Not So Happy Valley

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Happier Times: Sandusky (left) with Paterno

The reports from State College, Pa are shocking. Long-time assistant to iconic coach, Joe Paterno, charged with multiple counts of deviant sexual acts with at least eight minors — most under age 12. University administrators who did nothing despite horrific credible eyewitness accounts of  explicit sexual acts in locker rooms and showers. Disadvantaged kids taken advantage of by an authority figure who founded an organization ostensibly to help them, but apparently designed to fulfill his own aberrational desires.

These are the findings of the Grand Jury, and once unassailable Pennsylvania State University stands at a moral crossroads. At the institution’s hip stands legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, who is held out by the football world and the media as a guy who “does it right.” No cheating, no lascivious recruiting, no flashy uniforms a la’ Nike’s Oregon or Under Armour’s Maryland–the guy who made his football team clean the stadium after a game when criminal charges were placed against two of them. In short, a saint in the religion that has become football in Football America.

The center of the storm is former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, who made football fans everywhere think of the school as “Linebacker U.” An innovative mind who literally wrote the book on linebackers, Sandusky was Paterno’s right-hand man, and his heir apparent in Happy Valley.  The problem was Paterno just didn’t ever retire. Now at age 84 and in his 44th season coaching, Paterno is going strong and adding to his record 409 FCS wins.  Frustrated by the wait, Sandusky, 67,  applied for several head coaching  jobs, but, failing in that, retired in 1999 to work full-time with the Second Mile Foundation he created in 1977. Second Mile was designed to give disadvantaged youth “activities and programs for children  [and] … to promote self-confidence as well as physical, academic, and personal success.”

AD Tim Curley

Sandusky is alleged by the Grand Jury to have done quite a bit more. In 2002, a Penn State grad student overheard “rhythmic slapping” noises in the locker room showers. After putting away his tennis shoes, the 28-year-old went to investigate. What he saw can only be described as deviancy. According to published reports, the young man saw Sandusky involved in anal intercourse with a child he estimated to be age 10 (Victim #2).  He fled the scene shocked and the next day, accompanied by his father, reported the episode to Paterno. Paterno listened intently and then immediately reported it to University AD, Tim Curley. A week and a half later, the grad student met with Curley and University VP for Finance, Gary Shultz.  They too listened intently and assured him that steps would be taken. They weren’t. All that happened was that Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away.

Then there’s that report by a University janitor who also caught Sandusky in the showers with another child victim ( Victim #8). He reported it to his supervisor. What happened at ol’ PSU in the face of the most unspeakable of crimes? Nada, zip, zilch… why, nothing at all. No report to the police as required of all educators under Pennsylvania law (In Pennsylvania, the statute requires all individuals who encounter a case of abuse through their professional capacity to make a report). No attempt to find out who the child was or to help him.

There is lots more. The Attorney’s General’s Report, found here (Warning:

Sr. VP Finance Gary Shultz

it’s graphic), reports fondling, oral sex, and night-time sexual assaults against children “sleeping over” at the Sandusky home and at other places. There’s even lots more about Curley and VP of Finance Shultz. Seems neither man recalls the grad student mentioning anything about anal sex in the shower that night. All these folks remember is something about Sandusky and the naked ten-year-old just “horsing around.”  Maybe that’s how they view screwing people over in the world of university finance and university athletics?

The Grand Jury didn’t buy it either and have charged both with perjury in their testimony.

As you probably guessed, the Old Boys have pulled together. No charges of failing to report the act to police against the iconic coach or anyone else at Penn State either — at least not yet. University President, Graham Spanier, issued a statement saying, “I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee.”  Tim and Gary aren’t issuing statements.

St. Joe’s not talking either according to the Athletic Department, but as a football icon he can’t keep that up forever. I’d like to pose a question here from a fellow coach: “Joe, as a legend in a profession who has as its mantra that ‘we’re in it for the kids,’ why would you ignore the suffering of and brutality against one of those kids whose only flaw seems to be that he’s not old enough to suit up yet?”

I’d like an honest answer to that. And then I’d like another question answered of every man that was involved — whether as a witness, authority figure, supervising coach,or just as a father of kids. Why didn’t you step up and confront that old bastard in the showers and hit him with all your might right square in the nose?

Source: Washington Post

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

120 thoughts on “Not So Happy Valley

  1. Nal:

    That’s right. Curley and Shultz were the “both” that were charged. Paterno’s off the “legal hook” so far. As far as the “moral hook,” I’ll let the comments onthis thread speak for themselves.

  2. “Why didn’t you step up and confront that old bastard in the showers and hit him with all your might right square in the nose?”

    Everyone knows it’s not polite to strike a god, mespo.

    A large part of this problem is caused by the undue reverence in this country for those involved in sports. To admire skill is one thing, but many Americans put players and coaches on a pedestal. They worship grown men who are paid to play a child’s game. Why remains a mystery to me.

  3. Gene H:

    No halo on these guys to me. I know lots of them and most I wouldn’t invite home for dinner. The reason I got into coaching was because I saw a lot of the harm these “gods’ were doing to kids. IMHO the next great scandal will be just how dangerous some of these overgrown jocks can be to impressionable kids through their antics. A few are great; most are duds; and some are down right destructive.

  4. “They worship grown men who are paid to play a child’s game. Why remains a mystery to me.”

    Gene, there are whole communities, many poor as dirt, for whom football is their sunrise and sunset. It’s a child’s game as to outcome, but team sports in general can teach positive values. How to win, and get along doing it. For those on the pathway that has not yet led them to university, or even a GeD, in their world, football is the one place they feel they can achieve. It binds together communities. It goes on to pay for most other sports. A lot of young men would otherwise be on the streets without team sports. We can argue about other activities they “could” be doing, but this does nothing to diminish, in many, the love of sports.

    I invite us all not to throw baby out with bathwater. Penn State has a serious legal problem. Football, and team sports in general, do not.

    If Paterno knew anything, time for retirement and more grand juries. When a young person who has been told they cannot achieve all their lives, and does so on the grid iron, you better believe they are going to worship the people that told them they could do it. This man is worse than a priest because people take their football more seriously than church.

  5. They all failed to make a report … they broke the law. Paterno’s success as a coach does not put him above the law. Every day that has passed since he first was informed in 2002 is a day he broke the law. Every day that has passed since he was first informed in 2002 is a day he had the opportunity to show remorse and uphold the law. It’s not complicated.

    Oh I’m certain none of these”men” were attempting through their silence to protect an alleged pervert. I’m sure the excuse they gave themselves was three fold … we must protect the university, the football program, and the money said football program generates for said university. Well, it worked for 9 years but now it’s not just one alleged pervert but a whole slew of alleged cover-up law breakers and one alleged pervert.

    Finally, and of far more importance than any university or football program, there are the children … every single one of them since 2002.

  6. Major college sports have always been rotten at their core. We make icons of Coaches like Paterno but only if they keep winning. Sportscasters and writers must develop hagiographies to keep access and to act as “priests” of this religion of hero worship. It’s all tied in with the false values of pseudo American values so loved by those who would distract the citizenry from their deteriorating freedoms.

    I state this as one who loves and watches all major sports. However, the hype, pseudo patriotism and naked commercialism are obvious and obnoxious to me and somewhat limit my enthusiasm. In college sports even the patina of amateurism covers the history of athletics being the province of the elite. Paterno, like many before him has stayed too long at the party.

  7. James in LA,

    Don’t get me wrong. I do understand admiring skill and the positive values team sports can to create in kids yet also often fails to create through no fault on the children’s part. I find that the failures are more often than not rooted in the hero worship of non-players; from recruiting violations to excusing or turning a blind eye to bad player behavior both on and off the field. It’s the excessive and nearly divine adoration that’s a mystery to me, not the love of a sport nor the admiration of excellence. To use a war analogy as a distinction, I understand (and share in) admiration of Napoleon as a strategist and tactician but I cannot understand any hero worship of someone who was otherwise a petty despicable tyrant and generally bad human being. I would not suggest throwing out the baby with the bathwater, merely checking to see if that’s the right baby and if that’s really bathwater.

  8. As you probably guessed, the Old Boys have pulled together. -mespo

    …as they so often do… (…and what Mike S. said, with the exception of the part about loving and watching all major sports.)

    Thanks for this posting, mespo.

  9. Under Illinois law teachers and administrators are required by law to report this kind of criminal behavior to the DCFS. Wouldn’t Joe Pa come under that label, if he knew of these crimes and did nothing?
    Great article Mark.

  10. rafflaw:

    Pennsylvania law requires anyone aware of child abuse — not just educators and health care professionals as in your state and mine — to report it to CPS or police. That’s what so damn infuriating.

  11. Mespo,
    that is why I am surprised that more “officials” at PSU weren’t not indicted. However, Joe Pa is such a revered figure there that he could probably shoot someone in the center of the stadium and not be charged.

  12. “Joe Pa is such a revered figure there that he could probably shoot someone in the center of the stadium and not be charged.”

    Therein lies the mystery to me.

  13. Mark E: “Why didn’t you step up and confront that old bastard in the showers and hit him with all your might right square in the nose?”

    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” E Burke.

    I just don’t know how that grad student didn’t clock him (Sandusky) in the shower either. That has not been my first instinct when confronted with some act of brutality arose, how do people just shuffle their feet and walk on by? In a situation like the one depicted above the only way it should end is with the perp or the ‘witness’ in the hospital.

  14. In the above link anon nurse posted the article mentions a 2 year statute of limitations. That mention reminded me of the Cleveland Diocese handling of charges against priest by young girls claiming they were raped as fourth graders:

    After church lawyers battled the women for five years over exactly when they remembered the abuse and how quickly they reported it, the diocese prevailed in the case in 1998, when the lawsuit was dismissed.

    Again, as with so many other such suits, the case ran aground not on the truth or falsity of the allegations – which were never officially adjudicated – but because the statute of limitations had expired.

  15. Paterno’s full statement:

    Nov 06, 2011

    Joe Paterno issues statement, calls Sandusky charges “shocking”

    Joe Paterno has released the following statement regarding the child sex abuse charges filed against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky:

    “If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters. While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can’t help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred.

    “Sue and I have devoted our lives to helping young people reach their potential. The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling. If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers.

    “As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.

    “I understand that people are upset and angry, but let’s be fair and let the legal process unfold. In the meantime I would ask all Penn Staters to continue to trust in what that name represents, continue to pursue their lives every day with high ideals and not let these events shake their beliefs nor who they are.”

  16. Thanks for the update, anon nurse. Here’s my admittedly cynical take on things:

    From the Grand Jury Report:

    “Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called
    Tim Curley (“Curley”), Penn State Athletic Director and 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.”

    From Paterno’s Statetment Today:

    “As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report.”

    Memo to Joe:

    Of course, Joe, you needed specifics. You needed information. You were surprised. You were confused … blah, blah, blah ….

    Whether you’re 18 or 84 do we really need to draw you a picture before you act to protect a child of 10 from a naked middle-aged man in a shower under your control “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature” to him? How many “specifics” do you need there, coach? Would a scouting report from SCI-Greene help?

    Who are you trying to convince? Yourself?

  17. “Who are you trying to convince? Yourself?”

    I’m hoping that was a rhetorical question, mespo, as the answer is obviously “yes”. Joe Pa is not just a football hero to many, he’s one to himself. After all he’s spent years of his life being told exactly that. He can’t be a real hero if he allowed someone to molest a child so he’s fired up the JetSki and is going to try to dodge crocs on DeNial.

  18. Blouise:

    Even if he wins with those technical defenses, he “loses” in the eyes of most people. I am anxiously awaiting the civil case by the now-grown victim against all of the ostriches.

  19. mespo,

    That was my second thought when I initially read your post. My next thought was “Confidential Settlement”.

    My first thought was for that little boy alone in that shower room with a monster and a 28 year old male witness leaving him there to suffer. There are layers and layers to this story … each more horrible than the other.

  20. Here’s the Pennsylvania mandatory reporting law (Child Protective Services Law). It’s not the easiest case I’ve ever seen against Curley and Shultz, but it’s risky saying it doesn’t apply to them given the breadth of the language which seems to apply to most all people who work and who come into contact with children.

    6311. Persons required to report suspected child abuse
    (a) General rule.–A person who, in the course of employment, occupation or practice of a profession, comes into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with section 6313 (relating to reporting procedure) when the person has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of medical, professional or other training and experience, that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that person or of an agency, institution, organization or other entity with which that person is affiliated is a victim of child abuse, including child abuse by an individual who is not a perpetrator.

  21. Whether there was a duty to report under the law doesn’t speak to the issue in a way that captures the horror of the act. This was a middle age man anally raping a sub teen. To have observed this act and not intervened is disgraceful. To have knowledge of this man’s actions and not exposed him is ethically disgusting. To have avoided hearing the truth to protect one’s now specious reputation is the act of a man in a dishonorable occupation, college football coach, is the mark of a narcissist. Joe Pa is a fraud and must go. The others need prosecution and/or disgrace.

  22. Blouise wrote:

    “My first thought was for that little boy alone in that shower room with a monster and a 28 year old male witness leaving him there to suffer. There are layers and layers to this story … each more horrible than the other.”

    Yes…the crux of it really, it seems. All of those who turned a blind eye or assumed the ostrich “head in sand” position could have prevented the abuse that followed. As you also rightly say, “there are layers and layers”… It sickens me. And I wonder how long Sandusky’s wife has known and/or had inklings about her husband’s problems…

  23. Mespo,
    Thanks for the statute language. It does look like a tough sell to the court. I think if grad assistants and assistant coaches do interface with children(student athletes that are not adults yet) I think there is at least an argument that they had a duty to report. I think Joe Pa is dirty and he needs to step down immediately. Horrible situation. What about civil suits against all parties by the victims?

  24. anon nurse:

    From the NYT article:

    “This is not a case about football,” [Pennsylvania Commissioner of State Police] Noonan said. “This is not a case about universities. This is a case about children who have had their innocence stolen from them and a culture that did nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening to others.”

    Amen, there Commissioner Noonan. If ever there were a case where heads should roll if these allegations are proven true, this is it. This case reveals a sick culture of denial and protection of wrongdoing that should be exposed and eradicated starting from the top. Admitted inappropriate contact with a minor by the alleged perp in 1998; a janitor apparently observing the man performing oral sex on an 11 -13 year old in 2000 and struggling with the decision to report it to his superior; a 28-year-old coach seeing anal sex performed on a 10-year-old in 2002 and running from the scene and then having to call his Dad to find out what to do; the alleged perp bringing kids to Penn State football practices after all of this was known — at least to some in the University. Everyone afraid that doing the right and legal thing will cost them their jobs or that the school’s reputation will be sullied, and all the while absolutely no regard for the child victims. On second thought, “sick” is too nice a word for this “culture.” I’d call it depraved and cowardly. I’m trying to think of a more insulting characterization but I can’t.

  25. mespo,

    Very well said — all of it. I, too, hope that “heads roll” in what is, yet, another example of a “culture” of complicity.

    There are too many who are willing to look the other way and let terrible things continue. It’s heartbreaking.

  26. So Paterno fulfilled his obligations by passing the allegation along to his superiors according to the link anon nurse posted. Not good enough. He should have fired his ex-assistant or demanded a full and impartial investigation take place. Actually, the most obvious and simple act would have been for any of these people to call the police – they had knowledge of, directly or indirectly, a crime.

    And what Blouise and anon nurse said, if any of the adults had acted in a responsible manner they could have saved a lot of future grief. Everybody involved is just spouting a variant of the ‘good soldier’ defense.

  27. anon nurse:

    All this macho football thumping of chests about courage and committment. One horrible deed in their presence and they go scurring off like rabbits. It’s heartbreaking but un-manly too in the good sense of that oft-underused word. Cowards, all.

  28. Excellent insights, mespo… and they are “cowards, all” to be sure, as you say… (I wasn’t clear, perhaps… It’s heartbreaking, knowing how the victims were exploited and injured. They will never fully recover. of course.

    At the moment, the only real feeling that I have for those who participated or did nothing is one of loathing…. and pity, perhaps…

  29. team means never having to say you are guilty.

    To bad for Paterno, you would have thought his reputation meant something to him. I guess fealty to friends is more important than personal morality.

    The whole place should be shunned.

  30. All educators are mandatory reporters. In most jurisdictions with which I am familiar, failure to report is an indictable offense. It may range from misdemeanor to felony, but still an offense. If one has a license to practice a profession it can be revoked if the holder failed to report either child abuse or a sex offense against a child.

  31. Penn State Scandal: Joe Paterno Didn’t Do Enough To Stop Abuse Says State Police Commissioner

    HARRISBURG, Pa. — Time and again, questions about an alleged cover-up of a sex abuse scandal at Penn State circled back to one name: Joe Paterno.

    Major college football’s oldest, winningest and perhaps most revered coach, was engulfed Monday in a growing furor involving former defensive coordinator and one-time heir apparent Jerry Sandusky, who was indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years.

    The Pennsylvania state police commissioner said Paterno fulfilled his legal requirement when he relayed to university administrators that a graduate assistant had seen Sandusky attacking a young boy in the team’s locker room shower in 2002. But the commissioner also questioned whether Paterno had a moral responsibility to do more.

    On the Happy Valley campus and in the surrounding town of State College, some were even asking whether the 84-year-old coach should step down after 46 seasons on the sidelines.

  32. In many ways, this is a good example of how “the system” protects the 1% …until someone starts the ball rolling to reset the equilibrium. By the way, who was that “someone,” after all these years of cover-up in this case?

  33. The one thing I notice visually is that all involved in this obscenity are college educated, upper middle class, middle-aged white men. I wonder how long this debacle would have lasted if just one female was in the power loop on this at Penn State. Ashamedly as a male, I’m willing to bet it would not have been very long.

  34. Well said Mespo. You are probably correct. At least it looks like Joe Pa’s days are numbered. However, for him to retire does nothing to help those victims. He should have been indicted. Sad.

  35. raff,

    I wasn’t thinking about the indiscretions so much as … “They both stayed too long at the fair and brought their otherwise brilliant careers to an ignoble end.”

  36. And to all who commented on the Mississippi proposal 26….I just heard that it failed…but at the same time elected republicans for all of the major state wide offices…except for the AG and Auditor General which were Independents….Not a single Democrat….I wonder why?

  37. AY, Jim Hood was re-elected as Mississippi Attorney General. He is a Democrat. The Mississippi AG office has been proactive at consumer protections, and the famous tobacco settlement litigation was begun in that same office under Jim’s predecessor, AG Mike Moore.

    The Mississippi AG has a lot of political and legal clout in the state, so I am glad it remains in the hands of a lifelong Democrat. I have known Jim Hood for many years and he is a good lawyer.



    A better comparison would be the sexual molestation scandals that rocked another insular, all-male institution, the Roman Catholic Church.

    The parallels are too striking to ignore. A suspected predator who exploits his position to take advantage of his young charges. The trusting colleagues who don’t want to believe it — and so don’t.

    Even confronted with convincing proof, they choose to protect their institution’s reputation. In the face of a moral imperative to act, there is silence.

    This was the dynamic that pervaded the Catholic clerical culture during its sexual abuse scandals, and it seems to have been no less pervasive at Penn State.

    “Success With Honor,” as the football program’s motto boasts.

  39. How do these men live with themselves? Have they no conscience? How could they have remained silent and not informed authorities when they were told what Sandusky had done? Weren’t they concerned about Sandusky’s child victims. Why wouldn’t they try to stop him from abusing more children?

  40. Elaine,

    Exactly! This is why they are all going down … if not in a Court of Law then most definitely in the Court of Public Opinion.

    It was this sense of outrage I think mespo expressed so well in a very short sentence in his original guest blogger piece … “I’d like another question answered of every man that was involved – whether as a witness, authority figure, supervising coach,or just as a father of kids. Why didn’t you step up and confront that old bastard in the showers and hit him with all your might right square in the nose?

  41. Here’s the mea culpa:

    Paterno released this statement:

    “I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief. I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today. That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.

    This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.

    My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.”

  42. An interesting twist to this story:

    Questions on Sandusky Are Wrapped in a 2005 Mystery
    By Ken Belson

    Published: November 8, 2011

    “One of the questions surrounding the sex-abuse case against Jerry Sandusky is why a former district attorney chose not to prosecute the then-Penn State assistant coach in 1998 after reports surfaced that he had inappropriate interactions with a boy.”

  43. anon nurse:

    Gricar was a weird guy. Aloof, but principled, he never disclosed why he ignored a confession and a persistent parent in declining to prosecute Sandusky. Abuse cases are tough cases to win but a confession and a victim’s testimony usually spell the green light. Gricar’s mysterious disappearance and his computer hard drive showing up in the river are crazy plot twists in the tale of missed opportunities to stop an alleged child rapist.

  44. mespo,

    I’m confused. I thought no one reported Sandusky to authorities. But the New York Times article says that a former district attorney chose not to prosecute him.

  45. In 1998, a parent reported Sandusky to authorities. A report of the investigation was prepared by the Penn State University Police, and the county prosecutor, Gricar, chose not to prosecute despite the confession. The next known episode was the janitor catching him in the University shower in 2000 performing oral sex on another child, and then the equally horrendous report of then grad student McQueary in 2002. The 2000 event was reported to a janitorial supervisor who failed to pass it up the line out of fear of retaliation. The 2002 episode is documented in the blog post.

  46. Interesting background and insights, mespo. Thanks for sharing them. As you note, it appears that there were a number of “missed opportunities”… Too many, it would seem.)

    (It would appear that he wanted to get rid of his hard drive, as you already know which begs the question, what was on it that he didn’t want anyone to find…

    “The next day, Gricar’s Mini Cooper was found in a parking lot in Lewisburg, about 50 miles from his home in Bellefonte. Gricar’s cellphone was in the car, but not his laptop, wallet or keys, which were never recovered. Months later, the laptop was found in the Susquehanna River without its hard drive, which was discovered later. It was too damaged to yield any information. On the fourth anniversary of his disappearance, investigators revealed that a search of his home computer yielded a history of Internet searches for phrases like “how to wreck a hard drive,” according to a report at the time in The Centre Daily Times.” (from the NY Times article) )

  47. Breaking News:

    Penn State just fired Joe Paterno.

    Tom Bradley has been named as the interim head coach of the Penn State football team. Bradley was previously the defensive coordinator.

  48. Imagine if the public held governmental officials to the same standards of conduct as the folks at Penn State in this matter.

    Imagine if governmental officials were actually held accountable for breaking the law instead of being given the ‘let’s look forward instead of back’ pass.

  49. Off Topic:

    Mental Health Worker Fired For Reporting Child Pornography Found On Client’s Computer

    No good deed goes unpunished.

    A Missoula, Montana mental health employee is currently out of a job after reporting child pornography she found on the computer of a client, John Gribble, to the police, according to the Associated Press. The employee, who has not been named, first went to supervisors with her concerns, but was told not to contact authorities because her discovery did not meet the requirements for reporting an offense.

    According to the Missoulian, court papers show that she contacted police on October 17, reporting concerns after she saw the words “female child nude” and “preteen nude girls by themselves” in the browsing history of Gribble’s computer. Gribble was later charged with sexually abusing children after a DVD containing nude photos of children was found in his home, according to multiple reports.

    Despite the fact that the worker was concerned for the safety of young girls Gribble babysat, and that her suspicions proved true, the company maintains that she violated their policies when she called police.

  50. Mental health professionals and paraprofessionals are mandated reporters. If a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or counselor fails to report this kind of finding, they can not only lose their license, but can be fired.

    My hunch is that this firing is not the end of the story. Any lawyer would love to take an employment case like this one. Also, the local district attorney might want to have a grand jury look at the actions of the agency.

  51. Otteray & rafflaw,

    Here’s more on that Montana story:

    Counseling service client accused of child porn; employee who called police fired

    A client of Three Rivers Mental Health Solutions stands accused in a child pornography case, and the Three Rivers employee who reported him to police has been fired, in part because she took that action.

    John Gribble is scheduled to appear in Missoula County Justice Court later this month on a single charge of sexually abusing a child; specifically, the middle-aged man possessed child pornography, according to a complaint and affidavit filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks. As outlined in Marks’ affidavit:

    Gribble came to the attention of Missoula police when a Three Rivers employee contacted them on Oct. 17 with her concerns. She first went to her supervisors at Missoula counseling service after seeing the words “female child nude” and “preteen nude girls by themselves” in the browser window of Gribble’s computer.

    But, said the affidavit, “she has been dissuaded to report anything in regards to Gribble to the authorities with a threat of dismissal.”

    The woman eventually was fired. Three Rivers Administrator Shea Hennelly said there were several reasons for that action, including the fact that the employee contacted police about Gribble after being told her concerns did not meet the criteria for notifying authorities.

    “In order to provide mental health services, we can’t engage in dual roles. We’re not allowed to go to police” unless actual child abuse is observed, he said. “She didn’t witness someone abusing a child. What this woman reported to this office was she saw the tab of Web browsers that said teenage girls. That’s a lot different.”

    For one thing, he said, there was no way of identifying the potential victims, one of the criteria he said must be met before a possible victim is warned or authorities are contacted.

    The affidavit also said the woman had concerns about the young daughters of two single mothers for whom Gribble babysat, and about one family in particular. The woman “feels very apprehensive about this family’s safety, which is one of the reasons she is telling authorities about Gribble,” the affidavit said.

    She relayed those concerns to supervisors, too, “but the employee couldn’t tell me any names,” Hennelly said. “In the past, this gentleman babysat kids and we were able to identify the mother and were able to carry out our duty to warn.”

    He said, however, that he knew nothing about photos Gribble allegedly took of two young girls at a food pantry, something else the Three Rivers employee reported to police. Gribble showed her the photos, calling the girls “my new little friends,” the affidavit said. The woman “states these girls were clothed, but feels these girls are in danger.”

    Police executing a search warrant of Gribble’s home and computer on Oct. 19 found a DVD with photos of children, “some prepubescent in a state of undress.”

    Gribble “admitted that officers would find on his computer a fictional story he wrote about spanking a naked little girl and giving her oral sex. Gribble agreed this was a problem,” the affidavit said.

    The charge against Gribble was filed amid a national discussion, spurred by child sex abuse allegations against a former assistant coach in Penn State’s football program, about legal and moral obligations to report such abuse to authorities.

    Hennelly said that in the case of Three Rivers, medical confidentiality was part of the issue. “Confidentiality is not just when it’s convenient,” he said. “The issue on the table for us is not the mandated reporting. It’s the duty to protect exceptions. That requires five criteria being met” – involvement of a client, communication to a professional, a threat to a child’s safety, an identifiable third party, and the apparent intent and ability to harm a child – “in order to breach somebody’s confidentiality. We ultimately determined we shouldn’t do it.”

    Montana law requiring certain professionals and officials to report suspected child abuse specifically states that someone “may not refuse to make a report … on the grounds of a physician-patient or similar privilege.”

  52. Does Penn State Actively Condone The Rape Of Children?

    Everyone else at Penn State looked to Paterno as their monarch, and when he made it clear that he was going to do the bare minimum legally required about this, they all followed his lead. This included allowing Sandusky to continue to exploit his relationship with Penn State to prey upon and rape more young boys.

    For Penn State to allow Paterno to take the field as coach this Saturday and to continue to coach until the end of the season constitutes condonement of child rape, and minimization of the grievous harm that Sandusky and Paterno by their actions have caused to who knows how many young boys. And note that deciding to allow Sandusky the continued use of the reputation and physical infrastructure of the Penn State football program to prey on young boys was an affirmative action by Paterno, not just inaction.

  53. anon nurse,

    That is just too awful to imagine!


    Madden: Sandusky a State secret
    Beaver County Times
    April 3, 2011

    In 1999, Penn State was rid of Sandusky. His rep was unblemished, which allowed him to continue running a charitable foundation that gave him access to underage males. To be a volunteer assistant with a high school football team, thus gaining access to underage males.

    If Paterno and Penn State knew, but didn’t act, instead facilitating Sandusky’s untroubled retirement – are Paterno and Penn State responsible for untoward acts since committed by Sandusky?

    This is far from an outrageous hypothesis, especially given the convenient timeline.

    Initially accused in 1998. Retires in 1999. Never coaches college football again. Sandusky was very successful at what he did. The architect of Linebacker U. Helped win national championships in 1982 and 1986. Recognized as college football’s top assistant in 1986 and 1999.

    Never any stories about Sandusky being pursued for a high-profile job. Never any rumors about him coming out of retirement.

    But there’s no shortage of stories and rumors about Penn State football sweeping problems under the rug, is there?

    Why did college football let an accomplished coach like Sandusky walk away at 55? Why did he disappear into relative anonymity?

    A grand jury, spurred by a complaint made by a 15-year-old boy in 2009, has been investigating Sandusky for 18 months. Witnesses include Paterno and Penn State athletic director Tim Curley. Interviewing Paterno about a subject like this had to have been one of the single most uncomfortable acts in the history of jurisprudence.

    Plenty of questions remain yet unanswered. Potentially among them: What’s more important, Penn State football or the welfare of a few kids?

    You might not want to hear the answer.

  54. Anon nurse,
    That is a horrible story.
    Great excerpt Elaine. I do believe that the tip of the iceberg is what we are seeing at this point. It will probably get even uglier.

  55. rafflaw, Isn’t it… and just keeps getting worse… I think you’re right about this being the tip of an iceberg…

    Elaine, I completely agree — it’s awful…

    A friend of mine told me that when Sandusky “retired” from Penn State, Paterno didn’t attend the retirement party — that there was lots of speculation, at the time, about Paterno’s absence that night…

  56. The shame of Penn State
    The university buried a child sex scandal for years. And rioting students dare blame the media?

    On Wednesday night, the Penn State Board of Trustees met — for the first time since the child sex abuse scandal broke — and subsequently announced that football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier had been fired. No, that’s wrong, let’s take those names in order of importance – first Graham Spanier and then Joe Paterno. What followed was a jaw-dropping torrent of angry, abusive questions from Penn State students directed to a cowed and bewildered John Surma, vice chairman of the trustees.

    With the purpose of clarifying the issues, I’m going to do an instant replay on the questions and help Surma with the answers. (The following questions were taken right off the CNN telecast.)

    Angry student: You said Coach Paterno was fired “in the best interests of the university.” Can you define in the best interests of the university?

    Surma: I…

    Me (putting my hand over the mic): Hold it, John, I got this one.

    You ask to define “the best interests of the university”? Let me tell you in as clear language as possible, you arrogant little jerk. Over the past 15 years there were at least eight boys raped by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky — oh, sorry, even though the grand jury has met on this, we still have to say “allegedly raped.” Anyone connected with this, anyone who enabled Sandusky to continue doing what he was doing — oh, sorry, allegedly doing what he was doing — and doing it on the Penn State campus, and anyone who had knowledge of his activities and did not act to stop him deserves to be immediately dismissed.

    Angry student: That doesn’t mean …

    Me: Shut up. I’m not finished. You asked the question and I’m answering it.

    It would have been “in the best interests of the university” if the firings were announced on Sunday morning, the day after the findings of the grand jury were released. That, at least, would have made it appear to the public that somebody at Penn State was treating this matter with the gravity it demands.

    Since you don’t seem to get it, let me spell it out for you. On Saturday, March 2, 2002, a then-graduate assistant who is currently an assistant PSU football coach, Mike McQueary — you all remember him, he was also a quarterback here and the one with the shock of red hair that makes him look like Archie in the comics — told the grand jury he saw former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky naked in the shower, raping a young boy McQueary thought to be 10 years of age.

    Now, let me be clear about this: I’m wondering why McQueary, a strapping young quarterback, didn’t do something right then and there and stop this boy from being assaulted? Instead, McQueary — who, for some unfathomable reason is not only still on the Penn State coaching staff, but will, as of this writing, be with the team this Saturday in full view of a national TV audience — called not the campus police or the university president, but his father, who didn’t tell his son to go to the campus police or the university president but to the head football coach.

    According to testimony Joe Paterno gave the grand jury, Paterno said McQueary was “distraught” and he wasn’t “specific.” This leaves me wondering whether Paterno was, then or now, a liar or merely an idiot. Stop shouting, I’m not finished.

    If McQueary was “distraught,” did Paterno not think that he had seen something terrible? And if he thought McQueary wasn’t “specific,” why did he not ask him to be specific?

    Instead of calling the police or the university president, Paterno called athletic director Tim Curley, another former assistant coach. Curley brought in Gary Schultz, vice president of finance and business, whose duties included supervision of the campus police. By the way, Paterno called Curley not the same day he met with McQueary, but waited at least 24 hours. Curley and Schultz met with McQueary eventually — eventually, as in no one is sure how many days passed, but estimates are that it might have been as late as March 27 — and promised to investigate.

    No one knows exactly when president Spanier was informed, but it appears to have been after the March 27 meeting.

    Are you getting all this? Is it making an impression?

    What was done by the Penn State officials between March 2002 and the recent grand jury investigation was … nothing! No one went to legal authorities and no action was taken. Oh, I just remembered. That’s not true. According to the grand jury report, after the incident in 2002, someone — again, presumably Curley — told Sandusky “not to bring any boys on campus.” And Sandusky did have his keys taken away, though precisely what that means isn’t clear since Sandusky — who, you’ll be interested to know, is walking around today, free on $100,000 bail – was still using the Penn State facilities as late as 2009, when the last sex abuse charge, the one that got a grand jury involved, was made by the mother of a 12-year old boy.

    And do you know why in 2002 Jerry Sandusky was a former assistant coach? “Officially” he resigned in 1999 after Paterno told him he would not be head football coach. But coincidentally, he resigned soon after a mother confronted him on campus twice and asked him not to shower with boys again. Sandusky refused, and campus police tapped into at least one of their conversations, but the authorities decided not to file charges. Happily for Sandusky, his resignation agreement included a clause that he continued to have an office and full access to the Penn State football facilities.

    Even better for Sandusky, he was allowed to retain his position in the Second Mile, a charitable organization for at-risk children, which he helped found.

    I should add that it appears that no one at Penn State bothered to inform anyone else associated with the Second Mile about either the 1998 or 2002 incidents involving Sandusky.

  57. I see the US Department of Education is now starting an investigation of Penn State to see if there has been a violation of the Clery Act.

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated that if the allegations against Sandusky — who faces 40 counts of charges related to the sexual abuse of numerous children — are true and the university did not report the abuse, it would be a tragedy. Schools and officials have a “legal and moral responsibility” to protect children, he said.

    “If these allegations of sexual abuse are true, then this is a horrible tragedy for those young boys,” Duncan said in a statement. “If it turns out that some people at the school knew of the abuse and did nothing or covered it up, that makes it even worse. Schools and school officials have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children and young people from violence and abuse.”

    The Clery Act requires colleges and Universities taking part in the Federal financial aid program to record and disclose reports of crime on campus. They must issue warnings about any crime that threatens the campus community. A retired assistant coach molesting a child on campus appears to fit the description. Violations can result in fines of up to $27,500, and in extreme cases a school can be kicked out of the Federal financial aid program.

    The Clery Act was named after Jeanne Clery. She was a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered by another student in her campus residence hall in 1986. The law was signed into effect in 1990.


  58. Joe Paterno’s little power play failed as the statement he originally issued wherein he said he wanted to stay till the end of the season was issued without the Board’s approval. I suspect he figured he could force them to accept that scenario.

    He, once again, misjudged the seriousness of the situation and was canned by phone immediately after the Trustee’s meeting that night.

    The riot ensued and as far as I’m concerned that also falls on Paterno’s head. He set the situation up with his seriously flawed judgement … once again.

    I heard on the news last night that he had retained a criminal lawyer. He hasn’t been charged with anything yet but who knows what other “misjudgements” the guy has made. There are going to be several investigations … we’ll wait and see.

  59. Rumor has it that the Pittsburg catholic church is taking over the university and it will be renamed to ” pedophile U” and Sandusky will be hired as the head of the “packers”……

  60. Every great tragedy has a hero and in this sordid one it’s Central Mountain High School Administrator, Steve Turchetta. In 2009, Turchetta allegedly surprised Sandusky while he was lying face to face with Victim No. 1 in a remote weight room area of the school’s gymnasium. According to Turchetta, who then coached football and wrestling, he was returning to the gym one evening when he noticed an unexpected light on in the weight room. Investigating, he encountered Sandusky and the 15-year-old boy. Sandusky jumped up and said ‘Hey coach, we’re just working on wrestling moves.” Unconvinced, Turchetta reported the event to his principal and later to the police. Turchetta believed the event suspicious and was concerned that Sandusky was emotionally “clingy” to the boy. The 15-year-old’s mother also confirmed that inapproproate touching had occurred to school officials. That allegation started the investigation which culminated in the Grand Jury Report.

    Sandusky had insinuated himself on the Central Mountain High football staff in 2002 as a volunteer coach under the premise of helping kids from Second MIle who had made the team. His lascivious intent in lying on the teenager face-to-face was confirmed by Victim No. 1 in his testimony as he described the exact same sexual approach by Sandusky while staying over at Sandusky’s home. Sandusky called the process “cracking his back.”

  61. “Every great tragedy has a hero…” -mespo


    I’ve been wondering how it began to unravel. Thanks again for this article and the continuing coverage. Thanks, as well, for the good news of the “hero” in all of this. My wish for the victims is some measure of peace… and healing.

  62. Sorry. Posted your “hero” comment to the other thread — I hope you don’t mind. Forgot to change the name before posting again. One of the perils of sockpuppetry.

  63. Blouise, you said:

    Oh I’m certain none of these”men” were attempting through their silence to protect an alleged pervert. I’m sure the excuse they gave themselves was three fold … we must protect the university, the football program, and the money said football program generates for said university. Well, it worked for 9 years but now it’s not just one alleged pervert but a whole slew of alleged cover-up law breakers and one alleged pervert.

    Blouise, most of the cover-ups in the area of child sexual abuse occur not in the Catholic Church and not in the Boy Scouts/Universities/other institutions but in the Family Courts and our child abuse investigation agencies, CPS and DHHS.

    It is common in the Family Courts for a whole series of mid-level people to actively join in the cover-up and to order those beneath them to cooperate. Case after case after case after case is covered up at taxpayer expense.

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