The Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog has been discussing many instances wherein matters which used to be handled without the threat of imprisonment are now pulled into the criminal courts. Whether they should or not, of course, depends on your point of view. I don’t think many people will shed tears with this one, though, as it ripens to fruition.
According to the new investigation, Penn State University’s top officials, including head football coach Joe Paterno, failed to protect the children who were sexually abused by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
“Hey, Sam, don’t you mean ‘alleged’?”
Well, after a rather large amount of evidence, fairly lame defense and jury verdicts of “guilty”, I am willing to go out on a limb here and leave that particular word out. This is not to say I have any inside knowledge as to Sandusky’s guilt or innocence. I do not.
In the meantime, Sandusky remains a guest of the state awaiting sentencing on 45 charges of sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years. Soon enough, he will be sentenced. So, his part in this story is pretty well over. Now, it is the question of who else has the proverbial blood on their hands.
According to the investigation, there is enough of said blood to go around.
In a letter accompanying the release of the report Thursday morning, former FBI Director Louis Freeh stated that, “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…” The officials “…never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”
The translation of this being that there was never any concern until after the curtain of deniability was ripped away by public exposure.
Not that they didn’t try to keep it concealed even then…
Investigators found that, in the never-ending battle against bad publicity, university President Graham Spanier, football Coach Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz “repeatedly concealed critical facts.” Eventually, however, once that cause was no longer viable, Spanier and Paterno were forced out of their jobs. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failing to report the abuse to outside officials.
As an example of the cover-up, the report states that all four knew of a 1998 investigation into Sandusky, but none alerted university trustees or took any action against him. As a result, such reports never led to any criminal charges against him. Why disturb a good thing and replace it with a public black eye?
After all, the allegations did not involved any really serious problem, did they? After all, what is a little “suspected sexual misconduct with a young boy in a Penn State football locker room shower” between friends?
The report states that, “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” to the campus.
And then there are the allegations about February 9, 2001, when former graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, according to his testimony, witnessed Sandusky engaging in what appeared to be a sex act with a boy of 10 to 12 years old. McQueary told Paterno what he saw and, apparently, Paterno went to his superiors. McQueary went to Paterno and told of what he saw. According to testimony, the superiors decided it best not to call in outside authorities but to simply keep the reports internal. The report states that this stroke of brilliant rationalization was due to Paterno, who convinced other officials not to take action outside of the university.
According to the report, there was thought about reporting the allegations about Sandusky to the authorities, but Freeh states that, “After Mr. Curley consulted with Mr. Paterno, however, they changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the authorities. Their failure to protect the February 9, 2001 child victim, or make attempts to identify him, created a dangerous situation for other unknown, unsuspecting young boys who were lured to the Penn State campus and football games by Sandusky and victimized repeatedly by him. Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity” .
What often amazes me the most is that these gentlemen had to be aware of the examples presented by the late ex-president Richard M. Nixon, as well as so many since that time. A cover-up can take an otherwise “bad enough” crime and bring it to devastating levels. Now, not only is the school and its principals likely to face a barrage of bad publicity and civil lawsuits from victims and their families, but potential criminal prosecution as well.
“What can these people be prosecuted for, Sam?”
We will discuss that Monday.
In the meantime, as always, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!
For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to