Jerry Sandusky: Allegations and Obligations

[There will be liberal use of the word "allegedly" in this post.  If it's not included in a particular sentence, pretend that it is.  All individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and all information is taken directly from the Grand Jury Findings Of Fact.]

A working summary of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, as of 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning.  Much has been debated as to what the administration at Penn State knew, and when they knew it.  Not to mention, there has been considerable debate as to what the legal and moral obligations of the principals may have been, and what those individuals did to fulfill them.

First, the incidents themselves.  Of the eight victims, four of them were allegedly assaulted while Sandusky was still on the Penn State coaching staff:

Victim #4: According to the Grand Jury Findings Of Fact, he was first singled out by Sandusky in 1996 or 1997. Alleged indecent contact occurred in East Halls showers near Holuba Hall, at Toftrees (where the team stays prior to home games), bowl games, and charity golf events.  The Grand Jury alleges that Sandusky supplied the child with gifts including clothes, a snowboard, Nike shoes, golf clubs, hockey equipment, passes for sporting events, football jerseys, registration for soccer camp, cigarettes, money for marijuana and a promise that the child would be guaranteed a spot as a walk-on football player at Penn State. 

After the football program moved into the new Lasch Building, the alleged non-hotel indecent contact mainly occurred in the sauna, in a more secluded area of the building.

Victim #5: Met Sandusky through The Second Mile in 1995 or 1996, when the boy was in second or third grade.  He testified that he attended at least 15 Penn State football games with Sandusky, and was sexually assaulted in the Penn State locker room showers.

Victim #6: Also met Sandusky through The Second Mile in 1994 or 1995, when the boy was seven or eight years old.  He testified that he was assaulted in the Holuba Hall showers in 1998.  According to the Grand Jury Findings Of Fact, the victim's mother immediately reported the incident to University Police, who closed the case after a lengthy investigation (which involved another boy and similar circumstances, although he was not listed as a "victim" in the Grand Jury presentation). 

The Grand Jury also noted that detectives from University Police and the State College Police Department eavesdropped on two conversations between Sandusky and Victim #6's mother, in which Sandusky admitted to showering with Victim #6 and other boys.  When asked if he touched Victim #6's private parts, Sandusky allegedly said, "I don't know...maybe" and stated to Victim #6's mother, "I understand, I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." 

Despite these admissions detailed by the Grand Jury, Sandusky was not charged with any crime.

Victim #7: Also in the mid-to-late 1990's, the boy was allegedly given field passes to Penn State games and brought to the team's dining hall.  He also testified that he stayed overnight at Sandusky's house prior to home games.  The victim described more than one occasion in which Sandusky put his hands down the waistband of the victim's pants. 

Despite not having contact with Sandusky for two years, the victim testified that he was contacted by Sandusky, Sandusky's wife, and another associate of Sandusky weeks before the victim's Grand Jury testimony.

 
Events Allegedly Occurring At Penn State, Post-Retirement

Victim #3: Testified that he met Sandusky through The Second Mile in 2000, when he was between seventh and eighth grade.  He was allegedly given access to PSU football games and other PSU facilities.  He tesified that he was touched inappropriately by Sandusky in PSU shower facilities and at Sandusky's home.

Victim #8: Allegedly found by a Penn State janitor in a sex act with Sandusky in the shower at Lasch, while the team was out of town for a road game.  The janitor, who now suffers from dementia, told another janitor at the time of the incident and eventually reported it to his supervisor, Jim Witherite.  Witherite described the janitor/witness as "very emotionally upset" and "very distraught".  The victim's identity is unknown.

Victim #1:  Testified that he met Sandusky when he was 11-12 years old, through a Second Mile camp held on the PSU campus.  He testified that he met regularly with Sandusky, staying overnight at his house, attending PSU practices and going to Philadelphia Eagles games.  According to the Grand Jury Findings of Fact, Sandusky was caught rolling around on the ground with Victim #1 by a high school wrestling coach. When the mother of Victim #1 notified the high school principal of the activities, Sandusky was barred from the high school, where he was a volunteer football coach.

Also according to he Grand Jury Findings of Fact 118 phone calls were placed from Sandusky's home and cell phones to the home of Victim #1 from January 2008 to July 2009.

Victim #2: Not to downplay the other alleged incidents, but this is the one prominently involving the Penn State administration and Joe Paterno.  On March 1, 2002, Sandusky was alleged caught by a PSU football Graduate Assistant (identified by the Harrisburg Patriot-News as current PSU wide receivers coach Mike McQueary) with a 10-year old boy in the showers at Lasch.  The next day, the Graduate Assistant called Joe Paterno and went to Paterno's home to describe what he saw at Lasch.  On March 3, Paterno called Director of Athletics Tim Curley to his home and relayed what he had been told.  According to the Grand Jury Findings of Fact, approximately one and one-half weeks later, the GA is summoned to a meeting with Curley and Gary Schultz, who assure the GA that they would investigate further.  Joe Paterno was not at this meeting.

In April, Tim Curley allegedly tells the GA that Sandusky's keys to the locker room were taken away and the incident was reported to The Second Mile foundation.  Curley never reports the incident to University Police, or any other police agency.  The GA is never questioned by University police and no other entity investigated the matter until the GA testified before the Grand Jury in December 2010.

In front of the Grand Jury in December 2010, Curley testified that the GA notified him of "inappropriate conduct", and described the alleged conduct as "horsing around".  When asked if the GA reported sex between Sandusky and the child in 2002, Curley testified "absolutely not."  Curley also testified that he informed the executive director of The Second Mile and PSU President Graham Spanier of the incident. 

Spanier testified that he approved of the remedial measures taken by Curley, presumably his informing Sandusky that he was no longer permitted to bring youths to Penn State's athletic facilities.  

Spanier testified that Curley and Schultz reported the 2002 Victim #2 incident that made a member of Curley's staff "uncomfortable".  Spanier described the incident as "Jerry Sandusky in the football building locker area in the shower with a younger child and they were horsing around."  He also testified that as of January 2011, he did not know the identity of the GA who originally reported the incident. 

Spanier denied that the incident reported to him was described as being of a sexual nature, and noted that Curley and Schultz did not indicate any plan to report the incident to law enforcement, the Commonwealth's Department of Public Welfare, or any county child protective services agency.

Gary Schultz testified that the allegations by the GA were "not that serious" and that he and Curley "had no indication that a crime had occurred."  He also testified that he believed that he and Curley asked "the child protection agency" to look into the matter.  Despite overseeing University Police as part of his job, Schultz did not seek or receive the lengthy police report of the similar 1998 incident, did not report the 2002 incident to University Police, and nobody at Penn State sought the identity of the child in the 2002 incident.

The GA and Curley both testified that Sandusky was not actually banned from any Penn State buildings, and Curley admitted the ban on bringing children to the campus was unenforceable.  

 

So...yeah.  Not good.  No, but the proper course of action here would be one of reason and restrai...

Pitchforksandtorches_medium

Or we could roll like this.

First, let's start with Graham Spanier's statement:

The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance. 

With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee. 

Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately.

 

"Unconditional support"?  "Complete confidence"?  "Highest levels of honesty, integrity, and compassion?"

Seriously?  It was appropriate that these things were investigate thoroughly a decade ago.  Regardless, this is a completely abominable response to any crisis, most especially this one.

These are obviously vetted and carefully chosen words, which have the added effect of making Graham Spanier look like an idiot -- and that is casting Spanier in the most favorable light.  I don't think he's an idiot, for the record, but the remaining alternatives are much more sinister. 

Circling the wagons seems to be an odd strategy.  We'll see if it's a temporary or long-term position.  I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into four men trying to throw each other under a speeding bus.

 

"Legal Obligations" vs. "Moral Obligations". The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law has very clear language regarding the mandatory reporting of incidents like this:

(c)  Staff members of institutions, etc.--Whenever a person is required to report under subsection (b) in the capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, that person shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school, facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge. Upon notification, the person in charge or the designated agent, if any, shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made in accordance with section 6313.


So, by notifying Tim Curley (as Director of Athletics) and Gary Schultz (as in charge of University Police), Joe Paterno fulfilled his legal obligation to pass Mike McQueary's discoveries onto the people in charge.  Same goes for Mike McQueary, really -- the obligation is essentially to pass the information up the ladder to the person or people ultimately responsible for reporting the incident, pursuant to the reporting criteria found here

The question remains, however: is that enough?  The investigation obviously went nowhere.  Curley and Schultz both admitted in their testimony that they didn't report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare or Centre County Children and Youth Services.  There was no attempt to identify Victim #2. 

At what point should Paterno have followed up with Curley and asked, "hey, remember that...thing I told you about?  The one involving a little boy, my trusted defensive coordinator of 32 years, and our locker room?  Anything happen with that?  Should I make that phone call myself?"  The Grand Jury Findings Of Fact state, "[T]he graduate assistant was never questioned by University Police and no other entity conducted an investigation until he testified in Grand Jury in December, 2010."  Curley and Schultz admitted that they didn't act.  Why didn't anyone else?

It's probably not a huge jump to conclude that if an incident about an alleged aggravated indecent assault in the Penn State locker room is reported to law enforcement, they're rather likely to open up a file on it.  That didn't happen here.  And please, for the love of God, stop saying that anyone other than Tim Curley or Gary Schultz was barred from reporting the incident.  That is stupid and wrong:

§ 6312.  Persons permitted to report suspected child abuse.
In addition to those persons and officials required to report suspected child abuse, any person may make such a report if that person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is an abused child.

Stop it.  If you're a Penn State fan that pontificates about moral character and Success With Honor, you need to start asking some very difficult questions. 

Also, stop with the "if Joe Paterno or anyone else reported it, he could've been sued for defamation" wailing.  No.  No.  Wrong.  Stop.

I'm willing to cut McQueary slack on this, incidentally.  He was a Graduate Assistant hoping to break into a coaching career and allegedly witnessed something unspeakably awful being done by a Penn State legend, then had the choice to (a) do nothing, (b) call the police immediately, or (c) call the King of Happy Valley, Joe Paterno.  Not an enviable position, for sure.  At least he didn't choose (a).

Finally, if someone can rationally explain to me why the hell Jerry Sandusky was permitted to have continued access to Penn State facilities and events (nevermind have permanent office space at Lasch after his "retirement"), I'd love to hear it.

This has been a dark few days for all of us.  The program is going to be utterly ravaged for this, mostly for the obviously awful conduct alleged, but also because Penn State has spent millions of marking dollars telling the rest of collegiate athletics that Penn State Does Things The Right Way And You Don't.  As I wrote Saturday morning, this is so much worse than the garden variety NCAA scandals that have dotted the media landscape for the past two seasons.  If the allegations are true, we're in Baylor Basketball Scandal territory.

With all due respect to the Patriot-News, who dared to pursue this story when all others wouldn't, things are about to get very raw in Happy Valley now that the national media is primed to descend upon this story.  Every college football writer was tweeting or writing about it on Saturday.  ESPN had game breaks devoted solely to the charges against Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz.  It was the lead story on the NBC Nightly News, for heaven's sake. 

This is not going away, and I'll be shocked and infuriated if anyone survives this with their jobs -- very much including Joe Paterno.

It is awful in every conceivable way, and most certainly going to get worse.  Buckle up, indeed.

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