Just when you thought you had all the answers, they change the questions. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Sara Ganim, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter who has provided the most in-depth investigative coverage of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, reported that former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary's initial account of an alleged March 2002 sexual assault may have differed dramatically from both his grand jury testimony from earlier this year and a written statement he made to police last month.
In Sunday's article, Ganim recounts the grand jury testimony of Dr. Jonathan Dranov, identified as "a family friend and colleague of McQueary's father." Dranov was reportedly with the elder McQueary when the then-graduate assistant gave his first description of the events that transpired.
According to the source with knowledge of Dranov's testimony before the grand jury, it went like this:
McQueary heard "sex sounds" and the shower running, and a young boy stuck his head around the corner of the shower stall, peering at McQueary as an adult arm reached around his waist and pulled him back out of view.
Seconds later, Sandusky left the shower in a towel.
* * *
However, Dranov told grand jurors that he asked McQueary three times if he saw anything sexual, and three times McQueary said no, according to the source.
Because of that response, the source says, Dranov told McQueary that he should talk to his boss, head football coach Joe Paterno, rather than police.
As Ganim notes, Dranov's account is markedly different from the story told by the grand jury presentment, drafted by prosecutors in the Sandusky case. The 23-page presentment notes that McQueary "saw a naked boy . . . with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky." The story in the presentment matches the written statement that McQueary gave to police in mid-November, where he stated that "he witnessed a boy, about 10, being sodomized in a shower."
What does this all mean? Tim Curley and Gary Schultz were apparently adamant in the grand jury that McQueary only reported conduct that he felt was "inappropriate," and that they were never told of the graphic details of the grand jury presentment. Before his lawyer-recommended silence, Paterno maintained that he had never heard those explicit details either. Dranov's testimony lends real credence those versions of the story, and certainly should give pause to those condemning those three men.
Legally speaking, things could become very interesting in the near future. McQueary's testimony to the grand jury has been referred to as "highly credible," yet McQueary has at least three versions of the story that are entirely audience dependent. If Dranov's testimony is to be believed (and there's no reason to suspect he isn't credible), McQueary was very clear that he saw "nothing sexual" when telling his story within hours of the incident. Nine years later, McQueary's testimony to the grand jury appears to have been very different. Just a few weeks ago in an email to former teammates, McQueary mentions that he "did stop it" and "made sure it was stopped when [he] left that locker room." Does anyone see a way that those three accounts can be reconciled?
As Tennessee fan and newfound Penn State friend aurabass noted in the FanPosts, the perjury cases against Curley and Schultz are based entirely on the credibility of Mike McQueary. It now seems questionable as to whether those charges will even make it past the preliminary hearing scheduled for December 16th in Dauphin County.
However, the case against Sandusky is far greater than the testimony of eyewitness Mike McQueary. Even if the case built around McQueary's testimony collapses under the weight of impeachment, many of the accusers will take the stand against Sandusky. Barring extreme circumstances, that case will proceed the trial.
Dranov's testimony does give us confirmation on one very specific and extremely important issue. As has been mentioned numerous times by the BSD staff and community (and virtually ignored by the rest of the world), it is clear that the grand jury presentment is, at best, incomplete. McQueary apparently spoke with Dranov and his father just a short time after the alleged sexual assault took place in the Lasch Building showers, yet Dranov's name appears a grand total of zero times in the presentment.
This does not exculpate Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. It does not necessarily mean that Joe Paterno did more than what has been presented. It does indicate, however, that any information we have is incomplete and potentially rife with error. It is natural to attempt to cover the gaps, but we don't appear to have enough information for that either. As it's been since November 5th, the prudent move continues to be to reserve judgment on all parties until this moves forward in the legal system.
So, you think you've had a bad day? Sunday's report is just the latest in yet another news-filled week in the Sandusky saga. On Tuesday, we learned that eight of the alleged victims will testify at Sandusky's preliminary hearing on December 13th. On Wednesday, Sandusky was once again arrested and arraigned, this time on twelve new charges based on new grand jury testimony from two additional alleged victims. After spending the night in Centre County jail, Sandusky was released from the facility Thursday after posting the required $250,000 bail. He is under house arrest and is wearing an electronic ankle monitor.
Thursday was no better for the Penn State community, as the Big Ten Conference appeared to jump on the pile by issuing a statement that, depending on your outlook, was either the opening salvo of a possible disciplinary action or a meaningless public relations stunt. Either way, it was not very good for the already battered image of Dear Old State. Penn Staters received more bad news on Sunday when it was reported that former head football coach Joe Paterno had fallen and once again fractured his pelvis. The embattled 85-year old coach had broken his pelvis earlier in the year after a collision with receiver Devon Smith, and has recently been undergoing aggressive treatment for lung cancer.
Perhaps the only good news to come out of the week is that Franco Harris, a Nittany Lion legend and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was finally reinstated as the chairman of The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship foundation. Harris had essentially been forced out of his role after publically defending Paterno during the height of media scrutiny.
What's next? The cases against Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz move into their first active stages this week. On Tuesday, Sandusky will appear in Centre County Court for a preliminary hearing. A helpful primer on preliminary hearings can be found here. On Friday, preliminary hearings for the perjury charges against Curley and Schultz will take place in Dauphin County. Both will be interesting for dramatically different reasons. On Tuesday, it will be the first time that the alleged victims will be able to publically testify against Sandusky. On Friday, we will find out if the charges against Curley and Schultz stick. It promises to be another interesting week.