What the hell, Penn State?

I admit I haven’t been following the story until I woke up this morning and saw on the news that there was a riot in response to the firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. For those of you who also haven’t been following the story, briefly:

A Penn State graduate assistant named Mike McQueary witnessed an assistant football coach named Jerry Sandusky rape a boy in the locker room shower in 2002. McQueary told his father who told him to tell Paterno, who then told athletic director Timothy Curley and the senior vice president of finance Gary Schultz. All Curley and Schultz did was tell Sandusky, “who mentored children through a charity program, not to bring children into the football building.” (From Gothamist.)

“Despite a powerful eyewitness statement about the sexual assault of a child,” the Pennsylvania Attorney General said, “this incident was not reported to any law enforcement or child protective agency, as required by Pennsylvania law. Additionally, there is no indication that anyone from the university ever attempted to learn the identity of the child who was sexually assaulted on their campus or made any follow-up effort to obtain more information from the person who witnessed the attack first-hand.

It is beyond comprehension. A total of nine boys have come forward to say they’d been sexually assaulted by Sandusky. So Sandusky has been charged, as well as Curley and Schultz who were charged with perjury and failure to report, and the president of the university stepped down. And now Paterno has been fired.

The rioters and other protestors and supporters are saying Paterno has been scapegoated. They might have a case if he was the only one charged, but he’s not and even if he was, he’s still guilty of not calling the police. A child was raped. And his response was to tell the school athletic director and vp of finance? And when he saw that nothing was done, he just left it at that? You can continue to love and support someone while also acknowledging that they did not do the right thing. All three of them are guilty and all three are suffering the consequences. With all the wrongs in the world, and there are so many terrible things happening all the time everywhere, this is what you riot about? Come on. Pull yourselves together. Reach out to the families of those children (now adults probably) and show them some support. Do some volunteer work somewhere.

I have mixed feelings about McQueary. I wish he had done more, and deep in his heart he must also wish he had done more. But he was young, and intimidated to a certain extent—I think the Milgram experiments explain his lack of response. Which brings me to another guilty party here: McQueary’s father. His father was the first adult who didn’t call the police. He utterly failed his son in that moment, and set a terrible example. I just can’t judge McQueary as harshly. Update: I’ve since learned McQueary was 28 at the time, and the boy he saw being raped was 10. I no longer cut McQueary any slack.

This is the picture from the our 2011 holiday concert program. Among other things, we’re singing Randall Thompson’s Peaceable Kingdom, which I thought was appropriate given the subject above.

Choral Society of Grace Church Concert Flyer 2011

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

8 thoughts on “What the hell, Penn State?

  1. Nine so far – Sandusky started up his Second Mile charity, that he apparently used to keep a regular flow of victims coming, in 1977, and there was a police investigation of him in 1998 that was dropped, partly due to the obstruction/lies from the PSU officials, according to the grand jury indictment. There’s also some very strange stuff involving the DA in charge of the ’98 investigation who disappeared in ’05:

    I’d be surprised if the final number of victims who are uncovered is in the double digits, now that the mask of secrecy is off.

  2. Giving a pass to Mike McQueary? He was adult, are we not at age 28?

    He needs to be fired too. Truly, if any individual with common sense and with ethics (unless a pedophile) walks into a horrific scene of a male child being butt-raped by a man old enough to his grandfather, don’t you do something more than just go tell daddy about it?

    What was McQueary thinking? I believe, his future at Penn State, as he did move up at Penn State and is now an assistant coach on the football team. He did nothing to follow-up as well and needs to be canned as others have in this disgusting scandal.

  3. I can’t argue with your points. They are sound. (I should have looked up what his age was at the time.)

  4. That story of the missing DA is weird. But the Wiki entry said he had looked up how to destroy a hard drive. It doesn’t make sense.

  5. This goes a little more into the 2005 DA disappearance case:
    Since the association with the Sandusky case was the first I’d heard of Gricar, I’d jumped to the conclusion that he’d dumped his laptop in the river himself to try and destroy whatever was on it – emails, pictures, etc. – as a precursor to suicide, since Gricar’s brother had killed himself by jumping in a river, and bodies in rivers can be notoriously difficult to search for, so that it wouldn’t be a surprise if they didn’t find him.

    But its also possible that he was murdered – DAs make lots of enemies, even in central PA – and someone else threw the laptop in the river to destroy it, or alternatively that his Internet searches for wiping a laptop were related to turning the computer in upon his retirement (though that seems unlikely given the terms he was using). Or some mix – he throws the laptop in the drink to make it look like suicide, then disappears, etc.

    With a seven year gap, though, the odds of this being related to the dropping of the Sandusky ’98 case are nearly zero. If there was some intent to “shut him up about what he knows (about Sandusky)” you’d think ‘they’ wouldn’t have waited that long to act.

  6. Thank you for saying all this, Stacy, I too can’t believe that PATERNO is the one garnering massive public sympathy. The victims must feel worse than ever, watching this.

    But you just don’t mess with college football programs. If you want to read a truly disgusting read about what gets covered up in the name of college sports, do consider the book “Scoreboard, Baby,” by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry, about all the crimes of football players that get covered up. Disgusting. It’ll put you off college football for life, pretty much.

  7. On a different note, I always love your holiday program pictures. They make you want to attend and I wish I could!

  8. An alto named Mary Horenkamp always does them, I will pass on your compliment.

    CR: Amen. I just don’t get it. Children were raped. That first kid was 10!!

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