I have been considering writing a “Unified Theory of the Shower Incident” because I have thought for some time that there is a narrative that explains away many of the inconsistencies. “Success With Honor Always” post shares my same central thesis, so I thank him/her and express my admiration for his/her taking the initiative that alluded me. Because I had a fair amount add, however, I thought I would do it in a new post.
1). I don’t think it was just MM’s memory changing, I think prosecutors pushed him to rethink the incident in light of the newer allegations, and his conscience subconsciously changed his memories.
2). In addition to other discussions on other postings of the physical problems of anal intercourse between a 6 foot plus man and a 10-12 year old boy, I find it strange that none of the victims who allege JS had a multiyear relationship with them accuse him of sodomy, only of fondling and oral sex. But the one incident that MM saw, and in which he admits he did not actually see intercourse, is now accepted as an incident of anal intercourse. While certainly possible, it does not seem consistent with the stories of the other victims.
3). If the allegations against JS are true (and I believe in general they are), he was obviously skilled at covering up or explaining away his activities. Paterno, a coach for 50 plus years, and Curley, a footballer through college, were obviously used to being around naked young men in showers. So when JS claims he is just trying to acclimate these kids to the locker room experience, it is perhaps a little more believable to them than it is to the rest of us. A lot of us less confident students remember hating high school gym classes because we were uncomfortable in group showers. JS’s explanation may have sounded odd, and PSU may not have wanted him to be trying out his acclimatization process on their campus, but I can understand why they may have believed it was not sexual. After all, that seemed to be the conclusion of the previous DA investigation several years earlier.
4). A lot has been made of the fact that the PSU administration was not prepared for the media storm that hit after the GJ presentment. Perhaps one explanation is that Paterno, Curley and Schultz came back from their GJ appearances and told Spanier and members of the BoT that there was nothing to worry about because they had explained to the GJ that they had done the right thing given the information they had at the time. If they were engaged in a cover up that was about to be exposed, I would think they would have been better prepared when the media feeding frenzy began. Remember, Paterno seemed very confident he could explain the whole thing at press conference before it was canceled. Would he have been so confident if he was trying to hold together a cover up that was unraveling?
Those of us who defend Paterno, Curley and Schultz are accused of being naïve and denying the obvious, but to me, “Success With Honor Always’” view seems to require much less a suspension of belief than to believe what has become conventional wisdom.
To believe the conventional wisdom, you have to believe media-savvy Joe Paterno, who has instilled in multiple generations of athletes a high code of honor, decided to orchestrate a cover-up to protect a child molester who was not a University employee. He decided this even though three other people (MM, his doctor’s father and his father’s doctor friend) already knew about the incident and two of them, as doctors, had a particular moral, if not legal, obligation to report the incident, and had no reason to cooperate in a cover-up. Amazingly, he then informed two other people who had a legal and moral obligation to report the incident. In summary, we must believe that six adult men, all of apparently good moral character to this point in their lives, professional educators or physicians, are aware of an incident that all but the most perverted among us find to be completely reprehensible, but agree to ignore it. Two of them then go on to perjure themselves to a grand jury.
On the other hand, if we accept that MM, 7 years after the incident, and prodded by an aggressive district attorney, embellishes his story in order to help put away someone he now is convinced is a monster, the rest of the story makes sense. You can argue that Paterno, Schultz, and Curly were naïve to believe Sandusky, and should have been more aggressive, but that is 20-20 hindsight, and there is a huge difference between making a mistake and committing a crime, moral of legal.