clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Joe Paterno, Penn State Administration, Covered Up Sandusky's Sexual Abuse

Penn State fans honor Joe Paterno's legacy.  Incredibly.
Penn State fans honor Joe Paterno's legacy. Incredibly.

And they did it for at least 14 years. Allowing the continued sexual abuse of at least ten boys. A number that, most experts suggest, doesn't reflect the true number of Sandusky's victims.

Those are the findings of former FBI director Louis Freeh and his investigative team after interviewing 430 people and analyzing 3.5 million e-mails, tasked by the Penn State Board of Trustees to issue a comprehensive finding on what happened in Happy Valley.

From former director Freeh's press conference this morning:

Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.

With respect to the 2001 incident, where Mike McQueary actually witnessed rape, eventually reporting it to Penn State leadership after a panicked call to his father and no attempt to help the victim: is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large. Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky’s victims.

Pleas for Joe Paterno's ignorance about the true nature of Sandusky's abuse were proven false. He knew as early as 1998 and did nothing.

The evidence shows that these four men also knew about a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky relating to suspected sexual misconduct with a young boy in a Penn State football locker room shower. Again, they showed no concern about that victim. The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s. At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also failed to alert the Board of Trustees about the 1998 investigation or take any further action against Mr. Sandusky. None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity.

Indeed, Paterno was probably the primary reason that Penn State admins didn't report McQueary's incident to the Department of Public Welfare, local police, or even to The Second Mile charity.

Based on the evidence, the only known, intervening factor between the decision made on February 25, 2001 by Messrs. Spanier, Curley and Schulz to report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare, and then agreeing not to do so on February 27th, was Mr. Paterno’s February 26th conversation with Mr. Curley.

Even more damning:

We never had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Paterno, but he did say what he told McQueary on February 10, 2011 when McQueary reported what he saw Sandusky doing in the shower the night before: "You did what you had to do. It is my job now to figure out what we want to do." Why would anyone have to figure out what had to be done in these circumstances? We also know that he delayed reporting Sandusky’s sexual conduct because Mr. Paterno did not "want to interfere" with people’s weekend.

Joe Paterno may not protect children, but he will protect a weekend.

Keep in mind that these same men, who after being informed of a graphic rape by a suspected pedophile who they knew ran a foundation for children, using the prestige of Penn State football to awe and groom his victims, never even attempted to follow up, to identify, or look after, the child McQueary saw being raped.

Think about it. If you have a feeling of physical illness and your hands are clenching into fists right now, then I pronounce you human. Those boys were an inconvenience to them. A bother. An embarrassment. This is a Soviet Politburo discussing a bread shortage in The Ukraine while eating caviar.

None of these four men took any responsible action after February 2001 other than Mr. Curley informing the Second Mile that Mr. Sandusky had showered with a boy. Even though they all knew about the 1998 incident, the best they could muster to protect Sandusky’s victims was to ask Sandusky not to bring his "guests" into the Penn State facilities.

When you rape, please don't do it here.

The bizarre conceit offered by Paterno apologists (and some remain) is that Joe was a middle manager who did all he could, vaguely wishing his "superiors" would do the right thing.

Penn State employees knew better:

This is best reflected by the janitors’ decision not to report Sandusky’s horrific 2000 sexual assault of a young boy in the Lasch Building shower. The janitors were afraid of being fired for reporting a powerful football coach.

I won't pretend to comprehend Paterno's or the administrator's motives - I can't fathom the callousness of their thought process - but Occam's Razor suggests that a man that built and carefully nurtured an entire personality cult centered around his own Goodness and Rightness and Self-Effacing Modesty, and a university built upon the public image of its football program and it's public leader, couldn't be bothered to help abused kids for no reason more than preservation of public image.

Once Paterno and his lackeys "bosses" knew and refused to act in even the most perfunctory manner, every day that went by - and every new report and rumor - simply reminded them of their moral infancy and cowardice. Yet, that whole time, their central mission never changed: Forget the boys; Protect the legacy.

Before his death, Joe Paterno remarked that "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

The measured banality of that phraseology, the suggestion that hindsight is the necessary ingredient when confronted with the most simple matters of immediate moral action, reveals his own disconnection and concern for reputation right up until his last moments.

Let's be clear: Those boys wish you'd done anything at all, Joe.

The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).