowed to participate in Penn State’s Pro Day.
Paterno even went so far as to say Tony Johnson, a wide receiver arrested for DUI "didn't do anything to anyone."
Sports Illustrated in 2011 declared Penn State as one of the worst schools in college football for players with police records with 16 players charged.
Despite a culture gone seriously awry, Paterno and Penn State maintained a false reputation of high character
Up until last weekend, nobody in the national media seriously questioned Joe Paterno or his methods. Why did the local media not see the downward spiral at Penn State?
Why is Penn State paying the legal fees of Curley, Shultz and Spanier? And issuing statements that it stands behind them?
How can so many serious crimes in such a small town go unreported, unprosecuted and unchecked? Why did Mike McQueary not rescue a 10 year old boy when he had the chance?
What happened to the missing district attorney from the 1998 child abuse cases, and why take his hard drive?
How could Paterno continue to raise money for a charity founded and run by an alleged serial child abuser? And convince other celebrities and well-known sports figures to join in the cause? This charity raised MILLIONS of dollars and exercised a frightening amount of control over these children and their families. The CEO and his wife drew six-figure salaries, all while failing to stop what grand jury testimony indicts as a predator.
Sandusky formed his charity in 1977. He had a tried-and-true routine to escalate inappropriate sexual contact with boys, as documented in the Grand Jury Report. Does any reasonable person believe he never engaged in this behavior from 1977 to 1994? How much more does Paterno know and will not reveal?
Why did Joe Paterno not care about these little boys? He has children and grandchildren.
Why does the NCAA care about $10 meals and sharing sleep couches, but is utterly and completely useless in the face of a football program’s failure at the most fundamental level?
Don’t be fooled by “sorrow” coming out of Paterno now –
as late as last week Sandusky continued his
normal routine in the football complex
Victims’ mothers aren’t buying it either. Said one mother, “If they would have done something about it in 1998, and then again in 2002 … two chances they dropped the ball and I think they should all be held accountable.”
Students placed some of the words from the Penn State alma mater on Paterno’s statue: “May no act of ours bring shame.”
Turns out Joe Paterno failed to surpass Eddie Robinson after all. As Coach Robinson’s motto says:
“To be accountable all the time, even when no one was looking.”
You can follow me on Twitter @LivingCrimson.