Disclaimer: As this is an opinion piece, concerning IT and the Freeh Report, I am posting this as a Fan Post. The views expressed herein reflect mine and mine alone. They do not represent the views of anyone else at BSD or SBNation...
After reading the Freeh Report, like many of you, I felt a mixture of sadness, anger and hollowness. How could these people, who held the trust of so many, violate same trust? How did the reality of the events change my view of the last 30 years of following this team, this coach and this school? The more time that I've had to reflect, the more I was struck by the feeling that something wasn't right about that report. While it was incredibly well written and sourced, it seemed incomplete to me. That got me to thinking and googling. The things I found, and the conclusions I've drawn from those things, are below the jump.
The part I have found lacking from any meaningful discussion on this issue is the level of responsibility of Graham Spanier. Joe certainly had a tremendous amount of influence and was able to call a lot of shots at Penn State. But, Spanier was no wallflower. Spanier was respected throughout the country as one of America's foremost academics. As President of the University, the buck necessarily must stop with him. Put another way, let's suppose for a moment that Joe did tell Curley that he was uncomfortable with reporting JS to the police in 2001. The proper response from a College President should be "I don't give a damn what the football coach wants, we're calling the cops. If he doesn't like it, he can retire." Yet, that didn't happen here. Naturally, the question that raises (and wasn't even discussed in the Freeh Report) was why? Why did the Freeh Report not devote as much time to Spanier's potential motivations as it did Paterno's? A google search revealed that there hasn't really been that much meaningful discussion regarding Spanier, as almost 100% of the discussion revolved around Coach Paterno. That is certainly understandable, as Paterno was the "Face of the Franchise." However, it is also much too short-sighted. Below are some facts about Spanier which have not been widely discussed, but are extremely relevant to the discussion of why JS' abuse of children was not reported by PSU officials:
Prior to arriving in Happy Valley, Spanier was Provost at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While at UN-L, Spanier had a spat with legendary Cornhusker coach Tom Osbourne over who to hire as Athletic Director. Osbourne wanted to hire someone from within the Athletic Department and Spanier wanted to hire someone from outside. Spanier won and Bill Byrne was hired as Athletic Director. So, is it plausible that a man, who stood up to TOM OSBOURNE in NEBRASKA, in the hiring of a figurehead Athletic Director would cower away from standing up to Joe Paterno in reporting child abuse? I don't think it is. Clearly, Spanier had the stones to stand up for what he thought was right, if he wanted to. So, this begs the question of why, then, did Spanier not stand up to Paterno and report JS to the police?
Perhaps it is because of Spanier's academic work and his general outlook on issues such as pedophilia and other sexual deviancies. Spanier's academic claim to fame was his doctoral dissertation, which was a "landmark" study of spouse swapping/swinging in something called the Archives of Sexual Behavior (note: you have to pay for it), serves to explain wife swapping as perfectly healthy and normal within a marriage. (As an aside, fellas try this with the Mrs. tonight and see how it works).
Then there is the whole Sex-Faire incident. On November 18, 2000, with student activity funds, a student group organized an event which featured, among other things, a speaker named Patrick Califia-Rice, a transgendered advocate of "boy lovers." When asked by PA Rep. John Lawless, (oh, the irony) at a Budget Hearing, whether he thought the event was "immoral," Spanier's response, under oath, was "it depends on what your definition of immoral is." So, the President of the University, when asked whether an event that featured a pedophilia advocate was immoral, courageously equivocated. Perhaps, this demonstrates a certain moral relativism that takes a non-chalant view of child sexual abuse in theory, but certainly when faced with specific allegations of child sexual abuse, Spanier was all about informing the authorities and would never knowingly cover for a faculty member who was accused of such things, right?
Paul McLaughlin would probably disagree. Who is Paul McLaughlin, you ask? Paul McLaughlin is a private investigator who alleged that between the ages of 11-15, he was abused by Penn State Education Professor John T. Neisworth. Specifically, McLaughlin alleged that Neisworth molested him ON PENN STATE'S CAMPUS. McLaughlin reported the abuse to Penn State administrators, including Graham Spanier. Further, McLaughlin told Spanier that he had Neisworth on tape, allegedly confessing to the assault. Spanier's response to Mr. McLaughlin was, in full Boehiemian style, to essentially 'Pound Sand'. When did this report allegedly take place? You guessed it, 2001. In 2001, Neisworth was still a faculty member at Penn State. So, in the same year Spanier hears about a second incident involving former PSU Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky abusing children, he also hears about then current faculty member Neisworth allegedly abusing a child on campus. His responses were almost identical to each incident. So, how did the McLaughlin allegations end up? A criminal and civil complaint were filed in Maryland (one of the states where McLaughlin was allegedly abused). The criminal case was dismissed, due to the tape's inadmissibility (Maryland has very strict wiretap laws). The civil case, however, was settled for six figures.
The Freeh Report was initiated to determine how allegations against JS went unreported. Specifically, Freeh was charged with examining breakdowns from an institutional standpoint. The investigation was supposed to go "whereever the evidence takes us." Clearly, given the above, that was not what happened. This does not mean to demean the work put in by the Committee, as I believe that what they wrote about Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno was largely true. However, the report is incomplete. You cannot discuss institutional breakdowns that allowed children to be abused without discussing Paul McLaughlin and Spanier's apparent laissez faire attitude toward sexual deviancy, including child abuse. The report seems to want to portray Paterno as a sort of puppet-master who told Spanier to cover up for JS. But, as Spanier demonstrated at Nebraska, he would not be pushed around by any coach, no matter how revered. Quite simply, given the lack of meaningful discussion of the above in the Freeh Report, the report is necessarily incomplete.
Assuming, for a moment, that members of the Freeh Committee or BoT are reading this post, the PSU Alumni Community (of which I, sadly, am not a member) deserve and honest account of ALL of this. By supporting and accepting a report which does not discuss Spanier's apparent laissez faire attitude toward pedophilia, you are depriving the Alumni from a full, accurate and honest reporting of what happened at Penn State and how it can truly be prevented in the future. I would implore you to re-engage the Freeh Committee to add discussion of this aspect into their report. The Alumni and the victims of All of the abuse at Penn State deserve no less.