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. 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.”

  2. I meant charged with a crime, not fired, although that can happen too if the agency is ethical.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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) )

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

Comments are closed.