Down In The Valley III: Justice Is Mine (Updated)

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

One of the most enduring questions of the child rape scandal  at Penn State is what role did head football coach Joe Paterno play in the decision to grant his ex-right-hand man, Jerry Sandusky, carte blanche to prey on children. In a statement immediately after the scandal broke last November, Joe Paterno claimed that he reported what little he knew, did what he could, and that he wasn’t fully aware of the gruesome particulars:

“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,” Paterno’s statement read. “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.”

And that’s where he left it — with the intended impression that a good (but not fully informed) man did what the university’s protocol dictated and hesitated to do more because he didn’t want to jeopardize the process. Law enforcement was quick to say that Coach Joe was not being charged for failure to report the crime and this seemingly official exoneration gave PSU fans reason to breath after the heinous allegations caused them to hold their breath. St. Joe may not be the smartest 80-year-old coach around but he was clean!

In an article in the Washington Post, Paterno again demurred saying, “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was, so I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

For good measure, Paterno even gave us the doddering, old coach routine telling us  that … dadgummit …:

“… I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best. I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it.”

Me get involved to protect my program? Nope, just following the protocol. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He’s just doodling “X”s and “O”s. Nothing to see, here.

JoPa’s  family was quick to his side saying the old coach was a character guy with little familiarity in the ways of the modern world — like emails which he never used —  nor of sexual perversions that never plague the pristine sidelines that are his kingdom. Joe was everything good about college football — integrity, victory with honor, and players graduating on-time. Old players came from every direction to talk about the man and the smear campaign against his ideals and of those who would topple his station as America’s college coach for their own undisclosed but obviously jealous purposes.

ESPN football analyst and former NFL player and executive,Matt Millen,  spoke for the Penn State alums:

Penn State’s program has always been above everything else, largely because that is what Joe espoused and lived. Was he perfect? No. Corrected them and owned up to them. That is what set him apart.

All of that might have sold gladly to the Nittany Lion faithful had not a damning series of emails  recently come to light uncovered by former FBI chief, Louie Freeh’s ex-G-men, whom the university hired to investigate the tragedy. Seems Vice-President Gary Shultz, whose responsibilities included overseeing the university police, kept a secret file with emails about the dilemma of “What to do about Jerry?” after the grad student’s report of child rape in the Penn State locker rooms. As discussed in my previous post, university administrators were in unanimous agreement to turn Sandusky over to authorities until AD Tim Curley ( A Paterno protege’ and former Penn State QB)  had a heart-to-heart with old, feeble, above-the-fray,  Joe. Miraculously, the plan changed from following the law to following your heart and giving Sandusky a chance to reform. It’s all about redemption and “humanizing the university” as former PSU President Graham Spanier might say. Though, even “Erasmus” Spanier was enough of a realist to recognize the danger of the plot.  “The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we become vulnerable for not having reported it,” he softly protested.

But an article today  in the Chronicle of Higher Education shows that JoPa could wield an rusty, iron fist when he needed to, and could use emails when it suited him. The emails, leaked by someone investigating the fiasco, show that Paterno considered himself the final arbiter of justice when it came to the Penn State football program.   Paterno deftly used an associate’s email account to establish the boundaries of his power with PSU officials with just enough ambiguity to make his supervisors blink.

The story begins in 2007 when as many as two dozen PSU football players launched a melee against other students in the off-campus Meridan Apartment complex resulting in six players facing nine felonies and 18 lesser charges for battery and assault. Penn State’s Office of Judicial Affairs (OJA), who investigated the fight, called it “brutal in nature. ” The brawl was about retribution. “We went there for revenge,” one player said. “We had a reputation to uphold,” another player said, according to the documents at the OJA. (Obviously, these two missed the Matt Millen lecture).

Paterno wanted it gone and renewed his demand that PSU’s rule penalizing students for off-campus transgressions be repealed. It wasn’t. However, even as President Spanier was perplexed about what to do, Coach Paterno had a clear vision about the crisis. In an April 7, 2007, email sent via his assistant, Sandi Segursky’s account, to the Prez,  Paterno decreed:

“I want to make sure everyone understands that the discipline of the players involved will be handled by me as soon as I am comfortable that I know all the facts.” It was signed  “Joe.”

Spanier dutifully sent a copy of the email to Vicky Triponey, then vice president of student affairs, whose department was investigating the alleged attack by players and who had weathered Paterno’s demand two years earlier to drop the off-campus conduct rule.  Triponey, who has now come out publicly about the undue influence Paterno wielded in Happy Valley,  was stunned.

Triponey wrote back to the president, saying, “Thanks for sharing. I assume he is talking about discipline relative to TEAM rules (note: he does not say that). Obviously discipline relative to the law is up to the police and the courts, and discipline relative to violations of the student code of conduct is the responsibility of Judicial Affairs.”

“This has not always been clear with Coach Paterno so we might want to clarify that and encourage him to work with us to find the truth and handle this collaboratively with the police and the university,” she went on. “The challenge here is that the letter suggests that football should handle this and now Coach Paterno is also saying THEY will handle this and makes it look like the normal channels will be ignored for football players.”

“Can you remind them of police and University responsibility?”

Ouch? Old doddering, unsophisticated in the ways of the world, Joe,  not knowing where his authority stopped and the police’s begins. The same guy who follows university protocol and then puts his head down and goes back to work molding young minds, fully confident that a crisis that threatens everything he’s worked for for fifty years will all be handled without him? That, Joe?  THAT Joe! Say it ain’t so, Joe!

So what happened to the alleged miscreant players? Well, the county criminal blotter reports that the courts dismissed all counts against four players and allowed the remaining two to plead guilty to misdemeanor offenses. Some received short suspensions from the team. Paterno refused to let players attend the university’s disciplinary hearing as witnesses, threatening in a perfectly modern blast text message to throw them off the team if they attended.  Instead, he made the affected players  perform 10 whole hours of community service. He also forced the entire team had to spend two hours on Saturday afternoons cleaning  the stadium after home games.

Thereafter, some commentators hailed Joe as a hero  — and Vicky Triponey was fired.

Sources: Chicago Tribune; Penn Live; Daily Beast; Chronicle of Higher Education; ESPN and Collegian On-Line

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Correction: The  previous version of this blog post listed the secret file containing lost emails as being possessed by AD Tim Curley. Actually, it was Gary Shultz, university VP, who maintained the file and turned it over to Louis Freeh as part of the university investigation into the matter.

UPDATE:  ESPN reports the Freeh Report on Penn State will be released next week and that it “will be tough on Joe.” The Penn State Board meets Thursday. Read ESPN here.

69 thoughts on “Down In The Valley III: Justice Is Mine (Updated)”

  1. I neveer thought of the connection of birth control policies with Mother Teresa and her work. All you heard reported was how wonderful se was.
    I(t always amazes and saddens me when people will say to someone in chronic intractable pain “G-d never gives you more then you can handle” or “You (or I am) were blessed by being given this pain.” Suffering is good and from G-d and therefore I will continue to help you uiffer (which it seems maybe that was really what MT was doing) is, I owuld think, an affront to Jesus or whomever you believe your G-d to be (if you have one). If not an affront to Mother Nature.

  2. Sports were once an amateur activity, for the love of the game. As soon as money, profit, in short busines enters, then tyrannicism and corruption follow. Tyrannicism has been generally accepted as the business worlds way of operating. No voting here. And in most caes if closely
    examined no ethics either.

  3. Curious,

    Mother Teresa
    Thanks for the MT info. Worse than I expected. One can draw the conclusion on the small scale that the nuns were there as butt wipers, as one of our commenters here defined his work, NOT givers of trust and comfort or healing. Surely JC would be disappointed. Won’t waste time on characteriizing MT.

    Julian Assange
    I’ll hope into my case as I’ve commented on it before at JT’s.
    It is a classic, fairly well executed honey-pot CIA operation, but likely Swedish police, government, and other element (Swedish secret police Säpo) were definitely involved. USA can not investigate openly an alleged crime committed in Sweden, at least not yet.

    The Swedish planners (SÄPO) analyzed the USA info, adopted the suggested standard scheme used by all such organs, which includes analysing the targets habits and weaknesses. Fame in certain circles, parties, receptions, wine and willing women, all of the women competing to host a party for him and spend the night in bed with him and brag later.

    The usual choosing was done, at least one wss chosen, coached as to assure she would succeed as to his likes, etc. This was done by Swedish police operative police who is even later involved in contact with the duped honey pot through private social contact. Thus deniability assured
    Honeypot won the competition to have the party, and as hostess won the other game too.

    It is alleged that he had intercourse with condom, had a repeat one when she was half-awake where she inquired if he was shielded and he replied no. She allegedly did not break off intercourse at that point or later.

    The complaint emerged, whether through solely her own volition, or with help from others. Her complaint was registered. The odd thing was that the investigating officer was the same friend from before, an active lesbian who has driven campaigns against sexual abuse of women.
    Generally speaking such a position and activism is not cause fo general disparagement from the public—-although involvement ia an official capacity with a friend is a no-no, and sharply criticized in the press.

    SO involvement as a investigation, coaching and promoting the courage of the complainant, and effecting the course of the investigation was judged improper in the newspapers. To what effect I don’t know.

    The DA wished to question Assange, which he officially offered to do through his attorney in England. This has not been accepted by the DA, on what grounds is not clear. It would seem clear that the info would be the same in both instances. So the conclusion is thet it is intended to arrest him in Sweden, let him be extradited to the USA for trial there on USA request direct to the Swedish government.

    It is self-evident that you don’t prepare and start such an operation if you don’t have prior approval all the way up on the Swedish law and political sides. In previous cases the Foreign minister has been the one signing for the government.

    This could have played out in óther NATO countries, although less likely in some. But Sweden has added to the list of rape examples not covered before.
    I won’t try to inform but am sure that official information in English is available on the net, both as standard tourist info, and as a service to journalists.

    That he entered her while she was not awake and aware of his entry, in an unprotected manner, opposed by but allegedly accepted by her, he therefore violated her rights to effectively say no. Similar judgements have been made in cases of intoxicated or incapacitated women, I believe.

    Am sure at some point that someone uttered the famous phrase: “We got him”. Bets?

  4. BettyKath,

    Interesting angle. Jocks have their groupies. One groupie who did me, bragged about her making the entire football team.

    This could be a phenomenon which emerges in high school and becomes part of the “boy culture” which persists at least through college. Whether a trade wiich involves money in involved is unsure, but you may have reason to suspect it.

  5. Re: Shawshank Redemption, have seen it twice at long interval on regular TV. Gripping picture of what it reveals, but definitely not violence or visually overplayed. The title lost them 10 million; the lack of an understanding woman characterd on the outside waiting faithfully lost another 15 million—IOW not a Hollywood standard. The wiki calling it for “assault” instead of sexual assault, or simply rape is prudish and disrespectful to the matter-of-fact film treatment of the brutality, of which we saw little in the film.

    The movie in no way shows the bonding and eventual homosexuality which cuuld have been there between the two leading “good guys”. Being without life experience of “bonding” of any sort, I took it as “a platonic relationship where the two found that they could find each other in hell and could rely on each other. Recommend highly

    Covers many issues of our incaarceration system. There are several more issues waiting to be covered. As an Hollywood film, it is easy for social conservatives to diss it.

  6. Mother Teresa opposed birth control in 60 developing countries; she directly contributed to policies that were disastrous for women and children. She did all this for her own self-aggrandizing mythical “spirituality.” She spouted off about how grateful she was to share in the suffering of the tormented — but she shared from a safe seat.

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