I know today has been a day of mental anguish for all Penn Staters. It was a day where two things collided: the horrific accounts of what allegedly happened to those 8 young boys and the reality that individuals who Penn Staters regarded as "family" were implicated either directly or indirectly. All this made for something brutal to comprehend or reconcile, leaving one emotion unchecked – anger. And the message boards are filled with this.
But I want to offer up a different perspective. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, so what I have typed below comes from my understanding of the situation as well as some brief chats with a few folks who are lawyers.
The Dilemma of a Compressed Timeframe
First of all, with one 23-page indictment, we have been immediately brought up-to-speed as to the allegations of what happened over a multi-year period. So the cumulative impact of what allegedly transpired is horrible and seems so blatant, i.e., how could anybody not know about Sandusky? Almost like it happened all at once.
But the practical reality is that all of these alleged misdeeds unfolded in real time, over the course of many years, and most of them were not publicly known until this indictment. In fact, the timeline shows that all but one of the alleged misdeeds took place AFTER the Lasch shower incident, which is the epicenter for anger about JoePa, Curly, et al.
But, in actuality, while the GA definitely saw something seemingly bad in the shower room, he didn’t see it with the knowledge of 7 other allegations, or with the knowledge that Sandusky was a convicted felon. He viewed it with the eye of someone that was probably in utter shock as to what he thought he was seeing. And, with the eye of someone who "knew" Sandusky to be a charitable man, running a successful youth program, etc. So, at that moment, the GA’s choice seems to be to (a) call 911 and report an assault, wait for the police to arrive, ID the perpetrator, etc., or (b) to report the incident to his boss, aka JoePa. He chose (b).
(As an aside, I wonder why the GA didn’t just scream for help (or at Sandusky), pull the fire alarm, try to physically intervene, or do something/anything to stop what he saw. Seems that’s what I would have done if I were certain something bad was going on. Maybe the GA was not completely certain of what he saw?)
The Proper Communications Route
The other aspect that needs to be considered is that, at the time of the alleged incident, Jerry Sandusky was not an employee of Penn State, he was employed by Second Mile. And, as such, Penn State was not responsible for rushing to authorities making claims based on hearsay from one of its GAs. Its legal responsibility is to forward this information to Sandusky’s employer, Second Mile. And practically, had the university called the police and, if nothing came of it, Penn State would have been open to a huge legal issue for smearing the name of one other their legendary coaches. (And people would have been calling for Joe to go, as a result, I am sure.)
And I don’t subscribe to the morality argument, because this was not like they caught Jerry, once again, having sex with a young boy. Sandusky had no legal track record to date. Of course, looking back now, (now that we know all that we know) it does seem incomprehensible an immoral to not call the police. But that’s revisionist history.
So In The End
So here’s what I think happened: The GA sees something that appears bad, but isn’t sure so he doesn’t do anything at that point. Instead, he comes to Joe with a pretty sordid story about what he thinks he saw. While certainly shocking, it’s not like Sandusky just got out of jail for molestation, etc. – he actually has a legally clean record. So, to follow the legal guidelines (and avoid a civil lawsuit for slander) JoePa passes this information on to Curley who, in turn, passes this on to Second Mile. (Unfortunately, it’s not Curley’s job to call the police either, for the same reasons as Joe.) And, just to be safe, Penn State proactively takes away Sandusky’s keys, privileges, etc.
And Second Mile never pursues this any further, it seems.
And, sadly, the alleged transgressions continued, impacting 6 additional (at a minimum) young boys.
Look, I am as horrified as anyone else about what happened in the aggregate. And I also wish this had been stopped long before it did. But I also think it pays to put everything in as best perspective as we can, before calling up the lynch mob.
In the end, I have a feeling Curley and Shultz will be exonerated, and JoePa will not be much more legally involved that some additional testimony. (I am not including the current lynch mob of reporters that are calling for Joe’s head, which is way worse.)
And Jerry Sandusky will wind up in jail for a long time where, ironically, other inmates will repeatedly treat him like he treated several 14 year olds Second Mile kids.