Remember me

The Trial of Penn State

December 11, 2011

            JUDGE: Penn State University, you are accused of acting rashly and irresponsibly in the matter of Joe Paterno, in such a manner that you defamed, libeled and slandered Paterno, unfairly demolishing his reputation. How do you plead?

            PENN STATE:  Not guilty, your honor.

            JUDGE:  Proceed.

            PROSECUTOR:  We will prove that Penn State did in fact act rashly and irresponsibly, and that they were grossly unfair to Mr. Paterno. Mr. Paterno gave to Penn State University decades of faithful and honorable service, upholding the highest standards of competence and integrity.  If at any point the University decided that he was no longer the best man to lead their football program, they were entitled to do so without complaint. They were, however, not entitled to gratuitously damage his reputation in the process of so doing.

            Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the critical question here is, "What did Joe Paterno know about Jerry Sandusky in March of 2002, or in the years that followed March of 2002?"  What information did he have?

            If it can be shown that Mr. Paterno knew of Mr. Sandusky’s activities, or even that he ought to have known, then one can step ahead to the conclusion that he should have acted on that knowledge.   If, on the other hand, he did not know and had no way of knowing, then perhaps you would agree that it was unreasonable to demolish his reputation based on activities that were totally unknown to him and totally outside the sphere of his influence at Penn State.

            We accuse Penn State of cowardice in the face of a hyped-up media lynch mob, but cowardice itself is not the crime; cowardice is merely the cause of the crime.   In the Wild West, local police would often hand over an accused person to a mob.   By 1880 almost every Western state had made it a crime to do this, and required policemen to defend those in their custody with all means available.   We acknowledge that the accused, Penn State, found itself in a difficult position, confronted by a hostile mob.  A person once associated with Penn State and once associated with Joe Paterno, Mr. Jerry Sandusky, is believed to have engaged in reprehensible conduct.    Penn State understandably wished to put as much distance between themselves and Mr. Sandusky as it was possible to do, as soon as it was possible to do.    When Mr. Paterno was unfairly and irresponsibly attacked by persons in the media who imputed to him knowledge that he could not have had and powers and influence that greatly exceeded his actual authority, Penn State handed him over to the mob.  This is what we will prove.

            JUDGE:  Call your first witness.

            PROSECUTOR:  We call to the stand the Grand Jury Report. 

            JUDGE: Be seated.   Mr. Grand Jury Report, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

            GRAND JURY:   Hell, no.   I’m a Grand Jury.   I can say whatever I want to say; I don’t have to follow no rules. 

            JUDGE:  Noted.  Well, will you at least try to tell the truth as you see it?

            GRAND JURY:   Sure.

            JUDGE:  Proceed.

            PROSECUTOR:  Mr. Grand Jury, you spent several months looking into the allegations against Mr. Sandusky?

            GRAND JURY:   We did.

            PROSECUTOR:  And would it be fair to say that you also looked into the conduct of Penn State University in regard to Mr. Sandusky’s alleged criminal activities?

            GRAND JURY:   Well, we indicted two people from Penn State for their actions in that regard, so I suppose that would be a fair statement, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  You indicted a Mr. Curley and a Mr. Schultz, correct?

            GRAND JURY:   We did.

            PROSECUTOR:  And who are Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz?

            GRAND JURY:   Mr. Curley is the Athletic Director at Penn State, currently suspended.   Mr. Schultz was the head of the University Police.  He was the Vice President of the University for Finance and Business, but one of his responsibilities was overseeing the campus police.

            PROSECUTOR:  And you did not indict Mr. Paterno?

            GRAND JURY:   No.

            PROSECUTOR:  To indict someone, does that demand a higher standard of proof than a conviction, or lower?

            GRAND JURY:   Lower.

            PROSECUTOR:  Somewhat lower, or much lower?

            GRAND JURY:   Much, much lower.

            PROSECUTOR:  Is it often said among prosecutors that they could indict a ham sandwich if they needed to?

            GRAND JURY:   You’re the prosecutor; you tell me.

            PROSECUTOR:  Fair enough, but despite the much lower standard of evidence for an indictment, you did not indict Mr. Paterno?

            GRAND JURY:   We did not.

            PROSECUTOR:  On what charges did you indict Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz?

            GRAND JURY:   Perjury, and failure to report abuse of a child.   

            PROSECUTOR:  You felt that Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz lied to you?

            GRAND JURY:   Yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  But not Mr. Paterno?

            GRAND JURY:   Not Mr. Paterno, that is correct.

            PROSECUTOR:  You felt that Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley had a legal obligation to report the allegations of abuse, but Mr. Paterno did not?

            GRAND JURY:   Mr. Paterno had a legal obligation to report the abuse to his superiors, which he did.  

            PROSECUTOR:  And he trusted his superiors to fulfill the legal obligations of the University?

            GRAND JURY:   That is correct.

            PROSECUTOR:  And they failed to do so?

            GRAND JURY:   That is correct.

            PROSECUTOR:  Let us focus first on the Perjury indictments.   Can you tell us, in your own words, why you issued those indictments?

            GRAND JURY:   We had conflicting testimony from different witnesses.   The testimony of Schultz and Curley was at odds with the testimony of another witness, and the other witness was much more credible.   If the other witness was telling the truth, Schultz and Curley were lying.

            PROSECUTOR:  The other witness was Michael McQueary?

            GRAND JURY:   Yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  Mr. McQueary is an assistant football coach at Penn State?

            GRAND JURY:   He is now, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  We’re talking about now, yes.  But what was the nature of the conflict between the testimony of these individuals?

            GRAND JURY:   It has to do with an incident which occurred on March 1, 2002.   Mr. McQueary witnessed a very disturbing incident in the locker rooms of the Lasch football building on the Penn State University campus, an incident in which Mr. Sandusky was allegedly having anal sex with a young boy in the locker room showers.   Mr. McQueary states that he reported this to Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley.    Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley deny this.

            PROSECUTOR:  And you believe Mr. McQueary?

            GRAND JURY:   Obviously.

            PROSECUTOR:  And emphatically.   Could I ask you to read this sentence that I have marked, from Page 8 of the Grand Jury report?

            GRAND JURY:  "The Grand Jury finds the graduate assistant’s testimony to be extremely credible."

            PROSECUTOR:  The graduate assistant being Mr. McQueary?

            GRAND JURY:   Yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  And could I ask you to read these sentences that I have marked, from pages 11, 12 and 13 of the report?

            GRAND JURY:   "The Grand Jury finds that portions of the testimony of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are not credible.

            "The Grand Jury finds that Tim Curley made a materially false statement under oath in an official proceeding on January 12, 2011, when he testified before the 30th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, relating to the 2002 incident, that he was not told by the graduate assistant that Sandusky was engaged in sexual conduct or anal sex with a boy in the Lasch Building showers.

            "Furthermore, the Grand Jury finds that Gary Schultz made a materially false statement under oath in an official proceeding on January 12, 2011, when he testified before the 30th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, relating to the 2002 incident that the allegations made by the graduate assistant were ‘not that serious’ and that he and Curley ‘had no indication that a crime had occurred’."

            PROSECUTOR:  So then you are competent to judge the credibility of witnesses?

            GRAND JURY:   Somebody has to.

            PROSECUTOR:  Then could I back off for a minute and ask you a stupid question?  Do you believe that Jerry Sandusky is a credible witness in this affair?

            GRAND JURY:   Of course not.

            PROSECUTOR:  And why is that?

            GRAND JURY:  Because if Jerry Sandusky is telling the truth, then 30 other people are lying.

            PROSECUTOR:  And multiple witnesses are more credible than one?

            GRAND JURY:   Of course.

            PROSECUTOR:  But in this matter, is it not also true that if Mr. McQueary is telling the truth, then multiple other witnesses are lying?

            GRAND JURY:   Two witnesses.   Not 30, two.

            PROSECUTOR:  But if Mr. Paterno was also lying, then that would be three, would it not?

            GRAND JURY:   But Paterno was not lying; Paterno told the truth.

            PROSECUTOR:  You couldn’t possibly have indicted Mr. Paterno, could you, Mr. Grand Jury?   You couldn’t have indicted Paterno because if you did, you would have one witness claiming that three other witnesses, all senior officials of the university, were lying, and you wouldn’t have any chance of making that stick, would you?  Isn’t that correct?

            GRAND JURY:   I suppose it is. 

            PROSECUTOR:  Regarding your statement that you find Mr. McQueary’s testimony to be extremely credible, let me ask you another question.   Suppose that two persons give statements about the same event, but that one gives his statement hours after the event, and the other gives his statement some weeks later.   Would you give equal weight to these two statements, or would you give some additional weight to the testimony that was given at the time of the event?

            GRAND JURY:   The memory fades over time.

            PROSECUTOR:  So that the testimony given weeks later would be less than 100% reliable on that account?

            GRAND JURY:   I suppose.

            PROSECUTOR:  And testimony given months later, would that be degraded compared to testimony given weeks later?

            GRAND JURY:   I suppose it would.

            PROSECUTOR:  And a year later, compared to months?

            GRAND JURY:   The normal principle is that more recent testimony is more reliable.

            PROSECUTOR:  In this case, what is the distance in time between this meeting, attended by Curley and Schultz and McQueary, and their testimony about it in front of the Grand Jury?

            GRAND JURY:   Eight years and ten months. 

            PROSECUTOR:  Just short of nine years?

            GRAND JURY:   2002 to 2011.

            PROSECUTOR:  Mr. Grand Jury, your comments about the credibility of the witnesses are critical to the series of events that we are discussing here.   You imputed great credibility to Mr. McQueary, which has been widely used to attack the credibility of everyone else.   But is it not your experience and your understanding that the passage of many years, nine years, will cause different people to have different memories of what was said in a meeting, even if both of them intend to tell the truth?

            GRAND JURY:   That can happen.

            PROSECUTOR:  It can happen?   Are you suggesting that sometimes it would not happen?   Do you remember what was said in the meetings that you attended nine years ago?

            GRAND JURY:   If someone told me about witnessing the anal rape of a young child, I’m pretty sure I would remember that.

            PROSECUTOR:  So then, is the fact that this is not remembered evidence that it was never said?

            GRAND JURY:   No, it is evidence that someone is lying.

            PROSECUTOR:  Perhaps it is.   Perhaps Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz are lying, I don’t know.   Was Joe Paterno present at that meeting?

            GRAND JURY:   He was not.

            PROSECUTOR:  So that issue is not relevant to Mr. Paterno.  

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  Objection.

            PROSECUTOR:  Withdrawn.  Again regarding your statement that you find Mr. McQueary’s testimony to be extremely credible, let me ask you another question.   If one person gives consistent statements about an event and another person gives inconsistent statements about an event, would you give equal credence to those two accounts?

            GRAND JURY:   No, sir.

            PROSECUTOR:  If a person makes inconsistent statements, that damages his credibility?

            GRAND JURY:   It does.

            PROSECUTOR:  Could I ask you to read this sentence, from page 7 of your report?

            GRAND JURY:   "The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught."

            PROSECUTOR:  And the next sentence?

            GRAND JURY:   "The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen."

            PROSECUTOR:  He left immediately, went to his office, and called Daddy on the telephone.   Are you aware that Mr. McQueary now says that he did not leave "immediately", but that he made certain that the criminal activity had stopped before he went to his office?

            GRAND JURY:   It’s a clarification, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  And are you aware that the graduate assistant now says that he did speak to a University policeman about the incident?

            GRAND JURY:   I’ve heard that, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  And are you aware that the University police have absolutely no record of his having had any such contact?

            GRAND JURY:   Through the press, yes, I am aware.

            PROSECUTOR:  Are you aware that, weeks after this disturbing event in 2002, Mr. McQueary played in a golf tournament with Mr. Sandusky, that he was photographed chatting and joking amiably with Mr. Sandusky, just weeks after he now says that he had witnessed Mr. Sandusky raping a child?

            GRAND JURY:   I have seen those reports.

            PROSECUTOR:  And do these facts effect your evaluation of Mr. McQueary’s testimony as "extremely credible"?

            GRAND JURY:   Not really. ..I mean, I don’t see any reason to believe that McQueary was lying.

            PROSECUTOR:  I am not suggesting that he is lying, but it has been nine years.   It could be that not every conversation that he had about the incident in 2002 was exactly the way he now remembers it.

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  Objection.

            PROSECUTOR:  Withdrawn.   If it please the court, a critical issue of this case is what Joe Paterno knew or could have known in 2002.    Could we walk through the Grand Jury statements about that issue at a very careful pace?

            JUDGE:  I’ll give you a certain amount of leeway.

            PROSECUTOR:  Thank you.  We’ve got an "ick" factor here that we need to contain somewhat; your report has references to ejaculations and erections and licking people’s genitals.  Would you understand what we meant if we categorized these events into three groups:  (3) Gross sexual misconduct, (2) Inappropriate conduct, and (1) Horsing around; what Mr. Sandusky insists on referring to as "just horsing around."   Categories two and three are criminal activity and clearly would involve prosecution if they became known.   Category one involves activity that you and I probably wouldn’t engage in or feel comfortable with, but which wouldn’t normally involve a police report or prosecution.  Do you understand what is meant by those categories?

            GRAND JURY:   I think so.

            PROSECUTOR:  OK, feel free to be more specific if you need to.   A central issue here is which of these was reported to who in 2002.    Let me ask you now, if, in 2002, Mr. McQueary witnessed a "3" (Gross Sexual Misconduct), reported a "3" to Mr. Paterno and reported a "3" to Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz, would it then be a criminal offense on the part of Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz if they failed to immediately notify the police?

            GRAND JURY:   Absolutely.

            PROSECUTOR:  Suppose that he witnessed a "3", but reported it to Mr. Paterno, Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley in somewhat vague language that they misunderstood to think that he was referring to a "2".    Would that be a criminal offense, to fail to report that event?

            GRAND JURY:   It would.

            PROSECUTOR:  Suppose that he witnessed a "3", reported it in vague language that sounded more like a "2", and Curley and Schultz, out of the sheer incredulity of this man that they knew and respected committing an act of this nature, misunderstood and thought that he was reporting a "1".   Would that still be a criminal offense, to fail to report that event?

            GRAND JURY:   Curley and Schultz had a legal obligation to protect minors on their campus.   If they heard any report at all of sexual misconduct, they were obliged to turn it over to the police and let them get to the bottom of it.   So yes, absolutely, that would still be a criminal offense.

            PROSECUTOR:  And one more hypothetical.  Suppose that Mr. McQueary witnessed an event that was very disturbing to him, very alarming to him, but that the observation was just a few seconds in duration, less than five seconds, and he was unsure exactly what the specific nature of the conduct was.   In other words, he witnessed a "2" or a "3", but he wasn’t sure exactly which it was.  Because of the ick factor, and because he did not want to accuse Mr. Sandusky of anything more than what he was certain Sandusky was guilty of, suppose that he reported this to Mr. Paterno in vague language.  Suppose that Mr. Paterno reported it to his superiors in yet more vague language, so that the superiors reasonably enough concluded that what had happened had been merely a "1".    Suppose, then, that as the years passed and more information came to Mr. McQueary, Mr. McQueary became more and more certain that he had witnessed a Level-3 event, and more and more convinced in his own mind that he had reported it to his superiors as a Level-3 event, while, in the minds of the others present, the memory of his report faded gradually to something vague and innocuous.   Would those superiors then still be guilty of perjury?

            GRAND JURY:   They would still be guilty of failing to follow up on a report of the abuse of a minor.

            PROSECUTOR:  They might be; I agree.   But they would not be guilty of perjury, would they?

            GRAND JURY:   In your hypothetical, it may be that they would not be guilty of perjury.

            JUDGE: I don’t see how we’re approaching your destination here, Mr. Prosecutor.

            PROSECUTOR:  Two more minutes, your honor?  

            JUDGE:  Two minutes.

            PROSECUTOR:  The critical issue in this case is what Mr. Paterno knew.  Can I ask you to read the following passage, from page 7 of your report?

            GRAND JURY:   "Mr. Paterno called Tim Curley ("Curley"), Penn State Athletic Director and Mr. Paterno’s immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."

            PROSECUTOR:  "Fondling or doing something of a sexual nature."   NOT anal sex. 

            GRAND JURY:   Correct.

            PROSECUTOR:  Is there any other statement in your report about what was told to Mr. Paterno?

            GRAND JURY:   I’d have to review the report to be sure.

            PROSECUTOR:  But you don’t remember any other report about what Mr. Paterno was told?

            GRAND JURY:   No.

            PROSECUTOR:  So Mr. Paterno was not told that the incident involved anal sex.

            GRAND JURY:   Not specifically, no.

            PROSECUTOR:  And Mr. Paterno testified honestly.

            GRAND JURY:   He did.

            PROSECUTOR:  What is "fondling" do you suppose; is that a Level One event, or a Level Two?

            GRAND JURY:   It could be either one, I suppose.  If it is done naked, it’s Level Two.

            PROSECUTOR:  And Mr. Paterno did not attend this subsequent meeting that was arranged between Mr. McQueary and the two men who have been indicted?

            GRAND JURY:   He did not.

            PROSECUTOR:  So he had no knowledge of what was said at that time.  

            GRAND JURY:   No direct knowledge.

            PROSECUTOR:  Was Mr. Sandusky an employee of Mr. Paterno’s at this time, or under his supervision?

            GRAND JURY:   He was not.   He had been terminated several years earlier.

            PROSECUTOR:  Was there any professional relationship between Mr. Sandusky and Mr. Paterno at that time?

            GRAND JURY:   None.

            PROSECUTOR:  Were they close friends?

            GRAND JURY:   My understanding is that they were not.  

            PROSECUTOR:  So your testimony is that Mr. Paterno’s knowledge of the 2002 incident was that a former employee of the University, who had once worked under his supervision, had engaged in some non-specific misconduct, and that Mr. Paterno, on hearing this, immediately took the appropriate steps to insure that his superiors were informed.  Is that correct?

            GRAND JURY:   I believe that it is.

            PROSECUTOR:   Thank you, that’s all I have.

            JUDGE:  Penn State?

            GRAND JURY:   We’ll reserve the right to recall the witness.

            JUDGE: Thank you.   Ten minute recess.



            JUDGE:  Are we ready to proceed?

            PROSECUTOR:   I’m ready.

            JUDGE:  Call your next witness.

            PROSECUTOR:  I call to the stand Mr. Tim Curley.

            JUDGE:  Mr. Curley, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

            MR. CURLEY:  I do, your honor.

            JUDGE:  Your witness.

            PROSECUTOR:  Mr. Curley, what is your position at Penn State?

            MR. CURLEY:  I am the Athletic Director.

            PROSECUTOR:  And how long have you been the Athletic Director?

            MR. CURLEY:  Since 1993.

            PROSECUTOR:   Is that a very long time for a man to hold that position?

            MR. CURLEY:  I think so.

            PROSECUTOR:  And this indicates that you have been perceived, in that position, as extremely successful?

            MR. CURLEY:  I would suppose so.

            PROSECUTOR:  And you have won national awards, as the nation’s best Athletic Director?

            MR. CURLEY:  I have.

            PROSECUTOR:  Mr. Curley, prior to this incident in March of 2002, were you aware of any allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Jerry Sandusky?

            MR. CURLEY:  None.

            PROSECUTOR:  Had you ever been contacted by police about such events, or child welfare advocates, or anyone else?

            MR. CURLEY:  Never.

            PROSECUTOR:  Had there been any lawsuits?

            MR. CURLEY:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  Had you heard any rumors about Sandusky behaving inappropriately with children?

            MR. CURLEY:  Never.  

            PROSECUTOR:  Mr. Schultz, who has been indicted along with you, has testified that he was aware of the 1998 investigation.    At the time of the 2002 incident, did Mr. Schultz communicate to you his awareness of this report?

            MR. CURLEY:  I don’t believe he knew that there was a report, a police report; not to my knowledge, anyway.   We thought we were dealing with a misunderstanding.   We were wrong, we were blind, but that was what we thought.   We thought we were dealing with a misunderstanding, and we thought there had been some other minor misunderstanding a few years earlier, and that was as much as we knew about it.    We all knew that Jerry spent a lot of time dealing with young boys, and we thought at the time that he had a habit of horsing around with them in a way that occasionally made one or two kids uncomfortable.  

            PROSECUTOR:  So you had no reason to believe, then, that Mr. Paterno would have had any such information?

            MR. CURLEY:  If he had any such information, I assume that he would have discussed it with me.

            PROSECUTOR:  The 1998 investigation began in May of 1998.    Mr. Sandusky was also terminated by the University in May of 1998, is that correct?

            MR. CURLEY:  No, it is not.

            PROSECUTOR:  It is not correct?

            MR. CURLEY:  It is not.

            PROSECUTOR:  When was he terminated?

            MR. CURLEY:  Sandusky coached with us through 1999, into January of 2000.   And he wasn’t actually fired; he was told in May of 1999, not 1998, that he would not become the head coach after Joe, and he was told that Joe was unhappy with his work, and he at that time agreed to retire at the end of the 1999 season. 

            PROSECUTOR:  Why was Mr. Paterno unhappy with his work?

            MR. CURLEY:   For a good many years Sandusky was outstanding at his job.   By the late 1990s Sandusky was spending more time and energy on his foundation, The Second Mile, than he was on his work, and Joe felt that his commitment to his work just wasn’t at the level that it needed to be.

            PROSECUTOR:  Who negotiated Mr. Sandusky’s exit agreement, on behalf of Penn State?

            MR. CURLEY:  I did.

            PROSECUTOR:  And, as a part of that agreement, was Mr. Sandusky guaranteed access to the football facilities at Penn State?

            MR. CURLEY:  He was.

            PROSECUTOR:  To the practice fields?

            MR. CURLEY:  Yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  To the locker rooms?

            MR. CURLEY:  Yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  To the games?

            MR. CURLEY:  Yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  If Mr. Paterno had wanted to ban Mr. Sandusky from the Penn State locker rooms, could he have done so?

            MR. CURLEY:  Mr. Sandusky had a legally binding agreement, guaranteeing him access to the facilities. 

            PROSECUTOR:  Was Mr. Paterno a signatory to that agreement?

            MR. CURLEY:  He was not.

            PROSECUTOR:   Did he participate in negotiating this agreement?

            MR. CURLEY:   Not that I remember, no.

            PROSECUTOR:  And he had no right and no power to overrule it?

            MR. CURLEY:  That is correct. 

            PROSECUTOR:  And at the time you negotiated this termination agreement, you had no knowledge that Mr. Sandusky had previously been investigated by police for inappropriate conduct with a minor male?

            MR. CURLEY:  Absolutely none.  

            PROSECUTOR:  By 2002, by the time of this incident in the locker rooms, what was the relationship between Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno, to the best of your knowledge?

            MR. CURLEY:  It was awkward.   Jerry was bitter.  The team was in a down phase; the team was struggling.   It was not a good relationship.

            PROSECUTOR:  And Joe Paterno had long since ceased to have any supervisory relationship with Jerry Sandusky?

            MR. CURLEY:  That is correct.

            PROSECUTOR:  Thank you.  Your witness.

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  Mr. Curley, do you really expect us to believe that you or Mr. Paterno had no information regarding the unsavory activities of Mr. Sandusky?

            MR. CURLEY:  I expect you to be open to hearing the truth.   No one knew.  Jerry Sandusky adopted children more often than most of us buy a new car.  Child protective services signed off on those adoptions time after time after time.  They have investigative authority that certainly exceeds mine.  How was I supposed to know what they didn’t know? 

            Jerry Sandusky’s foundation, The Second Mile, put Sandusky in regular contact with at-risk children.   The State of Pennsylvania regularly gave that foundation tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars.   How was I supposed to know what they didn’t know?

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  You could have known in 2002.

            MR. CURLEY:  I certainly wish that Mr. McQueary had told us in 2002 what he now says that he told us in 2002, but he didn’t.   He didn’t tell us anything remotely like that.  Given the little bit that I was told at that time, I wish I had followed through more aggressively, but I had no reason to believe that a crime had occurred,  and Sandusky wasn’t my employee.   I got some vague, innocuous information from a young employee that there had been a problem in the locker room, and I did what I saw that I could do.   I banned him from bringing kids onto the facilities.   It wasn’t nearly enough; it wasn’t what needed to be done.

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  No more questions.

            JUDGE:  Call your next witness.

            PROSECUTOR:  I call to the stand the Hysterical Media.

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  Now, wait a minute.   You can’t call to the stand the Hysterical Media.   The Hysterical Media is a disembodied mass of a thousand voices.   You can’t use them as a witness.

            PROSECUTOR:  Of course I can, it’s fiction.   I can make alligators speak Swahili if I need to.   Didn’t you ever read no Steven King?

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  Grumble, grumble.

            JUDGE:  Mr. or Ms. Hysterical Media, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

            MEDIA:  Absolutely.  I’ll invent it if I have to.  

            JUDGE:  Proceed.

            PROSECUTOR:  Mr. Hysterical Media, you have stated on numerous occasions—thousands of occasions, actually—that Joe Paterno had to know what was going on with Jerry Sandusky.   What is the basis of this allegation?

            MEDIA:  Joe Paterno was God to Penn State football.   He knew everything that happened there.   How could he not know?

            PROSECUTOR:  So then, he knew because he had God-like powers?

            MEDIA:  He knew everything that was going on in the program.    That was his job, and he was really good at his job.

            PROSECUTOR:  Did he know things that no one had told him?

            MEDIA:  People told him everything he needed to know.

            PROSECUTOR:  Really?   Then why are we here?

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  Objection.

            PROSECUTOR:  Withdrawn.   Do you have any information that any person told Mr. Paterno about the allegations against Mr. Sandusky, prior to March of 2002?

            MEDIA:  Someone had to have told him.

            PROSECUTOR:  But no one specifically, that you know of?  Did the police ever talk to Mr. Paterno about these allegations?

            MEDIA:  I don’t know that they did, but I don’t know that they didn’t.

            PROSECUTOR:   But you don’t know that they did?

            MEDIA:  Not specifically, no.

            PROSECUTOR:  In the time that Mr. Sandusky worked for Penn State, or after he had left Penn State but prior to 2002, did any of his coaches ever talk to him about this issue?

            MEDIA:  I have no way of knowing.

            PROSECUTOR:  Then you have no information that anyone in his program ever talked to him about these allegations.

            MEDIA:  Somebody had to have told him something.

            PROSECUTOR:  How many people worked for Mr. Paterno at the Penn State football program?

            MEDIA:  About 200, I think.  Coaches, trainers, equipment managers, publicists, etc.  Not under his direct supervision, but there were a lot of people there and he was the top man.

            PROSECUTOR:  And how many media outlets cover the Penn State football program, on a regular basis?

            MEDIA:  I don’t know.   One to two hundred, I suppose.  

            PROSECUTOR:  Newspapers, radio stations, television, internet information sources.

            MEDIA:  Right.

            PROSECUTOR:  And how many reporters covered the football program, for all of those sources.

            MEDIA:  Oh, I’ve no idea.   It must be hundreds.

            PROSECUTOR:  And, of these hundreds of reporters, did any of them have any knowledge of Mr. Sandusky’s activities, prior to 2008 or 2009?

            MEDIA:  Not that I know of.

            PROSECUTOR:  When Mr. Sandusky was interviewed by police in 1998, did any newspaper report on that event?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  Did any internet source report on it?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  Radio?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  Television?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  And in 1999, was it reported anywhere that Mr. Sandusky was suspected of this kind of activity?

            MEDIA:  No

            PROSECUTOR:  And in 2000?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  And in 2001?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  At the time of Mr. Sandusky’s retirement from the Penn State program, were there articles written about him and reports about him in other media, about his work with children, about his highly successful career as the Defensive Coordinator at Penn State?

            MEDIA:  There were many such articles, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  And is it fair to say that the general tone of these articles was highly laudatory?

            MEDIA:  I suppose so, yes.  I haven’t read them all.

            PROSECUTOR:  But Mr. Sandusky was portrayed by you as a man who had made a heroic and exceptional commitment to bettering the lives of at-risk children, was he not?

            MEDIA:  Yes, he was.

            PROSECUTOR:  And did any of these articles include mention of unsavory allegations against him?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  Are you aware that on April 15, 2005, the man who made the 1998 decision not to prosecute Jerry Sandusky mysteriously vanished?

            MEDIA:  Ray Gricar, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  And was his disappearance also a major news story?

            MEDIA:  Certainly.   There were many articles written about it, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  And there were national television shows about his disappearance?

            MEDIA:  CBS, Court TV and Investigation Discovery all did shows about his disappearance, yes.

            PROSECUTOR:   And in all of those shows, was Mr. Sandusky’s name ever mentioned?

            MEDIA:  Not to my knowledge, no.

            PROSECUTOR:  And it is the job of the news media to collect all of the information that they possibly can about the topics that they are assigned to cover, is it not?

            MEDIA:  It is.

            PROSECUTOR:  That is what you do, isn’t it?

            MEDIA:  Yes.

            PROSECUTOR:  But you didn’t have any information at all about Mr. Sandusky’s criminal activity?

            MEDIA:  Not that I know of.

            PROSECUTOR:  Well, you didn’t print anything?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  You didn’t broadcast anything?

            MEDIA:  No.

            PROSECUTOR:  Were you suppressing this information?

            MEDIA:  I would hope not. 

            PROSECUTOR:  So we can conclude, then, that even though you have resources much greater than Mr. Paterno’s, and even though you are much more specifically in the business of gathering information than is Mr. Paterno, you had no inkling of this problem until at least 2008?

            MEDIA:  I wouldn’t conclude that.

            PROSECUTOR:  But you have no specific information that would contradict that conclusion?

            MEDIA:  Nothing specific, I suppose.

            PROSECUTOR:  No more questions.   Your honor, the prosecution will rest at this time.

            JUDGE:  You have no more witnesses?

            PROSECUTOR:  I have many more witnesses, but I’m on page 19 right now.  If I go on much longer I will have no audience.

            JUDGE:  Understood.    Penn State University, you may call your first witness.

            PENN STATE ATTORNEY:  Penn State University rests, as well.

            JUDGE:  Very well.   Closing arguments will begin at one o’clock.



            JUDGE:  Mr. Prosecutor, you may begin your closing statement.

            PROSECUTOR:  Thank you, your honor.    Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the essence of the argument that condemned Joe Paterno, the statement that has been mindlessly repeated hundreds of thousands of times if not millions of times, is that Mr. Paterno did what he was required to do legally, but what about morally?  Did he not have a moral responsibility to do more?

            Of course, it is wonderfully easy to make moral judgments about what other people should have done when you are only in possession of one percent of the facts.  The assumption that Joe Paterno failed in his moral responsibility relies on the belief that Mr. Paterno knew things that in fact there is no evidence whatsoever that he did know, or could have known, or had any reason to suspect.  No person has stepped forward to say that Mr. Sandusky’s departure from the Penn State program in the late 1990s had anything to do with his sexual misconduct.  Mr. Paterno has stated publicly that he had no such information at that time.   No person has stated that this was not true.  No person has provided any evidence or any testimony that contradicts this. 

            In the first blush of anger that accompanied the revelation that Mr. Sandusky had been assaulting children for many years, many people assumed that others must have covered up for him, to allow this to happen. Many people assumed, and the Hysterical Media wrote as fact, that Penn State officials had covered up for him to protect their program. Perhaps they did.

            Was there a cover-up?  There were four primary points at which the system failed.   Mr. Sandusky was investigated by police and child welfare authorities in 1998. The system failed at that point.   

Mr. Sandusky was witnessed engaging in sexual activity with a child in the fall of 2000, witnessed by a Penn State janitor who told his supervisors.  The supervisors left it up to the janitor whether he would contact the police or would not, and the janitor did not act.  The system failed at that point.

            Mr. Sandusky was witnessed engaging in some sort of inappropriate activity with a child by Mr. McQueary in 2002, and this was reported to his superiors, and should have been reported to police. The system failed at that point. 

            In 2006 or 2007, an elementary school wrestling coach witnessed Sandusky "wrestling" with a young boy in a place and manner that seemed odd and perhaps inappropriate.   He made no report. The system failed at that point.            

            It is difficult to see that any of these failings, or the pattern of them taken together, are strongly suggestive of an organized cover-up. At no point was anyone told or asked not to talk to the police about these events.   At no point was anyone told or asked not to talk to the media about them. Mr. Sandusky had a glowing reputation. He was widely celebrated for his work with children. He was famous for his work with children. Because of that reputation, people found it impossible to believe that he was a pedophile. That’s what really happened.

            We all have a moral feeling, in regard to Mr. Sandusky’s activities, that somebody should have stopped this.    Quite certainly, somebody should have stopped it. Penn State wrote Mr. Paterno’s name into that space because it was him or us.  The real "cover-up" here was the act of laying responsibility onto Joe Paterno for actions that Paterno knew nothing about, actions that came to light only after his professional relationship with Mr. Sandusky had ended, and actions that he reported to his superiors as he should have done, and trusted them to do what needed to be done. 

            Who do we hold responsible for the crimes of Jerry Sandusky?   We hold Jerry Sandusky responsible. We may also hold responsible, to an extent, those who praised Mr. Sandusky too highly, those who admired him too much, those who trusted him too far. Mr. Paterno, ironically, is one of the few in this community who is not on that list.


COMMENTS (39 Comments, most recent shown first)

Your point is well taken. But I simply take this entirely a different direction. Although the continued association of Sandusky is bent and takes on a life of its own and are important lessons for all. However, in this case, if they are all so innocent why lie under oath, until they were caught in the lies. These are individuals with all the Power. Based on your arguments, they can't be lying to protect the institution because that would mean they are representing it and would hook them - so it must have been on an individual basis.

If they are innocent why lie? Just because? Washington is full of these people and we see exactly what we get. Not sure I would run to support liars who are merely protecting their Fame and Power. Would I have done it in their shoes, possible, but no way do will I support those in Power who lie - they have plenty of insulation - but it should be know I have 4 children under the age of 13 and there is NOTHING I liked that happened there.​
9:26 AM Jan 6th
I made this point in the Reader Posts section, but it's worth noting that as long as the university abides by the separation terms of their contract with JoePa they could fire him for chewing gum the wrong way.
12:46 PM Dec 19th
My opinion is that you have a classic "A Few Good Men" situation here.

In the movie Colonel Nathan Jessup is the Commanding Officer of the Guantanamo Bay Marine base.

He is an iconic figure that controls every aspect of every activity on the base.

A young man is found dead and a few enlisted Marines are claiming they were ordered to discipline the man.

It is obvious that Colonel Jessup was behind the order and subsequent cover-up, but nobody is talking.

Perhaps the same thing happened with Joe Paterno in 2002.

Perhaps he had a few conversations with a few people and informed them in no uncertain terms that the details of the incident would never see the light of day.

Did Joe Paterno really have this kind of power and influence in Happy Valley, Pa?

What do you think?

As evidence I would invite you to look up the writings of a former Penn State student conduct enforcement officer - who stated that Joe Paterno told her that his football players were off-limits to her.

Essentially, no matter what criminal activities took place on the campus, if they were football players it was hands-off. Joe Paterno would decide what, if any, punishment would be handed out. This position was supported by the University President.

Is there evidence that Paterno deliberately ordered a cover-up?

Maybe there is? Or maybe there isn't?

But we do know he was fired from his job.

I suggest we put Paterno on the stand and let Tom Cruise ask a few pointed questions.
12:47 PM Dec 17th
You beat me by a nanosecond, bjjp2. I don't think Bill will respond.
6:53 PM Dec 16th
And now we find out that Paterno is saying he did know in 2002. Nice guy that he was, he didn't tell his superiors for a couple days, because he didn't want to interfere with their weekends.

I am so glad Bill decided to paint the entire media with a brush and expose them for being wrong about this. Oh wait....
6:52 PM Dec 16th
You made your case, Mr. James. You didn't have to. When it's all said and done I think Joe did a lot more good than harm. It's a sad way to end a career. He never harmed a child. He ran a pretty clean program and in this world, the one we live in, after 60 something years, that ain't bad. Has anyone here done better?
2:30 AM Dec 14th
Interesting piece to be sure.

Ultimately, though, the Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 designations don't really hold up. Level 1 is still a criminal act.

I used to work at a summer camp for at risk kids. One day a pair of counselors got fed up by their pestering campers who constantly accused them of being couple by finally saying, "Yeah... we have sex. A lot." They were immediately fired, because sexually explicit comments are severe enough to threaten the operation of the camp.

If anyone had reason to suspect any sexual conduct between Sandusky and a minor then they had a responsibility to contact the police, even if the Grand Jury let both Paterno and McQueary off the hook in this regard.
1:30 AM Dec 14th
OK, so let's assume you are a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, and Bill's artilce is a fair representation of the facts. Can you still make a case for dismissing Paterno prior to the Nebraska game?

Of course you can. The incidents in question happened on his watch. He's not guilty of a crime, and he isn't being prosecuted. I don't even think he did anything wrong.

You can still dismiss him if you think that is what's best for the institution. In some places (the U.S. Navy and its handling of ship's captains is the best example I can think of), this is standard practice. If you are the guy in charge, and something terrible happens in your area of responsibility, you're dismissed.

Penn State's Board of Trustees acted rationally, and they have nothing to apologize for.

1:25 AM Dec 14th
The legally binding agreement was NOT terminated at that point. Curley told Sandusky at that point that he couldn't bring kids into the facilities any more--NOT that he couldn't USE the facilities anymore.
10:03 PM Dec 13th
From the Mock Trial Testimony of Tim Curley:
“Mr. Sandusky had a legally binding agreement, guaranteeing him access to the facilities… I got some vague, innocuous information from a young employee that there had been a problem in the locker room, and I did what I saw that I could do. I banned him from bringing kids onto the facilities.”
So the information McQueary told him was so severe, it enabled Curley to unilaterally terminate, without consideration, “a legally binding agreement” with Sandusky. But it was so vague and innocuous, it didn’t warrant reporting it to the police. Conveniently, the actions that were taken; barring Sandusky from the locker room protected the University from future civil liability, and at the same time, not reporting it to the police kept the University out of scandal.

7:23 PM Dec 13th
Is it odd to judge a person as crazy, based on the fact that he's acting crazy?
6:12 PM Dec 13th
Doesn't it strike you as a little odd to be judging the media as hysterical, based solely on the information that is being passed on to you by......the media?
3:37 PM Dec 13th
Bill, you still haven't responded to Paterno's own testimony I cited below.
3:23 PM Dec 13th

“Dranov told the grand jurors that he asked McQueary three times if he saw anything sexual, and three times McQueary said no.” “Because of that response … Dranov told McQueary that he should talk to his boss, head football coach Joe Paterno, rather than the police.” [Ganim, Dec. 11, 2011]

Based on the reporting of Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News. Dr. Dranov is a friend of McQueary's father, called in to consult with the family on the evening of the event. If McQueary had seen what he now SAYS he saw, Dr. Dranov would have told him to call the police. Paterno was in the loop precisely because McQueary didn't actually see any sexual activity.
2:08 PM Dec 13th
Right. One of the most critical errors in this stew of errors was the Grand Jury's statement that McQueary was highly reliable. We now have testimony from a man McQueary talked to on the day of the incident that McQueary said at that time that he didn't see ANYTHING; he HEARD things that concerned him, but he didn't SEE any sexual activity. McQueary made very limited, indefinite, vague reports to his superiors, later said that he had specifically reported Gross Sexual Misconduct and, because the Grand Jury had gratuitously pronounced McQueary a reliable witness, the discussion proceeded on the foundation assumption that McQueary had told his superiors things that Curley, Schultz, Paterno and this other gentleman all say that he had NOT told them.
2:01 PM Dec 13th
bjjp2: You have a valid point, but here is my difficulty. The grand jury did not indict Paterno. The gj concluded he'd done nothing illegal; at least, that they had seen no evidence that he'd done anything illegal. Paterno did report the incident to his "superiors" immediately. He did not report the incident to the police.

I don't know what he actually heard or saw and I don't know the relationships Paterno had with his "superiors." Sandusky what not a university employee in 2002 and had no professional relationship with Paterno. That's why I think Paterno should have been immediately placed on administrative leave, which means he should have been immediately removed from the sidelines at football games, and from practices, and from everything. Then let the investigation proceed and get these answers.

By the way, McQueary seems increasingly unreliable as a witness, judging from media reports.
9:53 AM Dec 13th
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein

Peace out from Garry Kanter
11:44 PM Dec 12th
In criminal law, the jury cannot draw a negative inference from a defendants failure to testify. In civil law, however, a negative inference can be drawn from a parties failure to testify. Two days before Paterno was fired, his son stated over and over to reporters about how Joe really wants to talk to you, but he’s being told not to. Then Joe was fired, and guess what, he’s still not talking. This is someone who has been a public speaker and dealing with the media most of his life.

It is alleged it was witnessed twice over a period of years that Sandusky was molesting children in the Penn State shower. If this is true, its very likely there were a lot of times this happened when it wasn’t witnessed. Sandusky has stated he was showering with children in the shower all the time. (Words to that effect, I think. I’m not going to listen to his interview again.) What was the comment in the ’86 Abstract about Chuck Tanner and drug usage by the Pirates? “Tanner may claim he was unaware, but we all know that it is not physically possible to get your head stuck that far up your rectum.” (P. 205.)

Joe Paterno has done terrific things, and he’s especially done great things for Penn State University. For them to fire him without even giving him a chance to say what he did or didn’t do and why, clearly they fired him for the wrong reason, to make themselves look good. It’s a leap from there to conclude they didn’t do the right thing for the wrong reason.

6:59 PM Dec 12th
glkanter is very confused about what a strawman argument is. Bill James, I began reading this very skeptically. I don't say you made a believer of me, nor do I suspect that is your goal. As ever, you made me think about an issue more.
Thank you.
6:32 PM Dec 12th
Thanks for the thought-provoking piece. I think the caution about hindsight judgments is well taken. On the other hand, I would not treat it as a given that Paterno's on-paper superiors were his de facto superiors. Maybe they were and maybe they weren't. It would not surprise me to learn that the AD at Penn State more or less served at Paterno's pleasure. Even in the sequence Bill narrates of Sandusky's dismissal, Paterno's nominal superior sounds more like a lieutenant dispatched to deal with some Sandusky-related unpleasantness than someone who has any authority over the famous coach. I think it is certainly possible that Paterno did not trust his *superiors* to do the right thing, but trusted his de facto *subordinates* to take care of a problem.
6:06 PM Dec 12th
raincheck and flyingfish, you seem to be ignoring Paterno's own grand jury testimony, as I set forth below. Paterno himself testified, at the very least, that he was told by McQueary (who was "very upset") that Sandusky was seen "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy." Schultz testified that Paterno reported "disturbing and inappropriate" behavior "in the shower by Sandusky on a young boy." The above is without any reliance on McQueary's testimony. How much more do you need to know?
4:18 PM Dec 12th
I think I have to agree with raincheck. Paterno was fired and worse because it was alleged he didn't do things he should have done. The allegations were made with the benefit of hindsight, and if there's one thing (and there are more things than one) that Bill James has been consistent about over decades it is that you can't accurately judge people by today's standards for things they did in some earlier time. Things have changed even since 2002, and anyway, it seems to me that the people who fired Paterno didn't KNOW what he knew. Obviously he shouldn't have stayed where he was, and his arrogant declaration that he'd retire at the end of the season was a mistake, but putting him on administrative leave seems to me to be what should have been done. What would have been lost by doing that? And much would have been gained. Spanier I'm not so sure about.
2:43 PM Dec 12th
Thanks for this Bill. What exactly did Joe Paterno know? How reliable was his source, McQueary, versus the credibility (to Joe at the time, not us now) of Sandusky? These are unanswered questions. But Joe did not do nothing, he did something. In retrospect, not enough, but it is not like Joe decided to do nothing and cover it up. It was a rush to judgment on Paterno. Over time we may learn things that make him look very bad indeed. But what we know now is (a) a graduate assistant told him he saw something, (b) Paterno reported it, (c) Paterno was publicly hanged. It seems some more patience and fact gathering was in order. The result may be correct, but the verdict was very preamture. In a case like this, everyone goes on administrative leave and you investigate. This was knee-jerk.
12:12 PM Dec 12th
Bill, in a "Hey Bill" on 11/10, about Joe Paterno:

"I would agree that he probably should have done more."
11:57 AM Dec 12th
Mr. Paterno, did what you would expect him to do. He took the hit, he fell on his sword to protect Penn St. Was it the right thing to do?, at that point it was the only thing a man like Paterno could do. Was he railroaded by the media? Yes. Did Penn St. use him to cover their ass? Yes. For those of you who are so sure about what you would do; 1 in 4 girls are molested, 1 in 6 boys are molested. How many cases are there? Think about it, how many men do you know are capable of raping a young boy? It happens a lot. Sometimes even priests do it.
9:17 AM Dec 12th
"Saying that Joe Paterno did not know the things he could not have known is not giving him the benefit of any "doubt" at all."

And who is the judge of "the things he could not have known"?

One would have to be there to know this.

One would also have to decide whether he evaded any of his 'responsibilities' in order to "not have known". Who decides what these were, or were not?

Like I said, it's the same blind spot, and the same logic that I rejected with Wall Street and the Wilpons.
7:16 AM Dec 12th
This is not what happened in real life: "When Mr. Paterno was unfairly and irresponsibly attacked by persons in the media who imputed to him knowledge that he could not have had and powers and influence that greatly exceeded his actual authority, Penn State handed him over to the mob. This is what we will prove."

It's a classic straw man argument. And Paterno did have that power.

Your 'prosecutor' spent the next 19 pages needlessly.
1:57 AM Dec 12th
Saying that Joe Paterno did not know the things he could not have known is not giving him the benefit of any "doubt" at all.
1:50 AM Dec 12th
Thanks-- you nailed it.
12:41 AM Dec 12th
To clarify, I posted *previously* about the blind spot.

My reference to the Wilpons is in regards to Bernie madoff.

Squared brackets may cause italics. The more common < and > do not.
11:48 PM Dec 11th
I posted about what I perceive as a 'blind spot' by Bill. His writings have shown a willlingness to give <i>some</i> people the greatest benefit of all doubts unless and until there is proof that they "knew" something. Of course, we know his baseball writings are not usually as forgiving.

He has used this same argument with Wall Street bankers being ignorant of the impending bursting of the housing bubble, and how they were abbetting it with their reckless use of CMOs, "low doc" and "no doc" loans, and other derivative instruments.

He used it again to excuse the Wilpon family from any bad behaviors.

And for the second time, at least, he is using it for various Penn State parties.

I don't buy the logic behind his arguments, and have written to Bill on this subject more than once.
11:44 PM Dec 11th
Yes. That is why my actual comment below says Paterno has acknowledged he "could" have done more. I did not use the word "should" regarding Paterno.

My adult friends, relatives, co-workers, and drinking buddies do not get caught in levels 1, 2 or 3 with minors. It's preposterous to give any benefit of the doubt to any behaviors of that nature.
11:32 PM Dec 11th
Just to try to keep the record straight, Joe Paterno absolutely has NOT acknowledged that he should have done more; that's based on a misrepresentation of his carefully crafted statement. What the statement actually says is that based on hindsight, he WISHES that he had done more--not that he SHOULD have, but that he WISHES he had. He wishes that someone had told him what was going on, so that he would have had a basis for action.
10:27 PM Dec 11th
Bill, you'd be an amazing lawyer and in my opinion you are really bending over backwards to excuse Paterno's inaction. According to the Grand Jury report McQueary "telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home where he reported what he had seen." "Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant's report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate student was very upset." Paterno called Curley "and reported to him that the graduate assistant and had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy." In addition, "Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Joe Paterno and Tim Curley in which Paterno reported 'disturbing' and 'inappropriate' conduct in the shower by Sandusky upon a young boy, as reported to him by a student or graduate student."

Based on the above, Paterno knew enough to have done more.
10:03 PM Dec 11th
BTW, that last comment was by Matthew Namee (me).
9:29 PM Dec 11th
One of the problems, in a situation like this, is hindsight bias. The key question -- and Bill nails it here -- is "What did Paterno know in 2002?" And based on the actual evidence that has come to light, it sounds like Paterno knew that a graduate assistant claimed to have witnessed some sort of inapprorpiate behavior on the part of Sandusky. Using Bill's terms, that behavior may have sounded like it could be level "1" or "2."

So let's put ourselves in Paterno's shoes in 2002. He hears that this respected philanthropist and child advocate MAY HAVE committed a level "1" or "2" act. He doesn't necessarily know which level he's dealing with (which is as much as we can say based on the evidence we have; beyond that, as far as I can tell, it's just speculation). So Sandusky may be a serious criminal, or he may NOT be a criminal at all. That's as much information as 2002 Paterno has to work with.

So what do you do, if you're 2002 Paterno? If you decide to be extra cautious, you call the police (or even, as glkanter suggests, the governor) and tell them they'd better open an investigation. With hindsight, we know that this is what Paterno should have done. But in 2002, Paterno did not know this. The other possibility, as far as 2002 Paterno knew, was that Sandusky was innocent, in which case calling the police (or governor) would result in an investigation that would probably destroy Sandusky's reputation and his charity.

2002 Paterno had three basic options:

(1) ignore the whole thing
(2) call the police
(3) send the gradaute assistant to the higher-ups at Penn State and let them sort it out

He chose (3). We now know that it was the wrong choice, but in 2002, Paterno could not have known that. Given what he appears to have known at that time, (3) was not all that bad of a choice. I mean, think about it: if the Penn State authorities had done things right, then option (3) would either result in Sandusky being quietly investigated and found to be innocent, or Sandusky being quietly investigated and found to be culpable, in which case the proper civil authorities could get involved. Paterno couldn't have known that the Penn State higher-ups would fail to do their due diligence.

Yes, he recognizes that he should have done more. Of course he should have, given what we know now. But given what he knew then, it's not at all clear to me that he made any morally wrong choices.
9:28 PM Dec 11th
Paterno *did* possess "great powers and influence" which did *not* exceed his "actual authority". Actually, that second item is immaterial.

Paterno could have caused "anything" to be done in this matter. He needed only to pick up the phone and privately share his knowledge and concerns with anyone. Up to and including the governor of the state.

Paterno has acknowledged he could have done more. He said he would resign at season's end. He was advised he could leave immediately.​
8:00 PM Dec 11th
Thanks for writing this, Bill. Don't know what your final page count was, but I was with you all the way. I hope this does some good.
3:05 PM Dec 11th
©2024 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.|Powered by Sports Info Solutions|Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy