An Outsider's View...

I don't write this to be a troll.  I write this because I think it's important for we as people, through dialogue, to define and discover correct moral behavior.

By way of a quick background, I'm a Mizzou fan raised in St. Louis.  When I think Penn State, I think "Oh yea, they're that other big program in the B1G that I can't ever remember."  No offense.  Fandom is much like religion - you don't pick it as much as inherit it.  My thoughts on Paterno a week ago were "It's nice that he teaches classes," and "I sure hope he doesn't get killed on the sideline by an incomplete pass."  I couldn't name anyone else connected with PSU.

My first encounter with this situation was an article linking to the grand jury report.  I got through about page 14.  All the way through Victim #2, maybe as far as #5.  I also read Paterno's Sunday statement.

On Sandusky:
Clearly, should these charges prove true, he's the monster here.  Serial killer scale?  Arguably.  Why does he walk free on bail?  I don't know PA's crime law, but innocent until proven guilty is an important value.  I certainly wouldn't want to see him unsupervised with children at this point.  But jail and prison are dangerous places, particularly for people who've done the things he's accused of, and innocent until proven guilty might not be important to his fellow inmates.  There's no excuse for endangering the man's life in that way before he's been convicted by a jury of his peers in a fair trial.  It goes without saying no one should want him representing their organization.  One can want to disassociate from someone without assuming guilt.

Why isn't he getting more attention?  He gets some, but in some ways his is an easy story.  He is, allegedly, a monster.  No one would defend his actions, so there's no need to belabor that point.  The facts speak for themselves, with no analysis, viewpoint, or commentary required.  He seems to be a nightmare made flesh.  More will come during and after his trial, I'm sure.

On McQuery:
His failure was the biggest.  To abandon a helpless victim of a crime in progress is awful.  It's only made worse by his testimony that the victim saw him.  Silence implies consent, and this child may well have assumed that McQuery consented to this unspeakable crime.  As big as this failure is, it's not unforgivable.  As many here have asserted, we can't really be sure how we'd react in the situation, particularly given the relationships of the people involved.  But regardless of what we would do, it's important that we, as a civilized society, make clear what we should do in such a situation.  And that is to intervene - either directly or by immediately summoning the police.  If there were some public acknowledgement by McQuery of this responsibility, I could see forgiveness and possible retention of his job.  Without it, I'm not sure why he's still employed by PSU.  Maybe he's given some statement to the BOT, the police have advised against his speaking outside the court because of his status as a witness, etc.  I don't know, but I'm guessing it will eventually come out.  Some have suggested the BOT doesn't have authority to fire anyone as low as him, and he might not get fired until a new AD is named.  That seems fishy, but who knows.

His grand jury testimony, besides the jury's own endorsement of "very credible," rings true for a couple of reasons.  First, there is chilling detail, such as "rhythmic slapping."  Secondly, the testimony paints him in a very poor light.  To fabricate such an act of cowardice, inviting not only public scorn but perjury charges, seems highly unlikely.

I can only speculate why he's getting so little attention, or why he's been given a vote of confidence by the interim coach.  Maybe, even having fallen short of fulfilling his moral responsibility, he came the closest to doing all he could, given his low position and his initial cowardice.  It could be something far more sinister - perhaps he was very involved in the investigation, and could expose many board members as having known about the 2002 incident.  I hope not, but it's possible.  As bad as any tragedy is, know that someone will exploit it.

On Paterno:
Ironically, it is Paterno's relative distance from this situation (compared to Sandusky and McQuery) that allows judgment to come now, instead of after a public trial.  Paterno's subsequent statement on Sunday included these portions:

While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention...

As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.

So Paterno, by his own admission, was told by an upset McQuery that Sandusky, a longtime colleague and subordinate, was doing something inappropriate in the showers.

The GJ report is not as explicit as it could be but it to appears paraphrase Paterno as testifying that an upset McQuery told him Saturday morning that he'd witnessed Sandusky engaged in some inappropriate sexual behavior with a young boy in the PSU locker room.

Further, Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Curley and Paterno, during which Paterno related the charge that Sandusky had been witnessed engaging in "disturbing" "inappropriate" behavior with a young boy in the shower(page 8, GJR).  Granted, the GJ did not find Schultz or Curley credible, but one may presume that Schultz, in trying to minimize his apparent negligence, would not exaggerate the charges described to him, but would rather minimize them.

From all this, I find it reasonable to conclude that Paterno knew that Sandusky was involved in a sexual act with a young boy.

He responded by telling the AD the next day.  He may have followed up, but it's not in the GJ report, nor has Paterno claimed to have done so since the matter became public.  But however he followed up, it is apparent that he did not take sufficient action.  Why?  Because Sandusky was still free, uncharged, still associating with children in a public way for years to come.  Not being familiar with Paterno and Sandusky's public relationship since 2002, I can only point to Paterno's status as a Second Mile honorary trustee.  I don't see how he could claim ignorance of Sandusky's continued contact with children if he's in that position.

And the ultimate point is, procedure be damned, adults have a moral responsibility to stop injustice to children.  The procedure is just a tool, justice is the goal.  If the procedure doesn't work, go around it.  Go higher.  Go to the State College police, the Pennsylvania police, the FBI if need be.  If all else fails, go to the most respectable media you can find.  But don't wash your hands of the situation.  And nine years later, don't claim that you did what you were supposed to do.  It may have been all he was legally obligated to do, but it is a failing to think we can absolve ourselves of moral obligations by passing them on to others.

Some here have suggested that for Paterno to take any action besides telling the AD would either ruin an investigation, or invite charges of slander and libel.  I find this unconvincing.  If he tells a police agency, they should display the competence to contact whoever has original jurisdiction.  If they have a file already, the other agency can offer help, or, should they suspect the police are compromised, open their own investigation.  These people are assumed to be professionals.  You can't justify inaction because you were worried they might bungle a prosecution.  Finally, libel or slander charges would only be in play if, instead of first calling the police and then a responsible media outlet, Paterno were to have simply sold his story to the National Enquirer.  No one is suggesting Paterno should have called Geraldo or taken out an ad in the Times.  Responsible media should be expected to investigate, shed light and public attention on the situation, and hopefully bring this to an acceptable resolution.

On hearsay:
Some suggest that Paterno had no obligation to act on hearsay, not having witnessed the attack personally.  This is misguided.  No one is suggesting Paterno should be testifying against Sandusky based on what McQuery told him.  But such a serious accusation, from a trusted staff member and former player, merits a serious investigation.  What possible motivation could McQuery have had to make something like this up?  Just how badly can a person misinterpret the actions of a 58 year old and a 10 year old in a shower?

On Schultz and Curley:
Things look bad for them.  No one is suggesting they are heroes.  A leave of absence is a little weak, but he did it immediately, and he is actually being charged with a crime.  He may be getting the benefit of legal limbo at this point, because his firing might prejudice a jury.  Additionally, they are both asserting innocence.  Curley at least, for better or worse, claimed nothing sexual was ever alleged to him.  Either way, judgment on them must be somewhat delayed because they are under indictment.  This is not to suggest they should be allowed to represent the university in any setting.  Fired, on leave, retired, it has to be clear that, given the admitted facts, they're not the sort of people PSU looks up to.

On Spanier:
He bought himself some time, perhaps, by claiming to have heard nothing more serious than "horsing around."  His resignation is appropriate, and, if he hadn't tendered it, he should at least have been "relieved of his responsibilities pending further investigation."  What possible explanation for "horsing around" between a 58 year old and a 10 year old in the showers that might be innocent enough to excuse his inaction I can't imagine, but again based on what he admitted to the grand jury, there's still a sliver of a possibility.

On the BOT:
Clearly, they're reeling and not polished.  Firing Paterno over the phone isn't ideal, but perhaps it was dictated by circumstance.  We Mizzou fans have learned from what now seems like the idyllic scenario of being called feet-dragging conference whores that getting a board together on short notice isn't easy, and that some decisions have to be made via conference call.  Is it possible they wanted to offer Paterno the chance to step down immediately, and only fired him after he declined?  Possibly.  Could they have wanted to hear him out, thus the conference call with all the members?  Maybe.  Would it have been better for the board to have made the decision, and sent the chairman over to Paterno's house to deliver the news in person?  Of course.  But the primary concern of the board has to be immediately ending any appearance of condoning the inaction that everyone involved seems to have displayed.

Is it possible, in contrast, that they're a bunch of slimy politicians only concerned about finding a scapegoat and covering their own asses?  Sure.  But that doesn't change the fact that Paterno had to go, and couldn't be allowed to continue another game as a PSU representative.

Again, Sandusky's (allegedly) the monster, in a way that no one else involved is, from what we've heard so far.  God willing the awful Second Mile pimping rumor is nonsense.  Everyone else involved are just cowards and failures.  But with failure comes a cost, and a failure of this magnitude seems to merit pink slips all around.

On Paterno's fans:
In the streets of State College, and on this board, have been some very impassioned supports of a beloved figure.  It is entirely understandable.  I've heard, "Love is making exceptions."  I hope you all can find a way to stick together, despite the radically different opinions.  But most of all I hope that when things settle down, it becomes clear to everyone involved that no official procedure, no institutional bureaucracy, no administrative incompetence should ever keep a person from protecting the helpless from predators.  Even if we can't find the courage to do the right thing, we need to agree on what the right thing is.

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