Thursday, November 10, 2011

Job Security: Joe Paterno, Penn State and the Abuse of Power

Now, all of the facts are not in, but those that are make clear to me that things are only going to get a lot worse for Joe Paterno and Penn State.

Here are (some of) my opinions, after reading extensively on this situation.

Mike McQueary's Moral Failures Motivated by Concern for Job

The Grand Jury Indictment lays out the details of the Pennsylvania State University child abuse case with great precision.  This Post largely focuses on the failures that occurred in 2002.

McQueary and Paterno
 At 9:30 p.m. on a March night in 2002, PSU football grad assistant (and current PSU assistant coach) Mike McQueary, a former PSU quarterback, makes an unexpected stop at the office to pick up an item. McQueary, all 6'4", 230 pounds of him, saw his former coach and boss, Jerry Sandusky, anally raping a boy, who appeared to be about 10 years-old, in the PSU showers.  McQueary had grown up virtually next door to the Sandusky, knew his kids. Sandusky was reportedly a hero of McQueary's and a close friend of his father.  Sandusky had unfettered access to the PSU football facilities, so sneaking in that night was easy (and, I suspect, probably routine). The boy, Sandusky and McQueary all made eye contact.  Think about that - they all made eye contact. 

Sandusky's Overdue Perp Walk
 So, what does McQueary do?  What would you have done?

According to the Indictment, McQueary "left immediately, distraught," went to his office and called his father, John J. McQueary, to report what he saw. 

If you were his father, what would you have told him to do?

What his father said was: leave the building immediately and come to my house.

Now, I have a problem with these decisions - a MAJOR problem.

How about stopping the rape and then calling your father (if not the police)?  How about telling your son to stop the rape and then telling him to come home (if not call the police)?

Why didn't either of these things happen?  Job Security. To conclude otherwise would be to conclude that the McQuearys valued their friendship with Sandusky over the safety of boys such as the rape victim at issue here.  Who among us is prepared to draw such a conclusion?

Yet, why would McQueary have viewed his job to be potentially in jeopardy?

Sandusky was a legend at PSU, Coach Paterno's right-hand man for many years.  One must conclude that the very large and capable McQueary did not stop the anal rape of a 10 year-old by a 55 year-old man because he was worried that, if he did so, he would be putting his butt on the line.  McQueary must have instantly calculated that stopping Sandusky would put him at the scene of the crime, would create immutable evidence of his knowledge of the crime, would make him a witness in a criminal case that could lead to the downfall of....Joe Paterno.  And, if Joe went, then so too would his beneficiary, Mike McQueary.  One must conclude that his father's approach reflected the same concern. 

But why not call the police, then?  Obliquely claim you saw something that wasn't quite right, and let the police do their job?  Something stopped the McQuearys, who I am sure are otherwise decent people.  Some fear, some concern. 

NOTE:  On November 15, an e-mail from McQueary was published wherein he stated that he stopped the rape before he left the building.  Subsequent news reports suggest that McQueary has also stated that he talked to the police about the incident.  

Click Here to read full text of McQueary E-Mail
If these things are true, two thoughts come to mind: 1) the Grand Jury Indictment should have stated that McQueary stopped the incident before departing the building.  Instead, it states that after making eye contact with the victim and Sandusky, McQueary "left immediately, distraught." and, 2) the police have some serious questions to answer. 

And who may they have been concerned about?  Jerry Sandusky?  I cannot fathom that.  I cannot fathom that the McQuearys decided to allow the rape to continue because Sandusky was their friend and neighbor, or that they chose not to call the police out of loyalty to him.

So, it is my opinion that they made the decisions they made because they were afraid of Joe Paterno.

Why?  Why would the McQuearys have believed in 2002 that JoePa might become upset if this all became public?  I'll get to that in a moment.  But one thing may reasonably be concluded:

If the McQuearys believed reporting the rape to the police would have made Joe Paterno pleased, they would have done so.  At 28 years of age, Mike McQueary likely believed that his career hinged on the beneficence of Joe Paterno.  In fact, McQueary has been heard to dream that he would one day be the head coach at PSU.  After McQueary saw what he saw, who do you think he was more concerned about: his neighbor the sodomizer, or his boss, Joe Paterno, who had incredible influence at PSU and throughout college football?

The PSU Janitors Were Worried About Their Jobs, Too

Think my injection of job security concerns into this tragedy is off the mark?  It may be, but consider:  The Indictment states that a PSU janitor saw and reported to his supervisor heinous activity involving Sandusky and a young boy in 2000, and did not report it to anyone...due to fears they would be fired.

In any event, imagine McQueary, as he drove home, with visions of the abandoned 10 year-old being forcibly raped back at work in the showers by the monstrous Sandusky....Imagine his Dad, having dispensed such sage advice, looking his son in the eye and saying you did the right thing.  Hard to conceive, right?

Yet, the elder McQueary continues to take that position, even today.  Here is what Father McQueary said this week to USA Today:

"He's a good kid and a tough kid. He did what he was supposed to do, and all of this has been very hard on him. Everything from this and about this (case) has been difficult for him, but he's a strong person and will be OK."

John J. McQueary
"He did what he was supposed to do?"  Wow!  Do you agree? 

As a father with 2 sons, I would go to hell and back for them.  But sometimes, they make mistakes.  And sometimes, as a father, it is better to stand down and say nothing, rather than try and defend their actions.  Mike McQueary did not do what he was supposed to do.  I am not condemning him, per se, although I personally find his inaction absolutely inexcusable - he is a human being and thus prone to lapses in judgment like the rest of us - but fleeing the building and allowing a rape to continue is not what we human beings are "supposed to do."

Dad, Mike screwed up and you did too.  In saying that Mike did what he was supposed to, you are saying you did as well.  But you did not.  You should have told Mike to go back in there and stop that rape.  Why not just come out and say: "We screwed up, and we are terribly sorry that we did so."  As a father, I hope I am never confronted with such a situation - and as a father I hope that neither my children or grandchildren are ever sodomized by a 55 year-old monster.  Unfortunately, the McQuearys' response to this situation, and PSU's subsequent cover-up, increased the likelihood that other children would suffer at the hands of Sandusky - and they did. 

Why is Mike McQueary Still Employed by Penn State?  He's a Witness.

NOTE:  Amazingly, PSU announced on November 10 that McQueary will remain on as an assistant coach.  Care for a summary of my feelings on this?  See the visceral Trevor Matich, ESPN College Football analyst, lay out his thoughts on this decision.  Not a good start for interim Coach Bradley.

NOTE:  On November 11, PSU announced that McQueary would remain employed, but would not be at this Saturday's home game against Nebraska, citing  "multiple threats" against him.  How about the truth instead: 

"We can't fire McQueary for his moral failure 9 years ago because we have known about it all along, and did nothing - how would it look if we fired him now?  Besides, he is a real important witness and, if we fire him, he may get pissed and, if he does, he may give damaging testimony against Joe Paterno and the others.  So, as a middle ground, we are citing "threats". That way, we keep him employed, continue to "publicly support him" and hopefully buy some time until he fades from view."

NOTE:  On Friday, November 11, PSU placed McQueary on administrative leave.  Talk of him remaining employed due to concerns about Whistleblower liability are - well - overblown.  It has been 9 years since McQueary "blew the whistle," and he didn't even blow the whistle on a PSU employee, so the Whistleblower Act likely won't apply.  Further, the passage of 9 years makes it highly unlikely McQueary could claim PSU retaliated against him due to his report, particularly since they have promoted him since then (thus making it appear that he was in part rewarded for his inaction).  Further, if he was to be terminated, it would be based not upon his telling administration about the rape, but because of his moral failure to make any effort to stop it, or to later contact the police himself when he saw nothing was done about it.

Mike McQueary - Seems Capable Enough...
Of course, I digress.  So why would Joe Paterno have been upset if McQueary called the police to report what he saw?

Paterno Says He Would Have Done More If McQueary Had Told Him About Anal Rape.

So, after seeing the shower horror show, McQueary reports something about it to Joe Paterno the next day.  Right now, it is unclear exactly what he told the Coach - but this much is undeniable: 

He told JoePa he saw Sandusky naked in the PSU football team's shower late at night with a naked 10 year-old boy engaging in some sort of sexual activity. That, or something like that, is what Paterno told the Grand Jury. 

Since the Indictment, Paterno has insisted that McQueary did not provide him details of what he saw.  It appears by these statements Paterno is saying:

"Look, all he told me was that Sandusky was showering in the abandonded locker room with a naked 10 year-old boy at 9:30 on a Friday night, and that they were engaged in some form of sexual activity. Based on that, I reported it to my bosses, and never did anything else. Now, if he had told me that Sandusky was in the abandoned locker room shower performing anal sex on a 10 year-old boy at 9:30 on Friday night, THAT would have been a different story.  I would have done more if I had known THAT." 

McQueary Acquaintances Reportedly Say He Told Paterno Grisly Details of 2002 Shower Rape

Sorry, Joe, but that doesn't work at all. You should know, too, that acquaintances of McQueary say he spared no details in his discussion with you.  The truth will out, eventually...It may very well be that when it does, Mr. Paterno will be indicted for perjury as well.

Did Grand Jury Cut Joe Paterno a Break Because He is Joe Paterno?

NOTE:   It is of course impossible to know the likelihood of that without seeing exactly what Paterno told the Grand Jury but, from here, it looks like he pretty much told them the same thing that Curley and Schultz told them.  Why they were indicted for perjury and Paterno was not is a deepening mystery to many - any ideas, dear readers?  Does the timing of the Indictment, issued during the week immediately following JoePa's record-setting 409th victory despite years in the making, at all make you suspicious?  Was the Grand Jury in some way complicit in Coach Peterno's achivement of his record-setting win total by waiting until November 4 to issue the Indictment?  Click Here for Timeline on Grand Jury Indictment.

In any event, if I'm JoePa, hearing about a naked man showering in my locker room with a 10 year-old boy in the middle of the night is enough for me to conclude that something very, very bad, and very, very illegal had occurred.  And, proof positive of that, Joe Paterno did promptly report what he had been told by McQueary to his bosses at PSU, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice-President Gary Schultz (although it is somewhat comical to refer to these men as Paterno's bosses - he was paid dollars to their donuts, and the PSU library is named after him, not them).  OK, fine. At least he did something. I am OK with that so far.

But, here is where things get really tricky.

Did Joe Paterno Know About 1998 Investigation of Sandusky in 2002?  Hard to Believe He Didn't.

In 1998, Sandusky had been the subject of an extensive investigation for showering naked with another young boy.  When I say extensive, I mean that at least 2 detectives spent months digging into this situation, interviewing many people along the way.  Why Sandusky was never indicted is called a "mystery," although one may safely assume it was because he was Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno's former right-hand man, mastermind behind the fabled "Linebacker U."  We will never know the entire truth, though, because the DA that decided not to prosecute, a man named Ray Gricar, disappeared without a trace on 2005, and was declared dead in 2011.   

Among those that were interviewed during the 1998 investigation was Gary Schultz (who admitted to the Grand Jury that he knew about the 1998 investigation as it was ongoing).  Another source, a former PSU attorney, has stated that Tim Curley, also knew of the 1998 investigation.

Schultz and Curley, in Happier Times
Although Sandusky was never indicted in 1998 (very curious, since he was heard via surveillance admitting what he had done to the boy's mother, pleading for forgiveness and stating he wished he was dead, and also confessed to a state child welfare agency that he he knew what he did was "wrong"), there was a lot of smoke there.

Recognizing that Joe Paterno's knowledge of the 1998 investigation was potentially crucial when evaluating his response to the 2002 incident, Scott Paterno, Esquire, JoePa's son, says Joe did not know in 2002 about the 1998 incident.  Well, kind of, anyway. Here is what Scott told the N.Y. Times:

“Speaking on behalf of the family, if Joe had knowledge in ’98, it’s impossible for us to conceive that he wouldn’t have remembered that in 2002.  Anytime he has been questioned whether he had prior knowledge to 2002, he’s answered the same way every time.”

Scott Paterno, November 2011
Okay, Scott - are we to believe that, despite a lengthy and in-depth investigation into the 1998 allegations, that the police never interviewed Sandusky's boss, the man who may have known him best, Joe Paterno?  Should we believe that the 2 men that your father reported to knew all about the accusations of sex abuse by your father's chief assistant in 1998 and said nothing about it to him either then or in 2002?  Should we assume that Jerry Sandusky, who was in 1998 PSU's defensive coordinator, was able to shield his boss from this investigation?  Or that news of the intense investigation of the legendary Sandusky in the sleepy town of Happy Valley, swelling with more than 50,000 college students, was kept secret?  Are we to assume that the investigators steered clear of questioning any members of the PSU team, or of its coaching staff, or that such team members or staff hid that from Coach Paterno?

Not buying it for one millisecond, Scott.

What other evidence is there that Paterno knew about the 1998 incident?  A lot, probably, but here is some other low-hanging fruit. 

Did Sandusky Retire in 1999 Because of 1998 Incident and Investigation?  Seems Likely.

Sandusky, who for many years was believed to by Paterno's heir apparent, resigned unexpectedly in 1999 after roughly 30 years of service and success (he became a coach at PSU in 1969).  It never really made any sense at the time.  In fact, it only started making real sense this week. So, you, my helpful reader, having read to this point and checked my sources, tell me - why did the 55 year-old Jerry Sandusky, believed to be Joe Paterno's successor, suddenly step down from his position in 1999?

Here is my opinion:  JoePa knew about the 1998 investigation, and other things as well (he worked side by side with the man for 30 years, after all), and wanted this monster off of his staff.  It is really the only answer that makes sense.

Shockingly (I say with tongue firmly in cheek), Scott Paterno (him again?!) claims that the resignation had nothing to do with the alleged incident.  Scott has to say that, or concede that his father knew about the 1998 investigation, which he had already denied.

Not buying it for one millisecond, Scott - are you?

NOTE:  Parenthetically, Scott seems to be denying everything he can get his hands on, even where the denials make no sense.  Or I should say, was denying everything.  He has since stopped "helping" his father, instead referring things to a Washington, D.C. "reputation repair" PR firm.  Might be a little late, Scott...

What Did Penn State Do in 2002 to Stop Sandusky?  Virtually Nothing.

Now, let's get back to March 2002.

A short time after the McQueary report, Sandusky was barred by PSU from bringing boys onto the PSU campus. Sandusky wasn't barred, though. He wasn't asked to turn in his keys, security pass codes, etc.

So let's examine that message. "We don't know if showering naked late at night and engaging in sexual horseplay with a naked 10 year-old boy is really wrong or illegal, but if your going to do that, please don't do it here. You are, however, welcome to come in and use our facilities anytime when you want. We can't really monitor if you come in during the night with other victims, but we're telling you don't do it."

Nice job, PSU - way to care for the unknown victims of  a monster you set loose on society. Uh, I won't be sending my children there, just like I stopped taking my kids to Catholic Church after that scandal became public. I'm no saint, but I will not tacitly or actively support an institution I view as morally bankrupt.

Beaver Stadium - Will it Ever be the Same?
What Did Joe Paterno Know About Sandusky in 2002?  Just About Everything, I Expect.

As of March 2002, Joe Paterno had known Sandusky for nearly 40 years.  Coached him as a player, for God's sake.  And, if we know one thing about Joe Paterno, it is that he has always maintained that his primary objective was to help his players develop into quality men.  His number one stated objective.  He has stated that the relationship between player and coach, as player and coach, lasts forever.

So, JoePa at this time had coached Sandusky for 4 years, and been his boss when Sandusky was his defensive coordinator, for another 30 years or so.  Now, if you were Joe Paterno in 2002, would you have picked up the phone and said, "Jerry, this is Coach Paterno. What the hell is going on?!  Did you do these things?  If so, let Coach help you get help.  If not, I am here to help with anything you need." Of course you would have, particularly if you were the alleged perpetrator's former coach and boss.

What Did Paterno Say to Sandusky When He Learned About 2002 Indident?  Not a Thing.

Joe Paterno didn't do that, though.  Scott Paterno says his father never once spoke to Sandusky about this incident.  Never.  In fact, Scott says, his father never spoke with anyone about the incident again.

How do you feel about that?  I'll tell you how I feel. 

I feel that JoePa, having known Sandusky for nearly 40 years, having worked with him from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. for 5 months a year in close quarters, having travelled with him around the world, and having seen him frequently accompanied by young boys, (see Outback Bowl, 1998, Alamo Bown, 1999, the latter played on December 28, 1999, Sandusky's final game), knew exactly what Sandusky was by March 2002.  He didn't need to call him to find out how this crazy rumor started and to offer his help, because he knew it was true.  So, he just ignored the monster, who he had once counted among his closest friends and colleagues.

Anyway, you are Joe Paterno in 2002 and:

* You know Sandusky has access to many disadvantaged boys.

*  You know that Sandusky's position and reputation, in combination with his unfettered access to PSU facilities, may enable him to more easily "seduce" children. 

*  You know of two incidents that are, at a minimum, highly improper. 

*  You know that, nevertheless, Sandusky can come in and use the football facilities undetected in the middle of the night, just as he did on the night in question. 

*  You know what McQueary actually told you (which means he could have said that the boy was anally raped by Sandusky).

* You may also, having spent 30 years working side by side with Sandusky, have seen or heard something that rang a suspicious bell over the years.

Why Didn't Joe Paterno Do Anything in 2002?  His Reputation? His Legacy? Wins Record? All of the Above?  You Bet.

You are Joe Paterno, and it is April 2002.  How do you feel when you learn that the police have never been called, and that Sandusky is permitted to come onto campus and use your football facilities whenever he wants?  You basically run PSU, and particularly in the area of football.  How do you feel knowing that, in connection with the operation of his Second Mile charity, Sandusky has unfettered access to disadvantaged boys who typically have no one to protect them?  Would it have been foreseeable to you that, as indeed happened in between 2007-08 according to the Indictment, another boy would be forced to engage in oral sex with Jerry Sandusky on 20 or so different occasions?  Would you have cared?  What would you have done?

Call the police yourself?  Threaten to step down if something more is not done, knowing that such threat will cause some action, since you bring in millions per year and, if not, then you will be able to go to the police yourself? 

Or, do nothing, convincing yourself that you fulfilled your legal obligations by reporting what you were told to your "superiors."  Wave hello to Jerry the next time you see him...

Oh, and by the way, how did you know you fulfilled your legal obligations?  Your son is a lawyer, so maybe you discussed it with him.  Maybe?  Come on, you know JoePa, a graduate of Brown, turned this thing around every which way imaginable in 2002.  Are we to believe that Joe Paterno never considered the 2002 situation from all angles?  Of course he did. 

In my opinion, Joe Paterno made a purposeful, calculated decision to let it go, after he spoke with his son (and probably University officials, as well), considered all of his options and decided he was better off just....forgetting about it.


His job, and thus his legacy.  Oh, come on now, you say.  That's a real twisted conspiracy theory!  Is it?

Paterno Knew in 2002 That if the Shower Incident Was Investigated, He Would Have Been Gone

Remember, the 1998 incident, which took place when Sandusky was still PSU's defensive coordinator, was still fresh in everyone's mind.  Or, I should say, the fact that Sandusky got away with it was fresh in everyone's mind.  In addition, you were the head coach when Sandusky brought a teen-age boy from Second Mile to the Outback Bowl in 1998, and the Alamo Bowl in 1999 (yes, 1999, a year after the 1998 investigation).  You knew that was strange, didn't you?  If this 2002 incident came to light, don't you think the1998 incident would have been put under the microscope?  And, wouldn't one thing have led to another, like from the Outback Bowl to the Alamo Bowl and Lord knows what else?  And don't you think that Paterno and his counsel considered that in 2002 and concluded that publicizing this more recent event might lead to JoePa's ouster?  Of course they did.  And, jeez, they were right - that's just what happened this week.  Took about 3 days - Joe Paterno fired.

Paterno Gets Record, But at What Cost?

And so, Joe Paterno did nothing in April 2002. His reward?  Or should I say, his earthly reward - was that  he won a lot more games - enough games to become the winningest coach of all-time, a title he had long (secretly) coveted.  Then, as noted above, the Indictment was released during the week that followed Joe Paterno winning his record-setting 409th game. Coincidence?  I think not. 

NoteClick Here for Timeline of PSU Scandal.

I do not think it is outrageous to surmise that JoPa likely hoped that none of this would come out until after he had passed - who would want to disrespect a deceased Saint Joe and what would he care - but it didn't work out that way. And so, here he is, the winningest coach in the history of Division I college football, who is reportedly hiring one of the most prominent criminal defense lawyers in the world to defend him from charges relating to the rape young boys. Congratulations, Joe, and good luck.

Paterno After Breaking Wins Record - Was it Worth it, Joe?
Here are two excellent articles on the situation, two of the best I have read:

Growing Up Penn State (written by a man who grew up down the street form Joe Paterno)

Joe Paterno: Power Failure (from ESPN)

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