By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
The conviction of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of child molestation and abuse seemed like the worst storm residents of Happy Valley could have endured. Now it seems that was just the opening gust of the hurricane. A series of emails recently turned over to investigators from a secret file in AD Tim Curley’s office suggests that university president, Graham Spanier, was more involved in the cover-up that previously thought and that former PSU head coach, Joe Paterno, was just as involved as many of us thought. Just 16 days after grad student, Mike McQueary, walked into the showers at the Penn State’s
football temple athletic facility to find Sandusky behind a ten-year-old making “slapping noises,” an email issued from university vice president, Gary Shultz, to Spanier setting forth the agreement to report Sandusky’s actions. On February 26, 2001, Shultz wrote the three-part plan was to “talk with the subject [Sandusky]… contact the charitable organization [Second Mile]… and contacting the Department of Welfare.” In Pennsylvania, the Department of Welfare is required to investigate all allegations of child abuse. It works hand-in-glove with the law that requires educators and those working with children to report allegations of child abuse.
However, two days later the plan changed, due, it seems, in large measure to discussions with iconic coach Joe Paterno. Curley writes to Spanier:
“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved. I would be more comfortable meeting with the person.. tell him the information we received… and tell him we are aware of the first situation.”
Talking it over with Joe? Who was running the athletic department at Penn State? As events unfolded the same question could be asked about the university itself? It seems obvious that Spanier and Curley had decided to report the suspected abuse of a child to both Second Mile (Sandusky’s charity and hunting ground) and state authorities with the resources to investigate and charge Sandusky. Now one word from JoPa and all that changed. (It is also interesting that Curley mentions the “first situation” since he has denied knowledge of the first known allegation of child abuse involving a 1998 claim that Sandusky abused an 11-year-old boy now known as Victim 6.)
The approach by PSU now was to be “humane” to the suspected serial abuser and get his side of the story despite full knowledge of another shower incident in 1998 where Sandusky stood accused again of improprieties that were never charged criminally but that raised suspicions among law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office. Curley writes in a second email that if Sandusky cooperates, they’d be willing to work with him. If not, they’d have to inform Second Mile and the Department of Welfare. Former university President Spanier was supportive of the new idea. But in a reply email it seems clear the President knew PSU officials were walking a tightrope legally and ethically:
“The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road.”
When the rubber hit that road and the world found out that Sandusky had been coddled by every relevant authority at PSU, Spanier, Curley, and Shultz were gone immediately. Paterno also got fired amid protests of his innocence in the matter. No complaint was ever made to Second Mile or the Department of Welfare. Likewise, there is no evidence Sandusky got any professional help. PSU just forgot about the very great likelihood of sexual abuse on a small boy on its campus by one of its football heroes. And Sandusky sexually abused at least three more young boys after “good men” did nothing.
What’s also remarkably evil is the utter disregard by the academics involved for the welfare of that still publicly unknown child. Spanier, a sociologist and family therapist by trade, must have been well aware that the abuse would continue until Sandusky was caught or the child came forward. Sadly, both were long shots given what we know about child abuse and enforcement of laws against it.
I wonder what all those Paterno groupies protesting in the street following his ouster think now? As for Paterno, who publicly vowed to “pray for the victims,” and who died of lung cancer this past January, “feet of clay” doesn’t seem to do the man justice . Maybe heart of clay?
Source: CNN via Atlantic Wire
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger