I am a longtime BSD reader and have never written a post. I am a ’95 PSU grad and have been generally obsessed with the Sandusky case since it broke in early Nov. BSD has been my sanctuary through this turmoil and a place I can count on to find news and minority opinions like my own. Thank you all very much.
While it appears that employees of Penn State have various levels of culpability in this case, I can’t help but to relate most strongly to the position of Joe Paterno. In my company, I am in a position of authority. I am in charge of a portion of our business and I have about 300 people that report to me. I have a boss, who is in charge of the entire business (Curley in this example) and he has a boss who is the CEO of the entire company (Spanier). While I am not a famous icon or the most successful business manager of all time, I fit into the same general position as Joe Paterno in my company.
There is also a workout room and a shower in the locker room of my building. If I was presented with the scenario where one of my employees witnessed some sort of “wrong”, “sexual”, incident involving a retired employee of mine and an 11 year old boy in the shower at work, I believe it is reasonable to assume I would act in a very similar manner as Joe Paterno.
Let’s say one of my employees (let’s call him “John”) comes to me and tells me that the previous evening he came into work to retrieve something in the locker room and found a retired employee (let’s call him “Bill”) in the shower with a young boy. John told me he heard what he thought could be rhythmic sex sounds and that he caught a glimpse of them in the shower with Bill behind the boy but he couldn’t really see much. John made noises so they would hear him and he looked in and saw they were no longer close to each other. John leaves. John was really shaken up but didn’t call the police and came to see me the next morning.
I listen to John’s story the next day. He is intimidated by me and he doesn’t go into graphic detail. He does say he thinks it was sexual. I know Bill and I know his wife and his family. His sons interned for me while they were in college. By all purposes, Bill is an upstanding person with an outstanding record with one blemish where he had been accused of doing this exact same thing before but there were never any charges brought and as far as I knew (if at all) the police decided that there wasn’t much there. I knew Bill was a little eccentric but I didn’t think he was a child molester. But I know that John certainly thinks he saw something and I am duty bound to follow up.
At this point, I don’t think I call the police right away. I wasn’t there, I didn’t actually see it. If wrong, I would set off a whirlwind of problems for Bill, his family and possibly to my company. Plus, John didn’t call the police either so his actions tell me that may not be the best approach given what he saw. Instead, I want to talk to my boss and our head of HR. I tell them the story and they say they want to talk directly to John. At this point, having linked the people who are now taking on the burden of the case and I am no longer part of the critical path. Afterward, my boss, who also knows Bill, decides to call him up and ask him what the hell he was doing. Bill states that was there with the kid showing him around and they got dirty so they decided to get cleaned up. That was all. He offered up the name of the kid to verify the story. My boss tells him that it looks really bad and that he shouldn’t have done that and never bring a kid around the building again.
My boss then goes back to John and tells him that they called Bill and told him not to come back to the building with children. He tells him it must have been some mistake and that was it. Later, I decide to follow up with John and ask him if he was OK with how things were handled. He says he is OK with it. I decide that if he, being the actual witness, is OK then I am OK with it too.
So the question here is: Should I get fired? Should my professional reputation be completely tarnished? If my company decided to name a company award after me because of my stellar career, should that also be removed? Was what I did in this scenario so outrageous that it deserves to be a headline of every newspaper in the country? Is this not a generally reasonable course of action? Certainly, “with hindsight” we should have done more but we did what we thought to be rational response.
Frankly, I’d like to hear someone tell me that they would have handled the situation differently. About the only difference I see in my scenario versus the actual Penn State scenario is that Paterno didn’t meet with his boss and HR, he met with his boss and the person who has the police department reporting to them (what would be the equivalent to the mayor of the small town in which I work). This would actually strengthen Paterno’s actions over mine.
BTW, while I am writing I want to mention a few other topics I have read on here and other places.
I work in a university town in an adjacent state to PA. There are about 25K students and it is well known that the campus police are a real police department. They carry weapons, they can arrest you, give you a ticket, investigate crime, etc… When you live and work in one of these towns this is a well-known fact. Not just in Pennsylvania, but here and just about everywhere else.
Also, I love to listen to the theories about how all the “Big Money” has corrupted everyone involved and if you want to know why this occurred, just follow the money. I work with people every day that are responsible for businesses that make Penn State’s football revenue look small. I personally manage a business that is comparable in size. Are you telling me that I would be easily corrupted by the sums of money that I or everyone I work with manages? The thought that this type of money would corrupt these guys is ridiculous. Penn State has no reason to protect Sandusky on a monetary basis. If they would have pursued him and he was found guilty of a crime on their campus, exactly how much would that publicity affect the PSU football revenues? 5%? That is a few million in revenue. Do you think guys like Spanier, Curley or Paterno would care about a few million dollars? These guys give away that kind of money. I read somewhere that they didn’t want to jeopardize the $250K Sandusky got from football camps. You have got to be kidding if you think that type of money makes guys like that even think twice. If anything, it would have affected it more if they would have pursued him and he was found not-guilty. At that point, they could have been sued by Sandusky. Either way, these guys aren’t about money. Just take a look at Joe’s house and you realize the guy doesn’t care at all about money.
If you made it through all of this, thanks for reading.