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.

Say it ain't so, Joe. Say it ain't so!

“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.

***

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “The Sins of Happy Valley”

  1. JanEvett (@JanEvett) says :

    Thanks for providing the link to the report and for posting your take on the situation.

  2. rockytop78 says :

    From what I have read, Joe Paterno probably fulfilled any legal responsibilities he may have had by advising the higher-ups in the university about McQuery’s story. The problem, of course, is not potential legal liability on the part of Paterno, but the abject moral cowardice displayed by him and the rest of the Penn State staff and administrators — starting (but not ending) with Paterno — in what happened after Paterno passed along McQuery’s story to the PSU administration.

    And as a sad little accent, we have Paterno leading the PSU students in a cheer?!? This episode reminds me of the end of Bobby Knight as Indiana U’s basketball coach, and the semi-delusional world that he and some of the IU faithful seemed to be in after Bobby got canned.

    This whole matter coming out of Happy Valley — and the irony of the name is significant — is simply horrific on many levels.

    • rockytop78 says :

      I see now where Paterno will be retiring at the end of the season; if he had any decency, it would be today. But, hey, why not tack on a few extra in the W column? That’s what it’s about anyway, for Paterno?

      • norcalvol says :

        It appears that Paterno is going out on his own terms. NYT reports (Twitter) indicate that the school may not directing Paterno – it is his own call. Agree completely – the decent thing to do would be to leave now. But, he’s the Pope of State College.

  3. Bryant Denny says :

    Has there been any indication that Sandusky resigned in 1999 because of the incident in 1998? That seems a bit fishy to me.

    One sick thing – among many sick things in this story – is that the folks involved in the coverup – including Paterno – had to know that there is usually not just one victim. Yet they turned their heads and let the innocence be ripped away from more victims.

    • norcalvol says :

      Article in the Altoona Mirror FROM APRIL 2011!!!
      http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/549032/Questions-now-surround-Sandusky-s-Penn-State-departure.html?nav=746

      Some quotes:

      “It may be that Sandusky was beginning to see the writing on the wall – that he knew he was not going to succeed Paterno and began looking for another avenue to coach without having to uproot his family or stray too far from The Second Mile. The relationship between Sandusky and Paterno was frosty at that point…”

      “Though the ’98 allegation apparently lacked sufficient evidence, it may have left Paterno and the university to decide whether to terminate Sandusky – he coached two more seasons after it allegedly surfaced – or let him retire quietly. And it may be that the university hierarchy, for several reasons, ultimately decided endorsing football at Penn State Altoona, perhaps with Sandusky, wasn’t a good idea.”

      “Either way, I remain curious about whether these dots connect and whether Sandusky’s discussions with Penn State Altoona were predicated on the fact that he knew his days as a coach with the Nittany Lions were numbered.”

      Speculation notwithstanding, it seems more than just plausible that Paterno and the brass at PSU knew about Sandusky, and have known about him, for a very long time.

      They knew. They all knew. Too much power in the hands of too few.

      Coverups, when outed, eventually bring down mountains.

  4. tk says :

    the pep rally at paterno’s house……..that really shows how out of touch this man is. “after”….the key word here……”after” chanting “beat nebraska” is when he thought that maybe he should offer prayers to these victims!!!!!! ……..disillusional

    • norcalvol says :

      Out of touch is correct.
      I would imagine that lawyers and school officials would rather that Paterno say nothing, as was their intent when they canceled the press conference.

%d bloggers like this: