The Sins of Happy Valley
I had plans to do a little research on the Razorbacks and then write my thoughts on the upcoming game in Fayetteville.
Before beginning, I decided to read the 23-page Grand Jury report concerning the on-going scandal at Penn State.
Formulating and conveying my thoughts on the Tennessee-Arkansas matchup seemed such an inappropriate thing to do. Plus, I had no energy for it. Not after this.
My thoughts ranged from disgust to anger to sadness to sympathy. Then, after processing what I had read, and putting aside the inevitable visual aspect of reading a narrative, my thoughts turned to the age-old process of what people in positions of power tend to do when there are known improprieties, illegalities, and as in this case, crimes against defenseless minors.
Cover-up. Protect power. Protect institutions.
Damage control. To hell with the law, ethics, and morals.
This scandal will be sport’s designated example of cover-up along side Iran-Contra, Watergate, and the sex abuse cases involving the Roman Catholic Church.
The bottom line is that the GJ report strongly implies that people in high places at Penn State knew about Jerry Sandusky. They knew about him for years. Perhaps as many as 15 years. They knew some very specific things about him, very specific events, events so despicable that it leaves you with so many questions about what was supposed to be an institution that was always painted as
a the model of integrity in college sports.
High places include the Athletic Director and the Senior Vice-President for Finance and Business.
And, even the President of the University.
Closer to the gridiron, there are questions regarding the eyewitness to one of Sandusky’s assaults, Mike McQueary, who was a graduate assistant on the Penn State coaching staff in March 2002 when he entered a locker room and stumbled upon a crime in progress.
McQueary (unnamed in the GJ report) didn’t attempt to stop what he saw. He did report the incident to Head Coach Joe Paterno. Paterno called PSU Athletic Director Tim Curley and Paterno’s immediate supervisor. Later, McQueary met with Curley and the Senior Vice-President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz. McQueary was told the matter would be looked in to.
Penn State President Graham Spainer was advised by Curley about the matter.
The University penalized Sandusky by taking his locker room keys away (he had been granted many privileges, including unlimited access to facilities, after his retirement as coach). McQueary was never questioned by any kind of law enforcement body or other investigative body, at least not until he testified in front of a grand jury in December last year.
Why was McQueary, the eyewitness, never involved in an investigation during the weeks/months/years after he left the meeting with Curley and Schultz?
Why did McQueary, not hearing about any followup, not attempt to revive an inquiry regarding a child molester that continued to have access to countless numbers of defenseless kids?
And, why, 9 years later, is McQueary still on the coaching staff of Penn State? Why?
As far back as 1998, PSU University Police knew about Sandusky. He was reported for another assault, but the county District Attorney, Ray Gricar, didn’t bring charges. The victim’s mother confronted Sandusky. He begged for her mercy, and stated that he wished he were dead.
Recently, Gricar disappeared, then announced as dead. His laptop had been thrown in a river.
People knew. Many people in the community knew about Sandusky. McQueary certainly knew. Curley and Schultz knew, but claimed to have not known specifics – the GJ report labels their testimony as not credible.
And exactly what did the President of the University know?
There is one person left to discuss in this cover-up. Joe Paterno.
“Saint Joe” as he has often been referred to in State College and throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the focus of today’s news. Not Sandusky, not McQueary, not Curley, not Schultz, not Spainer. And, not the victims and their families.
Joe reported the matter, because he got the information first hand from the eyewitness. He got the unfiltered view of the event from the person who witnessed it. Paterno knew the nature of the matter at hand – sexual assault by one of his former assistant coaches. Not just any assistant coach, but his former defensive coordinator, responsible for Penn State football to be known as “Linebacker U.”
Joe knew. He reported it. Then he just moved on. Sandusky continued to do his thing.
Yes. Joe knew about the act, he knew about the nature of that act, and he knew about Sandusky. A lot of people knew about Sandusky.
There was a press conference scheduled for today at which Joe Paterno would answer questions, but only about the upcoming Penn State-Nebraska game.
The press conference was hastily cancelled before the bright lights came on.
Paterno appeared at his house this evening, surrounded by a crowd of reporters, and screaming fans. On his front lawn, Paterno led the gathering in cheers of “We Are… Penn State.”
It was like a pep rally.
The questions are endless.
Read the Grand Jury Report. Perhaps you can get some answers.