Author’s Note: If you have strong feelings about Penn State and the University’s role in this scandal, to the extent that you think Penn State is responsible in some way for what happened, please stop reading now. Click the back button on your browser and get away from this. I will not convince you otherwise, and I will probably only anger you further. I’m talking to you too, Rodney Erickson. You will not apologize for this blog.
I have been, perhaps conspicuously, quiet about the Sandusky trial. Truth be told, it is not football related–and barely PSU related, despite what the mass media would have us believe. Moreover, I use this blog to vent MY frustrations, and many of you won’t agree with my opinions on this matter. I also like to use humor to deal with the adversity of life, but this is not a subject where the material lends itself to humor.
But the verdict is in and many folks (not necesarily in this blog but in the real world) have asked me about my thoughts.
The following is my “stream of consciousness” ramblings about the subject.
First, I am glad he was found guilty. BUT . . . I will admit that I was secretly hoping that the whole thing was a concocted sham by the victims and that they weren’t really victims after all. It was a long stretch, but I was holding out hope that McQueary didn’t really see what he thought he saw. And let’s face it, even after all the testimony, we don’t know what he really saw. I’m not sure he knows what he saw. And he may have relayed different stories to different people (Paterno, his father, Dr. Dranov, etc.)–if not different stories, at least different ways of describing what he thought he saw. For what should have been a defining moment in his life, he apparently couldn’t pinpoint the day or even THE YEAR it happened. The jury didn’t even convict Sandusky of rape in that instance, so apparently it wasn’t clear to them either.
|You Can’t Handle the Truth!|
In the absence of a fraud, I would have settled for Sandusky taking the stand and having a Colonel Jessup style meltdown, telling us all that we can’t handle the truth before blurting out his confession for all the world to hear. But alas, he took the stand not.
Perhaps I watch too much CSI and Law and Order, but I was really unimpressed by the “evidence.” Obviously, these events happened years ago so there won’t be security cameras capturing Sandusky walking into the building with a kid in tow. There won’t be DNA evidence because no child ever reported the crime at a time when such evidence could have been obtained. I thought it interesting that the defense brought to light that the police may have “led” the victims in their testimony, but let’s be perfectly clear about all this: just about everyone, including myself, felt that he is guilty. But that doesn’t make him guilty, and in my mind there is a small amount of doubt that Sandusky is guilty of a crime. He showered inappropriately with young boys and tickled them . . . but did that inappropriate behavior actually cross the line to illegal behavior? Apparently the jury thought so.
I also felt Sandusky reacted strangely for an innocent man. Seriously. If I were being put away for the rest of my life and I was truly innocent, I’d be a little more outspoken about it. I’d be shouting out my innocence as they dragged me away. I think maybe we a got a shrug.
This verdict is nothing to cheer about. I was amazed by the number of people that showed up at the courthouse to applaud the verdict, as though this were something to celebrate. If Sandusky is truly guilty, let’s face that reality then: that means that those atrocious acts did in fact occur, children suffered, and some administrators at Penn State probably dropped the ball in dealing with the “evidence” that they had available. I still maintain that Joe did what he was supposed to do and should have done. The police AND the DA were involved in 1998 but nothing materialized. There is absolutely not one shred of evidence that police involvement in 2002–or was that 2001?–would have changed anything. It’s like Monday morning quarterbacking. You know punting on fourth down didn’t work, so you assume that going for it would have. Since you already know one alternative was not viable–the punt failed–ANY other option would have more of a chance of succeeding. But that doesn’t mean the other options would have succeeded.
And what about the mother of the kid that kept coming home without his underwear? Where is the responsibility there? What about the Second Mile? Ray Gricar? The police that investigated Sandusky in 1998 (but apparently never contacted his employer at that time?) DA/Gov. Corbett? A lot of people are to blame for not stopping Sandusky; Penn State as a well-endowed university happens to be the richest, so that’s where the lawyers and media are focusing their drooling attention.
I have never understood this legal obligation of an employer or corporate entity to read the minds of employees and therefore be legally reponsible for inactions of said employees. If a former WalMart employee sexually attacks a kid in a WalMart bathroom, does that really make WalMart responsible? If a current employee sees that and reports it up the chain of command, is the head of sporting goods now responsible because the general manager did nothing? Is the corporate headquarters financially responsible, even if they were never apprised of the situation??? How can you be held responsible for something you didn’t know about? Obviously, the employees should be held responsible for not reporting, but I just don’t see how WalMart is in any way responsible for the crime itself, or anything the perpetrator does thereafter.
Only Curley and Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report a crime, and their cases haven’t been tried yet. It remains to be seen whether Spanier will become embroiled in this mess. But I think it is absolutely ludicrous that Penn State should be “on the hook” for any settlement money. In the final analysis, although the university “has money”, those funds ultimately come from tax payers, tuition payers, and donors, none of whom are to blame for what happened and should not be punished. Likewise, I don’t believe that money donated to the Second Mile should be “up for grabs”–people donated that money as a charitable act. If the Second Mile ceases to exist, that money should be donated to other causes (such as RAINN or organizations with goals similar to that of the Second Mile, ie to help disadvantaged children,) or returned to the original donors if possible. I also feel the same way about the Catholic Church, but let’s not go there in this discussion.
But suing Schultz and Curley won’t get you very much. Penn State has the money and presumably the insurance coverage (it’s not really taxpayer or student tuition money–it’s the insurance company that pays!–what a crock of shit that convoluted thinking is!), and therein is the primary justification for going after Penn State. It really is not the University’s fault that employees made bad decisions. Punish them for the crimes that they committed (failure to report), not the acts of Sandusky. Arguing that Penn State could have stopped Sandusky is just as ludicrous as claiming you would have won the game had you not punted. Maybe you would have. Probably you wouldn’t.
If a kid is abused in a hut in rural Montana, and the abuser has only the hut and the land that he lives on to his name, how does that kid get “compensation” for his suffering? The obvious answer is that he does not. But the kid suffers no less phsically and mentally. It’s just his bad luck that the abuser chose not to come to Penn State and be caught by an eye witness employee. Ka-ching!
And BTW . . . No. My children were not assaulted by Sandusky. Would that change my mind? That’s a very good question. Devious and unfair, but good. I will answer it thusly . . . NO. It would not change my stance. I don’t really know how I would deal with that situation, but just as thousands of you KNOW with unassailable certainty you would have been so much more nobler than McQueary or Paterno even though you can’t even begin to imagine yourself in that situation, I will definitely say NO. The victims suffered horrible, heinous acts. They deserve our sympathy and prayers. Their suffering hasn’t earned them a new vacation home or money for therapy at anyone’s expense other than Mr. Sandusky. He is the only one that did anything to them.
And to make matters worse, you have to deal with the frivolous suits as well. Sari Heidenreich writes about two hoaxes already. One claims to be a relative of former Wisconsin QB Bollinger, and the other claims to be the grandson of Joe Paterno.
The address listed on the Paterno paperwork was that of a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Philadelphia. The address listed on the Bollinger paperwork was for a comedy club in Philadelphia.
And here I didn’t think there was anything humorous about this situation.
It also irks me that there is so much disinformation still swirling in the media.
John Ziegler addresses some of these issues in an editorial.
This leads to the next misunderstanding surrounding how easy it would have been for Paterno or anyone else to pin a child molester label on Sandsky. Not only were there no other concurrent allegations (as far as we currently know, Penn State football was unaware of the 1998 investigation into an incident which prosecutors deemed unchargeable), but Sandusky was a local hero and ran a huge charity on which thousands of people relied. A false charge of child molester would have been devastating to many people and irreversible. It has been presumed that Paterno and others at Penn State looked the other way on Sandusky out of fear of damaging their precious program, but there are other rational interpretations of their hesitancy to go public.
It is also important to point out that, while he didn’t go public with McQueary’s story, contrary to widespread perception, Paterno did indeed go to the police (the head of the campus police) and his superior, just as the law required him to do so. Most people are as unaware of the basic fact as they are that Sandusky was a FORMER Penn State assistant at the time McQueary came to him. In Paterno’s mind Sandusky was no longer his responsibility.
Most people I speak to about this presume that Paterno took part in a cover up and placed the reputation of his football team over the well being of defenseless children. But just to be clear, as of today, there is zero evidence to back up this allegation. While numerous email are being made public which indicate other Penn State officials may have participated in a cover up, there is not even one relevant mention of Joe Paterno.
Yet, many people still insist that Joe Paterno chose image, fundraising and football over children. More Monday morning quarterbacking. So hey. Let’s wait and second guess O’Brien’s decisions this fall, and not whether Penn State chose football over children.
Of course, there are some that think that Penn State football should cease to exist or at least be sanctioned.
Kevin McGuire of the Examiner details why that won’t happen. Sorry Pitt. In short . . .
While various coaches and athletic department and university staff officials do seem to have fallen short of upholding the law, no NCAA violations were covered up in the Sandusky scandal. While that will not sit well with most, this is the only reason the NCAA would take a look in to Penn State. Simply put, there is no NCAA case for sanctions here.
Nothing else to see here. Move along.
Ultimately, our judicial system passed judgment. I have seen people acquitted in the face of a lot more evidence, and there have probably been those found guilty on less. For now, pending appeals, Sandusky is guilty and will be punished. Eventually, the fates of Curley, Schultz and possibly Spanier (dare we throw in the BOT and governor Corbett?) will be sorted out in like fashion. And we will have to endure the Civil Suits, our judicial system’s version of the lottery, where the only real winners are the attorney’s who get healthy cuts of the payouts without actually having to suffer like the victim’s they represent.
Thank God football season starts in two months so we can get back to some real Monday morning quarterbacking. I’m actually looking forward to this season. If you’ve actually managed to survive this blog to this point, I hope you are looking forward to Penn State football too.