Gregg Doyle wrote a column that came up in my Google results for Penn State. It really raised my ire and I gave in, for the first time since this scandal broke, to writing a response to a columnist. I will post the response if he graces me with one... but I've probably just wasted my time.
Gregg, the questions you ask are good ones and yet you leave the reader to imply answers and provide no facts to rebut any of Spanier's claims. This is especially troubling because most of Spanier's strongest points and presented evidence are in regard to the Freeh report which claims the willful cover-up of Sandusky's actions that you seem to have accepted based on your line of questions. I will respond to each.
1. How can you hide behind the I-didn't-know excuse when you were told by high-ranking school officials in 2001 that Jerry Sandusky had engaged in "horseplay" with a young boy in a shower on campus ... and failed to find out exactly what "horseplay" meant?
Spanier claims a certain amount of ignorance in this situation which may strain credulity, but there's no hard evidence that he did understand what he was dealing with. Your asking for a definition of horseplay? "Rough or boisterous play." By definition, horseplay is fun and typically physical. If that's the description of Sandusky's behavior that Spanier received, then I hardly see how he is culpable (or at least certainly less responsible than others). And if he was aware of anything more than that, and there was evidence of it, he would have been indicted with Curley/Schultz.
2. You were the university president with a myriad of responsibilities, and everyone at Penn State knows that -- yet whatever happened in that shower was disturbing enough that some of your top officials felt you needed to know. How could you hear their concerns of "horseplay" and just ... let it go?
Having a myriad of responsibilities is exactly the problem here. He has to delegate responsibility. He has to trust the people below him will do their jobs and do it appropriately. If you've worked with someone for a number of years and they've always apparently done their job, then you rely on them. If that person notifies you of something and tells you they are handling it, then tell you it was handled, you generally aren't going to continue to worry about it. Especially if the take-away was that it was just horseplay.
3. You say you wish you "could have intervened" because it would have been your "instinct" to do so. Where were your instincts when your athletics director felt that whatever happened in a shower between a naked man and a naked boy warranted telling you?
Sandusky horsing around in a shower presents a very real risk to PSU outside of any possibility of him being a pedophile. None of these people have ever defended Sandusky playing in the shower with children. Nor has anyone else at PSU. All of their reactions are very consistent with thinking Sandusky failed to appreciate why it was inappropriate and the actions they did take were consistent with trying to send Sandusky that message.
4. Did you ask in 2001, "Who saw this incident, and when can I talk to that person to find out exactly what 'horseplay' means?"
5. Did you ever ask to speak to the witness, Mike McQueary?
Again, the answer for both 4 and 5 is delegation of responsibility. Curley and Schultz should have been the appropriate people to handle this responsibly. They obviously made bad decisions. And it appears to me they didn't give Spanier enough information to understand that it was a bad decision. Now, if you want to argue a cover-up, it would make sense to argue that the people on trial for perjury withheld information on purpose. Or, perhaps you could be open-minded to the possibility that maybe the reason that everyone reacted so out of line with the seriousness of the crime is because they really did believe that Sandusky was being inappropriate but not being a pedophile.
6. Do you expect anyone to take you seriously, Graham Spanier?
He presented more evidence in support of his arguments than you did. So I do take him seriously. And if you want me to take you seriously, I hope you will take the time to answer your own questions and/or refute the points I've made with evidence.
Spanier's criticisms of the Freeh report are, for the most part, spot on. The evidence of an actual cover-up is paper thin and truly defies ALL logic.
McQueary said in his testimony that he was never told not to talk about the incident. As of the time it came to PSU's attention there were already 2 outside people that knew about it. They were never silenced either. Nobody at PSU ever asked about or identified the victim to keep them quiet either (Freeh concludes that this was because they didn't care about the victim, but it is also very consistent with misunderstanding the seriousness of the incident). Then, once Joe Paterno got the report he passed it up the chain of command. Not something a person would do if they were covering this up... especially someone purportedly as all-powerful as Joe Paterno. Then Curley/Schultz, who are actually on trial for the crime, told Spanier and the Second Mile about the incident. I can understand telling the President if you thought he might be on board for a cover-up, but who in their right mind would cover something up by taking it "out of house"? Who would ask legal counsel about it? Who would send e-mails about it?
These men were smart and competent enough to run a world-class University and successfully navigate all sorts of hurdles and you want me to believe they all made so many ridiculous decisions in covering up a clear report of child rape?
They obviously stumbled hard and fell on this hurdle. But Freeh's conclusion that this was an orchestrated cover-up defies logic in the face of the full set of facts and the documented actions of all of the individuals.
A man standing up to point out some of those erroneous conclusions and to refute them with facts where those facts exist shouldn't be outright dismissed. Don't believe what he says about his understanding of the situation if you like, but don't also ignore facts that he uses to defend himself. And don't automatically fill in gaps in our knowledge of the situation by assuming the worst of everyone. Better yet, try not to fill in the gaps in the story until all the evidence is out. And, after that, only fill in those gaps with the simplest explanation.
The simplest explanation consistent with the facts we have right now? Mike McQueary told a story to PSU brass that did not convey the seriousness of what he witnessed, he never pushed to clarify or objected to their reaction even when asked directly by Paterno whether he was ok with it, and everyone thought the matter was handled appropriately (with the possible exception of McQueary who never objected) until the weight of more victims helped to clarify the picture of what really happened that night.
Bad decisions, miscommunications, lack of experience with pedophiles, and perhaps a bit of willful ignorance? All probable. Conspiracy to cover-up a known pedophile? VERY unlikely.
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