Omelas State University

These things should be simple:

1. When, as an adult, you come come across another adult raping a small child, you should a) do everything in your power to rescue that child from the rapist, b) call the police the moment it is practicable.

2. If your adult son calls you to tell you that he just saw another adult raping a small child, but then left that small child with the rapist, and then asks you what he should do, you should a) tell him to get off the phone with you and call the police immediately, b) call the police yourself and make a report, c) at the appropriate time in the future ask your adult son why the fuck he did not try to save that kid.

3. If your underling comes to you to report that he saw another man, also your underling, raping a small child, but then left that small child with the rapist, you should a) call the police immediately, b) alert your own superiors, c) immediately suspend the alleged rapist underling from his job responsibilities pending a full investigation, d) at the appropriate time in the future ask that first underling why the fuck he did not try to save that kid.

4. When, as the officials of an organization, you are approached by an underling who tells you that one of his people saw another of his people raping a small child at the organization, in organization property, you should a) call the police immediately, b) immediately suspend the alleged rapist from his job responsibilities if the immediate supervisor has not already done so, c) when called to a grand jury to testify on the matter, avoid perjuring yourself. At no time should you decide that the best way to handle the situation is to simply tell the alleged rapist not to bring small children onto organization property anymore.

You know, there’s a part of me who looks at the actions of each of non-raping grown men in the “Pennsylvania State University small-child-allegedly-being-raped-by-a-grown-man-who-is-part-of-the-football-hierarchy” scandal and can understand why those men could rationalize a) not immediately acting in the interests of a small child being raped, b) not immediately going to the police, c) doing only the minimum legal requirements in the situation, d) acting to keep from exposing their organization to a scandal. But here’s the thing: that part of me? The part that understands these actions? That part of me is a fucking coward. And so by their actions — and by their inactions — were these men.

At least one sports columnist has made the point that Joe Paterno, the 40+ year coach of Penn State, who was fired last night (along with the university’s president) by the university’s board of trustees, should be remembered for all the good things he has stood for, and for his generosity and principles, even as this scandal, which brought his downfall, is now inevitably part of his legacy as well. And, well. I suspect that in time, even this horrible event will fade, and Paterno’s legacy, to football and to Penn State, will rise above the tarnishment, especially because it can and will be argued that Paterno did all that was legally required of him, expressed regret and horror, and was not the man who was, after all, performing the acts.

Here’s what I think about that, right now. I’m a science fiction writer, and one of the great stories of science fiction is “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” which was written by Ursula K. Le Guin. The story posits a fantastic utopian city, where everything is beautiful, with one catch: In order for all this comfort and beauty to exist, one child must be kept in filth and misery. Every citizen of Omelas, when they come of age, is told about that one blameless child being put through hell. And they have a choice: Accept that is the price for their perfect lives in Omelas, or walk away from that paradise, into uncertainty and possibly chaos.

At Pennsylvania State University, a grown man found a blameless child being put through hell. Other grown men learned of it. Each of them had to make their choice, and decide, fundamentally, whether the continuation of their utopia — or at very least the illusion of their utopia — was worth the pain and suffering of that one child. Through their actions, and their inactions, we know the choice they made.

627 thoughts on “Omelas State University

  1. When this is not simple, it is because adults have decided that their own selfish interests are better served by inaction, passing the buck, and/or turning the blind eye. I think the Omelas comparison is spot on.

  2. Wow. Not been aware of this issue at all (not been paying much attention to the news but I suspect it is not reported here in the UK as much as it is over there) and this situation shocks me. I cannot believe that anyone could be aware of this and not take an appropriate action which leads to the people responsible being arrested. I do wonder at the motives here – were they looking to protect their jobs from the scandal? If so, it didn’t work. Had they taken a correct action, I suspect it would not have created as much scandal as it seems to have now…

    Not read the story you cite in this but it looks interesting so may look it up. It does remind me of the recent Doctor Who episode The Beast Below where the entire community is given a choice at election time about releasing the creature they depend on for their lives. Every single one of them votes to keep torturing the creature to maintain society. I wonder if the Le Guin story was an influence on that?

  3. Thank you, so, so much. Right now, I am listening to my coworkers rant on and on about how terrible it was to treat JoePa so. Not one of them has even mentioned what happened to those children. It’s all about JoePa and his terrible suffering.

  4. They should adopt this as the official instruction manual for how to deal with similar future situations. In fact, more official manuals need to use strategically placed f-bombs to convey ultimate seriousness.

  5. Agree 1001%.

    Worse, the initial whistle-blower is, apparently, a recruiter for Penn State to this day. I don’t understand why people would chose to remain a part of such an obviously corrupt organization.

  6. “minimum legal requirements”

    I am not well versed in Good Samaritan laws, but is there a legal obligation to stop a violent felony crime or at least report such a crime? I would think that there would be.

  7. I disagree. Using “Why the fuck” shows how unbelievable it is that no one did anything about a child being raped. “Why the fuck” is the perfect choice of phrasing.

  8. Remember that JoePa did contact the Police in the sense that he reported it to his superiors and the VP in charge of the PSU PD. Since he did not witness the crime and the person that did apparently did not want to call the police, anything Joe would report would be hearsay…

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more. I bet the kid that was raped feels waaaay better that the adults did the bare minimum, and didn’t even stop the act in progress. As the parent of two small children, it’s hard to express the rage I feel that no one helped that kid. I wonder if he heard the door and thought he was saved, only to hear the door open and close again.

    Some days, I want to renounce my athiesm, so that I may watch people burn in hell.

  10. The Venture Bros. Dr. Orpheus comes to mind, when he was confronted with a forsaken child powering a “Joy Can”. What did he do when he found out about it? He banished the damned thing as soon as the boys were safe. He sent it to hell.

    A fictional damned character has more moral fiber and integrity than the people responsible for this fiasco. That should say everything.

  11. I would add a 3.e) Engage in some serious fucking introspection about constructing an organization where an employee might have even the slightest worry that his bosses won’t support his intervening to stop a child being raped by a member of the coaching staff.

  12. The difference between Omelas and Penn State: there’ll be other players, and you can lose players for plenty of reasons other than one is a kiddy-fucker.

    A few years ago, when Penny Arcade got into a fight with feminists, I learnt about the term ‘rape culture’. Essentially, it posits that our culture doesn’t take rape particularly seriously, and a good deal of harm is caused by that attitude. There was rather widespread skepticism on the Penny Arcade side about this idea, but a football college covering for a child rapist is really kind of the perfect illustration of what they’re on about.

  13. Eric:

    “Remember that JoePa did contact the Police in the sense that he reported it to his superiors”

    In other words, he didn’t actually contact the Police.

  14. What kills me is the “met their legal obligation” nonsense. Maybe they did meet their legal obligation, but they certainly didn’t meet their moral obligation as human beings.

  15. Thank you for writing this. I think the comparison to Omelas is insightful and appropriate. A lot of people turn a blind eye to problems when it would mean avoiding potential chaos, and not just in situations as dire as this.

  16. I know better than to take media reports at face value, but if lots of Penn students really did “riot” in support of Paterno, that just adds to the level of … shit, I don’t even have the words. It’s way beyond misguided.

  17. Hear, hear.

    I love The Ones; it is such a powerful metaphor. And the meta-twist that John does not give away… well, you have to read it. It is a short story (just 2800 words) which can easily be read in a half-hour. It can be found fully online just by searching the title [Edit -- see below - JS], although I doubt the copyright validity and thus the link might not work in future.

    [Leonard, I snipped out the link because I also don't believe the story has been posted to that particular spot with permission. I do encourage people to seek out the story, however, by legal means - JS]

  18. Kudos to the Penn State Board of Regents for taking the measures they did (assuming this was the first that they’d heard of any of this – if not, then shame on them for not acting sooner). There’s a number of other institutions that have faced/are facing similar issues that could take a lesson from the Board’s actions.

  19. @Merus- “rape culture” tends to refer to the oppression of women in general, I don’t know that it would be applicable in a case involving a child. Then again perhaps it might apply to anyone who society frequently sees as powerless (women, children, elderly, infirm, etc.).

  20. I’m not sure how much this actually changes anything, but I keep seeing it repeated so I guess it’s still worth mentioning. The 2002 rape that set this off, at that time Sandusky was not a Penn State employee. He had retired in 1999 to work with his charity organization. I guess he probably enjoyed VIP status on campus, but I’m honestly not even sure how Paterno got involved aside from the fact that he’s the person that the assistant coach panicked and ran to. It wasn’t really under his jurisdiction; the guy who saw it should have called security.

  21. Nicely stated Mr. Scalzi. I am tired of the media reports on “Joe Paterno should have done this…” or “Joe Paterno should have done that…” I googled Sandusky’s name and the top four articles were about Paterno. Very few articles ask why weren’t the police called at the time the rapes were witnessed. That to me seems the most important issue that needs to be addressed immediately at Penn State.

  22. t wasn’t really under his jurisdiction; the guy who saw it should have called security.

    Jesus H. Christ, that makes it worse. So a man not officially associated with Penn State was seen raping a small child on Penn State property and Paterno didn’t call the police?

  23. No, Mr. Meyer, it is EXACTLY the right phrasing, because there is no other turn of phrase that can convey how absolutely INSANE it is to look the other way when a child is being abused, with the thought, “I’ve done everything required of me, legally, in this matter. No longer my problem.”

    Thank you, Mr. Scalzi, for verbalizing what I could not.

  24. Well Said. One point with the Omelas comparison, is that we are quickly learning that in the case of Penn State, it was not 1 child, but nearly 20. Maybe more by the end of today.

  25. Yes to all you said. But it seems there are none so blind as those who discover that their idols have feet of crap.

    The Omelas comparison is most apt.

  26. Here’s the thing. Paterno et al. stayed in their Omelas even though their Omelas had absolutely no need for the child’s suffering. Despite having no need for it, they got it ninefold. They hid it ninefold.

    Now, too late, PSU has fired Paterno. The enlightened students of that august institution have responded by rioting.

    Here’s how I feel, right now: they should raze Penn State, burn the rubble, bury the ashes, and then plow salt into the earth so nothing will ever occupy that land ever again.

  27. Brian F:

    If Sandusky wasn’t an employee at the time, then the internal, cowardly rationalizations Paterno et al would be having for not turning him in to the police make even less sense, if that’s possible, because then they could have said “Hey, he wasn’t one of us at the time.” So, yes. That’s not helping the Penn State folks’ side of this at all.

  28. By 2002, Sandusky had been retired for three years. There’s clear implication that his retirement was triggered by similar allegations in 1998. Therefore, Paterno, et. al., have to have known that this was not the first instance, and that Sandusky had not stopped his behavior. I am torn between wondering how they would feel if it were one of their children instead of – as apparently everyone involved characterizes the victims – those poor kids from the projects. One hopes the kid who eventually did go to the police and see it all the way through the Grand Jury, and whatever comes from here on out gets rewarded and not vilified.

    I daresay there will be those who think the child should have just taken the abuse in order to save Penn State. Those are the people we really have to be concerned with.

  29. Holy shit, yes. This. And one more thing should be simple:

    -When the person accused of ignoring the rapist and allowing more children to be abused gets fired, you should a) not fucking riot in support of him.

    Not only are you not helping his reputation, but you’re basically going, “YEAH! GO RAPE!”

  30. I have no idea about the timeline of events of the grad student witness. I read a little bit of the indictment, though. And I did wonder why this guy (Sandusky) was permitted to continue to walk free and worse yet, be around kids and affiliated with Penn State, etc.

  31. This reminds me of two other stories. The first is of a little girl in China named Yue Yue who was run over by a van (twice) [article has disturbing photos and video]. The awful part is that, as she lay there bleeding in the street, 18 people walked or pedaled past her, doing nothing to help. A week later, after the 19th person finally tried to help and she was rushed to a hospital, the toddler died.

    There are lot of urban legends surrounding the bystander effect, but this brings up a second story: researchers found that merely putting a picture of human eyes above an honor system coffee/tea station nearly tripled payments.

    It also reminds me of Sartre’s views on being observed by other people in Being and Nothingness:

    The mere possible presence of another person causes one to look at him/herself as an object, and see his/her world as it appears to the other. This is not done from a specific location outside oneself, it is non-positional. This is a recognition of the subjectivity in others.

    In my own life, I’ve felt this on a much smaller scale that I’m not proud of. I frequently ride a bus home from campus around 4pm. I get on near central campus, when the bus is mostly empty, but the bus stops off by the hospital and a huge number of nursing staff get on the bus. I’m a 30-year old guy whose work is pretty much all sedentary, and a lot of these nurses are much older than me, carrying much more stuff than me, and are obviously tired from being on their feet all day. I would feel uncomfortable sitting while they had to stand, but also sort of scared about offering my seat. Am I going to offend someone for being chauvinistic? If it’s someone closer to my age, will she think I’m trying to hit on her? Will someone be mad if I don’t offer it to the right person?

    So what did I do? I pretended to sleep. (Actually, sometimes I really did fall asleep. I can sleep almost anywhere.)

    Of course this is minor, but it’s fundamentally the same thing: I see other people who could benefit from my action and I’m a coward. I don’t want to confront the fact that I’m a coward, so I retreat. I came to despise that part of me in time, and now–although I don’t ride the bus as much ’cause of my new schedule–I just have a knee jerk reaction to stand up when the bus approaches a stop that is clearly going to fill the all the seats and more. I avoid the weird social questions–except that people already on the bus tend to look at me weird–and at least I’m doing something.

    People can do some pretty awful things when they can convince themselves no one else will know.

  32. One subtle thing that disturbs me, potentially more than any of this: automatic guilt by accusation. Our reactions are getting amazingly close to those of the classic lynch mob, where a simple accusation is enough to rationalize stringing someone up, laws and rules of evidence be damned.

    I don’t have all the information on this situation. None of us has anywhere near sufficient information to qualify as a fully-informed observer. And Paterno had nothing but hearsay information at that time. Yes, hearsay. We cannot retroactively criticize actions based on information obtained later – at least, we cannot do so and still retain even a modicum of qualification for the title of “civilized” under which we’re justifying our calls for action here.

    A “protect ourselves” culture that is so common among big schools with successful athletics programs is a damned shame, often disgraceful. That much I fully support. But jumping the gun by assigning full blame where 1) there was, at the time, only a secondhand accusation and 2) there is now an insufficiency of blame on the frakking TRUSTEES (you know, the ones who set up and maintain the “protect ourselves” culture and are now throwing everyone BUT THEMSELVES under the bus to try to save face, NOT out of any sense of actual justice)? Not acceptable behavior.

    Guilt by accusation is a nasty, slippery slope. We want to do the right thing, sometimes so much so that we leap at even the CHANCE that someone is peripherally involved in something bad that might have happened. And that does as much damage to our claims to civilization as the child abuser did. There’s a reason our laws are based on the ideal of “innocent until PROVEN guilty”. Let’s try to remember that before preemptively sending out the firing squad of public opinion. Let’s live up to our own ideals.

  33. Great, article, and I would totally agree, except there’s one fact that’s missing from this. Sandusky was already under investigation for child rape. He was even the subject of a sting operation by the Centre count DA, Ray Gricar, who went missing several years afterwards. Read about it here: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/11/gricars_nephew_on_1998_sandusk.html

    Everyone in the football program suspected that Sandusky was a child molestor. According to sources very close to the situation, that’s why he retired in 1999. Joe Paterno did not want him on campus, and when he heard from Mike McQueary about the new allegation, he reported it AGAIN to Tim Curley.

    So what else should he have done? The police already knew about it and failed to do anything. Tim Curley knew about it and allowed Sandusky to remain on campus.

    BTW, not saying any of what happened is right, because those poor boys are the true victims, but just knowing that the police already knew about this, doesn’t it make you wonder if Joe Paterno felt helpless?

  34. I live in State College, and I work on (but not for) the Penn State campus.

    The students really did riot in the streets in protest at their beloved coach’s firing.

    Penn State has maintained a public image of “we’re the GOOD ones”–our football players actually study, get good grades, participate in the community– while shoving anything that conflicts with the “Happy Valley” mentality under the rug. It’s come back to bite them, hard, but nothing like it’s done to those boys, and the many others who’ve been victimized by the system over the years.

    Incidentally, I expect more rioting this weekend after Penn State’s last home football game. I imagine the cops do too. I certainly won’t be anywhere near downtown or campus.

  35. Matthew in Austin: “I am not well versed in Good Samaritan laws, but is there a legal obligation to stop a violent felony crime or at least report such a crime?”

    I’m pretty sure there’s no law that requires a citizen to intervene in a crime. Authorities often try to discourage it because a bystander can easily become another victim. Good Samaritan laws are more to protect those who choose to try to help. If there is a law that requires an average citizen to report a crime, it’s pretty thoroughly ignored.

    I’m fairly sure certain professions (doctors and teachers, moslty) are require to report signs of child abuse, however. I don’t know if that applies to college staff and faculty though.

  36. Adrienne@9:56– It’s part of rape culture in that the local power structure (Penn State football/athletics/university) chose to protect the privilege of an adult man to rape someone of “lesser” status, rather than protecting the person with less privilege. It’s part of a hierarchy mentality.

  37. Adrienne: My understanding of the concept of rape culture is that while that unholy overlap of violence and sex is rooted in and sustained by the oppression of women, and the perpetration is overwhelmingly by men against women, the initial reaction of Penn State officials to the crime was arguably very much informed by rape culture.

  38. The Omelas comparison is completely inaccurate. The suffering of the child was a price that was paid for Utopia. Saving the child in that scenario would doom the entire city to lose its utopian status. That is the horror of it.

    That analogy doesn’t hold in this case. These men were just cowards.

  39. Re Omelas — this is one of the miracles of literature. You get to read and thus rehearse a situation before it’s in your life, so that you can recognize it when it happens. Thanks for the analogy. I bet none of these folks have read LeGuin.

  40. It doesn’t what other wonderful things they might have done. Winning record – they could have cured cancer, for all of me. Decent people don’t turn their backs – literally or figuratively – when children are being raped, abused, or otherwise mistreated. Not “for the good of the team,” not FOR ANY REASON. Shame on all who heard, suspected, or KNEW – and did nothing.

  41. Kudos to the Board of Trustees for doing the right thing yesterday, even though they knew lots of people would give them hell for firing Paterno. (I haven’t a peep of complaint so far about them ousting the university president.) I don’t know whether the Board have should have acted earlier (not knowing what they found out when), but they did what they needed to this week.

    I don’t know if the matter will get mentioned in Sunday’s sermon, but I hope to bring it up at my parish. “Top officials shown the door within a week from the time it’s clear they’ve been ignoring abuse? No matter how high-up or popular they are? *That’s* the way to do it.”

  42. Honestly, I am absolutly not surprised by this.

    I mean, crap like that happens everyday, it’s just this time it made news. How many rapes go underreported because people chose to look away? How much abuse can happen because people just don’t care? The majority of childhood abuses can continue because people don’t dare to upset. In quite a lot of rape cases the eye witnesses actually work activly AGAINST getting the persecution.

    I’d love to believe in a better soceity, but I honestly, I can’t. Social pressure’s always to protect those in power, in in rape and abuse cases it’s almost always the criminal. And if you try to rock the boat, upset the precious illusion of “those things don’t happen to good people, so I am secure”, people will turn against you. Because the mob usually tends to shoot the messager instead of turning to the criminal. That goes triple if the criminal is more USEFUL for the school/church/company/etc. than the victim is. Few people are heros, and even those have a 50%/50% change of getting severly punished for acting and protecting.

    The only thing different than your normal rape scandal is that this time the victim’s a young BOY and thus above reproach.

    If it were a woman (or as young as 11 year old girl if I look at the news recently that got blamed and called a slut for being gangraped by a football team by the news), how fast do you think the “he is a grand man of their soceity. She’s just out to ruin him” or “she shouldn’t have dressed like that” or “It was her own fault she’s in that situation” would happen? If the victim were a grown man or a male teenager, he’d be blamed for being a sissy gay and thus, again, as deserving the rape.

    There’s always a lot of outrage when something like that happens, but in the end, nothing changes. People got hurt and the discussion inevetiable turns to if the criminal got treated fairly or if everything wasn’t just overblown. The victims get ignored and left to deal with their pain on their own.

    *sigh*

    I hope the kid’s too young to remember. And that the parents can afford the necessary healthcare. :(

  43. As a Penn State student, I thank you for writing one of the only sane articles I have read all week. As nightmarish as this situation is for anyone simply living in State College, I can scarcely imagine what it must be like for the real victims. I pray for them and encourage everyone else to do the same.

  44. Luiz at 10:13am: It seems like “helpless” is not a word that would meaningfully apply to Joe Paterno at Penn State.

  45. Braugh:

    “Our reactions are getting amazingly close to those of the classic lynch mob, where a simple accusation is enough to rationalize stringing someone up, laws and rules of evidence be damned.”

    Who is this “we” you are speaking of?

    This is a deflecting, strawman argument in any event. Nothing in the piece I wrote suggests that the people who saw the alleged event or heard about it should do anything other than take steps to inform the authorities that are designated to properly investigate allegations and to take proper steps to ensure that such alleged behavior doesn’t happen a second time on their watch.

    All this concern for Paterno having to deal with hearsay is touching, but were I Paterno and one underling alleges that he saw another underling (or in this case, apparently, a former underling) raping a child in a place directly under my supervision, I’m not going let that alleged rapist keep wandering the halls.

    Authorguy:

    “Saving the child in that scenario would doom the entire city to lose its utopian status.”

    And you’re saying this is inaccurate to the current situation how?

  46. Braugh@10:12– [pointless personal insult removed -- JS]. What part of “suspend the alleged rapist underling from his job responsibilities pending a full investigation” did you not understand? And have you read the grand jury report?

    Luiz@10:13– He’s Joe fucking Paterno. The only person at Penn State who could get more respect from the police for reporting a crime would be Jesus Christ.

  47. Amen, John. Before this story, I had been wondering what the point of big-time college sports was due to various recent stories in North Carolina. After this, I’m feeling all major college athletics should be banned; when the sport becomes more important than the welfare of even one child, the system is totally fucked up.

  48. I’ve always detested that story because to me it’s what’s wrong with American liberalism; the choices presented are complicity in the system (the ones who don’t walk away) and complicity in the system (walking away, leaving it in place because the people who choose to remain are somehow entitled to their utopia), and it drips with the sort of smug superiority that we’ve just seen some of the Penn State walk-aways exhibit; they knew but they left it in place. I’ve often muttered that someday I will write “The Ones Who Set Off Bombs In The Crowds At Those Festivals in Omelas” or at least “The Ones Who Smuggle Guns into Omelas.”

  49. This kind of crap has been going on for a long time and is institutionalized in places. Let’s start with religious organizations, especially the Catholic Church. Rapists who are in the hierarchy have been well-known for 20 years now. The kids themselves suffered for many generations. Some people still don’t want to believe it. So long as there’s such denial/sweeping it under the rug attitude about child sexual abuse, people will continue to get away with it.

  50. Very well said. SI columnist Andy Staples makes a ton of good points in this column on the matter:

    No one gets a little bit fondled. Beyond that, a grown man and a young boy were naked together in a shower. That isn’t normal. That requires an inquiry. Yet Paterno did nothing except kick the accusation upstairs. In this case, “upstairs” is a relative term. Curley was nominally Paterno’s boss, but Paterno has long been the most powerful man on Penn State’s campus. If Paterno wanted the claim investigated, he could have made an investigation happen. He didn’t.

    Paterno may have done what was legally required of him, but morally, he failed that child.

  51. Folks:

    Given the rather emotional nature of the event which precipitated this post, I think it’s a fine time to remind people that you should be as polite as you possibly can when talking to each other.

    For those folks who are new, here’s the commenting policy. It’s worth reading.

    Please also note that the Mallet of Loving Correction is now in play.

  52. Could Paterno have done more? Absolutely. Should he have done more? Probably. Let’s look at what he did, and not what we’d all like to think we’d do in a similar situation.

    A grad student comes to him with this report about a man Paterno has worked closely with and trusted for over 30 years. If it were me, my first thought would be, “Kid, you’d better be pretty goddamned sure.” Paterno said the kid was visibly upset, so he escalated it to his boss the next day.

    Let’s say he calls the police. What does he tell them? “I have a grad student here who says he saw Jerry Sandusky buggering a small child.”

    COP: Did you see anything?

    JP: No.

    COP: Send over the grad student.

    In addition, State College PA is a small town; Joe Paterno’s number is in the book. (Yes, it is.) Someone overhears on the police scanner that JoePa has celled for cops, what is still at that point an unsubstantiated claim is now public knowledge. He’s known Sandusky for a long time. He’s not likely to take the chance of ruining the guy’s life on one other person’s say so. What if it’s nothing? We know it wasn’t now, but Paterno wasn’t there when it happened. He moved it up the chain, as he should have.

    Let’s all put ourselves in a similar position. We hear a similar story of a friend of thirty years. (For those who aren’t that old, think of a favorite uncle or mentor.) Is calling the police the first thing we do? You don’t think that kind of relationship has earned the benefit of the doubt? Yes, you do something. Me, I’d urge the person who came to me to go to the police; he actually has some evidence for them. If he’s afraid, then, yes, maybe I wander into the police station and make a statement. But maybe not, if I’m so high profile my appearance there–or the appearance of the police at my house–lets the toothpaste out of the tube.

    Does anyone here remember Richard Jewell and the Atlanta Olympics? We all grieve for these children, and for Curley and Schultz to call the police then lie to them is beneath contempt. Let’s please just tone down this casting of first stones.

  53. I also agree with this. Organizations need to learn: when allegations of this seriousness arise, you don’t get to deal with it internally.

    Brian F @ 9:56 am, David @ 9:57 am: At the time of the 2002 incident, Sandusky had emeritis status, which included access to campus facilities and an office. I don’t think that really changes how people should have handled this.

  54. everything you just said. It’s hard not to be disgusted by everything Penn State at this point. From the very top to the student body. I’m not interested in hearing any defense of these people.
    It’s not friggin rocket science. Considering how it’s said child molesters are treated in prison, it seems like even hardened prisoners have a better understanding of how egregious this situation is.

  55. I’ve often muttered that someday I will write “The Ones Who Set Off Bombs In The Crowds At Those Festivals in Omelas” or at least “The Ones Who Smuggle Guns into Omelas.”

    ::clicks “preorder”::

  56. I’ll weigh in with just one thought: “hearsay” only matters in a court of law. If you have knowledge of a crime being committed, even if the knowledge is secondhand, it’s your moral obligation to report it. Those defending not reporting it completely mystify me.

  57. The worst thing about this is that Scalzi’s essay need be written at all. It’s just obvious. Yet given everyone’s focus, it seems to be some arcane wisdom.

    So clearly it needed to be said. To some, at least. I hope, not most…

  58. Dana King:

    “We hear a similar story of a friend of thirty years. (For those who aren’t that old, think of a favorite uncle or mentor.) Is calling the police the first thing we do?”

    Yes, actually. If it I believed it was credible and I trusted the person who came to me with the information, I would do pretty much exactly that. Especially if, say, I knew that the person allegedly raping a child had a charity set up for children, because then I would suspect that there was more than one child in danger.

    Mind you, if I heard about a friend of 30 years beating his child from someone I trusted who alleged to be in the same room when it happened, I would call the police, too, or would call them if the alleger would not. Or any other number of instances where there is a case of my friend of 30 years exercising physical power and abuse over someone who is him or herself not in a position to defend themselves.

    “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t necessarily mean you are obliged to establish innocence or guilt. Likewise, grounded and reasonable suspicion can be enough to ask others, whose job it is to do these things, to investigate the situation. Yes, you could be wrong. In which case it’s on you, and I hope you have an apology queued up. Personally, I’m okay with apologizing to a grown adult rather than trying to explain to a child why I didn’t do anything to help them.

  59. The suggestion that Paterno met his moral obligation by reporting the incident to his “superiors” misstates Paterno’s role at Penn State. Paterno was not a middle manager: he was the most highly-compensated individual employee at Penn State (even apart from his private endorsement deals), and he was paid substantially more than the university president and athletic director. Certainly the athletic director who was Paterno’s nominal superior served at Paterno’s pleasure.

    In short, whatever the particular terms of the statute imposing a legal obligation to report might have been, as a practical and moral matter there was no part of the Penn State football program that was beyond Paterno’s control.

    I think that the evidence that has been made public provides powerful evidence that Paterno knew of Sandusky’s wrongdoing, but in view of Paterno’s level of responsibility for the football program and the outrageousness of the wrongdoing, he should have been fired if he didn’t know.

  60. He’s not likely to take the chance of ruining the guy’s life on one other person’s say so. What if it’s nothing?

    That’s not his choice to make. You don’t discount the report of a crime based on the idea that “it might be nothing.” Joe Paterno held a position of substantial responsibility at a institute of higher education. His responsibility, his duty, is not to his friends, it is to that community.

    At the time of the 2002 incident, Sandusky had emeritis status, which included access to campus facilities and an office. I don’t think that really changes how people should have handled this.

    I understand what his status was; it’s still a red herring.

  61. One point to clarify: Joe’s testimony for the grand jury was that McQueary was distraught and unclear about exactly what he’d seen. Same thing from Curley and Schultz (McQueary’s dad was either not called or his testimony was not mentioned). Not excusing their failure to call the cops, but they’re still figuring out the chain of events and where exactly the ball was dropped. The critical evidence will be the testimony of the victim.

  62. @Dana King

    If Paterno or anyone had called the cops on Sandusky it wouldn’t have been the first time. in 1998 he was investigated (and no charges were filed for reasons I don’t understand) because he was
    “showering” with a young boy. (I put showering in quotes because I’m sure there was more going on).

    At the time Sandusky was an employee of Penn State. There were no charges filed and Sandusky retires.

    The boy’s mother called the cops. I’m sure Sandusky’s name went out on the police scanner then.

    Plus Paterno HAD to have known about this incident. So it’s not like, out of no where someone reports Sandusky molesting a child. It had happened before.

    If I were Paterno and there was another allegation of child molestation against Sandusky I sure would call the police and damned the reputation of the school.

  63. Although it is a famous story, a story often used to show how truly moral people won’t continue to benefit from a corrupt system, I have hated “Those Who Walk Away from Omelas” for years–because *nobody rescued the child*. Not the ones who stayed. Not the ones who walked away, smug in their moral superiority for leaving their beloved city. Oh, yeah, they went out into chaos and uncertainty and missed out on stuff they enjoyed. But the child was still there, in misery, and they knew it. The story basically says that walking away and maybe someday doing something to change the system is enough.

    It’s not enough. It’s not enough to ignore the pain and enjoy what it buys. It’s not enough to walk away and tell yourself you’re not enjoying what the pain bought so you’re OK and better than those who stay. “Enough” is stopping the abuse. That takes not just the ability to tolerate chaos–but the guts to confront evil head on. Someone who sees another a child being raped should act *right that moment.* Storm in and rescue the child. What excuse is there for not rescuing the child? Um…well, gee, it was a *coach*…. No, it was a rapist. At that moment, in the act of rape, he’s not a coach: he’s a rapist. There IS no excuse for not intervening immediately. (Among other things, immediate intervention makes it clear to both rapist and victim that people do actually care about that individual child. Makes a big difference to the child, who’s already dealing with the fact that someone he or she trusted has broken trust.)

    There is also no excuse for anyone who is told “I saw this guy raping this kid” not to tell the person giving that report to go to the police immediately–in fact, here’s the phone, use my office, and I want to talk to them too. It does not matter whether the rapist was then an employee or not: the important thing is that Paterno was told that rape of a juvenile occurred in the gym showers, and he did not follow thought to be sure the police knew about it as soon as possible. He knew about it; he did not make sure that law enforcement did. The argument that if he’d told them it was only hearsay is faulty–it was only hearsay when he told university administrators, too. He could have (and should have) used his influence on the person who told him and gone with that individual to the police. Any others were were told and did not take appropriate action are equally guilty in the ‘not doing the right thing’ category. They left the child to suffer the consequences of the rape–they left the child, and the child’s family, imprisoned in the dark misery of any rape victim. They did not, obviously, give a damn about the child–only about protecting the university’s reputation…which is now shattered, because of their cowardice.

    So yeah, that’s Omelas–both the ones who stay and the ones who walk away and do nothing.

  64. So Dana King, you just said that you would let a child rapist off the hook if he was 1) a long time friend or 2) if you had a reputation you wanted to protect. That is exactly what Paterno did and that is why 20 young children were raped. Does that clear up the murkiness for you?

  65. More on Penn State: yes, there were thousands of students out in loud support of Paterno (Penn State students do not infrequently riot, though usually it is on a weekend and while drunk) last night. There was also a (smaller) group holding vigil at Old Main to remind people of the victims.

    While I was a teenaged townie, one of the annual events was when the fraternity men paraded through campus on a particular night and shouted at female students to get them to come to their windows and show their tits. On this night, women students were penalized if they left they did in fact go to their windows, dressed or not. Women were expected to keep their curtains closed, and stay away from all windows. (Note: the men had to come onto campus, because most of them have beautiful Victorian buildings as frat houses off campus. More than three unrelated women are not allowed to live together off campus, as then they would be [obviously] prostitutes, so sororities rent floors of dorms from the University so they can live together.)

    Since then, I think student women’s groups have orchestrated many ‘Take back the night’ marches, and I think a lot of consciences have been raised… but I think the guys still walk and shout, and I’ve never heard of one of them getting demerits for it. …so, rape culture is a valid phrase for a segment of the community that is, if not supported, certainly not dissuaded at Penn State.

  66. Thank you, John, I think you said exactly what needed to be said.

    This is almost enough to make me want to start reading science fiction.

  67. At Braugh

    “I don’t have all the information on this situation. None of us has anywhere near sufficient information to qualify as a fully-informed observer. And Paterno had nothing but hearsay information at that time.”

    The actions of the university itself are illuminating. McQueary continues to work at the school, and they banned Sandusky from the football building and, shortly thereafter, from bringing children to the campus. Whether or not Sandusky did, the people involved believed something was going on, and they acted to protect themselves and not the children involved.

  68. Dana King: “Someone overhears on the police scanner that JoePa has celled for cops …”

    I suspect your narrative fails at this point. I don’t know from Penn State and State College, but based on what I do know from college towns, there’s no way in hell that Joe’s name would go out on police radio in connection with a possible crime.

    Joe Paterno didn’t do everything he could have done. I’m sure he had his reasons. I really don’t give a shit what those reasons were. He fucked up.

    I desperately hope that In a similar sitaution, I would do better than that. Being human, I might not. If not, that would be me fucking up.

  69. @John Barnes yeah, I always wanted to write the story where the exiles came back, rescued the child as the Omelans looked on in passive disbelief, and then hear the sounds of the whole city collapsing behind them as they left with the rescued child.

    @Dana King: in that position I would not just shrug and pass it up to my superiors. There are multiple other better options. Paterno was only one of several people who failed those children, but fail them he did in that act of passivity. And as for your analogy about relatives, I can assure you from personal experience that you are both dead wrong and that the comparison does not hold. There is no gorram benefit of the doubt when someone says, “Hey, I just saw someone raping a child.”

  70. @Dana: Your point is already covered in the original post–it might be understandable to hesitate–but that hesitation is an act of cowardice. Think about what you’ve just said: If a visibly upset person comes to me and says that he’s seen my friend of thirty years *raping a child*, it’s understandable if I “don’t want to ruin the guy’s life.” Nevermind what ruination may be happening to that child’s life. Cowardice, cowardice, cowardice, cowardice. The fact that any of us might have done the same doesn’t make it NOT cowardice.

  71. Me (and my sportswriter husband) cannot disagree with anything you said in this post. Not being _legally_ responsible to report something to the police does not mean you aren’t _morally_ responsible to report it to the police.

  72. Dana King: Your use of the ‘favorite uncle” as an example is quite telling — the logic you describe is one reason why so many people grow up being molested by said favorite uncles, who have earned the ‘benefit of the doubt’ from the rest of the family such that no one does anything even about flagrant wrongdoing such as, in this case, molesting a child in a locker room shower. Thank you for the excellent example of rape culture in action.

  73. As someone who grew up in a Penn State household and attended Penn State, this story hits me extremely hard. Contrasting the horrible things that were done to the victims (of which there are now considerably more than eight) with my feelings about Joe Paterno, and my school as a whole, is extremely difficult. To most of the people I’ve talked to about this, it’s not that we are upset that Joe was fired. If he truly did nothing more than his legal obligation to inform his superior, I will be devastated, so let down by a man I have admired my entire life. It is the way that all this has happened that has Penn Staters upset. At the same time we learn about the horrible allegations involving our university, we see an icon, a man who has done countless good deeds, who essentially created the school we love, trotted out in front of a firing squad because of his name. He could have done more. He SHOULD have done more. But the fact that he was fired by a phone call after over 60 years of service, while the people who actually did something wrong (i.e. broke the law) are allowed to remain, or step down on their own, is infuriating. The man Joe reported the rape to, who then did nothing and covered it up, still remains on the university payroll, while the one man who did something, anything, is dragged through the mud. What sparks our rage over this is that the man was tried in the court of public opinion before all of the facts were known.

    I see people calling out Penn State fans as supporters of child rape, or of being too stupid to understand what’s happening, too focused on football. I think instead that we feel betrayed. Betrayed by our school, who let unspeakable things happen on our campus, and covered it up, allowed it to happen. And while we want justice just as much, if not more, than the next person, we want it to happen fairly.

  74. Regarding legal responsibilities – are none of these people, in positions where they work with minors on a regular basis, Mandatory Reporters? (People who are *required by law* to report any suspicion of abuse of a minor to the authorities, that being the police and/or Child Welfare services) And if they’re not, why the hell not? This is a loophole that should be fixed.

  75. Jesus. Stuff like this reminds me why I stopped watching TV. I lost faith in humanity long ago. I dont need to be reminded why. I checked out the wikipedia article about the case. If I understand correctly, a peosecuter back in1998 decided not to prosecute a child abuse case against the guy accusee of raping these kids. What the hell? then there were two school officials who have been accused of lying to a grand jury investigation about the crimes? Seriously? god *damn*.

  76. I’m glad things are so black-and-white for you, and you’re so perfect that you’ve never made a mistake, and that you’ve led such an easy life that you have no idea what it’s like to be faced with something so horrible that it removes your capacity to reason and act. Good people do bad things through inaction all the time, not because they *decide* to, but because they are too stricken to do anything at all. Your attitude is no different than the paparazzi that hound celebrities so mercilessly and expect them to be anything but human.

  77. Christy, I also view voting as a responsibility, and I really struggled with this election because of it. There were three *uncontested* races. So what do I do? ‘Voting’ when all of the options are uncontested races is a farce – there are no choices to be made, everyone on the ballot wins regardless of what I do. But not voting signals apathy rather than protest.

    I’d just about decided to go and vote a blank ballot until I realized that one candidate cross-filing allowed me to make a choice (about which party to support the inevitable winner under).

  78. But the fact that he was fired by a phone call after over 60 years of service

    He should have been fired by being locked out of his building, having his keys taken away, and having to pack his things while security watched.

  79. Thank you thank you thank you. I have been saying all of this since the moment I learned of the grad student who walked away from seeing a ten year old child being anally raped by a middle aged man. Why didn’t he stop the rape in progress? Why didn’t he call 911 immediately? How on earth can anyone think it is ok to do anything less?

  80. Ben:

    “Good people do bad things through inaction all the time, not because they *decide* to, but because they are too stricken to do anything at all.”

    For nine years?

    Thanks for playing, Ben, we have some lovely parting gifts for you.

  81. @Elizabeth

    “The story basically says that walking away and maybe someday doing something to change the system is enough. ”

    I always thought that the implicit statement was that walking away and doing nothing wasn’t any better than staying and enjoying the benefits, but it’s been a while and I am almost certainly projecting my own values.

  82. The man should be taken out behind the barn,horse whip tar and feather,have it cut off then shoved down his thorat,in any order then Hung by his toes and then shot,that if he really really sorry

  83. There is no law against reporting a crime. It would not be “hearsay”; hearsay is a term used entirely in-court.

    And there’s no law mandating reporting or attempting to stop a violent crime. JoePa and the Penn State guys did everything they had to do, legally speaking. And they failed at everything they had to do, morally speaking.

  84. Esteemed host> “Yes, actually. If it I believed it was credible and I trusted the person who came to me with the information, I would do pretty much exactly that.”

    You are blessed with a novelist’s imagination, which tells you that all sorts of people do all sorts of things in wildly inconsistent ways. One of the values of literary training is that it inculcates that. There are oddly many people in the world who insist that they “know” large numbers of things other people “just wouldn’t” do. This is often presented as if it were touching faith in human nature or simple-minded goodness; but wilfull simplemindedness is a way of not knowing, and choosing not to know is not innocence (that was lost as soon as you had the choice), it’s complicity. Of course I’d be inclined to disbelieve a source I thought was untrustworthy about the bad behavior of someone I knew well with no differing indications — but in this case, Paterno had several indications the source was trustworthy AND that the “friend” was not. Being unable to imagine that an adroit football coach might be a child-rapist is beyond just lack of imagination; it’s irresponsible denial of it.

  85. I think the critiques of Omelas offered on this thread further underscore the point John is making. In LeGuin’s story, there are two possible responses: to participate in the torture of the child by remaining in Omelas and reaping the benefits of living there, or to walk away, smug in moral superiority (but still doing nothing to help the child).

    The people who reported the rape of the child up the chain of authority at the university, without going to the police, probably felt that they had Done What Was Required. They’re the ones who “walked away,” metaphorically washing their hands of the situation because they’d kicked it up the food chain. Of course, the kids were still getting raped but it was no longer their fault.

  86. But the fact that he was fired by a phone call after over 60 years of service, while the people who actually did something wrong (i.e. broke the law) are allowed to remain, or step down on their own, is infuriating.

    It could be nothing more than policy. I work in higher ed. There are some people, by statute and policy, that the Board can fire and there are some that the Board cannot fire. Those still working there probably fall into the latter category. I suspect that once the new president of Penn State gets a hold of the situation, others will lose their jobs.

  87. I am not, and have never been a Penn State fan. Having said that, nobody with an ounce of conscience can relish the fact that this has happened. I read the indictment on Monday, and I’ve been sick about it since then. As I read about all those faceless,… nameless victims, in my mind I could only picture my son…who is 11. And I tell you with certainty that if, God forbid, anything like this would ever happen to him I would end up in jail, because I would murder with my own hands all of these people…the monster that is Jerry Sandusky…and the cowards who allowed him to continue to perpetrate this unspeakable crime, including Joe Paterno. Yet I continue to be amazed by the thousands of supporters of Joe Pa…who apparently have no issue with the fact that he turned a blind eye as this monster ruined life after life. Anybody who knows anything about Penn State knows that JoePa had NO superiors; everyone was subordinate to him. And how anybody could read that indictment and still support his inaction baffles me. He knew when Sandusky retired that there were already suspicions of child molestation. So hearing about an eyewitness account of a similar situation four years later should have only reinforced the idea that it “might” still be going on. Even the possibility warranted the involvement of law enforcement. And can you even imagine the feeling of hopelessness this little boy had when, upon seeing another adult enter the room as he is being raped, only then to see him turn and run like the gutless coward he is. The Penn State faithful have always held themselves up on some higher moral ground ~ “We’ve never been involved with illegal recruiting” “Our players would never sell their shirts…rings…etc.” But oh, by the way, we let a known pedophile rape little boys on campus. What a travesty. God Bless those victims and what they have been forced to deal with. If only one person had the moral integrity and guts to stand up for them, who knows how many of these rapes could have been prevented.

  88. @Ted: If you go back and read the grand jury report a little more closely, you’ll see where they find the testimony of Curley and Schultz to be “not credible”, which is why both men have been charged with perjury. McQueary’s testimony is graphic and quite clear. It’s obvious that the grand jury and the board of trustees agree — Paterno minimized what he heard from McQueary, for reasons known only to himself. Even so, Paterno testified that he learned of someyhing of a “sexual nature” going on in his locker room shower, between a grown man and a boy. Passing the buck to his boss on this knowledge is morally and ethically inexcusable. Paterno gets what he deserves: his career ends in disgrace.

    My son is fifteen, and a huge Penn State fan. My rage is beyond belief. Thank you, Mr. Scalzi, for putting it so concisely.

  89. Honestly, I wish I were surprised by the riots, but really I’m not. I’m hoping that they were just punks looking for a reason to riot, but people tend to lose their goddamned minds when it comes to their sports heroes, make excuses for criminal behavior and look the other way when it might impact their favorite team.

  90. Thanks very much for this. As an explanation not a defense: childhood molestation unresolved lingers like a disease and can lead an adult to ignore the rape of a child because it revives hidden fears inside him or her.

  91. John Barnes:

    “You are blessed with a novelist’s imagination, which tells you that all sorts of people do all sorts of things in wildly inconsistent ways.”

    Ayuh. And I also know that no one shows all they are to every person they meet — and often especially not to those they consider friends and loved ones. This is not exactly the same thing as thinking everyone has a dark and sinister side. Just that, as noted by the Coen brothers in Miller’s Crossing, “Nobody knows anybody. Not that well.”

  92. I agree, Scalzi. I agree so much that your post seems like very well expressed common sense. But there is something I can’t figure out. Assuming that the Penn State employees/officials are relatively normal humans (setting the raping monster aside), I just can’t understand why protecting children in danger didn’t override everything else, whether protecting the current victim or protecting what was sure to be future victims. I can’t figure out why normal people failed to intervene and call 911. It would be easy to say that somehow the Penn State employees/officials are not normal humans, but given the number of people that had information, it seems unlikely.

    If you took a poll, I imagine that almost everyone would say that in a similar situation they would immediately intervene and/or call the police. If I’m right about that, how does it come to pass that when in the actual situation, the Penn State folks did not.

  93. The only, and I really mean only, reason I can see giving Paterno a bit of elbow room on the point of “Personally, I’m okay with apologizing to a grown adult” is that accusations of pedophilia tend to be very very persistent – even if the person is cleared, the fact that they were accused of that most terrible of crimes tends to convince many other people that they’re guilty. I can understand wanting to be somewhat discreet in handling if I myself didn’t see it.

    The graduate assistant not going to the cops is completely incomprehensible to me. SEEING IT AND NOT GOING TO THE COPS?

  94. Everyone except the little kids has been found wanting here, from what I can tell from across the pond.

    The GA? Who knows what pressures he was under? The right thing to do – the obvious right thing – was to call the cops as soon as possible, but if you’re in a rigid hierarchical system, it’s drummed into you to go up the chain of command, and here’s this guy at the bottom rung of the ladder, faced with a hideous act being committed by the long-time protege of the man who’s apparently one step shy of the Messiah at the university. The right choice was to go straight to the cops; the drilled-in reaction, more likely, was to go up the ladder.

    A fellow named Abar Rouse, an assistant basketball coach at Baylor University, did the right thing. It essentially destroyed his career.

    I was a lowly grunt in a military organization for a little while, and if I’d seen a superior officer in my own chain of command torturing a little kid, I’m not sure what I would have done – whether I would have sidestepped the chain of command to bring the MP’s down on him, whether I would have gone over his head first chance I got and talked to the regimental commander, or what. When hierarchy and loyalty get drilled into your bones, it screws up your sense of right and wrong.

    In the abstract, the only right choice is to take the kid away from the hole and let Omelas collapse. But when that means destroying people you know, people you respect, people you love, in the process … that’s the acid test, isn’t it?

    And not everyone passes.

    I hope I’d pass. I pray I never have to find out.

  95. Does no one here remember Richard Jewell? Or the Tawana Brawley case? McMartin pre-school? Duke lacrosse? As for Paterno letting things linger for nine years, he told the next person in his chain of command the NEXT DAY. After that, what is he supposed to do? Call the police and ask what they’re doing about it? They’re going to tell him it’s under investigation. Get lost.

    I have filed complaints over suspected child abuse. When I had evidence to give. But of someone comes to me saying he saw a friend of 30 years abusing a child, my first act is not to pick up the phone. If the person with first hand knowledge is sure enough of his story, he should go to the police. He actually has something to tell them. I would encourage him to go; it’s the right thing to do. And if I saw my friend in such a situation, there’s no length of friendship that would keep me from making that call. It’s the responsibility of the eyewitness to notify the police. The grad student failed to do that. Curley and Schultz called the police and likely perjured themselves. Yet all the vitriol I see here concerns the one person who didn’t see anything, did notify a responsible authority, and didn;t lie to them.

  96. JH Stevens, you have kinder and better impulses than I do; under the rules of the story, rescue the child, and the whole evil utopia collapses, so of course the thing to do is to rescue the child immediately.

    Hunting down and tormenting now-homeless Omelans afterward would be more in the nature of recreation, after the important job got done.

  97. Another Penn State graduate here, living in Pennsylvania where I’m surrounded by Penn State graduates. Nobody thinking rationally is contesting that Sandusky should be arrested and tried. Nobody’s contesting that Curley and Schultz should be tried for lying to police. I don’t think anybody’s contesting that Joe and President Spanier needed to resign. I wish they’d decided to resign effective immediately, removing the need for the trustees to do it for them.
    What I have a problem with is the spreading of blame to every past and present student that’s going on in the media. The Washington Post yesterday ran an editorial suggesting that the team should be immediately disbanded, and the stadium razed to the ground. In what way were the current players complicit in this act? The current students? The alumni? Why should they be punished? I had to tell my ten-year-old son not to wear his Penn State t-shirt to school, so that he won’t be called ugly names by the other kids (which meant I had to explain this whole damned situation to a ten-year-old, and boy did I enjoy that). Do I need to burn my diploma to expiate my guilt? Should I never mention again that I went to the school? Let’s punish the guilty, by all means, but that doesn’t mean blaming everybody who’s ever worn blue-and-white.

  98. John, the bit about “should have suspended him” is just as worrisome. It’s a summary punishment in advance of evidence. (BTW, the “we” was meant as “what we as concerned citizens are saying all across the internet”, not as a comment on any particular person here – or anywhere, for that matter.) It’s become an expected social reaction, and it’s destructive to the fabric of any self-honest society. Look at the poor schmo first publicly accused of the Atlanta Olympics bomb. There was a whole nation (and likely a big chunk of the world) firmly convinced, because of an accusation, that he committed the act. Eventually being freed based on evidence that he DIDN’T do it did nothing to repair his reputation (the media has remained silent on what’s happened to him since he’s no longer Public Enemy #1), and I doubt that he’s been able to reestablish any kind of career since then, because accusation = guilt in the minds of far too many. His life was ruined because of the same rationalized standard social judgementalism.

    Furthermore, it’s expecting a standard of behavior few (if any) ever live up to. How many people in Paterno’s situation in the past didn’t even report similarly awful potential crimes? And what would have happened to Paterno if he had stepped outside university policy (again, I’m not positive on what PSU’s policy is about reporting on-campus potential crimes, but I suspect it’s similar to that of many other large universities: funnel everything through your superior or face firing and suit for breach of contract, etc.)? He DID do something. And if the AD, president and board of trustees had been doing their jobs, it would’ve been funneled straight to the police with full cooperation by the entire school. Furthermore, once it DID get to the police, Paterno still had nothing more to offer in good faith except what he had already done: reporting it up the line. See above about preemptive suspension and presumption of guilt. Note: the county attorney general at the time of the original allegations chose not to press charges. Why? And why do we hold Paterno accountable for what the AG refused to do?

    Most of all, why are we holding Paterno responsible for what has not yet been determined to be a crime by the laws? Because accusation = guilt. And everyone who doesn’t jump on the bandwagon to pre-lynch the bastard (because we know better than any future jury out there and don’t need to see evidence to convict) is excoriated and held to be just as guilty because they don’t believe that accusation = guilt.

    If these accusations are found to be accurate by a jury of our peers and we get to see the evidence instead of allegations, then I say we string Sandusky up for the bastard that would prove him to be. But until then, unless we think turning the tables would be okay (i.e., hoping that everyone around us would turn on us if another person is accused of something horrific and we don’t presume that person’s guilt on the spot), we have no civilized leg to stand on in expecting pre-judgement in advance of evidence.

    I’m sorry, but as reprehensible as the crime in question is, it does not justify exiling someone who DID their due diligence but did not preemptively assume guilt. Paterno did what he was supposed to do, then the school’s administration and the freaking ATTORNEY GENERAL dropped the ball. Those are the people who get the blame – and, if trial by jury bears out what people are assuming, then Sandusky deserves every ounce of justice coming to him. It was not and CANNOT be Paterno’s duty to convict and sentence in advance of the finding of a court of law. Not if we want to maintain even the semblance of civilization instead of falling back into the standards of the lynch mob.

    It’s tempting. The crime is a vile, horrible one, and anyone who perpetrates such a crime deserves equally horrible punishment. And we DO have a responsibility to do our part in making sure the authorities know that such a crime is alleged, so that the police can investigate and charge, and the courts try and convict, should the allegations prove true. But until we know what Paterno knows (i.e., what he was told by the administration afterwards regarding whether or not the police had been notified and whether or not the police had found anything to continue the case), none of us are in any position to judge what happened back THEN. I’ll say it again: if Paterno had not reported the allegation to a higher-up, then he should’ve been thrown to the dogs – but he DID report it. So many other people in the world haven’t done even THAT when faced with that situation. Why are we not going after THEM instead of scapegoating the one person in all of this mess who did ANYTHING in the right direction?

  99. @Dana King: Except it wasn’t under investigation. Because it had happened the day before. And it wasn’t under investigation at later points because it was being covered up. And the VERY FIRST POINT Scalzi made was that the grad student committed a tremendous moral failure. Take your apologetics elsewhere. Joe Paterno helped conceal child molestation. Quit defending him.

  100. Does no one here remember Richard Jewell? Or the Tawana Brawley case? McMartin pre-school? Duke lacrosse?

    Yes, I remember all of those things. I also remember that the facts were disputed. In this case, I’m going off the facts that both sides agree to be the truth. I.E. Paterno is not denying that he handled the 2002 report.

    As for Paterno letting things linger for nine years, he told the next person in his chain of command the NEXT DAY.

    And he should have called the police. And he should have stayed on it until he got something resolved to his satisfaction.

    They’re going to tell him it’s under investigation. Get lost.

    The local police are going to tell Joe Paterno to get lost? Get real.

  101. “I suspect that once the new president of Penn State gets a hold of the situation, others will lose their jobs.”

    I certainly hope so. The whole administration has been complicit in this; the two people charged with perjury and failure to report were on the Board of Trustees.

    People see Penn State fans defending Paterno and jump to conclusions. We are not defending the actions of a child rapist, or the actions taken in hiding it. What we are doing is clinging to our long-held beliefs that Joe Paterno is a decent, caring, kind human being, and waiting for all the facts to come out before we judge. That is all we want. It pains us to see the only person in this entire situation who has expressed regret, who has spoken the truth, who did what he was supposed to do, is the one being torn apart.

    Is Joe a saint? Did he do everything he could have done? No. But where is the outrage directed toward everyone else? People say that we only care about Joe because of football; I say that everyone else only cares about Joe because of football. For those of us who are part of Penn State, we know the kind of man he is and all we ask for is for him to be given a fair trial.

  102. Yeah, uhm. Paterno had a position of authority, right?
    He got an allegation of improper conduct right? (no matter what severity the alleged misconduct)
    If both those questions are answered “yes,” than he sucks as a human being for not, at the very least, INVESTIGATING that alleged misconduct. Maybe it would turn out to be nothing. In which case, he can investigate the maker of hte allegation to see if the false accusation was in malice.
    If it DOESN’T turn out to be nothing (and it didn’t, did it?) then it doesn’t matter if there was a friendship there. If I found out my brother was fondling his kids, I’d be the first to call the cops.

    Paterno was right out, so was everyone who managed to ignore their guilt long enough to suppress it. To Internet it up, those people are made of fail. Yes there are nuances. Yes there may have been difficult decisions. It doesn’t change what the right response was.

  103. “But where is the outrage directed toward everyone else?”

    Michael, did you even read Scalzi’s post? At all? JoePa gets two out of 8 paragraphs. The other six are chewing out everybody else.

  104. My sentiments exactly. f word included.

    Makes proud to be an avid reader of you.

    Too many now and in the past have equivocated over incidents like this. Claiming “they did all they were required to do legally” or that their previous good deeds overshadows a few bad ones.

    Ask that child what THEY think. Ask yourself if it was YOU or YOUR child in that position. How would you want adults to react?

    Those that play down these acts of omission are moral cowards and they’re wrong.

  105. Dana King:

    “Does no one here remember Richard Jewell? Or the Tawana Brawley case? McMartin pre-school? Duke lacrosse?”

    What do any of these have to do with the moral responsibility one should have when someone you know and trust comes to you and says “I saw, with my own eyes, your former Defense Coordinator raping a small boy in your locker room?” No one is arguing whether Paterno did everything he was legally required to do, and if you believe that what he was legally required to do is fully contiguous with what he should have done as a moral actor, then I don’t expect you’re going to be happy with this discussion.

    I believe, however, as a moral actor, Paterno’s responsibility, and the responsibility of everyone in this particular chain of events, should have been focused on the child first. It’s pretty clear in all cases that it wasn’t.

  106. “Yes, I remember all of those things. I also remember that the facts were disputed. In this case, I’m going off the facts that both sides agree to be the truth. I.E. Paterno is not denying that he handled the 2002 report.”
    None of the facts in these cases are in dispute any more; all were false. The damaged reputations still do not recover.

    “And he should have called the police. And he should have stayed on it until he got something resolved to his satisfaction.”
    Have you ever called the police to ask about an ongoing investigation that did not materially involve you? Good luck with that.

    “The local police are going to tell Joe Paterno to get lost? Get real.”
    They will if they don’t want to risk having their case thrown out in court.

  107. “But where is the outrage directed toward everyone else?”

    Michael, did you even read Scalzi’s post? At all? JoePa gets two out of 8 paragraphs. The other six are chewing out everybody else.

    I did, and I should have commented previously that, like others, I find this to be one of the more well-written pieces I’ve seen on the subject. But just like all the dialogue on this topic has been, comments here have quickly shifted towards Paterno, and that is what I was referring to.

  108. Dana King – I suspect that they would actually thank him for bringing the information to their attention, rather than telling him to get lost.

    This might be a polite way of saying ‘get lost’, to be sure. But given his standing in the community and a general tendency to want such things reported, they would almost certainly have presented the appearance of engaged interest.

  109. Braugh:

    “John, the bit about ‘should have suspended him’ is just as worrisome. It’s a summary punishment in advance of evidence.”

    Well, no. Suspension means that until sufficient facts are ascertained, the accused is removed from a position that creates issues (of liability, responsibility, etc) that are best avoided, for him or her and for the organization to which they belong. It’s true that often suspensions are used as punishment, but it’s equally true that they are also often used as a way of not punishing someone until all the facts are evident.

    “Furthermore, it’s expecting a standard of behavior few (if any) ever live up to.”

    And? Because lots of people don’t report alleged incidences of child rape, we should not say Mr. Paterno (or the others involved in this incident) were wrong not to do it? I find this line of reasoning highly suspect.

    To be clear, not only do I expect Mr. Paterno to report alleged incidents of child rape that happen involving people he knows and in places for which he has job responsibilites, I expect other people to do the same — for example, the other non-raping grown men in this event. When they don’t, we shouldn’t shrug and say, “oh, well, most people wouldn’t.”

  110. Phiala:

    Speaking for myself, it’s not so much that I doubted that many Penn students were out in the streets expressing their support of Paterno. It’s that I learned some decades ago to be dubious about the accuracy of media reports of crowd size and behavior.

    Someone upthread noted that there was also a (smaller) candlelight vigil for the victims, and I suspect that the majority of students were dealing with the news in relative privacy.

  111. My own story, for what it’s worth:

    I’m in my early forties. I discovered that someone I have known for twenty years has been arrested and is facing charges for (a) raping his then-13-year old step-daughter, and (b) having a ton of child porn on his computer.

    He has plead guilty to these charges, and will be serving time in prison.

    Unlike the Penn State employees, I had no idea what was going on until I heard from another friend that this person had been arrested.

    This person– whom I would have called my friend until I heard about his crimes– betrayed the trust of his step-daughter. He betrayed the trust of his wife. He betrayed the trust of everybody who knew him.

    To know that a crime this horrible has occurred, and is recurring, and to do nothing about it, is a betrayal of trust.

  112. McQueary reported witnessing anal rape of a 10 year old child irectly to Paterno. Paterno had known for McQueary for six years at that point, 3 years as QB, 3 more as a staff member and whom Paterno trusted enough to hire as an Asst Coach and Recruiter for Penn State – where he still has a job!

    After Sandusky retired in 1999, he not only had access to the campus facilities, but he brought young boys to Penn State practices and football games, both at home and away, social events and even ate with these boys at the coach’s table — all where Paterno was present. Paterno and McQueary socialized and broke bread with Sandusky and his many young male companions on a regular basis for SEVEN YEARS after McQueary reported the rape to him.

    Many of these parents felt safe entrusting their kids to Sandusky, knowing he was close to Paterno, having seen Paterno at events with Sandusky regularly and in photos. Paterno’s stature enabled Sandusky to do what he did.

    For people defending Paterno, think about how you would feel if you were one of Sandusky’s kids? Think about how you would feel knowing you didn’t count at all.

  113. My elder daughter is applying to universities, even had she considered Penn. State it would be off the table now. I wonder just how many other universities, corporations, school boards, churches, etc. have this type of skeleton in their closets? Is any place as safe and brave as we’d like them to be?

  114. @Dana: your points about people falsely accused are well taken. However, what about all the people justly accused? *Paterno never told the grad student to go to the police.* You say yourself you’d encourage the witness to do so–Paterno never made it that far.

    There’s still the question of “what did Paterno know and when did he know it?” This question came up before in 1998, just before Sandusky’s conveniently timed retirement. Stuff often gets around, and some people have implied that Paterno and others suspected Sandusky was a molester–I’d like to know more about what happened around that first round (if indeed it was the first) round of accusations. It was shut down pretty quickly by the DA and the head of University Police.

  115. None of the facts in these cases are in dispute any more; all were false

    “Were disputed.” Note the past tense.

    In any case, what facts in this case are currently in dispute that you think will exonerate Paterno? Does Paterno deny that McQueary reported the incident to him? Does Paterno deny that he did not call the police at that point (as required not only morally but by the Penn State staff handbook)? Does Paterno deny that he then let the incident drop? Which of these are in dispute?

  116. ” I suspect that they would actually thank him for bringing the information to their attention, rather than telling him to get lost.”

    They would have thanked him when he first reported, but the public has no right to know what is happening with an ongoing investigation. “Get lost” was an abrupt phrase on my part; they would be more polite than that. But they still wouldn’t have told him anything, not if they were doing their jobs.

  117. @Bruagh 11:19 — “due dilligence” involves making a single phone call? As I said in my last post. he, aty the very least, had the moral responsibility to look into it further. Official school policy be damned. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I used that as my excuse to do nothing. I’m shocked that anyone COULD live with themselves if they made an excuse to do nothing more than a phone call. You find out what the hell happened when you have the kind of authority and position Paterno had. He did not do enough. Not nearly.
    The grand jury indictment shows enough evidence to convince me there was wrong doing. Does that mean legal punishment? Not necessarily. But just because it can’t be proven to legal satisfaction doesn’t mean that nothing wrong happened. I do not have sympathy for the shit falling down on this man’s head. He asked for it.

    @Michale 11:20 — the fact that he was so beloved and trusted doesn’t mitigate his failure. It makes his failure WORSE. By covering up he betrayed everyone who ever believed he was a good guy. He effectively said that “yeah, I’m a good guy, but no one else needs to be.”
    Also: Rioting to support a man of now questionable morals? You have a long way to go before you will be gaining any sympathy points. The rioting behavior is reprehensible itself. If Paterno is really such a good guy and he didn’t cover anything up, then he should condemn this sort of violent behavior. It is not an appropriate response when there are sane, nonviolent, infinitely more effective ways to make your feelings known.

    Still think that Penn State has a LOT of disgrace to live down.

  118. Paterno’s trying to get out his own words on the subject. ESPN says he didn’t realize the gravity of what he heard. “Some fondling, horseplay…” When did fondling a small child in a shower become not so bad ? Sounds like excuse making to me. Especially since reports say Sandusky was on campus just last week and showed up to a game with a small child just a few years back.

    How many more children were abused since that nine years ago incident? And apparently no one at the school made any effort to find that child and offer any sort of assistance, as late as it was anyway.

  119. Michele Gray:

    “Meanwhile, all the rage at JoePa has taken the focus off the real monster.”

    “Alleged monster,” please. We should continue to remember that the alleged monster has yet to have his day in court.

  120. I’m sure it’s been mentioned somewhere in this thread, but I would add a #5:

    5. If you are a customer of an organization wherein it was discovered that one of the employees of that organization was found raping a small child, and this employee’s supervisor (said supervisor who happens to be your favorite employee of this organization of which you are a customer) and others in the organization did nothing to stop the immediate act and did not immediately report the act, and when the leaders of that organization discover all of this and fire the employee’s supervisor and those others for their failure to act, the appropriate response as a customer of that organization is not to riot at the sudden firing of your favorite employee.

    The students who rioted at Penn State need to get some G– D— perspective. Their reaction to this whole scandal disgusts me just as much as the reactions of those others, Paterno and the president and others, who allowed this crap to happen.

  121. A lot of people here are assuming things that either haven’t been proven or, in some cases, aren’t even in the prosecutor’s allegations. It’s safe to assume that a bunch of people who should have known better screwed up and the consequences were horrific, but that’s all we really know. We don’t know why McQueary, the grad student, acted as he did. He hasn’t had a chance to defend himself or present evidence. Neither has anyone else.

    And, as pointed out, the accused was not part of the staff when this happened, but he had access to the facilities as an “emeritus.” Not uncommon.

    The people who are angry about Paterno’s firing are mad because there has been no trial or due process for him or anyone. That’s a fair point. If this were some random person, we wouldn’t accept seeing them punished based only on the prosecutor’s report. Likewise, an employer can’t fire a person for cause without giving the employee a chance to rebut the charge.

    It’s totally unfair to say that the students who protested don’t care about the kids. Their position is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Besides, only a small minority protested.

    But despite that, the firings had to happen and the university board did the right thing. Regardless of what did or didn’t happen, the football program and president’s integrity are in doubt. They can’t do their job if they aren’t *beyond* suspicion. It may or may not be fair, but these guys were paid a lot of money, partly to put up with this kind of scrutiny.

    The assertion that Joe Paterno had no superiors at Penn State is false and based on no facts. He wasnt very involved in anything beyond football and fundraising. The athletic department has done a number of things over the years against Joe’s stated objections, like partner with a minor league team on a baseball stadium, play games at 8 pm, etc, etc. He has barely been in charge of even the football team in recent years.

    The problem here was that the people who could have fired Joe also caught up in this, so the board had to do it.

  122. Does Paterno have a right–a moral responsibility–to know what’s going on in his facility? It wasn’t an ongoing investigation *because there was no investigation*. Wouldn’t you be suspicious if you reported something like this up the chain of command and NEVER heard back one way or the other? “Hey, Tim, you remember that whole ‘raping the kid in the shower’ thing with Jerry? How’d that come out? Any word? I’m just asking because I saw him at practice the other day with another 10 year old kid…”

  123. My brother was mentally abused at UCLA under the care of Dr. George Alan Rekers in the 1970′s under the auspices of “therapy”. George Rekers a doctoral student at the time (22) and he was given unlimited and unsupervised access to “treat” these young boys in a government funded study. Rekers later became one of the nations most fervent anti gay crusaders and enjoyed Professor Emeritus status at several high end universities and colleges and in the U.S. throughout his tenure. Ironically enough, Mr. Rekers was caught with a male prostitute in 2010. (Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-irAT0viF0 There are 3 other parts as well.)

    I am here to tell you that academic institutions will do anything to cover up the sins of their “talent” all because of money and stature, including destroying files and paperwork that are “required” to be kept on site for 30 years. They believe that in their isolation and arrogance that they are above the laws and can create their own.

    The $50 M in profit Penn State made from their football program last year alone shows the lengths they would go to for a cover up. Where there’s one cockroach there are 1,000′s. What we know about this story is truly the tip of the iceberg. I guarantee it.

    Abuse of a child by someone in such an influential and powerful position does incredible damage. It destroys the child, and it destroys their families. Sadly, it often creates more victims. And now, this is going to destroy a community and has the potential to take down the institution with it, which is what they were trying to prevent in the first place, I would guess.

    The point is not whether Paterno is a bad man or a good man. No one can argue the contributions he has made to Penn State, college football in general, and in many ways to the students on that campus. But:

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

    In the glory days (aka before this week), anyone would say that Paterno owned that program, and in many ways, owned the school. Paterno IS Penn State.

    He was the most powerful man on that campus. And he knew. The trustees are confident that he knew enough to be relieved of his duties. As they see their $50 million in profits fly out the windows, rest assured that they know the risk of keeping him on is even greater.

    For him to know ANYTHING and not turn himself inside out and backwards to prevent it from happening again is more than regrettable, as a parent, it’s incomprehensible. Against the law? Honestly, who cares? It shows an incredible lack of character for a coach and an educator.

    Paterno was the captain of the ship. Whether Sandusky was still an employee or not, he was abusing children in Paterno’s territory, on his “ship”. And as we know, when the ship is sinking, the captain goes down with it. Why? Because it’s usually a decision the captain made to begin with that caused the ship to start sinking.

    Penn State had no choice, and I truly hope that by the time this is done that a few more people are gone as well. I applaud and commend the trustees for this move. If they had chosen to keep Paterno, they would be showing the world that once again they are choosing football and money over the lives of the victims, which is what these men have done since the very first complaint. Every single one of them.

    A coach is, by nature, an educator. Especially when that coach is at an educational institution. I think any quality educator who saw what that graduate student saw, or heard what Paterno heard, would not sleep at night until this man was brought to justice.

    What is so ironic, is that Paterno expects so much from his players, and he was adamant in teaching them ethics, morals, responsibility to their team, their school, themselves and each other, dedication and perseverance in the toughest of times. Every PSU football player should feel outraged that while he demanded this of them, he did not demand it of himself.

    Many of us in the heat of the moment might panic and run away when confronted with such a shocking scene. I’ll agree to that. But every day, every night, every time they saw Sandusky with another young boy, every time they heard about his organization, and certainly every time they heard about another complaint, they had the opportunity to do something: step forward. It’s not just that they didn’t do more at that time, it’s that they didn’t do ANYTHING in the decade since while Sandusky was still grooming new victims in front of their faces through his organization. They would need to have their heads pretty deep in the sand to miss that. I wonder if Penn State sponsored his organization during this time? That would be incredibly telling if they did.

    Oh, and how did the abuse suffered at UCLA affect my brother? After a lifetime of quiet despair, he hung himself in his apartment at the age of 38 because he couldn’t bear it anymore. Can I prove in a court of law that it was soley because of the abuse he suffered at UCLA and at home at the direction of the good doctors? Nope. Do I need to? Nope. Can Penn State or the victims prove in a court of law that Paterno should have done more to relieve him of his duties? Nope. Do they need to? Nope.

    This was an excellent article and one that every Penn State student should read, and anyone who feels outrage on the behalf of Paterno being ousted should as well.

  124. Randy,
    I think that quote by Paterno demonstrates the end result of what Dana has been advocating. When you decide “Whoa, slow down, maybe we better look into this quietly and not involve the cops”, you have already begun minimizing the events to yourself. So now a report of sexual assault becomes “horseplay”, and now your friend was just being an idiot, and not a predator. And then you end up doing what Paterno did.

    That’s why mandatory reporting is a good thing. The administration and staff all had things to protect, like their precious football team or the university’s good name, and this led them to excuse making and rationalizing. By making it law that it must be reported, then experienced investigation experts can determine if there was a crime committed without worrying about external factors like the university’s good name, or the fact that the accused is your best friend for 30 years.

  125. Sandusky establishing a “charity” for high risk boys is very in character with this sort of abuser – gets him access, and gets him access to a group of children who are already at higher risk for victimization. Ready-made victims, served up to him with gratitude for “all he was doing for them.”

    By day I work with at-risk mentally ill kids, and my husband and I foster and adoptive parents for our state child welfare agency. There are no shades of grey in this anywhere in my mind – we, the grown ups, are responsibly for protecting children.

    Period.

    The “well maybe he didn’t know what he was seeing” argument doesn’t apply: if I see someone having sex with a child I know what I’m seeing.

    The “but it’s hearsay” doesn’t apply: if it’s hearsay at one remove shared by someone I trust, then as Scalzi pointed out it’s not up to me to determine guilt or innocence. It’s up to me to protect a child. And if prompt action is taken, there is plenty of physical evidence to help establish what happened. The longer the time until report, the less evidence, the tougher the case.

    The potential negligence of the authorities doesn’t apply: it’s not my job to assure that they do their job, it’s my responsiblity to protect a child. And speaking as a child welfare authority, a foster parent, a member of the criminal justice community, and the sister of a cop: if you call the cops and tell them that you’ve seen a child being raped, they WILL take action.

    People keep coming back to Paterno, but the one I come back to is McQueary. How do you walk away from that? And how do you look at yourself in the mirror afterwards?

  126. You know, when I was an elementary teacher I was a mandatory reporter, which means if I even *suspected* child abuse of any sort (emotional, physical, sexual), I was required under penalty of license forfeiture and legal penalties to file a report directly with the police, even if the child was not my student, even if it was something I witnessed in public, such as at the grocery store.

    I only taught for about 18 months including my student teaching, and I had to file three reports on suspicion.

    I don’t know the college’s policies, as they have different responsibilities towards their legal age students than I did for my kindergartners, but dear God, to hear of someone doing nothing… It makes me physically ill, and my heart breaks for kids who have to deal with this, and the kids who are now adults and still dealing with this damage.

  127. @Carina. A 10-year-old is not too young to remember. A 10-year-old will likely remember very well, absent what he or she has repressed. I know too many people who have been that 10-year-old to believe otherwise.

  128. The problem is that decent, kind, caring human beings have feet of clay.

    JoePa gets an extra dose of blame because of his position. He was the most powerful man at Penn State. If he wanted an investigation, an investigation would have been done. He had a responsibility to use his power for Good.

    The graduate student who saw Sandusky in the act was clearly in the wrong for not intervening immediately, and not going to the police. But I can imagine him being completely freaked out by what he saw–ordinary life doesn’t prepare one for that shock–and defaulting to “follow the chain of command” as a concrete rule he could apply in a situation he wasn’t prepared to deal with. And then, having delayed action, he probably entered a spiral of “I didn’t say anything when it happened, so I’ll look bad, and also I could get in trouble if I pursue this, so maybe if I close my eyes and go ‘la la la’ someone else will deal with it.”

    He will have to deal with knowing his cowardice for the rest of his life. I hope that his coming forward and testifying now is a mark that he is older, wiser, and braver.

    JoePa, being an older, experienced adult, with great power and position, prior knowledge of Sandusky’s earlier behavior, and nine years to think about it, still failed to do the right thing.

    It’s hard to do the right thing, but JoePa was unassailable in his position. The only thing he risked if he had reported it was damage to a friend who had already been fired for having done this sort of thing before. How could Joe not believe the allegation was reasonable and worth investigating?

  129. Eric, Paterno not only condemned the “rioting,” he pre-condemned it, so to speak. Before it even started, he told the kids to remain calm and “respect property.”

    Nobody sensible here condones the rioting and as it turns out, it wasn’t much of a riot. A few kids busting stuff up and a whole lot more just standing around trying to see what was going on. The cops estimate a total crowd of around 2000. That means 95% of University Park students were somewhere else, doing something else.

  130. ““Meanwhile, all the rage at JoePa has taken the focus off the real monster.”

    “Alleged monster,” please. We should continue to remember that the alleged monster has yet to have his day in court.”

    I guess it’s Paterno’s bad luck he wasn’t indicted. Then he would only have been suspended. Apparently only those formally accused get their day in court.

  131. @Dana King… why are you defending your positions so intensely? there are few, if any situations in life that are black and white, with the exception of the obvious, 100% WRONG that is the rape of a child by an adult, that in this case was witnessed by another adult. I don’t know what else to say here. there is simply nothing to defend.

  132. To John and everyone who is shocked and outraged at the crimes, at the lack of reports to police, and at the rioters: Thank you. You reaffirm my hope that humanity can ever possibly rise above the selfish, cowardly aspects of our nature.

    To the people who didn’t report the crimes, to the rioters, and to those in this thread who are taking the tone of “the non-rapists involved did what they could, poor Joe Paterno”: Shame on you. There’s more I could add to that, but I would only be repeating everything John already said in his post and in his comments.

    No, I’m not perfect. None of us are. There’s not a single human being who is not fundamentally flawed in some way. But the willful silence surrounding this entire case is inhuman.

  133. If your underling comes to you to report that he saw another man, also your underling, raping a small child

    This is the one part of the report that is somewhat ambiguous. According to the report, McQueary told Paterno “what he had seen.” But Paterno reports that McQueary told Paterno that he saw “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature.” Either McQueary deliberately censored his report to Paterno, or Paterno censored his memory of the event.

    Either way, Paterno should have called the police. PSU leadership have mishandled this situation in every way possible. However, it does make Paterno’s behavior in this situation just a little less egregious.

    P.S. Technically, Sandusky was retired at the time of the incident, so the rapist would be “former underling.” But I’m just nitpicking.

  134. “He was the most powerful man on that campus.”

    This is simply not true and asserting it based on no facts insults all of the administrators who do their job correctly every day. The AD overrode him on a number of big decisions. And while Joe gave a lot of money to Penn State, for the past fifteen or 20 years, he wasn’t involved in anything except football and some fundraising.

    He was in charge of the football program, which is the cash cow for all the other sports and the university was happy to let him sit over there (all the football stuff is on the edge of campus) and run things as long as it worked. But as soon as it stopped working, the board fired him. This only took five days. I don’t think the board has ever decided anything that fast.

    I’m not defending Joe. It’s just that a lot of people who work for Penn State are good friends of mine and my parents taught there for many years and gave great service to what is still a great institution. I know a lot more than most people commenting here about how that place works. It’s incredibly insulting to them to say that football “ran” the school. It never did. In recent years, even it’s sway within athletics has declined a bit.

  135. I’ve always felt that, if I were one of those walking away from Omalas, I’d be walking away carrying a kid on my back.

    And then coming back as often as need be to get the next one.

  136. “And Paterno had nothing but hearsay information at that time. ”
    Paterno was not testifying in court. Paterno would have been reporting a possible assault on a minor.
    The police are charged with investigating crimes, not the witnesses.

    If you had done the morally right thing and called the police, the police would have asked him “how do you know this happened? Who told you?” And the police would have followed the chain of evidence as they are trained to do.

    The word which people are looking for is misprision.
    “Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

    The person witnessing the assault is guilty of misprision. period.
    The rest are potentially guilty of a coverup and paying bribes to cover the crime up or paying blackmail.

    It is strange how ALL of this could have been avoided if the first person had just called the police.
    The would have been an investigation and possibly/probably an arrest and none of the rest of this story would have happened.

    Does it matter that someone had a good record as a coach, while also covering up child rape?
    Why?

  137. Reed:

    “We don’t know why McQueary, the grad student, acted as he did.”

    However, we do know how he didn’t act, which was to intervene on behalf of the ten year old boy who was at the moment allegedly being raped by a grown man. McQueary was 28 at the time, hale and healthy, and there was no one else there but him, Sandusky (older and probably not a physical threat to McQueary, particularly naked and in a compromised position), and the boy.

    Yes, it sounds reasonable to say, “hey, we don’t know the whole story, here,” but you know, this wasn’t, in fact, anything close to a reasonable situation. If what McQueary is saying is true, he was watching a child get raped, and all things considered, should have been in a position to stop. All things being equal, he’s going to have to come up with a really good explanation why his actions were the ones he chose to took.

    Dana King:

    “I guess it’s Paterno’s bad luck he wasn’t indicted. Then he would only have been suspended.”

    It’s entirely possible he could be indicted, actually.

    Otherwise, your attempt at snark here is underwhelming. If this is what you have to contribute to the thread at this point, you may wish to consider moving on.

  138. I think characterizing Dana’s concern as “cowardice, cowardice, cowardice” and as an example of the rape culture in action enjoys a little more absolute certainty than deserved. If someone I knew a little bit told me that someone I knew for a long time was molesting children, I would feel absolutlely no incentive to cover up for them simply because they were a friend or part of my “tribe” or because I would be afraid of the truth coming out. my only hesitation would come from not knowing whether the accusation was true and having concern that by simply parroting the accusation it reinforces a hysteria of guilt before innocence, mob justice, and would I be adding to that or not. child abuse cases are so emotional that the power of the emotions get mistaken for accuracy and certainty. There are relatively recent cases. in 1984, there was a case where every member of two families were convicted of child molestation and sentenced to 240 years in prison each. All of those convictions were overturned in 1996. a bunch of innocent people were put in prison for 12 years because emotions took over the process. Would I call the police? I would probably pick up the phone, dial the police, and hand the phone to the guy making the accusation. if he isnt willing to talk to the cops, I might tell them what just happened and ask them how they want to proceed. but I would be discussing it with the cops with some lack of certainty given the accuser didnt want to go public, and I would likely make a point to the police to communicate my concern that I dont know what really happened, and that I wouldnt want to either create or add to a witchhunt. folks reacting to Dana and others expressing even the slightest bit of hesitation by calling it cowardice and part of the rape culture in action, it is exactly that level of absolute certainty, combined with the powerful levels of emotional outrage, is exactly the sort of thing that would cause me to hedge my statements to the police so as to communicate my uncertainty in what really happened.

  139. E, Sandusky wasn’t “fired for this type of thing before.” Joe ran him out because he thought he wasn’t spending enough time on football and was spending too much time on The Second Mile. That’s consistent with Joe’s MO. Besides, if Joe “fired” him for the 1998 alleged incident, why would he wait a year to do it? Sandusky retired after 1999. He then interviewed at other schools. If the 1998 report was easily available, dont you think those other schools would have found it? There’s no evidence that Joe was told about any incidents prior to 2002. People can suspect whatever they want to, but the evidence isn’t there.

    None of this exonerated anyone, but I’m disturbed by how many people think they know things that haven’t been proven or even credibly alleged. If we all just make up our own facts, we’ll never resolve anything.

  140. Greg, Paterno had known McQueary for years when McQueary reported the rape. 3 years he QB’d for Paterno, and later 3 years working on staff at the time of the rape occurred in 2002.

    Reed, there is no publicly available evidence to support the reason Paterno told Sandusky in May 1999 why he would never be Head Coach. Either way.

  141. “If what McQueary is saying is true, he was watching a child get raped, and all things considered, should have been in a position to stop. All things being equal, he’s going to have to come up with a really good explanation why his actions were the ones he chose to took.”

    We don’t really know what he thought he saw or what he told anyone else. We have one account of it from the prosecution.

    I agree that it certainly looks very bad.

    It looks very bad that he is still employed. He probably will have to go into hiding, or jail, or both. I don’t know how the board felt they had basis to fire Joe, but not McQueary. Then again, the board alluded to “a number of issues that will be soon resolved” or something to that effect. There are probably legal technicalities.

  142. Come on John, it’s THE CULT OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL. Plain and simple.

    “As word of the firings spread, thousands of students flocked to the administration building, shouting, “We want Joe back!” and “One more game!” They then headed downtown to Beaver Avenue, where about 100 police wearing helmets and carrying pepper spray were on standby. Witnesses said some rocks and bottles were thrown, a lamppost was toppled and a news van was knocked over, its windows kicked out.”

    Don’t you wish the Oakland police and those in other locations had shown the same restraint when dealing with NON VIOLENT protesters?

    I’m sure the gladiators in Rome were treated in much the same way!

  143. A lot of people here are assuming things that either haven’t been proven or, in some cases, aren’t even in the prosecutor’s allegations. It’s safe to assume that a bunch of people who should have known better screwed up and the consequences were horrific, but that’s all we really know. We don’t know why McQueary, the grad student, acted as he did. He hasn’t had a chance to defend himself or present evidence. Neither has anyone else.

    Forgive me, but this is bullshit. People are going off the facts that NEITHER side dispute. I’m disgusted by the actions that Joe Paterno testified to in his grand jury appearance. NO ONE IS DISPUTING that McQueary witnessed it and did nothing at the time, and that Paterno did not call the police.

  144. “Reed, there is no publicly available evidence to support the reason Paterno told Sandusky in May 1999 why he would never be Head Coach. Either way.”

    Not quite true. Sandusky himself said he did it to spend more time on Second Mile. Paterno’s son said, publicly, that Joe felt Sandusky needed to pick one or the other. There were also a lot of credible stories of Joe saying that same thing privately long before 1998. It was kind of an open secret around town that Joe didn’t want Sandusky to be his successor, but he wouldn’t say that out loud because Sandusky was well-liked for his charity work.

    You can accuse them of lying, but that goes nowhere. If you go down that road, then nothing anybody says is believable.

  145. We don’t really know what he thought he saw or what he told anyone else. We have one account of it from the prosecution

    No, we have McQueary’s testimony to the grand jury, which appears in the findings:

    “As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.”

    That’s McQueary’s testimony. Would you like to find the ambiguity in it for us, please?

  146. It’s easy to judge Mike McQueary (the grad student) and claim that he should have intervened or immediately gone to the police, however, try to put yourself truely in his shoes. He witnessed one of his idols and a football legend raping a young boy. Why did he not stop the rape? Probably because of shock. Why did he not go to the police? Knowing the State College police and the University police he likely would have been laughed out of the station. “Sandusky was raping a young boy? Unbelievable!”

    I believe he did the correct thing by going to Paterno. Paterno should have taken McQueary to the police. As a Penn State alum, I agree with the Board’s decision.

  147. “Forgive me, but this is bullshit. People are going off the facts that NEITHER side dispute. I’m disgusted by the actions that Joe Paterno testified to in his grand jury appearance. NO ONE IS DISPUTING that McQueary witnessed it and did nothing at the time, and that Paterno did not call the police.”

    No, this is bullshit. There is no “both sides.” McQueary has not presented his side in open court. The prosecution gave a partial account of what he supposedly told the grand jury, but there is nothing in there where McQueary gets to fully explain his action or inaction or motivations. Just because he hasn’t disputed anything yet doesn’t mean he couldn’t or won’t if he’s given a chance in open court. But he probably won’t be, because he hasn’t been charged.

    Besides, that wasn’t really what I was referring to when I said people are inferring things not in evidence. I was mainly thinking of errors like thinking Sandusky was working at Penn State at the time, or assertions about what Paterno knew prior to 2002 that aren’t in evidence. I’ve seen other errors even worse than that.

  148. all of this about how Penn State works etc- meaningless. You work in an office, a co-worker(actually your subordinate) tells you he saw another co-worker doing something(being there is enough of a crime!) with a naked 10 year old boy in the office gym shower. You tell your boss and that is it? I have no idea what the chain of command or rules were about this at my office(do you actually have rules for child rape?). I’d stand next to my co-worker while he called the police-the real police- not office security. I’d have to think he is scum for not stopping the act so I’d want him to call while I was there. And if he wouldn’t do it(“I’ll call from my office”) -because I’d think he is scum and untrustworthy-I’d call the police myself and tell them the story. Soon, I hope we will see a long jail sentence for Sandusky and more firings(the Penn State U officers who dismissed this-so that it continued, other employees- the new Pres of Penn state has his work cut out for him.)

    You tell your boss when a co-worker is stealing from the company or cheating on their hours -not when they are raping children!

  149. Here’s what would’ve happened if Paterno had been allowed to coach out the year: Every time he would’ve been shown on TV from the sideline or booth (which would’ve been practically after every play of every game, because he’s ALL the announcers would’ve been talking about), he would’ve been seen by most as a representative of a PSU hierarchy which covers up child rape committed by its inner circle. Is that what you want, JoePa-ists? How about those post-game pressers? Think those would’ve been fun for Joe, or for you, PSU cultists?

    I wonder if the Ohio State and Wisconsin crowds would’ve had any special chants for him? Think the Old Man would’ve enjoyed hearing that he’s a creep and a coward and a child-rapist protector? For four hours a game? For three games?

    It’s just that he be fired immediately, it’s better for him that he be fired immediately, and it’s best for PSU’s reputation that he be fired immediately. Only bad things would happen were he to stay on and coach.

  150. Mike:

    “It’s easy to judge Mike McQueary (the grad student) and claim that he should have intervened or immediately gone to the police, however, try to put yourself truly in his shoes.”

    Likewise, it’s easy to assume that people have not been doing just that, when they come to a determination of action different than what you think they should.

    If I were in his shoes, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten that kid out of there and called the police.

    Reed:

    “The prosecution gave a partial account of what he supposedly told the grand jury”

    Your use of the word “supposedly” here suggests that you may not understand how grand jury testimony works. Likewise, the actual grand jury report is available, not merely a summation.

  151. The prosecution gave a partial account of what he supposedly told the grand jury, but there is nothing in there where McQueary gets to fully explain his action or inaction or motivations

    More BS. Try to come up with a reason why McQueary didn’t intervene that excuses it. Try to come up with a reason that Paterno didn’t call the police that excuses it.

    Again, what I’m saying is that based on the testimony we know already, there is no conceivable excuse that lets them off the hook.

  152. Off-topic with regard to the main discussion, but about the link to the indictment (Dan @ 10:11 AM) — I don’t permit my browser to open PDF’s, but rather to download them to disk for later viewing with a 3rd-party reader. This particular file is only a couple of hundred KB and took only a few seconds to download (I haven’t yet looked at it). So if there’s an apparent traffic jam, your best bet is to “save as” since the link is direct to the PDF file.

  153. When I was a student there I walked daily by posters screaming “Racism Has No Place at Penn State,” and “Homophobia Has No Place at Penn State.” Now I know why I never saw one that read, “Paederasty Has No Place at Penn State.” For the love of God, Governor Corbett, shut down this disgrace.

  154. cheryl@12:33, actually, if I knew Alice for 30 years, and I knew Bob for 30 years, and one day Alice comes up to me and says she saw Bob molesting a kid, my reaction would probably remain the same: pick up the phone, dial police, hand phone to Alice. If she refuses to talk to the police, I would tell the cop on the phone what just happened as far as I know and hedge everything to reflect my lack of certainty.

  155. “That’s McQueary’s testimony. Would you like to find the ambiguity in it for us, please?”

    That part is not ambiguous, I agree, but that’s not a transcript, is it? That’s the prosecution’s summary. I’ll concede that it’s probably accurate, but I’d rather hear it from him.

    But we don’t know what, exactly, he told Paderno or Curley. That’s in dispute. Or why, in his own mind, he thought it best not to call 911.

    I can’t fathom any good reasons not to call the cops. I agree. I’m not defending his behavior. But there could be more to the story. Maybe Sandusky threatened him? Maybe somebody else threatened him to shut up? Maybe he was just so traumatized by it that he froze up?

    He at least deserves the chance to explain it. I agree that he’s *probably* an accomplice, more or less, but as a general principle, in our democracy, we don’t string people up on the prosecutor’s report alone. And that’s a valuable principle.

  156. This whole mess was handled badly from the start. But the way the Penn St. Trustees handled it was even worse. They didn’t even have the nerve to face Paterno himself to tell him he was being sacked. Just a ‘press conference’ & a letter handed to him by a graduate assistant explaining their actions. That makes them even bigger cowards than those who may have known what’s been going on. In my opinion, the whole Board should resign, effective immediately. Then, maybe the healing will truly begin.

  157. Greg, I agree completely. I only pointed out how long they knew each other because you posted: “If someone I knew a little bit told me that someone I knew for a long time was molesting children…”

  158. May I just add that NCAA football stinks. Its corrupt system stinks. Its boosters stink. Its cult-member fans stink. That people waste so much time and money to fight for a fake national championship in a system that exploits kids, hires sleazy coaches, establishes inner-circle programs like Penn-State’s, and enriches corrupt bowl-game pimps is sickening.

    I love (love love love) football, but I hate NCAA football just as much, and every time a sleazy, disgusting story about an NCAA football program rears its head (which is about every year), I wonder how anyone justifies it. All to prove that your school has better football players than your neighbor’s school? Well, hey, I take it back — I can see how that would be worth a few child rapes.

  159. The title alone wins the Internets, Mr. Scalzi. An excellent post. It’s the culture of Big Sport, acknowledging other comments above. I would have quoted the noted philosopher R. Zimmermann (“Money doesn’t talk, it swears,”) but it could just as easily have happened when there wasn’t near as much money in the game, or at a high school somewhere. Probably has, in fact, which is worse.

    I have had occasion to teach business ethics from time to time, and when the topic comes around to utilitarian ethics, I use “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” as a counterexample. Maybe one day I’ll use “Omelas” and Spock’s “The needs of the many” death speech as exemplars, and then have a point-counterpoint discussion on the topic (together, they point up the flaw in utilitarianism: Spock freely chose his fate in the way the forsaken child of Omelas could not).

    @John Barnes, a few years ago I wrote about two-thirds of a story called, “And the One Who Went Back.” Wanna collaborate? ;-)

  160. That part is not ambiguous, I agree, but that’s not a transcript, is it? That’s the prosecution’s summary.

    “We, the members of the Thirty-Third Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, having ” is how the document starts. It’s written by the Grand Jury, not by the prosecutor.

    Nor have McQueary or Paterno denied anything contained there and they are not, as far as I know, under a gag order.

    Maybe Sandusky threatened him? Maybe somebody else threatened him to shut up? Maybe he was just so traumatized by it that he froze up?

    Do any of those reasons excuse him?

    we don’t string people up on the prosecutor’s report alone.

    Which is why Sandusky is not in jail at the moment. Your comments however do suggest that you don’t understand how a grand jury works.

  161. Paterno on NPR yesterday: “I’ll do everything I can to help undo the harm done to the University.”

    You moron. THE UNIVERSITY IS NOT THE VICTIM HERE.

  162. “Your use of the word “supposedly” here suggests that you may not understand how grand jury testimony works. Likewise, the actual grand jury report is available, not merely a summation.”

    The actual transcript? I have not seen that available. I’m happy to be proven wrong on this point. In the report I was shown, he is not quoted directly or asked to explain why he failed to act. Just because you can’t fathom it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. That’s why defendants are allowed to have lawyers.

    The grand jury process does not, as I recall, allow the defense to mount an argument and call witnesses, correct? If that’s the case, then it is biased for the prosecution. That’s the point: to see if they even have enough evidence for a trial.

    Besides, my point isn’t to defend anybody in particular, but to defend the principle of due process.

  163. @Reed at 1:08 pm “Maybe Sandusky threatened him? Maybe somebody else threatened him to shut up? Maybe he was just so traumatized by it that he froze up?”

    McQueary was no geeky, easy-to-intimidate grad student. He was a recent Penn State quarterback and team captain. A major-college QB! A captain! Makes you wonder what they expect of their captains at PSU. “Football builds character” we have been told for decades by coaches. Really? Does it at Penn State?

  164. The grand jury process does not, as I recall, allow the defense to mount an argument and call witnesses, correct? If that’s the case, then it is biased for the prosecution. That’s the point: to see if they even have enough evidence for a trial.

    Oy. Do you know the difference between an indicting grand jury and an investigating? Which one was used in the Sandusky case?

  165. I read the grand jury indictment and view this as a failure of Penn State the institution and not necessarily of Joe Paterno. Could he should he have done more? Yes. But a lot of people failed to do more throughout this process. The first cited episode on Penn State property involving Sandusky (Victim 6) occurred in 1998, was investigated by appropriate authorities, inappropriate conduct was verified and charges were not filed. Penn State should have had a clear picture of what they were dealing with from that point forward. The second episode involving Victim 8 occurred in 2000 was witnessed by a grown man reported to several other grown men who all decided to do nothing. The 3rd known episode involving Victim 2 (the one McCreary saw and reported to Paterno) occurred in 2002 and seems to be the episode that everyone is fixated on. Paterno is only one of many who failed, and not necessarily the first one. An entire system failed a lot of young boys.

  166. One of my favorite stories because of how incredibly powerful it is, despite moving me to actual tears. I didn’t think of it initially when I heard about this, but – MY GOD – very well said. I salute you, sir.

  167. Unfortunately, I understand why it would be that university staff would be loath to pursue the matter.

    A relative of mine did report such a matter, which ultimately did lead to conviction of a pedophile.

    That was far and away the hardest thing my relative ever did; he was not terribly much supported by those around, as everyone thought it so much easier to sweep the matter under the carpet. They thought it was horrible that he was dragging their organization’s reputation through the muck.

    This is a case where it is difficult and personally costly to “do the right thing,” where that cost gets assessed and spread out over a considerable period of time.

    Personally, I’m exceedingly grateful that I was just sufficiently separated from the matter that I never got drawn in; while I had been acquainted with the offender, I had no interactions that made it necessary for me to testify.

    To “knee jerk” react that anyone that didn’t choose to invest years of their personal lives into the testimony involved in convicting the offender is a disgrace seems, to me, like an underestimation of the cost of doing so. Anyone that pretends that this ought to be an easy choice is ignorant; whether willful or not, I leave to others…

  168. Others have mentioned the mandatory reporters angle. Department of Education is investigating this now.

    After, after the abject moral cowardice that allowed them to all look away, in the years that followed, it’s reported that the abuser was on campus, with children on multiple occasions. JoePa was still on the board of directors of the charity that served as the recruiting ground for this predator. It’s not a single act of cowardice…it’s ten years worth.

  169. Michael: But the fact that he was fired by a phone call after over 60 years of service, while the people who actually did something wrong (i.e. broke the law) are allowed to remain, or step down on their own, is infuriating.

    Do you seriously think he wasn’t quietly given the chance to step down on his own first?

    while the one man who did something, anything, is dragged through the mud.

    From context, i can’t tell if you’re referring to Paterno or McQueary, Assuming it’s the latter, while I can forgive him for panicking in the heat of the moment, the fact that he never pursued the matter after making his initial report to Paterno proves that he valued his career over the protection of children. I have no doubt that he was quietly made aware that making waves would limit his chances for advancement, and he accepted that bargain. IMO, The mud is where he belongs.

    Steve: I can’t figure out why normal people failed to intervene and call 911

    Every single person I know who was abused as a child has at least one (and usually several) stories to tell about other adults who discovered the abuse, sometimes in the act, and did nothing to help. Sadly, it seems that “I will pretend I did not just see [important person] abusing [unimportant person], because the potential consequences to me are too much to deal with if I don’t” IS the normal thought process.

  170. ““We, the members of the Thirty-Third Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, having ” is how the document starts. It’s written by the Grand Jury, not by the prosecutor.””

    Again. There is no defense counsel. It may not be written by the prosecutor, but the prosecutor asks all of the questions. It’s the prosecution’s case.

    I know how it works.

    “”Nor have McQueary or Paterno denied anything contained there and they are not, as far as I know, under a gag order.””

    Ironically, he is a witness for the prosecution. If he talks now, the defense could use that against him. In not sure you understand how a trial works.

    “”Maybe Sandusky threatened him? Maybe somebody else threatened him to shut up? Maybe he was just so traumatized by it that he froze up?

    Do any of those reasons excuse him”””

    Probably not, but it would depend on the details. Just because you can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

    “”we don’t string people up on the prosecutor’s report alone.

    Which is why Sandusky is not in jail at the moment. Your comments however do suggest that you don’t understand how a grand jury works””

    And yet you are willing to declare McQueary guilty without giving him his right to a defense.

    Your comments suggest you don’t understand how justice in a democracy works.

  171. How many times a week did Joe Paterno pass Sandusky in the hallways of the football facilties, knowing what had happened in 1998 and knowing what McQueary had reported to him? How many times did they have lunch together, with Joe knowing what his old friend was accused (by a credible and respected former PSU QB and captain) of doing to little boys under his charge? And Joe let his buddy have emeritus privileges. Around little kids.

  172. Fantastic look at this through the eye’s of Sci-Fi and really this would be a good case of how a Sci-Fi writer could take a news realated item and turn it into a story (granted in this case the story was first but I think you see where I’m going).

    In the case of the actual Penn state issue. Cowards is appropriate. Everyone likes to say what they would or would not have let happen but untill you’re in that situation you don’t really know.. Untill you’ve proven yourself through action – you’re just a coward in waiting. Don’t presume otherwise.

  173. Thank you, John.

    @Bruagh: “How many people in Paterno’s situation in the past didn’t even report similarly awful potential crimes?”

    That is exactly what people have been trying to change for the last thirty-plus years. The standards have changed. The standards have changed because people came out, over and over, and said “This was done to me. This was wrong. And the authorities protected the criminal.” These events happened well after it was established as the modern standard that you report accusations of child abuse to the police and let the police do the investigation. Pennsylvania has had a http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter42/s42.42.html mandated-reporter law since 1996. Paterno knew he was subject to this law, and reporting up the chain got him off the hook legally — but not morally.

    The point being, it is not some surprising new rule made up for Paterno that you report child abuse. It is the modern consensus, and has been for (at least) a good twenty years. And a decent human being, having the concrete knowledge that Paterno had for multiple cases, would not be satisfied with telling the University.

  174. And yet you are willing to declare McQueary guilty without giving him his right to a defense.

    I haven’t declared him guilty of anything. I am not a prosecutor, juror, defense attorney, or judge. It is not within my capabilities to declare anyone guilty. You have confused me with a member of the legal system.

    I have condemned him severely for the horrendous moral failing he had in actions he, himself, admitted. I will continue to do so. That is how a democracy figures out what it means by justice.

    You, on the other hand, have confused “justice” with the “legal system.”

  175. “”Oy. Do you know the difference between an indicting grand jury and an investigating? Which one was used in the Sandusky case?””

    Perhaps I’m mixing up Federal Law and don’t understand PA law. I’m asking: are there defense attorney’s allowed in the GR? If so, I ashamedly withdraw my point. If not, then the process is not complete.


  176. Paterno on NPR yesterday: “I’ll do everything I can to help undo the harm done to the University.”
    You moron. THE UNIVERSITY IS NOT THE VICTIM HERE.

    THIS. THIS and MORE THIS.

    Do we need any more proof about the moral character of Paterno? No.

  177. Sterling Archer: I wonder if the Ohio State and Wisconsin crowds would’ve had any special chants for him?

    Current UW student here, and yes, the crude jokes started pretty much instantly. Our football crowds aren’t exactly known for restraint in the stands either. One could make the argument that by taking things like that into consideration, the board was pre-emptively punishing Paterno for the misdeeds of others, but businesses do that all the time.

    McQueary was no geeky, easy-to-intimidate grad student.

    Physically, no. But after devoting 8 years of his life to the university, he was obviously heavily invested in his future career, and threatening that would probably do the trick.

  178. News is breaking that Sandusky was selling boys to rich men via The Second Mile. God, I hope that is a disgusting rumor, because if that ends up being true… I just can’t even process it.

  179. And for every Sandusky caught, how many are not? The evils of human nature are ineradicable. BUT: the number could be reduced if as a society we make it hard for anything (e.g., the business income of my university, the reputation of my church) to prime decent treatment of our fellow human beings, and most of all the powerless, who have no way to defend themselves.

  180. “I have condemned him severely for the horrendous moral failing he had in actions he, himself, admitted. I will continue to do so. That is how a democracy figures out what it means by justice.”

    I see. I’m more clear on your point. I would still want to hear him explain his motivations, just to be sure I haven’t overlooked a possible good explanation.

    But beyond that, I agree to your point as stated here. He probably has a lot to answer for. Legal or not. Our only difference is you appear to be 100% sure. I’m only 99% sure.

    It’s heartbreaking and appalling.

    Fortunately, as a young man, he has a long time to contemplate this and seek forgiveness from wherever it may come.

    But I insist that people ought not think that all 90000 PSU students and however many faculty and staff they have take the blame.

    Universities are a bunch of silos that don’t interact much. The culture of the football team is different from the culture of the other sports, let alone all of the real departments. Even the administration is largely remote from individual departments. If you’re going to blame the university, you might as well blame everyone within 50 miles.

    And Joe was especially insulated from reality. That has to change with the new coach.

  181. I agree with everything John said about the real world events. I don’t think the Omelas comparison is that strong because I honestly think Paterno could have thrown this guy to the wolves and continued to live his life exactly like before.

    As to all the Omelas “Avengers” on this board. You live in Omelas, we all do and you aren’t saving the “kid.” So please stop pretending you would if you lived in some other dystopia. Everyone and every society let’s someone innocent suffer because it would cost society too much to fix it (in a cost/benefit manner) or because the cultural barriers are so set it would require horrible bloodletting to change the old ways or because it would require another increment of sacrifice you are not willing to accept (even if you have accepted a hundred others before.)

    And John, I think the guy who compared “us” to a lynch mob, was probably reacting to comments like burn PSU down and sow the earth with salt.

  182. John Scalzi, your books were on my to-read list, but they just jumped to the front of the pack. The comparison with Omelas is spot-on.

  183. As a citizen of the State College community and employee of Penn State, I think the analogy is offensive. Every member of this community was not told of the abuse of those boys. We had no idea. The overwhelming majority of us would have “walked away” from this “paradise” and we’d have brought the child (all of the children, in fact) with us, uncertainty and chaos be damned.

    By titling the post “Omelas State University,” you’re implying that every student, employee, and member of the Penn State community would let that child (in this case, children) suffer. Which is bullshit.

    Don’t judge the entire community on the actions of one sick fuck and a few immoral men.

  184. @Mike Crichton at 1:43 pm “But after devoting 8 years of his life to the university, he was obviously heavily invested in his future career, and threatening that would probably do the trick.”

    Of course. Which goes to “football builds character,” and how the captains (and starting QBs) are always presented as the players with the most character of all! Hey, I’m not saying this wasn’t a stern test of McQueary’s humanity and courage. I’m just saying he failed miserably.

    I hope the UW students are respectful to the traveling rioters — errr, I mean, PSU kids who support child-rapist-protectors. Be a shame if they got ridiculed for being ridiculous.

  185. “”are there defense attorney’s allowed in the GR?

    Yes.””

    Really? Oh, than fuck me. I’m so embarrassed for arguing with you about this!!! So sorry. I read that the exact opposite was true. Perhaps I was mixing up the federal system?? I feel awful. I apologize. Emotional situation, but that’s no excuse.

    Now I’m more depressed. McQueary still has a job. That’s not right. I was feeling better after last night’s purge, but now.

    I see him around town. I’ve never spoken to him, however.

    The problem isn’t that Joe has no moral character. The problem is, as far as i can tell, that he believes a lot of his own press and became increasingly deluded over the years. He refused to believe the truth staring him in the face.

    Football coaches should have term limits.

  186. Did anybody else notice from the Grand Jury report that Spanier’s educational background is in marriage and family counseling?

    Who the heck is going to fess up to having taught this guy?

  187. I am curious Reed, what, in your mind, is a ‘good explanation’ for not doing the right thing here? I am really confused on this. He saw someone committing a heinous crime. Against a child. What is a good explanation for not reporting that immediately? Because, frankly, I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t involve the physical inability to dial 911 . After about the age of oh, 10 (and probably sooner) you should understand that if you see someone committing a crime, you need to report it to the police. It wasn’t like what he saw was at all ambiguous. Like he wasn’t sure, but it sort of looked like this guy was maybe doing something he shouldn’t. And even then? Err on the side of caution. But for heaven’s sake! He saw him having anal sex with a boy. So really, what is a good explanation for not reporting that?

  188. The Board of Trustees had pretty much no choice to fire Paterno, especially after he announced his intentions to retire at the end of the season. I don’t think for a second that it had anything to do with their belief in his guilt. As he is the most prominent figure of the entire school, I have a hard time believing they took his firing lightly. But they probably knew that the Joe Paterno lovefest that would have ensued would have made a complete mockery of PSU and its treatment of the case. Either way, the school’s image is completely ruined by this scandal. And as a side note, I have to believe in the ignorance of the PSU students who rioted, or I will lose all faith in humanity. Absolutely sickening. Thanks for this enlightening flowchart.

  189. Reed, you say:

    “But I insist that people ought not think that all 90000 PSU students and however many faculty and staff they have take the blame.”

    That’s a fair point.

    On the other hand, the kids who were out in the streets protesting Paterno’s firing last night deserve some blame and outrage.

  190. Kathryne: I can think of no reason. But as a matter of principle we must give everyone a chance to defend themselves. Maybe there’s more to the story than we know. I don’t think there is, but everyone is entitled to a defense.

    If you want to say “I’m 99.99999999% sure what he did was very, very wrong, than that’s legit.” I am too. But I live in the same town as this guy, so I have to hope that somehow that .0000000001% chance comes through. It probably wont, but I’m willing to listen. I try to hold out hope for the best in people. I wouldn’t let my kids around him, mind you.

    In fairness to Joe – not that he deserves it – he did say all the right things about focusing on the victims. Only after he said that did he say anything about helping the university.

  191. To those saying Paterno deserved due process before being fired:

    My girlfriend got fired for being gay. It’s actually legal to fire people for all sorts of things. Lots of us are employed “at will” and plenty of states have few to no protections for employees (or at least none that stick). So why does this one guy deserve such better treatment than the rest of us? Many years of “service” to the university? Great football coaching?

    He covered up an allegation of child rape. If that’s not grounds for firing… what is?

    People have a regrettable tendency to forget the victim(s) in these situations. We *should* err on the side of protecting people who cannot protect themselves, right? Like children? Running the risk of hurting one adult man’s reputation in order to protect dozens of children from him is entirely reasonable. Allegations may follow him around, and if he’s innocent that’s a damn shame, but it’s still less of a shame than not investigating and allowing children to be raped.

    (Or anyone to be raped. It’s just particularly egregious when the victims are children.)

    This thread is full of remarkable examples of people who live in and have internalized rape culture. If this culture didn’t normalize rape, we would all be sickened by the thought of even one child being violated in this way. We would be thinking about the fear and horror he assuredly felt, the long-term effects on his life, the powerlessness. Most of us would not be able to say anything in defense of anyone who let that happen, or even suspected it and did nothing.

    But we’ve normalized rape to such an extent that people seem to see it as a sort of natural disaster. It’s something that “just happens” to a disturbing number of people… rather than being one of the most vile and violent acts ever perpetrated by violent people.

    **sigh**

    If you’re defending anyone involved, please take a minute to try to imagine what the children experienced, or what other children have experienced in similar situations. Chances are you learned as a small child to use empathy to understand the experiences of others. Dig deep, folks.

  192. I agree with you Robert West, but a lot of those kids havent really been reading about this very closely and are just reacting half-cocked without thinking it through yet. Its mot an excuse, but it’s a pretty common behavior in young people the world over. I said some dumb things at their age too.

    I’ve learned to tolerate this sort of stupidity from the college students. Penn State is huge. Most of the kids are great, but about a fifth of them probably should have grown up more before coming to college and about 1 to 5% of them probably could use some time in a rehab facility.

  193. Not sure if this has been mentioned, but Jason Whitlock and other sports reporters bring up Paterno’s railings against Barry Bonds and how his steroid use “could influence children”. JoePa put himself on a higher pedestal than he was already on. You can’t claim to be concerned for children, especially when decrying popular athletes, and then have your actions speak to the contrary. His own ideals, professed by many of his former players, demand a higher level of moral action and accountability.

  194. For the first time in my life, I’m ashamed to admit I’m a Penn State Alum. I also have to say that I’m disgusted by the student protests in favor of JoePa. I also have to say that I am deeply sadden by the, justified firing of JoePa. He is a man I have respected for as long as I can remember. He has done many great things for many many students. Ushering countless people into adulthood. He has given Millions back to the University. None of these Great acts does anything to change horrible inaction. All these good deed will lost like tears in the rain. I am deeply sadden by the entire event.

  195. First of all “hearsay” (as many have pointed out) is simply an issue in court. It is an evidentiary rule that states Person 2 cannot repeat Person 1′s words for the purpose of proving that what Person 1 said is true. That’s it. Person 2 could testify that Person 1 said what he did as an explanation for why he, oh, called the fucking police! Which is, of course exactly what ought to have happened.

    McQueary’s first failure is the most sympathetic. He witnessed a horrible act and he froze. Then his g-d father set the tone for minimize, minimize CYA! by telling him to come home (living at home at 28? pathetic). They then tried to punt to Joe, who — in order to ensure plausible deniability — was not present for the debrief with the chain of command. How fucking cowardly is that? Your employee comes to you with this horrible, frightening news and you don’t stand by him while he takes measures to report?

    McQueary is a cowardly ass who deserves all of the ridicule he gets, but DAMN he learned it at his father’s knee. And his boss’.

  196. Reed: If you are a part of the university, but you had no idea what was going on, I don’t see you as a perpetrator. I see you as another victim.

    I’m not making a moral equivalence between your victimhood and that of the children who were physically abused. But your university has let you down, grievously.

  197. Reed- that’s very high minded of you, and I say that sincerely. I too do my level best to look for the best in people and I am largely rewarded with finding it. However, this guy failed to help a child who was in immediate need of help. And in failing that one child, he failed God only knows how many more. He chose to call his father instead of the police. He chose to be coerced or cajoled or otherwise convinced that someone other than the legal system was the best route to ‘handle’ dealing with a heinous crime against a child. That we know. And at that point does it really matter if you live in the same town on the same street or in the same house? Because your proximity to him doesn’t change anything.
    I imagine we will hear a great many bad explanations in the coming days and weeks. I suspect it is something rather simple, that he put himself and his prospects ahead of doing what was right. Probably because it was easier. He most likely allowed himself to be talked into doing what was right for everyone but the kid. The one person in the entire situation who had no voice, no advocate and really no recourse. Listen away if it pleases you; but I for one will be surprised if it makes any material difference in the end. I know it won’t for the child or for any of the children the man he let get away with that crime harmed.

  198. I agree with Jennifer. I understand why some people’s first response was to say Joe deserved more of a chance to explain himself. I thought that for a few hours on Saturday.

    But then I came to the conclusion that we need to err on the side of caution. Joe’s not going to jail. He just isn’t going to get to coach a few games which he’d barely coach anyway. A small price to pay to make a statement against child abuse.

    But we can go too far. Dont keep your kids locked up at home because you’re afraid of predators and don’t assume all men who work with kids are bad. Not that anyone is doing that, but it’s a reductio ad absurdum. There are common sense measures we can take to protect kids. Thankfully, pedophiles are very rare. They do a lot of damage, but they aren’t lurking everywhere.

    And don’t think all or even many Penn Staters are so morally blind. Everyone i talk to about this is literally grief-stricken. We cant stop thinking about the kids.

    These were people corrupted by power and insulated from criticism. The other coaches, especially those not involved in football, but some of the football folk too, are good men and women.

  199. “But I insist that people ought not think that all 90000 PSU students and however many faculty and staff they have take the blame.”

    Oh. My. God. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

  200. “Personally, I’m okay with apologizing to a grown adult rather than trying to explain to a child why I didn’t do anything to help them.”

    This. Thank you, John.

  201. I agree with your take on the Penn State scandal.

    I also agree that “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is one of the great science fiction stories.

    However, I do not agree that the analogy is apt. LeGuin’s story is not so simple as praise for those who walk away and condemnation for those who stay; it is presented as a difficult moral choice, in large part because walking away does not help the wretched child one iota. Those who walk away from Omelas are not doing so because it will help the child; they know that it will not. They simply refuse to participate in such a system, even knowing that their refusal will not improve matters. Those who stay, meanwhile, appreciate their utopian society more deeply, more fully, because they understand its terrible price. And they also know that walking away will not improve the child’s situation.

    The Penn State scandal, as you rightly point out, is a story of men who had clearly right and wrong options. There is no moral ambiguiuty here. They made the wrong choices. And unlike the citizens of Omelas, they had it in their power to improve the lot of the victims (and possibly to prevent harm to future victims) and chose not to do so. LeGuin’s story is not a good analogy to this situation.

  202. The grad student coward #1.
    There are few things in this world that give you a black and white. wrong and right scenario. The situation that the grad student witnessed is one of them. He failed to be a man right then and there. Hopefully that stain of cowardice on his soul grows and eats at him ’til the day he dies.

  203. @Jennifer.
    Thank you for posting the gist of what I was thinking. Anyone trying to defend any adult involved in this situation using the words “reputation”, “hearsay”, “alleged” or “suspected” as a justification for not doing everything in their power to protect the children involved is supporting rape culture. The value a lifetimes work of a person or an organization should not be higher than even one childs welfare. Sadly this is not the case in our society, but we should continue to try to fix it.

  204. Give the students credit–they know exactly why they are rioting and they know what’s important. Football is more important than anything else when attending an overpriced school which will award less than 30% a degree that is all but worthless (unless they can find a frat brother to get them a job working for someone’s dad).

  205. I can understand why McQueary made the wrong choice when he witnessed the rape. McQueary grew up in State College, went to school with one of Sandusky’s (adopted) sons, and probably had looked up to Sandusky all his life. He also clearly wanted a job in college football. College football does not tolerate whistleblowers. The best thing for Mike McQueary personally would have been to say absolutely nothing to anybody. He did at least say something to Paterno.

    Note, I’m not condoning McQueary’s actions, just putting them in some perspective.

    Paterno’s claim is that a “distraught” McQueary told him that Sandusky was in the football building at 9:30 at night, naked in the shower with a 10 year old boy, and that there was some “fondling” and “horsing around” going on. He claims that he didn’t know the explicit nature of the incident, reported it to the AD, and knowing what he does now, “wishes he had done more.” Legally, he’s clear; he did the bare minimum that he’s required to do. But, like McQueary, this sounds like someone more interested in his own interests than the interests of the child.

    Paterno didn’t know more about the incident because he didn’t want to know more. It’s highly likely that he already knew about the 1998 incident that appears to have led to Sandusky’s abrupt retirement. If this 2002 incident is investigated, more questions are going to be asked about the 1998, and he’s already got the Board of Trustees on his back because the football team isn’t winning as many games as they used to. In fact, in 2004, the Athletic Director (Curley, charged with perjury over the 2002 incident) and the President (the just fired Spanier) came to Paterno to ask him to retire. He refused. For those of you claiming that Paterno doesn’t really have that much power, he’s just a football coach – how many football coaches can tell an AD and a President no, I’m not going to retire, and then not get fired instead?

    All of this would make Paterno no better than too many other big time college sports coaches, but Paterno always claimed to be better than this. He talked about the “Grand Experiment” and “Success with Honor” – that it was possible to win while still doing things the right way. So yes, Paterno has taken a lot of heat for this. Paterno set himself up as St Joe of State College, and no, it wasn’t just the media that created him so. Penn State alums talk about how he created the university, the We are…Penn State – the idea that we’re better because we do it right. Well, Paterno had a choice here between protecting his reputation, his football program, and a friend, or doing the right thing, and he didn’t do the right thing. He followed the rules, but he didn’t do the right thing.

  206. I used to volunteer at the DV shelter a few miles away from the PSU campus. Yes, I know – domestic violence is different, but 911 sends the same police around, and it goes through a lot of the same judges.

    I remember on the occasions that the police were called in they’d take down the info and then we’d be told basically there was nothing they could do unless there was physical evidence of the abuse. It was really disheartening.

    I wish you could just “call the cops” when something bad is going on. Heck, I think most cops want the serial abusers put behind bars as much as you or me. Having evidence of abuse be admissible in court by getting it the right way, and convincing judges and juries that evidence is solid…that’s another story.

  207. I can tell you why that graduate assistant didn’t try to save that kid: he was in shock. What we think we will do while sitting at our computers and what we actually do when we open a door and see something so horrible and unexpected and shocking are often not the same thing. Some people can act quickly in such a situation, and they’re heroes. Not everyone is a hero, even though everyone secretly believes they would be if they had the chance.

  208. @Warren:

    1. A vast majority of Penn State fans will tell you that the game has passed Joe Pa by. He was probably going to retire at the end of the season anyway, and the overall opinion is that the football team would be more successful because of it. So please don’t trivialize the students by implying that all they care about is football. They care about Joe. I don’t agree with the rioting by any means, and I’m not trying to defend it; just don’t try to imply that everyone at Penn State is shallow enough to put football ahead of everything else.

    2. Where exactly are you getting the “less than 30%” from? Because last I checked, Penn State was one of the best public schools in the country (http://www.psu.edu/ur/rankings/), and was recently ranked number one nationally among recruiters looking to hire college graduates (http://www.statecollege.com/news/local-news/corporate-recruiters-rank-penn-state-no-1-522840/).

  209. A friend who works in the area sent me the following this afternoon:

    “What a lot of people seem to be missing is that Penn State has a police force. Not a rent-a-cop outfit of security guards, a real police force. And Gary Schultz, who was indicted last Saturday for perjury and failure to report the sexual assault of a child, was in charge of University Police. He was the highest-ranking law enforcement officer at the University. Schultz was notified, and talked to McQuery. That’s part of the problem. Once Paterno had notified the authorities, any further action on his part would have been interfering with an ongoing investigation.”

    This detail matters, I think.

  210. As a future parent, (my daughter is due in 4 weeks) I’ve got my fingers crossed that each one of these bastards ends up in prison, a man twice their size beating the shit out of them. How could they let something like this happen? There is no excuse, no justification. The rapist ought to be shot, the rest thrown behind bars.

  211. OK, I’ll admit it. Someone has to, I suppose.

    I DO feel genuinely badly for that grad student, and I absolutely could have been one of those adults and I am grateful to God that I am not.

    I hope to Hell I never am, but I have to say that looking over my past life, the times I’ve most obviously failed to act on a moral imperative have been those times when I’ve seen – something that I knew was wrong, and I was sure of my facts, but I was also up in a situation where this had been going on for awhile and so everyone around me was Utterly Sure That Everything Was Normal and Fine. And I am sure anyone looking at me would have said that I was obviously Utterly Sure That Everything Was Normal and Fine, too, while my brain was slowly turning Oh My God That Is Horrible What Do I Do into Everyone Is Calm and Cheerful so That Can’t Have Been What Happened, Right? Right? Please Let That Be Right, I Don’t Know What To Do Or How To Start Doing It.

    And after a few hours or days or weeks, somehow… Everything WAS Normal and Fine. Except… not.

    I’m not terribly brave. All I can do is to try to remember that I do that, and admit that if I do that and fail to act I deserve to pay the price of that.

    I hope I wouldn’t walk away from Omelas. I hope I’d do something right there. But if I didn’t, if I just walked away … a year later I’d probably tell you, and ALMOST believe, that there was no such place.

  212. Johne Cook: Being in charge of the police doesn’t necessarily make him a law enforcement officer. The mayor is in charge of the city police, but it doesn’t make him a cop.

  213. I’m a recent Penn State alumnus, but I didn’t grow up a Penn State fan or even attend undergraduate school there. I did become a strong Penn State football fan during my graduate school days there, and attended many football games. I’ve followed this scandal closely since it broke, and have read the entire Grand Jury indictment.

    First, I want to object to everyone that associates defending Joe Pa with aiding and abetting a pedophile or a cover-up. Or who complain that by putting any attention on what happened to Joe Pa we are somehow dismissing all of the victims. No one supports or condones what Sandusky allegedly did. We’re ALL outraged over these terrible crimes. But that does not mean we are required to turn a blind eye to what we consider other, albeit much smaller, injustices.I certainly do not condone any violence or property destruction that happened in State College last night, but there is nothing wrong with taking to the streets in demonstration against a perceived wrong.

    This is not a football matter. It happened in football facilities and current and former football coaches were involved, but this is an institutional matter. Football matters only in as much as it made Joe Paterno a nationally recognized figure, and put Sandusky in a position to leverage his position with the program into a vehicle to manipulate boys to feed his perversion. This could be any sport or industry that appeals to young boys.

    Many are vilifying Joe Paterno because he didn’t “do more”. Phrases like “minimum legally required” are being bandied about as if they were some sort of indictment. The media has been complicit in this, using Joe Pa’s involvement as a headline-grabber and making incomplete, misleading or even outright false reports. Many sports journalists called for Joe’s ouster, without considering the reason certain laws and policies are in place that require anyone who is informed of such crimes to pass it up to a designated reporter, and most of the time NOT to pursue the matter further themselves. All the outrage the public felt over these awful crimes was whipped up and pointed at one man that had little to do with it, Joe Paterno.

    There are reasons why these policies and laws are put into place, and they aren’t just to cover the university’s ass. Deviating from the policy can wind up interfering with the investigation and subsequent prosecution. You also have to consider what happens with false accusations. The laws and policies are in place to protect everyone involved. Crying from the hills now, in a moment of passion and revulsion, that more should’ve been done does a disservice to everyone involved. The man long lauded for doing things the right way is now being vilified for doing things the right way. Tim Curley and Greg Schultz failed JVP, not to mention those kids, by failing to follow through on their moral and legal obligation to report the accusation to the police.

    Mike McQueary I have a little less sympathy for, in that he did not make the morally exceptional decision to intervene when he witnessed this act. However, while everyone likes to believe that they would step in and stop suck an act, the real thing is so much more traumatic and shocking when it happens than people imagine, even if the perp is a stranger, let alone a respected elder. Interrupting this horrific act is certainly the right thing, but I won’t be overly harsh in my judgement of anyone in that position. Many wouldn’t even report the incident later, and at least McQueary had the fortitude to do that.

    After Jerry Sandusky, who is undoubtedly scum of the lowest order, the biggest villains here are the two who have been charged with crimes: Tim Curley and Greg Schultz. If those men had reported the incident to police as they were required to do, one sick individual would have been arrested and the damage to Penn State would have been minor. Joe Paterno would not have had the outrage of the world foisted upon him as the most well-known figure involved. Graham Spanier would not have been able to handle the crisis so poorly as to be removed as well. And possibly dozens of vulnerable children who were abused after this incident would have never had contact with Jerry Sandusky.

    Obviously if more information comes to light, I reserve the right to modify my opinions on the matter accordingly. But for now, I believe Joe Paterno has been railroaded out of his position simply because he is a well-known figure who was failed by his superiors.

  214. In my family history, ALL of my aunts on my Moms side had been molested. The stories are horrifying. It seems as if all the older males thought having sex with every female was what they should do, as they were raised to be that way. I sure hope we have broken that cycle in my family. Sadly, I did have one cousin sent to jail for this.
    Why didn’t the grad student do more? Maybe this had happened to him at a young age. Maybe Joe Pa doesn’t push for a immediate police investigation because he is afraid it will show a long pattern of this happening? What if there is more than one child molester there? Tip of the iceberg indeed.

  215. BRAVO! F-Bombs or not, you state truths of the facts, anger and disgust that many other healthy Americans feel. Again…. BRAVO.

  216. I was reading a novel years ago, cant remember the title. I am not sure of the author, but if had to guess, I would guess Hemmingway. Anyway, there is some scene where the character is shocked and the author describes it with a simile that the character felt the way one might feel opening the wrong door at a church without announcing yourself, being shockeded by the sight, and closing the door in shock. or something like that. Memory says it was a reference to walking in on a child being molested by a priest. But I cant remember it and googling has failed to find it or jog my memory. anyone recognize the metaphor and know the specific text

  217. @ Reed November 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm
    ““We, the members of the Thirty-Third Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, having ” is how the document starts. It’s written by the Grand Jury, not by the prosecutor.””

    Again. There is no defense counsel. It may not be written by the prosecutor, but the prosecutor asks all of the questions. It’s the prosecution’s case.

    I know how it works.

    Having served on a Grand Jury in the past, that’s not entirely accurate. It’s true that there’s no defense attorney: there can’t be a defense attorney because no one’s been charged with a crime at this point. The alleged perpetrator isn’t there to answer any accusations because they haven’t been accused, and probably haven’t been arrested. A Grand Jury Investigation is not a trial; they’re just trying to decide whether there’s even enough evidence to make an accusation in the first place, which is a pretty low hurdle. But the Prosecutor, in fact, is frequently not the one asking all the questions. Mostly, prosecutors just ask the witnesses to recount their testimony. Occassionally they’ll ask the witnesses to elaborate on some specific point.

    Most of the questions, however, are actually asked by the members of the Grand Jury themselves. And after they get warmed up and used to the idea, they do. A lot. In the GJ I served on we tried to be very probing, and to dig into ambiguous evidence.

    Also want to clarify that prosecutors do not write the GJ report. That’s actually handled by the members of the GJ themselves as well. I know, because as a writer myself, I volunteered to write up part of the GJ Report for the jury I served on.

  218. Jeff Hotchkiss: I suppose out of a student population of 90,000, 2,000 rioters counts as only a “few immoral men”. But don’t be sexist, I’m sure there were women in the crowd too.

    Randi manso: we’d be told basically there was nothing they could do unless there was physical evidence of the abuse.

    Had someone actually called the cops there _would_ have been evidence, in the form of the ever-so-evocatively-named ‘rape kit’. They couldn’t even dismiss it the way they might if the victim was an adult with the usual “how can we prove it wasn’t consensual?” rationalization.

  219. @Johne Cook: I can’t tell whether Gary Schultz was the head of the campus police or Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. In the later position, he’s not a cop, he’s the guy who pays their bills. and certainly the wrong person to be making decisions about child abuse.

    As for the grad student, I can’t blame him. While he set some records as a player for the Nittany Lions, he failed to make it in the NFL or the European leagues before coming back to Penn State as a grad student. He certainly had a lot to lose (with two strikes against him already), and it probably appeared to him, based on the actions of those now under indictment (Curley and Schultz), that going directly to the police would be a career-limiting move.

    It’s always easy to condemn cowardice, but grad students are very low on the food chain, and they’ve often sacrificed just to get to that spot. Expecting a grad student to stand up against his mentors, especially in an environment where it’s obvious that those in power don’t care for justice, is quite a lot to ask. Justice is fine in the abstract, but the question here appears to be, “will you stand up for justice, knowing that it will most likely cost you your career, your friends, besmirch the program that shaped you, and most likely not bring the perpetrator to justice in any case?” Can you answer yes to that?

  220. Walter Kolczynski:

    “I believe Joe Paterno has been railroaded out of his position simply because he is a well-known figure who was failed by his superiors.”

    It’s convenient to want to believe that, yes. But in truth he’s been let go because he almost certainly knew a former member of his staff was violating small children and he made the choice to do no more than the legal minimum he had to do about it, thereby violating his own public standard of morality, and in doing so — among other more fuzzy things — presenting the school with massive exposure to legal liability. If you genuinely believe Paterno did not have it in his power to have something done about this, if he chose to, I suspect you gravely misunderstand his place in the Penn State ecosystem.

    There’s no doubt Paterno’s superiors failed in this instance; so did his underling. And so did Paterno. Being relieved of his job — just as his superiors were relieved of, or resigned from, theirs, is no less than this specific failure deserves.

  221. I’d also add that Sandusky was caught because a mother reported her son’s story of abuse by Sandusky to his school, where it was reported to the police as required by law. Perhaps that law needs to be applied to universities as well?

    Regardless, Sandusky was under investigation starting in spring 2008, and charges only surfaced in November 2011, over three years later (http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7212054/key-dates-penn-state-sex-abuse-case). I’d say that very few people look good in this one.

  222. Walter Kolczynski: Asking your boss “So, why is this guy still walking around? You _did_ call the cops after I reported to you, right?” is by no means “interfering with an investigation”, and it’s the minimum that that we should expect from someone who held himself up as a moral paragon. Some have claimed that if he’d been more forceful, why that would be insubordination, and he could have been fired, by God! But I think we all know how silly that claim is.

  223. Technical note to folks: A small number of comments have been shunted into the moderation or spam queues. I’m freeing them when I find them. Sorry for delays, etc.

  224. More followup from my friend in the area:

    “…Schultz is the highest ranking law enforcement *official* not *officer*, kind of like the president is commander-in-chief of the army, but not really a soldier. I don’t want to imply Shultz carries a gun and handcuffs. Our University Police *officers*, on the other hand, do carry guns and cuffs.

    In another thread, Jason Bentley brings up another thought worth considering:

    “There’s an inherent conflict when a college crime is being investigated by a police force that’s run by the college being investigated.”

  225. Thank you for speaking so clearly about this tragedy. That child and the other children should never have been raped.

  226. @heteromeles: “I can’t tell whether Gary Schultz was the head of the campus police or Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. In the later position, he’s not a cop, he’s the guy who pays their bills. and certainly the wrong person to be making decisions about child abuse.”

    He was SVP for Finance and Business, which (according to what I’ve read) oversees both PSU’s Human Resources department and the Campus Police. So, strictly speaking… both?

  227. heteromeles: But it’s not about standing up for abstract justice. It’s about standing up for a particular child, who was being raped right in front of him, and who was at risk for being raped again in the future because of the perpetrator continuing to have access to him.

    As for career and friends–a lot of people’s careers founder; it’s hard, but not the worst thing that can happen. And if anyone’s friends think raping kids is ok and reporting it is not ok, they need new friends anyway.

  228. Once Paterno had notified the authorities, any further action on his part would have been interfering with an ongoing investigation.

    Um. Right.

    One of the most powerful in the area calls to ask what’s going on? And police aren’t going to do anything? And call it interfering?

    Sorry. That doesn’t fly. At the very least, they’d call back and say, Mr. Paterno, we don’t have enough evidence….

  229. @heteromeles: Schultz was both VP of finance AND the administrator in charge of the police. I don’t agree with the people saying “he is the police”, but they do report to him.

    Something to keep in mind is that the Penn State PD is a full-fledged police force, not the glorified security service many universities have. They are responsible for all the things as your local police within their jurisdiction.

    Also, the law you refer to IS applied to universities. Tim Curley and Gary Schultz were legally responsible to report the matter in the same manner as the H.S. They did not.

    @Mike Crichton: There’s no way to know whether he did that or not. It’s quite possible he did and Curley/Schultz said it had been investigated. Or maybe he just trusted them to do their jobs properly.

  230. I’ve now seen much more of the story and not only did Paterno not call the police, no one in the university admin called the police. And that is in direct violation of their stated policy on sexual assault. I’m with the board on this one.

  231. Yeah, it’s really saddening to see all the people feeling sorry for Paterno because he’s famous. Ninety percent of the time, and certainly in his case, fame is much more a benefit than a liability. And it just makes his silent complicity that much more offensive, because he had at least a modicum of power or platform that he could have used to ensure that children weren’t abused.

  232. @protected_static. I’m not in Pennsylvania. From where I am, it appears that asking Schultz to investigate an alleged crime is like asking the mayor of a town to do it, rather than assigning it to one of the cops in the town’s police department. In theory he’s the head, but in practice, he doesn’t know the job, and should give it to someone who’s trained for that task.

    @Mary: Agreed. From what little I’ve read, a) we don’t know who the kid was, or when his abuse by Sandusky ended, b) Sandusky was banned from that facility within a month of the grad student’s report. The problem is that nothing happened after that.

    But let’s take your side: Grad student physically intervenes to stop rape, hurts older, respected man (I’ve gone to the hospital after a fall in a shower, incidentally), possibly hurts child too, child in case refuses to testify, and….? The grad student has stopped the rape, but after that it gets ugly.

    I’ll also add that I’m not aware of the proper technique for stopping a rape in progress, but my first instinct is to make sure that the victim isn’t hurt even worse by me interfering.

  233. I keep seeing people in this thread defend silence, mostly because Paterno (or others in his position) are worried about their repercussions from their superiors.

    Look, if you aren’t willing to risk your job to stop a CHILD FROM GETTING RAPED, you are not a human being. You are an incorrectly programmed robot.

  234. @Johne Cook
    “This detail matters, I think.”

    Actually, it doesn’t. Paterno was free to bring it up in public(and risk a slander lawsuit), raise hell, or follow it up to any degree. Unless the police told him to be silent, nothing he does is interfering. It’s a made up excuse in order to make him appear better. And he never actually called the police – he called his superior, and there’s no indication he ever did one more thing about it.

    Read the grand jury report. Paterno was told the next day after the grad student witnessed it, and waited a day to get his superior instead of the police. And he was free to call the police about this if he wanted to – he chose not to. It was absolutely legal of him to not call the police and only run it up to his superior, and completely morally wrong.

    @Walter Kolczynski
    Paterno was free to call the real police, or to follow up in a variety of ways, at any time. He did not, while the two men charged did not have the freedom to make these choices. We can work out a Venn diagram of this if it helps you to realize why people have problems with his actions, and don’t believe he was railroaded because he was famous. Perhaps it may help you if you replace “unknown child” with “his own grandson” in the grand jury report.

    I don’t suppose he’s made a statement why he chose to do the least he could get away with, has he? Everyone else realizes why.

  235. @heteromeles I have to take issue with this quote: “As for the grad student, I can’t blame him. While he set some records as a player for the Nittany Lions, he failed to make it in the NFL or the European leagues before coming back to Penn State as a grad student. He certainly had a lot to lose (with two strikes against him already), and it probably appeared to him, based on the actions of those now under indictment (Curley and Schultz), that going directly to the police would be a career-limiting move”

    The actions of this grad student – one who came out of a program lauded for the fine leaders it supposedly produced – come under the somewhat broad category of “sometimes not about you princess.” What this guy did was chose his possible future career over the actual future of a child he watched be molested. You may not ‘blame’ him for making that choice; I do. And quite frankly I am appalled by anyone who tries to explain away what he did. As my dad would most likely say, that dog don’t hunt.

  236. “I suspect that in time, even this horrible event will fade, and Paterno’s legacy, to football and to Penn State, will rise above the tarnishment”

    Like Bob Knight and Woody Hayes?

    As the SI column points out, no one thinks of either of these coaches without thinking of the scandals that brought them down.

    Sorry, but this scandal will – rightly – overshadow Paterno’s career forever. Failing to report and stop a pedophile is far worse than having a winning football record.

  237. A couple of people here have objected to Paterno’s being fired via a phone call, instead of getting the chance to step down more gracefully. He did have that chance, but decided not to take it, when on his own initiative he publicly announced that he planned to stay till the end of the season, and that the Board “should not spend a single minute discussing my status.”

    He could have chosen to coordinate an exit with the Board, or to simply offer his resignation then and there, if he wanted to bow out on his own as gracefully as he reasonably could. But instead he conveyed the message that he, and not the people entrusted with the University’s mission and reputation, should have the last word on whether and when he stayed or went.

    Once he’d done that, there wasn’t much the Board could responsibly do than take the first opportunity they had to dismiss him outright. Otherwise it would just reinforce the impression of the top football officials making their own rules that helped give rise to this debacle in the first place. I’m sorry he had to go the way he did, but even that part of his downfall was largely self-inflicted.

  238. @heteromeles – Justice is fine in the abstract, but the question here appears to be, “will you stand up for justice, knowing that it will most likely cost you your career, your friends, besmirch the program that shaped you, and most likely not bring the perpetrator to justice in any case?” Can you answer yes to that?

    Yes, I can indeed answer yes. Because I did that. And it did eventually cost me a job.

    Your argument, as the kids say, is invalid.

  239. For those wanting to “wait and see” about Paterno’s involvement and whether or not he met his moral obligation… He himself has said that he would have behaved differently and done more if he could go back and do it again. That suggests that he accepts the charge that he didn’t do enough.

  240. I ran into a somewhat similar situation back when I was in college. In this case, intervention involved putting myself in potential harm’s way. I decided having to face myself if I walked away was worse than anything that could happen to me right then and there. The truth is that you never really know how you’ll react to a situation like that until you have to face it yourself, it is a defining moment in your life. Those who stood by at Penn State when their time for decision came have defined themselves by their actions forever.

  241. @thatwordgrrl, Walter used a great phrase, making the ‘morally exceptional decision.’ Well done. We need more of this, even when it’s scary, even when we think everything (for us) is at stake. Think of what is at stake for the innocents, and let everything else fall where it will.

  242. For the moment, I am not critical of the graduate student who observed and reported the crime. It is not a stretch to imagine that he might have been traumatized by what he witnessed. He did report the matter to the proper authority after consulting with his father. He cannot be held responsible for the lapse of the University’s management. Nor can he be expected to monitor the actions of the University administration. There is a board to handle that.

    Maureen Dowd, and this blog, are irresponsible for chastising the reporting student for not following up. Neither Dowd nor this blog’s author knows the student’s state of mind. They may have heaped guilt, unwittingly, on top of trauma for that young man. Witnessing abuse is no different than witnessing death and carnage on the battlefield. Both can traumatize, cause PTSD, and initiate a lifetime of serious problems. The young man who first reported the matter should be thanked and offered counseling should he feel he has a need.

  243. @Dave @Puss in Boots: Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It’s easy to look back now, knowing that these charges were worth an indictment and that action then could have prevented future abuse. But try to remove yourself from this particular case. Consider ALL possibilities that lead to the creation of these policies. That means false accusations, inconclusive investigations, extenuating circumstances and all the rest. Since this story broke, I’ve heard from many people whose corporations have similar policies: once you are made aware of a possible crime, you immediately cease all discussion of it and refer it up the chain to the person responsible for reporting it. You do NOT pursue it further. This is to protect everyone involved, including the accuser, the accused, and the victim. To treat this situation different because the outcome was so horrific is unfair to those who had to deal with the situation as it happened without the benefit of knowing what the outcome would be.

  244. The suggestion that it is interfering with an investigation to ask whether something is ongoing is simply inane. Most police forces have at least one public information officer whose job it is to field these sort of questions from the press and the public. The Penn U police don’t identify one on their website but they do have a records officer and a victim resource officer.

    I’ve spoken to several PIOs over the years and have found them very willing to answer questions asked of them by a ‘fake journalist’ (as I refer to myself when working on a community issues blog).Having the profile of a Paterno would only assist there.

    Might a PIO refuse to tell you the status of an ongoing investigation? Sure. But what has been reported is typically a matter of public record under FOIA laws. Further, Penn is subject to the Clery Act which requires reporting and making logs available withing 60 days.

    There is no plausible reason why Paterno could not have followed up to see whether legal action was being taken. He simply did not choose to do so. You can claim that’s morally defensible but you cannot assert that it was not right or possible for him to do so.

  245. A couple of things which bear repeating here I think.
    This is not about PSU.
    This is not about college football.
    This is not about pantero.
    This is not about school policy and school police.

    This is about the rape of a number of children (40 counts?)
    This is about who knew what what, when they knew it and what if any cover-up happened.

    This is exactly why rape on campus is still the problem it is today.

    Someone steals your bike? fine, call the campus police.
    You see a rape or get raped? Call 911 and talk to the REAL police.

    /sigh

  246. Tim Curley and Greg Schultz. If those men had reported the incident to police as they were required to do, one sick individual would have been arrested and the damage to Penn State would have been minor. Joe Paterno

    Joe Paterno was required to call the police by the Penn State Employee handbook (cited earlier in the thread), NOT report it up the chain of command. So he didn’t even do the minimum.

    I’ll also add that I’m not aware of the proper technique for stopping a rape in progress, but my first instinct is to make sure that the victim isn’t hurt even worse by me interfering.

    Jesus Christ. This is not rocket science. “Hey, what’s going on? Stop that!” is a good starter, followed by “I’m calling the police!” as a chaser. Then–wait for it, this may require some thought–CALL THE POLICE.

  247. John Wilkes Booth was a pretty good actor. Maybe we should remember all the good he did, and not that one time he shot Lincoln?

    I mean, seriously. Paterno won a lot of games, so what? We now know that when times got tough, he got going … in the wrong direction. If he can no longer be a good example, at least he can be a horrible warning.

  248. @thatwordgirl: I can also congratulate you on your “morally exceptional decision.” I hope it produced the justice you were after. In my case, I don’t think it has. So far as I know, the problems I protested against still exist, and I’m no longer there to do anything about them at all.

    Regardless, in this case, no one is charging the grad student, not the grand jury nor Penn State, where he still works on their football program (as of right now). I don’t think he was rewarded for his silence, but I do think he is being rewarded for his loyalty to the program.

  249. I don’t know John, some of this seems to be a bit of self-righteous armchair quarterbacking (if I may use a football metaphor). Especially in regards to the GA who originally reported the incident. He has not been allowed to relate his version of the event yet. We have no idea what, exactly, he witnessed. There is a world of difference between what he did if he definitely knew that a child was being abused and what he did if he *thought* a child *might* be being abused.

    For instance; we have no clue how close he was to the event in question, how clouded the shower-room was, if the rape was violent and resisted, or if he was familiar with the victim. If he was ten meters away looking through billowing steam how certain could he (or any of us) be that it wasn’t just a rather small co-ed (or even a very wee but legal male) engaged in consensual sex? And how willing would we all be to act without full knowledge? It’s easy to say we’d have stomped in and beaten this dude to a pulp after our superhumanly keen senses and razor sharp minds instantly sussed the truth of the situation. Real life is a bit messier than that though.

    Yes, certainly, if he was fully cognizant of what was going on his (in)actions were ethically reprehensible even if they did meet the bare minimum standards of legality. But if his knowledge was partial his (in)actions become, if not necessarily admirable, at least somewhat understandable.

  250. Real life is a bit messier than that though

    Most of the time it is. Sometimes it’s not. This was one of those times. Being a moral human being is at least in part a recognition of the latter situations. I’m sorry that you–like Mike McQueary–seemed to have failed to understand that.

  251. @Peter Cibulskis: as I stated earlier, “campus police” IS a real police force in the eyes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They have authority for all crimes within their jurisdiction. They may ask for assistance from the State College PD (which is responsible for the surrounding area), but anything on campus is withing *their* jurisdiction

  252. [Deleted for being a not at all useful ad hominem bit of snark. Try not doing that again, Josh - JS]

    Those policies are not drafted primarily to protect the accuser, the accused, and the victim; they’re to shield the corporate entity from bad press and litigation; they’re to keep people from talking; they’re to keep the light out. Yes, things can go wrong down the line. That doesn’t mean you just let it drop when you have reason to suspect wrongdoing is going on. And that our culture is inculcated with the idea that you should abide by the policy rather than do what’s right doesn’t make it right—it means our culture needs serious fixing.

  253. @Tuttle: “if the rape was violent and resisted”

    Are you fucking kidding? Rape is rape. There is no possible way a child of that age could give consent. This, right here, is the kind of question that keeps rape culture alive and well.

  254. “He (the GA) has not been allowed to relate his version of the event yet.”

    He testified to the grand jury and the grand jury has summarized his testimony. The fact that he has not spoken to the press about it is ultimately his choice.

  255. “…Expecting a grad student to stand up against his mentors, especially in an environment where it’s obvious that those in power don’t care for justice, is quite a lot to ask….”

    ===

    So what yer sayin’ is, sports produces character: a cowardly character.

  256. My first question is: what started the referenced grand jury investigation (was it Joe P.)?
    My second question is: how many of the trustees were aware of this in 2002, and have they resigned yet?

  257. “@Peter Cibulskis: as I stated earlier, “campus police” IS a real police force in the eyes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They have authority for all crimes within their jurisdiction. They may ask for assistance from the State College PD (which is responsible for the surrounding area), but anything on campus is withing *their* jurisdiction”

    sure fine. but given that campus police have sweeping rape and abuse under the rug and tons of universities, you would think that the students would demand better police protection?

  258. The problem, Walter Kolczynski, is that you keep making the assumption that Paterno only knew of the one incident the one time McQueary mentioned it to him.

    That’s disingenuous or ignorant. I’m not sure which. There is no way Sandusky retired in ’99 after the accusations and investigation in ’98 without Paterno knowing why. Hell, read the original column write about this back in April. This wasn’t a secret at Penn State. This wasn’t even a secret in college football. People were aware of why Sandusky left the game, including Paterno. Yet they all chose to protect their jobs and the institution of Penn State rather than to do the right thing and make sure Sandusky was prosecuted.

    I’m all too familiar with corporate and organizational policies that are put in place “to protect everyone involved”. They’re almost universally designed only to maximize the protection of the institution they were created for. In a situation like this you ignore policy. You ignore what protects your job and the jobs of those around you. You do the right thing even if it means your entire world gets shaken up. There is no excuse.

    Look at the timeline and tell me Paterno didn’t know. There is no way. – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/penn-state-scandal-timeline-jerry-sandusky_n_1084204.html

  259. Marna Nightingale: I just finished reading a book called Everyday Survival, which is about why people do stupid things. That’s one of the reasons pointed out: groupthink. If everyone else around you thinks everything is Just Fine, you (a) feel pressured to do the same and (b) wonder if you’re crazy because you’re the only one thinking differently.

  260. My first question is: what started the referenced grand jury investigation (was it Joe P.)?

    No. One of the victim’s mothers called the victim’s school and reported it, and GUESS WHAT the school called the police, who started the investigation.

  261. @Josh: did you just Godwin this conversation?

    We’re not talking about herding Jews into extermination camps, or some other clearly immoral action. Try to remove the situation from the details and outcome of this case and consider it in the abstract. What if the allegation is false? What if it is part of a more complex investigation? In the moment, there is no reason to think the situation *hasn’t* been handled properly. Today we know more needed to be done. It’s unfair to project what we know today on the actions of nine years ago.

  262. @Randall: yes, actually, I am saying that sports produces loyalty to a group. Speaking as someone who made it through grad school, there are a lot of issues about power imbalances and abuse of power, even if they (fortunately!) seldom rise to the level of child abuse or similar horrors. Cowardice is sometimes the only way to get through, sick though that sounds.

    I’d also note again, since there are a lot of armchair quarterbacks in here, that I’m not at all sure how you stop a rape in progress while simultaneously insuring that the victim doesn’t get injured worse than he already has been. So far as I can tell, physically intervening is dangerous for everyone involved. The best I can figure out to do would be to call the cops (assuming I have a cell phone), tailing the perp, and/or caring for the victim until the authorities get there. If the cell phone has a good camera (remember, this was 2002) and the lighting is good, photographing the action might be good as well, although that does risk you being dragged in as an accomplice.

  263. rewinnr:

    You know I’m related to John Wilkes Booth, right?

    Tuttle:

    Yeah, I’m going to have to second that “are you fucking kidding?” voiced by SarahK. The grand jury testimony leaves no doubt that as to what McQueary saw, and what he says he saw was the kid being subjected to anal intercourse. And beyond that the kid was 10 years old and trying to “reasonably” finesse that one is complete nonsense.

    And beyond that, you know what? If McQueary wasn’t sure what he was seeing when he saw a naked 50+-year-old man smacking up against a naked 10-year-old boy, I think the whole tableau rather invited further scrutiny, don’t you?

    Seriously, what the fuck? There is nothing here that a) does not suggest something seriously and heinously amiss or b) exculpates McQueary from not acting in the interests of the kid in question. He clearly has a reason he didn’t intervene, but what that is, is independent of what he should have done in that situation. Your argument is appalling, frankly.

    Heteromeles:

    “I’m not at all sure how you stop a rape in progress while simultaneously insuring that the victim doesn’t get injured worse than he already has been.”

    Yeah, in this particular case I’m not buying that argument at all. Big, healthy 20-something encountering a naked 50something man? I’m guessing McQueary just saying “Step away from the boy” and then taking the kid to his office (located nearby, it appears) would have handled that situation just fine.

    Likewise, I’m not at all sure that “I couldn’t stop the rape because I didn’t want to make the event more traumatic for the 10-year-old currently being anally violated by an authority figure” is an excuse that will elicit a huge amount of sympathy.

  264. I’d also note again, since there are a lot of armchair quarterbacks in here, that I’m not at all sure how you stop a rape in progress while simultaneously insuring that the victim doesn’t get injured worse than he already has been

    Uh, what part of “Hey, what are you doing?” “Stop that!” “I’m calling the police” is a problem?

    I hope that no one is ever being attacked when you’re around: “I would have helped the person being assaulted with a bat, but I wasn’t sure how to do it without risking them getting hurt worse. So I left.”

    Are you even thinking about what you’re saying?

  265. @Peter Cibulskis: the PSU PD didn’t sweep anything under the rug. In 1998, the District Attorney (Ray Gricar) decided not to prosecute. The PSU PD was never contacted in this 2002 incident, which is the whole problem.

    @nick: see above. Even if Joe did know about 1998, it was the DA who chose not to prosecute. And hey, he wasn’t even charged. There’s no reason Joe would be intimate with the details of the case (such as Sandusky confessed to the mother of the victim with police watching) even if he knew there was an investigation. Even if he was aware of the investigation, as far as JVP knows it went nowhere.

  266. @Walter: No, I made a joke and a comparison that was actually relevant. The fact that mentioning the Nazis is often a sign that a discussion has gone off the rails doesn’t mean that every mention of the Nazis means a discussion has gone off the rails. My point was that people have historically justified reams of terrible behavior by saying they were doing what the policy said to do.

    And it isn’t actually unfair to project what we know today on the actions of nine years ago. This is what courts and historians and others do all the time. They look at the evidence and then look back—sometimes years back—and say, “Based on what we’ve learned, and what we know about how people act, it seems to fair to say that wrongdoing occurred here.” Based on what we know about this case, there was reason to think that the situation wasn’t being handled properly. There was certainly reason to think that someone of Paterno’s stature could have used his influence to find out whether it was being handled properly. And there’s no “in the moment”—this moment lasted for years. I’m sorry, but the notion that once he’d reported it—once this man who built a career in part on the idea that he was teaching young men how to become upstanding citizens—his moral obligation was over, is absurd.

  267. Josh:

    “No, I made a joke and a comparison that was actually relevant.”

    Please note that I snipped out your “joke” because I did not find it to meet the correct standard of discourse here, and please take care to be more careful the next time.

  268. @John: Fair enough. I knew it was borderline and should have resisted the urge. Sorry, and thanks for correcting me.

  269. People have accurately noted that “hearsay” is a legal term and cannot be used as a defense for inaction. Similarly, “Innocent until Proven Guilty” is a rule of legal procedure and evidence and most assuredly NOT a rule of logic. In a legal sense Jack Ruby was “innocent until proven guilty” but the entire world saw him shoot Lee Oswald and knew that he WAS guilty. When an upset subordinate comes to you and says that he – with his own personal eyes – saw this act (however phrased) taking place one leaves the Courts to deal with the niceties of legal procedure and calls the cops.

    And what kind of a “Daddy’s Boy” feels the need to call his father to ask what to do instead of (1) stepping in; (2) calling the cops immediately while the victim could be identified? I suspect one who was more worried about the impact of reporting ON HIS OWN PROSPECTS than the defenseless 10 year old. And this guy is getting a pass and is still a coach supervising young men?

  270. I find it interesting that everyone thinks the Omelas story only applies to single children being abused.

    The society that every single one of us lives in and supports enthusiastically embraces children being kept in apalling poverty. But we do nothing about that, saying “Oh, but I do not do that myself, and none of my friends do it either”. Bullshit. The great majority of you vote for people who explicitly want to perpetuate or exacerbate this system. The is one of the points of the Occupy movement, and of socialism, and medicare and every other progressive political movement ever. It’s one of the core ethics of many religions. But us monkeys still gather in groups to throw poo at the “undeserving poor” and cheer when they, and their children, are left to die. Few choose to make even the small symbolic sacrifice of voting against child poverty, let alone working to reduce it.

    I hope that most people reading this blog are intelligent, fair-minded people who are open to ideas from outside the circle they grew up in. Child poverty is not essential, and definitely not at the levels you see in the USA, UK or Australia. Other countries have much less child poverty than the anglosphere countries do, and how they do that is not uncertain, difficult, or even very expensive. But it requires a change in focus away from “how can we best serve the extremely rich” in favour of “how can we best protect the very poor”. An ancient philosopher allegedy once said “what you have done to the least of your fellow men, you have done to me”. Of course they killed him, but you get that when people challenge the ruling ideology (that’s Matthew 25:40 – for numerous variations on that idea see for example: http://askville.amazon.com/measure-civilization-treats-weakest-members-accurate-quote/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=4718239)

  271. Bruagh says:
    November 10, 2011 at 10:12 am

    No, Paterno had eyewitness evidence, not hearsay information. A person who witnessed the crime told Paterno what he saw. That’s not hearsay.

  272. But we do nothing about that, saying “Oh, but I do not do that myself, and none of my friends do it either”

    It would be a really good thing if you didn’t assume that you knew what the readers of this blog do or don’t do, say or don’t say.

  273. I keep thinking about that little boy. Knowing that someone saw what was happening to him, someone who could’ve saved him, and then having to watch them walk away abandoning him.

    I mean, above and beyond notifying law enforcement or superiors (or his father) I would think that getting the boy safely away and to medical care would have been the most humane thing he could have done.

    But he walked away instead and left the monster there with it’s innocent victim. What betrayal.

  274. Some of these guys need to be beaten with soap filled socks. Honestly I think they should make an example of this, terminate their sports programs. All of them, no exceptions.

    The way in which this situation was handled sends the message that raping young children is okay as long as it’s done behind closed doors and never sees the light of day. Fuck that.

    Slash and Burn, no sport is worth the suffering of even one child (which I doubt it is, if this is happening in one place undoubtedly it’s happening in others).

  275. @mbs: Paterno spreading it would be hearsay I think is the point.

    @Rock Steady: Terminate the athletics department? Really? Sacrifice all of the hundreds of student-athletes and their millions of supporters who had nothing to do with this in a way that will not help the victims at all? How is that just, or even helpful? Something tells me you don’t think much of collegiate sports to begin with. Why stop at the athletics department and just shut down the entire university?

  276. Here’s what I posted on FB earlier today:

    “Many people had a chance to stop Jerry Sandusky from raping little boys. At least two witnessed actual rapes and didn’t try to stop them. I wonder what they would have done if they’d seen Sandusky raping a woman who was screaming for help. Would they have just walked away? What kind of world do we live in where multiple people think it’s appropriate to not stop a rape they are witnessing? What kind of world do we live in where people think it’s okay to not stop a grown up from having sex with a child? I’m not talking metaphorically witness, like the Catholic church in recent decades. I mean, two adults saw Sandusky having sex with a child and for some reason they did not immediately stop him (and then beat the shit out of him).”

    I am outraged by the lack of action by the witnesses. I am angry that Paterno did not call the police himself and also follow up with his superiors. This was a massive coverup for one of their buddies, and there is no excuse for it.

  277. @Walter Koczynski: It’s not hearsay if he says it to the cops. It’s the police’s job to investigate. It was Paterno’s job to tell them that something needed investigating.

  278. Um, just to point out, it’s not just the grad assistant who’s fallen down on this:

    Source: http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7212054/key-dates-penn-state-nittany-lions-sex-abuse-case

    “Spring 2008
    Termination of contact with Victim 1 occurs when he is a freshman in a Clinton County high school. After the boy’s mother calls the school to report sexual assault, Sandusky is barred from the school district attended by Victim 1 from that day forward and the matter is reported to authorities as mandated by law.

    “Early 2009
    An investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general begins when a Clinton County, Pa., teen boy tells authorities that Sandusky has inappropriately touched him several times over a four-year period.

    “September 2010
    Sandusky retires from day-to-day involvement with The Second Mile, saying he wants to spend more time with family and handle personal matters.”

    Is anyone going to howl for Victim 1 to be placed in foster care, assuming he is still under 18? His own mother failed to call the cops when he reported abuse. Worse, when the school reported abuse, the authorities apparently did nothing. The Pennsylvania Attorney General only got involved when a teen reported the abuse directly to the authorities, and even then, Sandusky was still involved with young boys for over a year.

    NOBODY looks good in this case. I’m not saying that Paterno et al should not face the punishment they’re getting, but I am saying that there’s remarkably little sign of anyone standing up for the kids here.

  279. Reading through all these comments has left me so mentally taxed that the only thing I can add to the whole shebang-a-bang is to point out that, as a journalist, I can safely say that once an investigation is begun, law enforcement officials have a tendency to say when questioned about any progress, “I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.” So to sit here and type that Paterno should have ridden those law doggies until he got the results he was a-lookin’ for just ’cause he’s JoePa is, well, just plain silly. It’s time to turn off the TV and take a break from all those fine crime procedurals.

    That, and nicely written, John.

  280. @Heteromeles, the article says “the matter is reported to authorities as mandated by law.” Wouldn’t “the authorities” mean the cops? Besides, this is far more egregious:

    “Fall 2000 – A janitor named James Calhoun observes Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Football Building with a young boy, known as Victim 8, pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy. He tells other janitorial staff immediately. Fellow Office of Physical Plant employee Ronald Petrosky cleans the showers at Lasch and sees Sandusky and the boy, who he describes as being between the ages of 11 and 13.

    Calhoun tells other physical plant employees what he saw, including Jay Witherite, his immediate supervisor. Witherite tells him to whom he should report the incident. Calhoun was a temporary employee and never makes a report. Victim 8′s identity is unknown.”

  281. Walter Kolczynski: Or maybe he just trusted them to do their jobs properly.

    At some point over the intervening 9 years, it should have been obvious to anyone with any intelligence at all that they were not doing so. At that point, he had a choice to make, and we are well within our rights to condemn him for the one he made.

    I’ve heard from many people whose corporations have similar policies: once you are made aware of a possible crime, you immediately cease all discussion of it and refer it up the chain to the person responsible for reporting it. You do NOT pursue it further.

    And if one of those people turned a blind eye to child abuse that they had to have suspected was ongoing, just to follow that ass-covering policy? They should be condemned too.

    jbnimble: He himself has said that he would have behaved differently and done more if he could go back and do it again. That suggests that he accepts the charge that he didn’t do enough.

    Alternately, he could just have been mouthing platitudes to cover his ass.

  282. @Walter Kolczynski Hells yes. It is only because this program is so popular, so important, so untouchable, that folks even saw a choice here, as to whether to come forward about this. When millions of dollars are on the line, people make immoral decisions, and that’s what happened here. With continued millions of dollars on the line, they’ll cover it up the next time, too.

    Burn it down.

  283. No matter how you rationalize it. The fear that you will ruin a good man with false accusations, etc. – is ultimately distancing yourself from the child. From the possibility that a child is being raped. Life isn’t easy or black and white. When there is a possibility that a child is being hurt, you choose the child.
    I’ve been in similar choices (although not nearly as extreme or involving children). I’ve gone the rationalization route and I’ve gone the ‘follow up on the accusation that will ruin someone’ route. I sleep better when I think about choosing to protect the possible victim, than I do when I think about the choice to protect the possible perpetrator by ignoring. And my situations were innocuous in comparison.

  284. David says:
    Moz said: But we do nothing about that, saying “Oh, but I do not do that myself, and none of my friends do it either”
    It would be a really good thing if you didn’t assume that you knew what the readers of this blog do or don’t do, say or don’t say.

    But I see what they do. They participate in a society that fosters child poverty. That’s the entirity of my point.

    Nit-picking little issues and ignoring the broader post is an excellent derailing technique but I decline to accept it.

  285. Maybe it is just me, but doesn’t the student that reported it need to be held responsible for something? Sure he told someone, but shouldn’t he have also called the police or something when he saw nothing was being done?

  286. I am having considerable difficulty in wrapping my brain around the idea that rape is an activity which should not be interrupted.

    I can certainly see the attractions of the idea from the rapist’s perspective but I’m surprised that a non-rapist whose intellect is up to writing whole words in whole sentences could come up with an idea as fatuous as this.

    However, I’m pretty sure that the guidelines to police officers who may come across a crime of violence as it happens do not include deliberately allowing the violent crime to continue uninterrupted, so Heteromeles may wish to acquire a large placard which s/he could carry with her/him at all times explaining that s/he does not wish to be interrupted in the process of being raped/mugged/beaten to death and so forth.

    That way Heteromeles can act in accordance with her/his sincere beliefs and the rest of us can act in accordance with our sincerely held beliefs…

  287. Long long time ago, I had the VHS briefing on child abuse and mandated reporting before starting a summer stint as a camp counselor. 2 hours of details on how to spot a child who might not be returning to a safe home at the end of camp, and what I had to do to get it reported. The policy was distinctly “trust, but verify”, meaning report to the director, and see for yourself that he is reporting to the state. And the entire briefing was all about suspicions that something was amiss, i.e. second hand indications.

    There was nothing about coming across child sexual abuse first hand, since that doesn’t apply with mandated reporting. You see that, you call 911. McQueary and his employers failed a standard that no 18 year old can be expected to fail.

  288. PERFECT analogy. Just perfect. My 2 cents on the Penn State scandal: If you were working for Penn State football/sports in 2002 and still have a job, you should be fired. Because the entire department knew. And they all made a choice to be okay with the cover up.

    Also, I hope those parents sue Penn State out of business. Raze the whole institution. It’s obviously not doing a lick of good when something like this happened and the reaction of the student body is to RIOT IN SUPPORT JOE, not he BOYS. Fuckwad idiots. I hope Penn State on a resume becomes a big barrier to the job market in the future. “Oh, you went Penn State?” NEXT!”

  289. @Heteromeles — wait… you are SRSLY arguing in favor of not stopping the rape because it might make the situation worse? So just, you know, walk on by because there’s nothing you can do anyway?

    Please explain to me, using small words, how you could possibly justify that with yourself. Because I sure as hell couldn’t.

    I barely clear 5 feet and carry more weight than I should. Yet I’ve make 6 foot four inch gothbois quiver in their Docs and “yes ma’am” me when they get out of line. Which in once case involved the near assault of a teenage girl.

    So again, your argument remains invalid. Or at the very least, a self-justification for not giving a crap.

  290. Well, as important as football is, I would like to offer a different perspective here.
    As child, from the ages of 8 to 11, I was raped fairly often by a family member.

    (I’ve had plenty of therapy, so I would advise you to take a deep breath and skip your immediate urges to either comfort me or marvel at the craziness of saying that online to a bunch of strangers. I trust John’s Hammer.)

    An adult once caught him molesting me. His wife saw it happening in the basement.
    From what I understand, and keeping in mind that I was young and not exactly in the loop on the dynamics of adult relationships, she didn’t call my mother or the police or any other adults.
    All I know is that she divorced the rapist fairly quickly afterwards. I never saw her again.

    I often wonder what would have happened had she done the right thing and told someone. She didnt have a football team to protect or otherr considerations. And she immediately got divorced, so clearly she knew to get away from this guy herself. Why not help me out?

    I’ve come to think the human inclination to get away from something as disgusting as child rape triggers some sort of primative flight response instead of what you would hope you would do. But no matter what our monkey or wombat brains tell us at that moment, it is important to realize that while you first reaction might be to want to get away from the situation, you must have a HUMAN second thought for the child involved. You must restart your thinking after your gut reaction and do the right thing.
    Keeping in mind that we say we would call the police in this situation, but child moletation and rape happens all the time and the police do not get called.

    What I would prefer that people DO realize and admit that their first inclination may be to ignore what is happening or hope someone else takes care of it. And admitting that might be your first reaction is a step towards doing the right thing. We all would prefer to do the right thing. But doing it often means admitting to yourself that your first thought is rarely the most selfless and condition yourself to go to your second thought or third or whatever it takes to do the right thing for the child.

    I dont think this is a particularly coherent posting, but I can understand why these men did not call the police. It wasn’t right, but I understand why they didnt do it. We are all monkey brains first. But we overcome our first instinct and must rise to the occasion of our humanity.
    Laura

  291. It is unbelievable to me that so many people were aware of this situation, and not one of them, including the person that witnessed the attack, called the police. How can so many people turn such a blind eye to something so horrific? It also is disturbing that the person witnessing the rape is currently involved in the program. How do you work somewhere and with someone you saw first hand raping a child? I am a teacher and a mother and this entire situation shows such a complete lack of concern for our fellow man, in this case a small defenseless child.This is just another item to add to the long list of things that show how seriously twisted and screwed up our society is. Sad.

  292. @thatwordgrrl: ARE YOU ME???? When I was 19, I stood up to a 6’3″ guy who was literally choking the life out of his girlfriend. We were at college, and long story short, he chased down his girlfriend after she slapped him, threw her to the ground, wrapped his hands around her neck, and squeezed. A dozen people stood watching, and a few pathetically said, “Hey man, let her up.” It me charging the guy like a football player to get the guy off her. The guy got kicked out of school, but no charges were filed because the girlfriend had instigated it by first throwing her soda on him and then slapping him. (His response to the slap was to push her into a hedgerow, and she had a massive cut down her cheek from a branch. They parted ways, and then he changed his mind and chased after her.) I’m a whopping 5’3″, and yet clearly I had more balls than all the guys who watched him attack her.

  293. There is one more possibility other than those involved being fucking cowards.

    Their moral compasses may be so fucked up that they thought they were doing the right thing.

    So for at least some of these guys being tagged a coward might be considered a win.

    They all need to disappear down deep, dark, lonely holes in the Earth.

  294. According to the Grad Testimony When the grad assistant saw them, he noticed both the boy and Sandusky saw him… (page 6-7). Can you imagine what thought may have gone through his mind???

  295. Jesus effing Christ, people, know your legal terms. “Hearsay” ONLY APPLIES COURT! You can report hearsay to the cops, and you should when it involves the RAPE OF A CHILD. For fucks sake.

    The apologist for Paterno, man, I hope they burn. Sick puppies, for sure.

  296. I shared this on FB right away, but not fast enough that two of my friends didn’t beat me to it. This is excellent, John. Thank you.

    I think the rest of Penn State’s season should be canceled, and they should be barred from championships and bowls etc. for the next five years. This would require the NCAA having balls, integrity, or both, so it’s unlikely.

    This needs to HURT. It needs to hurt the university financially as well as reputationally (which is a word now); it needs to hurt the students, and it needs to hurt the fans.

    Only then will schools stop covering up this shit and begin putting a stop to it. And yes, Brian Mac, I know most of those people are innocent, but unless they hurt nothing will happen.

    And while I’d like to think I’d’ve bashed Sandusky’s head in with the nearest heavy object (subtler methods, like wrestling him away from the kid, not being available to a puny weakling like me), I don’t think you really know what you’d do in combat (which is what that was) until you’re in combat.

    Carina: I hope the kid’s too young to remember. And that the parents can afford the necessary healthcare. :(

    Nope. About ten years old, but no one knows for sure, because he was never identified. He’s unlikely to tell about it. Did you miss the fact that this happened in 2002? This bastard has been continuing to molest boys for nine more years. The ones who testified to the Grand Jury didn’t say anything about being anally raped, a fact which surprises no one who knows anything about male rape victims.

    And the boys in Sandusky’s program were poor kids from the projects. Supposing the boy’s parents even found out what happened, do you think they could afford the necessary care?

  297. @Walter Kolczynski (@bubba0077)

    “once you are made aware of a possible crime, you immediately cease all discussion of it and refer it up the chain to the person responsible for reporting it. ”

    These policies are to limit exposure for the corporation to liability. These policies are civil in origin, not for the benefit of criminal procedures – it is CYA at it’s finest, crafted by lawyers and insurance companies who know how to limit their exposure to massive liability for spreading rumors(slander) or willful neglect(being a safe house for a predator). When you run a small business, there is boilerplate stuff you can find along the same lines. An individual is free to ignore these in the case of criminal procedures.
    Can you really imagine this in a corporation? “Well I work at Pfizer, and I was told of another department head raping a secretary, so I only told my boss and never ever went to the police, or asked what happened”. “Sounds like you did the right thing!”

    Nothing stops you from referring a crime to police aside from your own decisions. Such as the decision Paterno made to not report the abuse of a child to police, and instead do the minimum required of him by law.

    “You do NOT pursue it further. This is to protect everyone involved, including the accuser, the accused, and the victim. ”
    No – this is to limit civil liability. Protection of anyone else – or the investigation – comes from communication with law enforcement, which didn’t happen.

  298. Reading about what happened after Paterno was notified, I’m just SO reminded of John Dean’s testimony about Watergate:

    “Frankly, Senator, no one ever suggested there not be a cover-up”

    The school administration covered it up. Paterno covered it up. Spanier covered it up.
    They actively conspired to cover up a disgusting crime to protect the football program and the school.

    The students and players now are benefiting from that coverup. I’m hearing a lot of “Why punish the students and players? They didn’t do anything.”

    I don’t know why we tell a drug dealer’s family that we’re taking away their house and accounts because the money was tainted, but we can’t do the same thing with someone like Madoff’s family. His wife gets to keep everything he managed to transfer to her.

    I don’t know why that seems to be related, but it does… something along the lines of:
    Why, when the administration of a school and its athletic program commits a crime and benefits by millions of dollars, do they get to reap the benefits?

    I don’t know… it’s fuzzy, but it just FEELS wrong that the program and school isn’t penalized.

    Maybe I’m just too pissed to think clearly about it.

  299. This is where I pop in and remind people that civility to each other will go a long way in a discussion like this. And also I have a Mallet to hammer down people being rude to each other.

  300. Got 1/3 way down the comments and there’s no understanding of “mandated reporters.” There are certain people who HAVE TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE, regardless of their personal feelings on the subject: coaches, assistant coaches, and education administrators are all on the list of “mandated reporters.”

    They broke the law by failing to notify the police directly, promptly, and clearly. Because of the jobs they held, they are legally liable for their very silence.

    I would like to see that law enforced a bit more rigorously.

    BTW, “rape culture” is about power and access, so although women bear the statistical brunt, it includes attacking children, the disabled, the elderly, smaller/weaker men, etc. Highly predatory. Very destructive.

  301. Haven’t seen this mentioned yet – D.A. Ray Gricar disappeared in 2005. His laptop’s hard drive was missing. The body has never been found. Who was Ray Gricar? The district attorney who was looking into possible charges against Jerry Sandusky – 6 years ago.

  302. @Dave I would be naïve to claim that the policies aren’t in place as a CYA measure. But I still believe they also protect everyone involved, and laws are written in such a way to facilitate this approach. You’re free to disagree with that if you wish. I’m just trying to lay out my logical position; if anyone disagrees with the premises (as many do), there’s not much I can do about that. I try to view everything with a bit of perspective, and here perspective leads me to resist the groundswell of moral outrage at everyone associated with the scandal. But I’m not delusional or a rape-apologist or whatever else others have ascribed to people supporting Joe Paterno.

  303. Child rape is wrapped in shame from all angles. The victims feel shame. People that know about it feel shame. People talking about it feel shame. Until the shame is erased, child rapists will be free to go from victim to victim.

  304. i dont believe this will fade out.. if it does, it will take a lonnngggg time. Just look at Pete Rose (who I was a major fan of as a kid and still think he deserves to be in the hall of fame). People still bring up the betting after all of these years.

  305. But I see what they do. They participate in a society that fosters child poverty. That’s the entirity of my point.

    The products of late night undergraduate philosophy bull sessions are entertaining, but flawed. In particular, 1) you yourself are complicit (you participate in a society that fosters child poverty by commenting in this thread), 2) you are implying that a baby just born is also complicit; they participate in a society that fosters child poverty, after all, 3) that the impoverished children themselves are complicit. After all, they participate in society that fosters child poverty.

    once you are made aware of a possible crime, you immediately cease all discussion of it and refer it up the chain to the person responsible for reporting it.

    So someone’s being murdered in the next room, and I get told about it. I should cease discussion and refer it up to the chain of command, rather than, say, call the police?

  306. in that instance there is an ongoing crime. Here the crime already occurred. Besides that, my understanding is that such policies typically doesn’t hold for all crimes, just sexual ones

    So I am told that a murder just occurred in the next room. I should cease discussion and refer it up the chain of command rather than, say, call the police?

  307. @Walter Kolczynski (@bubba0077)

    “or whatever else others have ascribed to people supporting Joe Paterno.”
    The main problem is that many of Paterno’s supporters are shading around the edges instead of embracing that he did the minimum, and pointing fingers at others – including saying that he was railroaded out and failed by superiors. Or saying that he did what he was legally required to do, and dropping anything else.

    Read your comment where you said he was railroaded. A little before that you also said ‘If those men had reported the incident to police as they were required to do’.
    Change it to ‘if Paterno had reported the incident to police as he was free to do’. His moral choice not to do this (for whatever reason he had) had the same rippling impact on children as what you ascribed to the ones who are now facing criminal charges.

    But because of his decision to do the minimum? “And possibly dozens of vulnerable children who were abused after this incident would have never had contact with Jerry Sandusky.” If you can’t see this link while others can, I don’t know what to tell you.

  308. To Heteromeles and others who may wonder how to stop a rape or other assault in progress, let me tell you a story.

    Once upon a time, I was standing on a New York City subway platform, watching five teenagers beat up their friend. I didn’t know it was a beatdown, at first. I mean, they were all laughing. They were all smiling. Except the guy in the middle. He kept falling down. Almost like they were tickling him. My fellow subway riders seemed similarly confused. Was it friendly? Were they rough-housing? They would look at the fray for a minute, then turn away, shaking their heads, shrugging.

    Then the middle kid’s face came up, streaming blood.

    It was the blood that did it, for me. I reached into my pocket. Where were all those cops that had been here for the RNC? Those guys carried AKs and moved in clusters. Why couldn’t they have stayed just a little longer? Why didn’t the MTA have support staff on the platforms? Where was the emergency call button? I pulled out my phone.

    “I’m calling the cops,” I said. No shouting, no swearing. Just projection. From the diaphragm, like you read Shakespeare or 1 Corinthians. “I have a phone, and I’m calling the cops.”

    Now, there were several feet of concrete and steel re-bar between my little Samsung and the powers that be. I knew this. They knew this. Everyone around us knew this. This did not stop me from flipping the thing open, turning it on, and saying, louder this time: “I’M CALLING THE COPS. RIGHT NOW.”

    They paused. Blinked. Stopped edging ever closer to the tracks. My phone scrabbled for signal like a dog trapped behind a basement door. Useless. But now everyone else was looking, too. Everyone else had their eyes on the problem. Grown men were stepping forward.

    “I’M GOING TO GET SECURITY. I’M BRINGING THEM DOWN HERE.”

    And then I left. I told MTA. I told security. They shrugged their shoulders. Said they’d do something. I went back down to the platform and the kids were all gone. To do what, I don’t know. Maybe they just re-scheduled the beatdown. But for that moment it was over. In that moment, the kid with the bloody nose and the torn shirt had time to get away, or at least re-consider if these people were really his friends. At least, that’s how I comforted myself.

    That’s how you stop it. If you see something, say something. The subway cars were full of signs with that slogan, that year. They meant pieces of luggage, or plastic bags, or people who “didn’t look right.” But anti-terror rhetoric aside, the wisdom remains true. If you see something, say something. Say it loudly. Say it so everyone hears you. Say it so it can’t be ignored. Eventually, it won’t be.

  309. @ Heteromeles You never answered my question: what’s the danger in yelling “Hey, I see you!” “Stop that!” “I’m calling the cops!”?

    In addition, if you were walking by someone being beaten would you not intervene for fear of risking hurting them more?

  310. There are so many lies in this document it is scary, make sure you have facts before making such an argument and ruin more lies, even the kids who were raped do not blame Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno met all MORAL and LEGAL obligations and there was NOTHING more he could do, he could not go to the police again, because he already believed he did and he believed there was an investigation.

  311. John,
    The Ursula LeGuin story was what popped into my mind this morning as well. Thank you for referencing it because I never would have come up with it. IIRC it’s found in the original Earth Sea Trilogy. It is so evocative and so applicable to the present situation (for those that claim the opposite–it is metaphor not literal truth that we’re talking about here)

  312. Madeline Ashby@8:11 pm,

    Good for you!! When I took self-defense courses, we were taught to yell FIRE- the people around you will pay attention to that.

  313. For the VictimsJoe Paterno met all MORAL and LEGAL obligations and there was NOTHING more he could do, he could not go to the police again, because he already believed he did and he believed there was an investigation.

    Paterno never went to the cops. He went to his boss. Therefore, he should have gone to the cops. Yes, he probably met the legal requirement for action. However, he most definitely did NOT meet the moral requirement. Frankly, if you think informing your boss of a child rape is just as good as calling 911, well, I don’t want to live on this planet any more.

  314. [Deleted for pedestrian obnoxiousness. Dave E, if you want to try presenting your argument again without the extra added layer of asshole, you may. Hint: stick to your actual complaint regarding the facts and me -- JS]

  315. Beautifully said. I am so sad and disgusted and I know our outrage can’t change what happened to these children but hopefully it can prevent anything from happening to other children.

  316. For the Victims:

    “even the kids who were raped do not blame Joe Paterno.”

    And you know this because you know all the kids involved? Or because you’re psychic?

    Or, alternately, because you’re pulling that statement straight out of your ass?

    One of these scenarios is more likely than the others.

    “Joe Paterno met all MORAL and LEGAL obligations and there was NOTHING more he could do”

    The hell he did, and the hell he could not. Your cunning use of ALL CAPS does not constitute a Jedi mind trick.

    Stop cluttering up my site, FtV.

  317. @For the Victims
    “even the kids who were raped do not blame Joe Paterno”
    There are unknown victims at this time, as clearly spelled out in the grand jury findings – perhaps you should hold off saying this for a while.

    “Joe Paterno met all MORAL”
    No he did not. Especially with the CERTAINTY that you have in using CAPS to EXPRESS this.

    “and LEGAL obligations”
    Possibly, but so far he’s only been to the grand jury, not on the witness stand when people are frantically trying not to go to jail. Or the coming civil lawsuits.

    “and there was NOTHING more he could do”
    Yes there was, as was laid out in many of the 300+ comments, which you are free to scroll back and find.

    “he could not go to the police again”
    Yes he could have. Nothing would have prevented this, and he was never given such an instruction by law enforcement.

    “because he already believed he did and he believed there was an investigation”
    This was part of his choice, as has already been discussed, and in no way prevented him from doing anything.

    But I did like this part though:”There are so many lies in this document it is scary, make sure you have facts before making such an argument and ruin more lies”. So many lies.

  318. McQueary did not inform Paterno that Sandusky was raping a small child according to the grand jury presentment

    Piffle. The grand jury testimony says that McQueary “reported what he saw” to Paterno.

    Get your damn facts straight, Dave E.

  319. A lot of posters are saying that the witness should have called security. But that’s one of the things you should NOT do when a crime (as opposed to a violation of campus rules) occurs on campus (or in a mall, etc.). Call the POLICE. Security’s job is to protect the immediate interests of the school, not to protect the innocent or enforce the law. At best, they will ignore you or do the bare minimum to intervene; at worst, they will inadvertently mess up evidence or actively participate in the cover-up.

  320. Nathaniel wrote: “I would feel uncomfortable sitting while they had to stand, but also sort of scared about offering my seat. Am I going to offend someone for being chauvinistic? If it’s someone closer to my age, will she think I’m trying to hit on her? Will someone be mad if I don’t offer it to the right person?”

    At the risk of dragging the discussion away from the important topic being discussed today (and I completely agree with what John has said)… I can only speak for myself (a 49-year-old woman), not all women, obviously; though I know many of my female friends and acquaintances for many years have expressed a similar view: I always REALLY APPRECIATE a man who demonstrates good manners in the chivalrous or old-fashioned sense. I always respect and appreciate a man who holds a door for me, pauses so I can go first, offers me his seat, offers to carry something for me (though, obviously, the circumstances have to be right for it not to come across as the first step in a mugging ; but, for example, a neighbor I’d never spoken to before saw me carrying a carpet cleaner from my car to my place, and insisted on carrying it for me–which I really appreciated), etc. I particularly respect and appreciate such behavior in men who are much younger than me (as you are, at 30), since my experience and observation is that such behavior is much less common is people born after me than ahead of me.

    This can always go wrong, of course. Men often have an anecdote about a woman who bit their head off for exercising such nice manners, alas. But by and large, I’d bet real money that if you stood up and offered one of those women your seat, they’d love your gesture. (They might refuse it–either because they don’t want to take YOUR seat, or some other reason; but they’ll appreciate the offer.)

  321. David:

    As an FYI, I deleted Dave E’s comment for being aggressively obnoxious, so until and unless he reposts in a more polite fashion, your reply is lacking context.

  322. @Baldrz Good advice in general, but in this case there is no security, only the police.

    @David The GJ report does not make it clear how much detail McQueary gave Paterno, only that it was “fondling or something of a sexual nature” (that is how JVP described it to Curley). “… [R]eported what he saw” is very vague wording.

    I don’t like FtV’s tone at all, or his speaking for the victims. The attorney for the victims did expresses displeasure with the BoT about not considering the victims’ wishes (http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/11/penn_state_board_of_trustees_g.html), but it doesn’t claim that the victims hold JVP blameless.

  323. Paterno’s own grand jury testimony is that McQueary came to his house the morning after the rape, was very upset, and that he had seen Sandusky “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.” What did Paterno do? He waited until the next day to call the AD to his house to tell him.

    Every day, we’re all given opportunities to choose, as the cliche goes, between what is right and what is easy. That day, the day McQueary came to see him, Joe Paterno chose what was easy over what was right. I don’t have to make any guesses about the guilt or innocence of Jerry Sandusky to know that. All I have to know is that based on Joe Paterno’s own grand jury testimony, he did not choose to to the right thing, and despite the fact that he apparently had a long history of doing the right thing in his career, he deserved to be fired over this choice.

    Read the grand jury report for yourself; it’s all there.

  324. Haven’t seen this mentioned yet – D.A. Ray Gricar disappeared in 2005. His laptop’s hard drive was missing. The body has never been found. Who was Ray Gricar? The district attorney who was looking into possible charges against Jerry Sandusky – 6 years ago.

    WAIT, WHAT???
    seriously? no link?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Gricar

    On July 30, 2005, fishermen discovered Gricar’s county-issued laptop computer in the Susquehanna River beneath a bridge between Lewisburg and Milton.[11] A Pennsylvania State Police computer expert analyzed the computer and found that its hard drive was missing.[11] Divers searched the area of the river near where the laptop was found over the next several days, but found nothing else.[11] Two months later, a hard drive was recovered on the banks of the Susquehanna River about 100 yards (91 m) from where the laptop was found and is believed to be Gricar’s;[12] however, it was badly damaged and analysis by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and the firm Kroll Ontrack – which had successfully recovered data from a hard drive recovered from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster – were all unable to recover any data from the hard drive.[13] In April 2009 Bellefonte police revealed that before his disappearance, Gricar used his home computer to perform internet searches on topics such as “how to wreck a hard drive”, “how to fry a hard drive”, and “water damage to a notebook computer”.[14]

    so either he was hushed up, ran and hid, or this is even a better cover-up than we thought.
    Have the police looked into large cash transactions of any of the PSU people now involved in all these crimes and allegations??

  325. My apology for my earlier angry comment. I’ll try again.

    “If your underling comes to you to report that he saw another man, also your underling, raping a small child…”

    McQueary did not inform Paterno that Sandusky was raping a small child according to the grand jury presentment and the fact that the grand jury and the DA did not indict Paterno for perjury.

    “When, as the officials of an organization, you are approached by an underling who tells you that one of his people saw another of his people raping a small child…”

    Paterno never told his superiors about one of his people raping a small child, because it appears that he was never told that in the first place.

    At some point there may be evidence that Paterno knew enough about the 1998 investigation that he should have acted. At some point there may be evidence that McQueary actually did report a child rape to Paterno that Saturday morning. But those are not the facts as of today and I think this post and some comments here are grossly unfair given what has come out so far.

  326. @David

    “You never answered my question: what’s the danger in yelling “Hey, I see you!” “Stop that!” “I’m calling the cops!”?”

    Getting your ass beat?

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, but there are varying levels of personal danger involved when you directly intervene in a crime happening. I took one to snout stopping a dude from beating his woman, once, for instance.

  327. I’ve been considering the idea that the serial rapist in this case did it not so much to exercise his power over the child, but to demonstrate his power over the MEN. “I did this. You know it did this. You will do nothing about it because you are in my power. The longer you say and do nothing about it, the more you demonstrate that you are in my power. My power over you is absolute, encompassing your entire structure of moral hypocrisy.” Possibly not unlike the dynamic within the Catholic church?

    You have said it well. Thanks.

  328. McQueary did not inform Paterno that Sandusky was raping a small child according to the grand jury presentment and the fact that the grand jury and the DA did not indict Paterno for perjury.

    Again, the grand jury said that McQueary’s testimony was that he told Paterno “what he saw.” That’s succinct but it’s not vague, especially given the detailed testimony of what McQueary saw immediately before that in the summary. I don’t know why the DA didn’t indict Paterno and neither do you.

    And, in any case, this is what you want to base your defense of Paterno on? The leader of men? The architect of the Grand Experiment? That he wasn’t entirely clear about exactly what sexual act was going on between Sandusky and the victim in the showers?

  329. Thank you, Dave E. I appreciate the reposting.

    I do disagree that the grand jury testimony does not suggest McQueary told Paterno what he saw; it says specifically (on page 7) that McQueary “went to Paterno’s home, where he reported what he’d seen.” Paterno then informed his superiors that McQueary had seen Sandusky “doing something of a sexual nature” to the boy in question. So it certainly does seem that Paterno was aware of Sandusky’s sexual activity with a child, which is in itself statutory rape, and that it was reported to him by McQueary.

  330. Getting your ass beat?

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, but there are varying levels of personal danger involved when you directly intervene in a crime happening. I took one to snout stopping a dude from beating his woman, once, for instance.

    hertwhatshisname said that he was concerned that intervening would cause more damage to the victim and that’s the danger to which I was referring.

  331. @Peter Cibulskis many have brought up Gricar’s disappearance over the last few days, and it is a fascinating missing person case on its own. It makes a good conspiracy story, but it is unlikely to be related to the scandal at all. The only real impact is that we cannot now ask Gricar why he dismissed the case the first time when there is strong anecdotal reports of strong evidence in the form of a confession. Gricar went missing shortly before my time in State College, but the impression I’ve gathered from townies is that Gricar wasn’t afraid to prosecute anyone, but he also only brought cases he was almost certain to win. Something about the Sandusky case made him uncertain he could get a conviction. Now we’ll never know what that was.

  332. But the same report says that Paterno’s testified that he “…reported to him(AD Curley) that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.” If McQueary had been as explicit with Paterno as the grand jury believes he was with AD Curley and VP Schultz, why didn’t they indict Paterno for perjury too? It doesn’t add up.

  333. But the same report says that Paterno’s testified that he “…reported to him(AD Curley) that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.” If McQueary had been as explicit with Paterno as the grand jury believes he was with AD Curley and VP Schultz, why didn’t they indict Paterno for perjury too? It doesn’t add up.

    Again, I don’t know and neither do you, but the “something of a sexual nature” may have been enough. In any case, for whatever reason, Curley was asked explicitly if McQueary had told him about the anal sex, and Curley denied it. Why wasn’t Paterno asked the same thing?

    But you haven’t answered my question: this is what you want to base your defense on? That McQueary wasn’t entirely clear about exactly what kind of sex Sandusky was having with a young boy in the Penn State locker room?

  334. Dave E.:

    Inasmuch as Paterno has contacted a fairly prominent criminal lawyer recently, he may be asking himself that same question.

    That said, Paterno telling his superiors something of a “sexual nature” happened rather than giving specific doesn’t strike me as perjury; it strikes me as Paterno possibly being uncomfortable saying “anal intercourse” and choosing other, less uncomfortable words. “Something of a sexual nature” does, strictly speaking, cover anal intercourse.

  335. What started the investigation a couple of years ago was the mother of a victim reporting Sandusky to her son’s high school (this is a different boy from the one in on Penn St campus). the HIGH SCHOOL banned Sandusky from campus THAT DAY and reported the suspicion to authorities as mandated by law, although the high school administrators did not see the incident with their own two eyes. Amazing, that the high school administrators handled the situation properly and the the highly paid administration at Penn State University did not.

  336. Scalzi — I’ll agree with your first point entirely, knowing there’s a risk I may have misunderstood. The second is a maybe; I’m not so quick to assume that people always correctly understand what they think they’ve seen. The third … whoa. For the rest, I’m disappointed in you. The word “rape” seems to be from the grand jury’s conclusions, not actually in the testimony of the witness. Does it feel good to be a cheerleader for the mob with pitchforks and torches? Having twice escaped, by the Grace of God, such mobs led by prosecutors, I’m curious.

  337. John Scalzi, you made me cry again.

    also, Ray, who said, “I read the grand jury indictment and view this as a failure of Penn State the institution and not necessarily of Joe Paterno. Could he should he have done more? Yes. But a lot of people failed to do more throughout this process. ”

    I think that needs to read ‘a failure of Penn State AND Joe Paterno.’

    Because clearly not enough has been said here…

    People have touched on the power dynamics of the situation, and they have mentioned football, and they have mentioned the culture, and they have mentioned Paterno’s power…

    But

    Joe Paterno became head coach in 1966. That’s 45 years ago. Paterno’s career at Penn State has mirrored the rise of D1 football from something that was once at least an amateur sport played by students to what is essentially the minor league for the NFL, played by professional athletes who are shamelessly used as revenue sources. Joe Paterno wasn’t part of the football culture at PSU — he helped define and create it. It’s a culture that protects its own, and which has acquired enough clout on campus that it can promise to police its own, and people for some reason believe it. Within this culture, Joe Paterno was the single person best able to clean this mess up. He could have done so and suffered no damage to his career. He’d have been more of a hero: he saved the children. He’d have been a martyr: he sacrificed his friendship, and was willing to risk his career. McQueary, on the other hand was raised in that culture. He went to the man who had the most power, the man most likely to do something (except, obviously, McQueary, who should have done something then and there). The man who for over a third of McQueary’s life had called the shots.

    Everything John Scalzi says is right.

    I am not excusing, nor apologizing for, anyone. But let’s be very clear:

    Joe Paterno is not a victim.

    Joe Paterno, by his own admission (in the GJ testimony), received a report of some sort of sexual activity that involved Sandusky and a child.

    Joe Paterno did not call the police — not even the PSU police.

    McQueary went to someone he trusted, someone with power, and that man, Joe Paterno, let him down. He betrayed McQueary’s trust. He betrayed his community. He obeyed the law, but he did not do everything he could.

    By his own testimony, he did the bare legal minimum regarding a report of (if we believe him) child molestation.

    That’s why people are outraged. It’s not that others aren’t complicit or culpable. But so is he.

  338. htom:

    “The word ‘rape’ seems to be from the grand jury’s conclusions, not actually in the testimony of the witness.”

    When you’re describing a grown man having sex with a child, htom, you are in fact describing rape. And no, I haven’t the slight bit of a problem calling a rape for what it is. Likewsie, I find it unlikely at best that Paterno, et al., were not aware that they were dealing with a rape.

  339. I can see if McQueary thought by intervening he would bring initially greater harm to the child why he did not confront the man. It just is hard to fathom- though clearly it happens, to see this act and not call the police right away.. and then everyone else just let it go… and then to see him around campus toting young boys around.. Yuck…

  340. I’m afraid your complaint is not making much sense to me, htom, nor do I understand why apparently I should feel bad about pointing out an entire clutch of grown men failed to protect a child, who was allegedly being raped.

  341. How has McQueary lived with himself all these years? “I saw a little boy being violated and did nothing about it. But at least I got to graduate from the university and eventually get hired.”
    Is having your dream job worth selling your soul for, especially if the price of maintaining your dream is that an unknown number* of kids are living nightmares from which they can’t wake up?
    For some people, I guess it must be.
    *No matter what numbers are eventually bandied about, I’m willing to bet there are kids out there who will never tell anyone what happened to them.

  342. “…I can see if McQueary thought by intervening he would bring initially greater harm to the child why he did not confront the man….”

    But how could any person rationally believe that?

    Seriously. McQueary would have to be the stupidest person on the planet to think that the child would be hurt more by having someone defend him than the child was being hurt already.

    Cuz you *know* it was a *very*painful*experience* for the child as is. McQueary could have shouted at the perv; he could have hit the perv over the head with a heavy object; or anything in between. Any of those options would have saved the kid from the pain of being further raped and, not incidentally, shown the kid that there was at least one adult present with a decent moral character.

    But he didn’t, because there wasn’t. In fact, on the evidence presented, the Penn State Athletic Program did not develop persons of good character in the case of McQueary and Paterno. I am sorry if the entire Penn State community would be offended by that statement, but how else do you explain the failure of every person involved … are McQueary and Paterno just exceptionally bad products of the system?

    Let’s be honest. The most rational explanation is that McQueary and Paterno were ambitious men, more interested in keeping their job than in doing the right thing. There is no evidence to the contrary, and this is a very disappointing situation.

  343. Does it feel good to be a cheerleader for the mob with pitchforks and torches? Having twice escaped, by the Grace of God, such mobs led by prosecutors, I’m curious.

    htom, you might want to think about how you have rhetorically rushed to the side of someone who has done a terrible thing entirely because a lot of people are saying it was a terrible thing. You might also want to think about the fact that you have just sneered at people for being a mindless, howling mob (“pitchforks and torches”) merely because others share their view that it is a terrible thing to enable child rape in the interests of protecting a college football program.

    Or, I guess, maybe you might not want to. The Penn State students certainly felt that issues of identity and personal worth were more important than whether Paterno covered up child rape, so it’s not like you’re the only one.

  344. I’m thinking this might be a good deal uglier story even than it appears. Someone already mentioned the dead DA and his missing hard drive. And now there are some really ugly rumors about trafficing coming out.

    Sandusky was a famous coach when he retired. Yet no other college or professional team recruited him. Why not? Did they know what was going on? How many people were keeping quiet about this?

  345. Folks:

    While I have been very happy with the general level of discourse in this comment thread (thank you!) this is the kind of thread that I need to keep a watch on, else it sprout nonsense, as it almost has on a couple of occasions. However, I cannot moderate in my sleep. So I’m going to close the thread for the evening and restart it tomorrow when I wake up, probably around 7ish. See you then.

    Update, 6:35am, 11/11: Okay, back open for business.

  346. I have been waiting for several hours for this to reopen — just to tell you how much I appreciate your levelheadedness and justifiable outrage about this situation. Thank you for giving us such a succinct and clear picture of the story, and a much-needed reminder about right, wrong and responsibility.

  347. @Walter – Sorry, but Paterno deserves exactly what he is getting. He should have called the cops, then called security and had Sandusky banned from his facilities, and if there was even the slightest hint that Sandusky was defying the ban, Paterno had the clout to make such a ban stick. I’m sorry that his career is ending this way, but sorry for him? I’m reserving my sympathy for the children who were raped.

    Also, I’m originally from Pittsburgh, and attitudes toward football programs, coaches, and players like those expressed by Paterno’s supporters (and, I’m afraid, even you) are a major reason why I didn’t follow most of my classmates to Penn State or Pitt for college. I went to Smith, which doesn’t have a football team, football players, or a big sports program, and every time I see yet another scandal involving football players or male college athletes running amok, I know I made the right decision.

  348. I don’t know whether this has already been said, but the irony is that, unlike in LeGuin’s story, it is the failure to save the child(ren) that has caused utopia to fall.

  349. To those of you trying to exonerate “JoePa”….

    Are you totally fucking kidding me?

    No. Absolutely not. There are no excuses. No exoneration. No explanations. Nothing that could possibly justify leaving a child in the hands of a rapist and then going back to bed.

    And if you’re really that hot to give “JoePa” a pass then I’d suggest you take a few minutes and look very deeply into whatever cesspit you call a soul and see if there is anything there worth salvaging.

  350. @Walter You never answered my followup question: you are told that a murder has just finished in the next room. Do you report it to your supervisor and doing nothing else, or call the police?

  351. The fact that JoePa did go to the head of the local police and report is being largely ignored by the media and most of the posters here. I’m not saying he is off the hook, but I think people need to stop saying he didn’t go to the police.

  352. be it proclaimed throughout the land that child rape is wrong, by unanimous vote on Whatever! Its nice to have something so evil that everyone agrees its evil. I wonder if this is what it would feel like to actually live in a ‘good vs evil’ morality tale. evil wears a black cape and has a thin handlebar mustache, and all the good guys stop their bickering about how best to fix unemployment, to unite in condemning the xchild rapist. so we got that going for us.

  353. Thanks for writing this one sir. I’m from PA, and I’m getting tired of hearing/reading people say otherwise.

  354. To the folks suggesting they would mount a rescue mission into Omelas to save the child: look around you. you live IN omelas right now. thats the point. The story wasnt written so the reader could say “whew, glad I dont live there”. And the story wasnt written so readers could say “Ha! I walked away from Omelas unlike those weak willed selfish people. look how awesome I am.” and it certainly wasnt written so the reader could say “oh yeah? well I wouldnt just walk away from Omelas. I would walk away, then raise an army and invade Omelas, lay waste to that evil land, turn its occcupants into pillars of salt, and rescue the innocent child. and I will emerge righteous and virtuous covered in the blood of evil Omelasians”

  355. I rather like James Fallows’ analogy of this horrific saga.

    There really is no defense that anyone at Penn State can conjure. The sexual predator Sandusky essentially created a club of pederasty right before the knowing eyes of everyone in the Penn State football program.

    McQueary’s unworldly cowardice — having actually witnessed Sandusky raping a little boy and did nothing to rescue the boy — will be one for the halls of shame for a long time to come.

  356. My default mode is to lurk, but I just wanted to say thanks for writing this, John. I’ve linked to this piece elsewhere because it really does summarize the situation perfectly.

    I think it’s fair to say that some people’s failure was greater than Paterno’s, but that’s really not saying much.

  357. Yes, I thought about the Omelas story too as I learned more about what happened at Penn State. It really fits – especially at a place called Happy Valley. Thanks so much for drawing the connection.

  358. John — I see your later points as encouraging mob “justice”, approving the punishment of scapegoats via the rule of revenge, rather than upholding the rule of (supposedly) dispassionate law. If that’s a misreading of mine, I most sincerely apologize.

    Mythago — if the observer had grabbed the perpetrator in the act, thrown him across the room, breaking his neck in his collision with the wall or the curb on the floor of the shower, I might complain that that had been unfortunate — for the observer. We’re long past the time for such instant justice.

    Attacking others for the failure of the observer to so interact, when the observer reported as he was required to do says more about the policy and laws than about the crime, perpetrator, or observer. The mob appears to be ashamed that such a thing happened and demands a scapegoat.

    I’m saying such vengeance (the mob’s, not the observer’s) is even more wrong than then original crime.

    To my taste, vengeance is a dish best served cold, if not frozen. Perhaps I’ve been driven too close to the fires to appreciate the flavor of hot revenge, or had it turn to ash in my mouth too often when I’ve learned more of what had really happened.

    There are days when I feel very like Michael Valentine Smith, or Simon in Lord of the Flies. Can’t you people see the consequences of what’s happening?

  359. Elgion: Please read the prior comment thread; your assertion has already been corrected. Paterno did not go to the police; he went to the university official who *oversaw* the police as part of his position. Neither Paterno nor that official, nor anyone else on campus, actually notified any police force of the 2002 rape.

    This is all in the grand jury report (see page 10 in particular). Anyone who feels like speaking in defense of any of the university people involved should really read that report first.

  360. Hey John.

    I posted a similarly themed comment on Facebook early yesterday morning and was frustrated at my inability to effectively put my feelings into words. I wanted to thank you for doing it for me with this post.

    Also I had never read “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” After reading your post I searched for, and read, the story this morning. It is now one of my favorites, thanks.

    Again I want to thank you for summing up this whole debacle so eloquently. Now when someone brings it up I will simply point them to this blog post for my opinion.

    Greg Marlow

  361. Greg. Thanks for backing up my point up thread. I am sure people who bomb abortion clinics think they are going back to Omelas and sticking it to the liberal Socialist evil empire I hear so much about. (Except that I doubt most of them read LeGuin or even Dostoyevsky.)

    That said, I think Devil’s Advocate nailed the fact that we all forgot exactly what the story said. Even I was reacting to their version rather than going back and actually reading what LeGuin wrote.

  362. there is a “proverb” (?) not sure from what culture that says we will be judged at our end by the way we treated our “innocents” children and animals … I am saddened each day by the apathetic tolerance of abuse, abusers, ignorance, injustice, evil … why o why .. how … can such darkness reside in someone’s soul? I do agree, “why the fuck” is the appropriate response … WHY are people so apathetic regarding the destruction of innocence??? Even a judge in the case where (name escapes me) young girl was kidnapped, taken from state to state, motel to motel (testimony said creeps “DNA” was practically sprayed all over the room), beaten, her jaw broken, raped, sodomized … at trial the judge said “he didn’t KILL her” … yes, she’s alive … broken … innocence destroyed … yes he DID kill her … bastard! I can be a bit of an extremist, I cannot apologize, I think these insects should be castrated and publicly hung so they may feel the humiliation and torture of their actions .. I WILL apologize to the victims .. I apologize, our “society” let you down, be good to yourselves, find peace and know that we sympathize, empathize and regret our failure to protect you.

  363. From the Patriot-News:

    “Right now, the case against Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley — both charged with perjury and failure to report a crime — hinges mainly on the word of that eyewitness, then-graduate student Mike McQueary. McQueary is now a Penn State assistant football coach.

    McQueary is a guy who once stepped in and broke up a player-related knife fight in a campus dining hall — a fight police admit could have been very ugly. ”

    Reported by Sara Ganim (http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/11/who_knew_what_about_jerry_sand.html)

  364. I’m saying such vengeance (the mob’s, not the observer’s) is even more wrong than then original crime.

    You’re saying that a blog post and 400+ comments are a worse crime than the rape of a young boy? Than the rapes of multiple young boys?

  365. This is no different than Bernard Cardinal Law covering up for priests guilty of the same offense as this scum bag. Law was forced into retirement, and now the same is happening to Paterno. The Catholic Church, justifiably, has paid millions to victims of its sex abuse scandal, and Penn State should, minimally, face the same fate. Raping a child is about the worst thing a person can do. Covering it up is despicable.

  366. Scalzi — a colder minded re-reading convinces me that I had misunderstood what you were saying. I’m sorry I did so.

    I think there are other possible explanations than cowardice, however. Having to make judgements based on reports after the fact, rather than in the heat of interrupting the rape, one is supposed to consider other possibilities — in this case, that the observer misunderstood or misreported what had happened — and attempt to discover exactly what had happened. Such a suspension would be toxic to someone’s reputation (even then), and investigation would be appropriate and less damaging to a possible innocent. That it failed (or was not attempted) is cause to blame those who caused the failure, above those who were initially being scapegoated, rather than those who initially acted properly and prudently. Fire the president, I’ve got no problem with. Fire the messenger, that I’ve got problems with.

    I note that the policy was revised in 2002, and wonder if the revision was a consequence of the happenings at that time, or if it’s just a coincidence.

  367. I’m wondering what folks think about the fact that Tim Curley is still employed as Athletic Director. Reasonable? A Penn student might feel like there is a double standard at work.

  368. John — I see your later points as encouraging mob “justice”, approving the punishment of scapegoats via the rule of revenge, rather than upholding the rule of (supposedly) dispassionate law.

    One way to uphold the rule of law is to report apparent crimes to the police as soon as you become aware of them.

    All McQueary had to do was say that he was calling 911 and that he would not let the victim out of his sight until the police arrived. Instead, according to his own testimony, he left the room, called his father, and reported the crime the following day to the head coach.

    Curley, the athletic director, and Schultz, the SVP for Finance and Business, did not refer the crime to competent authorities for investigation, but according to their own testimony, they did prohibit Sandusky from bringing children onto campus. If they were telling the truth here, they had reason to believe that Sandusky could not be trusted with children, and they knew that he was the primary fundraiser for an institution for disadvantaged boys, but as long as he didn’t defile the Penn State campus itself with his crimes, they let him roam.

  369. All of the adults in this situation (with the exception of the rapist) shared a few things in common. They all knew about the abuse of a young child (with varying degrees of certainty). They all had it within their power to stop the abuse of that child. They all did LESS than was required to stop that abuse.

    The argument that “they did a little” does not change the fact that they did not do enough.

    Throwing a starving person a cracker is not the same thing as feeding the hungry. It is just enough to alleviate yourself of guilt. The adults who knew and did not stop it did just enough to alleviate themselves of the guilt by passing the buck. Their actions were, at best, disgustingly selfish. But I the term morally reprehensible is much more suiting.

  370. David: You’re saying that a blog post and 400+ comments are a worse crime than the rape of a young boy? Than the rapes of multiple young boys?

    Oh, lord. You know, I have a problem when people start demonstrating a level of righteousness to the point where they start calling for the building in which the crime occurred to be razed and for anyone who worked with the criminal to be fired and/or burn in hell for all eternity. It’s called guilt by association. And not everyone is doing it. But you’re fucking high if you think NO ONE is doing it.

    As an example on this thread, depending on how you read it, the title of this thread “Omelas State University” might be taken to mean that the ENTIRE university of ohio was complicit in allowing these boys to be raped. I think some people read it that way and then ran with it.

    I don’t think John meant it that way, but reading through the original post again, the problem might be that at no point does John clarify for the random knucklehead that John doesn’t mean to condemn the entire university, but the random knucklehead thinks John does, and they run with it.

    And when the Tea Party used violent imagery and violent rhetoric, I didn’t need to wait for someone to act on that violence before I could condemn the violent imagery and rhetoric. Words themselves have power. And some people are indulging in a guilt-by-association sort of righteous rhetoric around the University of Ohio. And the Tea Party type defense of “Not everyone is calling for violence, so its OK” doesn’t fly either.

  371. @htom… Although I can empathize with some of your comments, I think you need to take a closer look at some of your assumptions. The public outrage at this travesty is not the same as mob vengeance. I’m sorry if you’ve been victimized by something like that in the past, but I don’t see this as the same. The only actions I’ve seen that resemble anything like what you’re complaining about was the inappropriate behaviors of the rioting students who expressed their outrage at how the admin handled the firing of Joe Pa. Mr. Paterno is the head coach of one of the most storied and respected football programs in this country, and, as such, has a responsibility to be hyper-vigilant in regards to the welfare and safety of ANYONE connected to his department. There had been concerns about Sandusky ‘s dubious sexual activities since 1992, so Paterno and the administration has had “hints” about this for 20 yrs and did nothing to stop it. You see nothing wrong with this?

    You state that “if the observer had grabbed the perpetrator in the act, thrown him across the room, breaking his neck in his collision with the wall or the curb on the floor of the shower, I might complain that that had been unfortunate — for the observer. We’re long past the time for such instant justice.” WOW!! If I understand this, you’re saying that if a person observes an obvious crime being committed and attempts to stop it and the “alleged” perpetrator is hurt or killed in the process, the individual who took action is somehow the criminal. Really? I’m sorry, I can’t buy that one… in fact, I think one of the saddest concepts that our society has “bought into” is that the problems we observe are not mine and will be handled by someone else. To be clear, I don’t condone or encourage mob mentality nor vigilante justice, but I do wholeheartedly applaud anyone who takes immediate action to assist someone being assaulted in anyway. Yes, there will always be a possibility that an “observer” could misinterpret a situation, but can we, as a society, afford to continually defer responsibility to some imaginary “other” who will “clean this up”?? If anyone here can honestly say that everyone who had direct or indirect knowledge of what was going on did their best to protect these kids, well, I’m really concerned about the accuracy of your moral compass and your ability to judge right from wrong. I can only hope you are not involved in any way with the safety and well-being of any children.

  372. @htom. You didn’t just say that the thread was worthy of condemnation, you said it was worse than the original crime. So I’ll ask again: is a blog post with 400+ comments worse than the serial rape of young boys?

  373. Also, folks, if you don’t mind have a quick look at the people in this photo at the link below, and see what percentage of them you think were credibly completely unaware of the Sandusky situation. I agree 100 percent with John’s position, but feel he good have taken it up another rung.

    http://www.psu.edu/trustees/

  374. Point of terminology here, since I’ve seen it mis-used in the last several posts. The university where all this took place is Penn State, more formally the Pennsylvania State University, or PSU. That institution is in central Pennsylvania, in the town of State College, where the main campus is known as University Park. There are also a number of campuses around the state, a law school, and a medical school.
    The University of Pennsylvania, nicknamed “Penn,” is an entirely different school. Penn is located in Philadelphia, and is a member of the Ivy League. It’s a top-rated private institution, and people associated with Penn have been known to get very upset when outsiders confuse them with Penn State. The Penn graduates I’ve spoken to are not at all happy about being indirectly associated with a scandal that took place at a different school entirely.

  375. That may have been me – my apology. I wonder if a Penn State student might feel there is a double standard at work.

  376. Well, I no longer want to throw up every time I hear or read about this. That’s something, I guess. But when all I can think, what keeps coming to my mind–whether it’s the abuser, his enablers, or the students that I’m thinking about–is “this is what a Rape Culture looks like.” 10:1 Sandusky was abused as a child, as well.

    (Side note: my wife and her family are all from the area; several of her relatives went to Penn State. She won’t even discuss this.)

  377. Don’t know PA law, but in my state it’s illegal to fail to report an incidence of child abuse once you become aware of it. Your opinion on whether or not the accusation is valid is irrelevant; that’s for law enforcement to decide. So in NC, everyone from the grad assistant on up who didn’t report to law enforcement would be charged.

  378. “I wonder if a Penn State student might feel there is a double standard at work.”

    They probably should. McQueary, as of this post, is still employed by Penn State, although he won’t be at tomorrow’s game. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, although it may be related to his role as a witness in the Sandusky investigation.

  379. @htom: over and over again you rail against ‘the mob’ and hint darkly that anyone who doesn’t excuse Paterno is simply a pitchfork-wielding nutjob. Please stop conflating your own experiences onto the behavior of a man who has admitted that he failed to act as he should, and really, you should also avoid insulting people for condemning Paterno merely because they are horrified that he swept a scandal under the rug.

    There is nothing cautious, moral or noble about observing which way the majority of people are leaning and running hard in the other direction merely so you can call them a mob.

  380. I don’t disagree with this post, one iota. I also wrote about the PSU sex abuse here: http://tinyurl.com/86mzzf9

    In trying to make sense of some of the reactions that seem to make no sense, I compared the fandom of football to religion. Equating football = religion may sound like a stretch, but in many ways it is deeply similar. I lived in PA and it truly is nearly everything a religion is or could be to many people there. Watching 60,000 people in navy blue shirts? It’s either a huge mega-church service or a fascist army.

    And I draw parallels between some of the reactions where people are deeply defending JoePa to how the Catholic Church members defended the Church even in light of systematic abuse there. I’m not even in the slightest defending anyone’s actions, but as I say in my post, these folks have just been told there is no God (JoePa). How do you process that information?

    But yes, yes a thousand times yes what you’ve said. Going to school authorities is NOT going to law enforcement. And even if we give some of the underlings the benefit of the doubt (gee, I don’t know what to do with this and need to follow my chain of command), someone at SOME juncture needed to PICK. UP. THE. FUCKING. PHONE. The fact that they did not speaks volumes, and it ain’t saying anything good.

  381. May I crowdsource a related question? I’m wondering about possible connections between the PSU board and the board of Sandusky’s charity. Any insights – or even thoughts on good sources of public data – would be appreciated.

  382. YES!! to everything you wrote. Why the fuck, indeed.

    Everyone who is more wrapped up in worries over the damn football program and issues of “school pride” ought to be fucked in the locker room shower by a grown man. See how they like it.

  383. Ingroup favorability bias. I belong to group A, therefore my identity is wrapped up in being an A-er and A is, in my estimation, better than all other groups.

    It’s especially weird with sports because – objectively – there’s no real reason for it other than geography and tradition, and the stakes are purely symbolic; at least with religion you might be concerned about the afterlife or morality, and not whether your group is #1 in an arbitrary ranking against other like groups.

  384. No. Joe Paterno should not be remembered for his football legacy. Joe Paterno should be remembered as a coward. And the rioters are simply drunken schoolboys trying to find some way, any way, to believe otherwise. ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe.’ But it was so.

    For all the ‘rah rah’ and ‘Old School Tie’, for all the knowing winks and closing of ranks, it must be remembered, in the final and definitive act of his career, Joe Paterno erased his own legacy. His true character was revealed in this vile example.

    What the rioters are actually saying is, what’s a ten-year old kid compared to the importance of ‘The Program’? If you can build such a football dynasty,such a towering legacy, haven’t you earned some occasional sodomy? This was the perfect illustration of the banality of evil. Quit all the intellectual chin stroking and admit it.

  385. Thank you so much for this post.

    re: LeGuin,
    I find her short stories incredibly dark. This real-life story is very dark.

    to: Michael, Walter,

    Thank you so much for being willing to share your perspective here!

    I recently moved to the State College area. The “one-more-game” sympathy I have heard from local folks is not apologetics, it’s based on their assumption that some trustees must’ve known and their perception that everyone else who’s resigned got to resign in a more face-saving way, vs the coach who was canned. I’ve heard several grown men sum up their view this way: a) the whole administration should be thrown out if the coach is out, b) there woulda been a call to the police if I’d walked in on that scenario, and I might well have been sent to jail!

    And yes I know (i study this stuff, actually) that what we think we’d do in a hypothetical situation is not a clear indicator of how we’d really act, but good grief: how many of you have said “hey! slow down!” or shouted at an oncoming car (which would be bigger and stronger than any of us)? Lots. Plus, teachers and coaches have to confront (thank G-d, lesser) wrong behavior all the time, we get pllllllllenty of practice.

    I’m so sickened by the case itself that I’m still working out how I feel about it, but I’m really glad JS and the Lawyers, Guns, and Money people have written so insightfully about the whole awful mess. I do know that I believe that *both* the rule of law (incl innocent until proven guilty) *and* the application of sense and empathy can live together, & I think this post is a great example of how. (e.g. sense: there is almost nothing one can imagine in the category of “what a 55-y-o man might be doing in the otherwise empty locker room at night w/a 10-y-o boy that has totally distressed our big strong GA” which does not merit an *IMMEDIATE* call to the police.)

    Thanks again for being voices of sense in a dark situation.

  386. In addition to Joe’s monumental moral (and potentially legal) failure to adequately report and follow up on the incident, I wonder whether he ever thought to have a talk with Sandusky? Something along the lines of “Hey, this is really bad stuff you are doing. We need to get you help. You are hurting innocent children and you MUST stop or I will be compelled to take action.” As Sandusky’s superior and arguably the most powerful person in the scenario he was in an ideal position to DO something. What repercussions could Sandusky visit on him? Or do these guys shrug their shoulders and categorize it as equivalent to “Jerry likes blondes”? I’m just so blown away that these people actually believe that one man’s sexual desires actually trump a child’s freedom. I mean, it’s an orgasm, for heaven’s sake, outweighing the physical and emotional devastation of a child.

  387. There’s a crucial difference between the Penn State situation and the Omelas story (apart from one being true and the other fiction). The Omelas story is fine literature, but at best mediocre philosophy (which is fine–it’s not meant to be philosophy). Those who walk away from Omelas don’t actually benefit anyone, except perhaps themselves. It doesn’t help the suffering child. Those at Penn State who didn’t stop the raping, either themselves or by bringing in the police, could have actually helped children, either the child whose rape was witnessed, or future victims. Their behavior was far worse.

  388. Sandusky was forced into retirement at age 55 (1999) by Paterno. This graphic tells the story:

    http://media.mcclatchydc.com/smedia/2011/11/09/23/40/1d3cdj.La.91.jpg

    The rape of the child in the shower in 2002 was not the first time Sandusky’s crimes were made known to Paterno. Paterno in his infinite wisdom (as one of the 1%) took away his keys to the Penn State locker room, allowing him to return to his home full of adopted children and his position at “The Second Mile” full of disadvantaged children (the 99%).

    –bks

  389. It is quite possible that Paterno DID NOT fulfill the minimum requirements of the law. I don’t know what the state laws are in Pennsylvania, but here in Ohio it is illegal for a school employee with knowledge of child abuse to fail to report it. Section 2151.421 of the Ohio Revised Code states:

    “No person described in division (A)(1)(b) of this section who is acting in an official or professional capacity and knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to suspect, that a child under eighteen years of age or a mentally retarded, developmentally disabled, or physically impaired child under twenty-one years of age has suffered or faces a threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the child shall fail to immediately report that knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect to the entity or persons specified in this division. Except as provided in section 5120.173 of the Revised Code, the person making the report shall make it to the public children services agency or a municipal or county peace officer in the county in which the child resides or in which the abuse or neglect is occurring or has occurred.”

  390. A nugget I learned during EMT training. In Pennsylvania, EVERYONE is a mandated reporter for child abuse.

    No one fulfilled his minimum legal duty.

    Entirely aside from his obligation as an alleged human being.

  391. When I read this I almost spray-painted my computer screen with what, a moment before, would have been a bite of my lunch:

    “He’s not likely to take the chance of ruining the guy’s life on one other person’s say so. What if it’s nothing?”

    Child rape – and this is something that some people, apparently, still need to get through their thick skulls – is a serious crime (and that’s to put it awfully mildly). If A tells B that he’s just witnessed a child getting raped, B doesn’t have the luxury, at least not morally speaking, of inquiring into whether or not it’s nothing. Yes, the cretinous moron who actually witnessed the event should have called the police immediately instead of simply telling another civilian about it, but this does nothing to mitigate Paterno’s obligation to call the police immediately. There is no grey area here. If Paterno didn’t call the police immediately – as it appears he didn’t – then he deserves to be condemned and villified along with all the other fuckwits who stood by and did essentially nothing.

  392. I’m reading on ChildWelfare.gov that failure to report child abuse (although it lists teachers and administrators as required groups, whereas Paterno was a coach) is a third-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.

  393. Mr. Barnes:

    While I empathize with your point of view, I think that it’s quite rational and reasonable to defend the story by saying that one of the many, many impossible things the child’s suffering ensures is that revolution is impossible. Otherwise, the first time some not-yet-hardened kid said, “There, there, it’ll be okay” to the suffering child, that would be that. (The story says that not one kind word may be spoken to them.) Your choices are to stay and benefit from the bargain, or leave and not benefit from it. The only way to break it would be for everyone to leave.

  394. What’s most disturbing is how easily everyone involved in this went on with their lives. McQueary continued to coach there, was promoted, benefited from the horror he saw.

    I remember reading this story during college, and thinking there was the third option of helping the child. Our professor said it would irreparably change the world around you, and would cause suffering to so many others. In that case, suicide did seem the only option left. But to the entire football program at Penn State, it appears aiding in the abuse of children had no impact on their lives in any way. Sick and depraved.

  395. Mythago.. well written replay… I especially like: “There is nothing cautious, moral or noble about observing which way the majority of people are leaning and running hard in the other direction merely so you can call them a mob.”

    I’d like to add this: Although it may be hard for most of us to empathize with this point, there is another victim in this story, besides the obvious child (or alleged children). Someone mentioned in an earlier comment that Jerry Sandusky was probably abused as a child. This a very common and accepted premise in psychology circles and I’ll bet it’s valid in this instance. But, even if you reject that premise, you have to acknowledge that only a sick person is capable of partaking in these kinds of actions. Like anyone else with an “illness”, he deserves help and attention. If these people had acted sooner, there is some hope these actions could have been curtailed, or possibly eliminated, and a lot fewer people would have been impacted by his unacceptable behavior. I think that as this story unfolds, we’ll all see that this tragedy has affected more people than we can possibly imagine at this point. Truly sad!

  396. Mike Crichton: By a “few immoral men” I was referring to Paterno, Curley, Schwartz, Spanier, and McQueary. John’s analogy doesn’t involve the rioters, and as I was disputing the accuracy of the analogy, I intentionally left the rioters out of my comment. I wouldn’t describe the rioters as immoral, I’d describe them as idiots (who I feel should be expelled for their stupidity).

  397. Given what is known now(Friday around noon)I think it is possible that McQueary probably knew about Sandusky & boys or at least he knew the rumors.

    So when he came upon the shower room scene, he may have been uncomfortable to have seen it, but not surprised. If he knew that Sandusky was buggering boys, then he would have had proof of the rumors but no compelling reason to call the police given the atmosphere around the athletic facilities. I am not trying to excuse his failure to call the police, just trying to imagine what may have been in his head at the time.

    If it was known and being overlooked by Penn State, as appears to have been the case, then McQueary may not have felt that he needed to do more than call his dad for advice. Barry Switzer, the former coach from Oklahoma, says that Paterno & his staff had to have known what Sandusky was up to. He called it a “secret that was kept secret.” Paterno knew as early as 1998 that Sandusky had admitted to inappropriate contact with children & Sandusky retired the next year. Sandusky kept all of his perks as a retired full professor and no one in Happy Valley thought to raise a red flag about his presence or participation in the Second Mile.

    Why? He was under the protection of the godfather, JoePa, who ruled the kingdom and allowed things to happen or made them cease according to his wishes. Sandusky was family, his consigliere, his vassal in the fiefdom of Happy Valley where good men bowed to bad and everyone kept quiet.

  398. One thing I keep seeing in the comments that really bothers me is lots of peeps acting like there was only one time Paterno was informed about Sandusky acting strangely around young boys. There is documentation that as early as 1995 Sandusky had been reported to authorities. There were questions about why he retired at 55 (prime age for a football coach once thought to be Paterno’s replacement) and it was well reported the retirement was the result of Sandusky being caught in a compromising position. Several local muckrakers in the media have been reporting for quite some time there was something rotten in Denmark.

    Sure it sounds inexcusable that a big, strong, well conditioned ex-football player on discovering a child being raped simply walked away instead of stepping in and stopping it. On the other hand it makes a little more sense that McQueary viewed this as simply business as usual for Sandusky. It was something that had been going on for as long as McQueary had been at PSU, something lots of folks knew about, and perhaps most important something that McQueary’s boss knew about and did nothing to stop.

    Sandusky was a prof at PSU after he retired as a football coach and had an office close to the showers where the boy was raped; something McQueary knew. How would you react if you walked in on something like this, knowing it had been known about and accepted by higher ups.

    Please do not take this to mean I am trying to defend McQueary. My personal reaction would be to grab the biggest object I could pick up and beat Sandusky soundly about the head and shoulders; but then again I am not a low level assistant football coach in a high profile sports program.

  399. From the Second Mile 2010 990 (available at Guidestar.org with a free registration), the list of trustees / directors:
    Bob Poole
    Cliff Benson
    Don Carlino
    Jake Corman
    Neal DeAngelo
    Ed Dunklebarger
    Kenneth Ewing
    Mike Fiaschetti
    Michael Fiore
    Linda Gall
    Anne Deeter Gallaher
    Bruce Heim
    Dottie Huck
    Dick Kile
    Tom Knepley
    Mike Kuntz
    Daryle Milliner
    Bill Martin
    Matt Millen
    Heidi Micholas
    Mike O’Donnell
    Kim Ortenzio-Nielsen
    Chuck Pearson
    Eric Peterson
    Alec Pringle
    Nancy Ring
    Drueanne Schreyer
    Steve Seltzer
    Lauren Shank
    Louie Sheetz
    Clyde Shuman
    Fred Strouse
    Ric Struthers
    Mike Sullivan
    Dave Woodle

  400. Football draws money. Child rape allegations/stories/etc drives money away. So overall they got 10-15 years of money from the program by feeding this guy kids to keep him happy.

    And, I have to say their student body seems quiet impressed with their football and money making skills by how they reacted when the news of the firing came out. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more rapes happened to people who spoke out against the child rapists and the people who kept providing them the kids.

    I have no delusions that things nearly as disgusting as this are taking place in other football programs, as well as corporations and any other large established money driven practice. If this had been a little to no money making program like ………rugby, field hockey, drama, etc. this would have been stopped.

    There are even rumors that investigators looking into the 90s child rape allegations were murdered. It’s a culture we have built around allowing anything in the name of money.

    I feel sorry for the kids and their families, but I suspect the only one who ends up facing jail time will be the rapist himself. And the families will get large cash payouts from the University, free counseling, free tuition when they wish to attend, and lifetime tickets to the games. Once they manage to talk a couple of the families into attending the games and get them treated special, it will be all over the news. Thumbs up will be given for how classy this University is and Look! even the families realize it was all a big misunderstanding.

    1 year from now the investigation will end. 2 years from now the families will be paid off, and people will barely remember. 3 years from now, What child rape?

  401. So, the thing I don’t get about the idea that Paterno did his job and was failed by his superiors argument is this:

    Paterno is credited by his supporters and his detractors as being THE MAN of Penn State football, if not Penn State University. He created the Grand Experiment of Success with Honor. He’s donated millions of dollars to the university, and raised many millions more. He’s the one with the statue on the campus, with the legend “Coach, Teacher, Humanitarian.” He was the one with the power to tell those same “superiors” no when they came to him and asked him to retire 7 years ago.

    Can you really argue that he is responsible for all the good things that he has done at Penn State, but when it came to one of his friends and assistants raping little boys, he had no power, authority, or moral responsibility to the university or the community to do something about it beyond “reporting it to his superiors”? Do you really believe that he didn’t know that his friend, defensive coordinator, and heir apparent had been investigated by police in 1998? Would you, just as a human being, having been told by someone you knew and trusted that they had observed your former assistant “doing something of a sexual nature” with a 10 year old, have been comfortable with reporting it to your superior, and then continuing to see that former assistant volunteer as a coach and run camps with kids for the next 9 years?

    Yet, Joe Paterno, who was never slow to call out other coaches for misbehavior (remember, he wasn’t going to retire and leave coaching to the Jackie Sherrills and Barry Switzers of the world), couldn’t find the moral authority to stop Jerry Sandusky from continuing to work with young boys?

  402. Also, I know John has implied this but I want to make it explicit. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how maybe Paterno didn’t know what McQueary says now happened, he said fondling or horseplay.
    When we’re talking about a grown man and a 10-year-old boy, fondling is assault. So all the same rules apply.

  403. how many individuals do we need before it can be called a mob? I recall quite clearly the the standard Tea Party response to anyone criticizing their calls for violence was “those are just some bad apples, we’re not all like that, therefore we cant be a mob”. yeah. sure. the title of this thread is “Omelas State University” and right below that is the Pennsylvania State University logo. And more than one person on this thread has condemned the entire school because of this, bulldoze the campus, the sports program, whatever. And what do we mean when we say “mob violence” if not a group of people who take a roughshod appproach to guilt versus innocence? The entire college is Omelas? every person who works there or goes to school there is guilty of complicity? no, thats a mob reaction. And I dont see anything by John that explicitely states everyone who goes to that college is no different than anyone who decides to stay in Omelas. But the title is ambiguous, and a number of people have expressed guilt-by-association proclamations on this thread and elsewhere. And all together, it has a mob like flavor to it, for those of us familiar with the evils of mobs anyway. Now, I am not one to take away a good righteous rant from folks. So by all means feel righteous about the rapist and feel righteous about the guys who covered it up and feel righteous about the guy who saw but didnt stop it. The people who are pointing out the mob-like behaviors they see arent saying rape isnt evil. but just because it is evil doesnt excuse any and all responses everyone is having. And some responses are veering into more “mobby” than others.

  404. I don’t know about the laws in Penn…. but in Texas the law clearly states that “any suspected case of child abuse must be reported to local or state police.” Paterno’s excuse of reporting it to his boss and washing his hands would not fly here. He and everyone else that know about any of the seven victums and did not report it would be going to jail, not just fired. Something tells me the system in Penn allows, or even condones, this type of behavior. Some above mentioned that this looks like a lynch mob…. I don’t think a grand jury and seven independantly verified victums leads to a lynch mob, it is the system of vetting an acquisition before bringing it to trial.

  405. And more than one person on this thread has condemned the entire school because of this, bulldoze the campus, the sports program, whatever. And what do we mean when we say “mob violence” if not a group of people who take a roughshod appproach to guilt versus innocence?

    Nice elision, there. Suddenly a blog post and a bunch of people commenting have become ‘mob violence.’ Stop it. Has anyone been physically hurt by this mob? Has anyone suffered more than losing their job because of this mob?

  406. ragebot I appreciate your perspective on the likelihood that Paterno had long-term knowledge of these events. He should be held accountable for that, and it is a factor that should be weighed in his failure to act appropriately in the shower rape. I also like the fact that you describe the attitude of acceptance (or resignation) in the inner circle.

    I came away from your post thinking “this is exactly why I am so angry!” (not at you) It is one thing that McQueary knew rumors and allegations about Sandusky. If, in the face of those rumors, he chose to remain friendly because he had no personal knowledge of any abuse then he would just be naive.

    But when he happened upon an actual crime in progress, he walked away. Maybe it was shock. Shock wears off after a few minutes. When he could see straight again, he chose to effectively look the other way (because reporting a crime to your boss is not a defense for not reporting a witnessed crime. It’s passing the buck.). Everyone is quick to think about all the reasons for McQueary’s (and Paterno’s) lack of action but I don’t care a bit about their psyches. I simply don’t care that career/PSU football was important to them. I don’t care that McQueary’s idol was proved to be a complicit coward. I don’t care that Paterno had loyalty to his friend. None of it is even slightly relevant to the justice process.

    Once these failed human beings have been prosecuted to the full degree of the law, they should be studied by sociologist, psychologists and medical scientists to detemine how the FUCK this sort of thing could go on.

  407. You know what, the “blog discussion as mob violence” thing is a sufficiently stupid position that I can already sense its inherently derailing qualities. So Greg, I’m going to tell you that if you want to wring your hands about it, do it on your own site and not here, please. I don’t want to have to manage what I assume will be progressive levels of ridiculousness.

  408. Cowards! And WHY THE FUCK is the MOST appropriate phase for all those FUCKHEADS!
    Joe Paterno even though you did not commit the crime your a FUCKHEAD too! And I will do everything in my pwer over the course of my lifetime to tell every adult and child not to remember you by your greats but your inexcusable failer to step up and help that child!!

  409. Folks:

    I understand people are passionate in their opinions, but please do take a moment before posting to check for spelling and grammar issues. It will offer your point of view some additional legitimacy.

    Also, folks, it seems unlikely that either Mr. Paterno or the other principals of this scandal will be reading the comment thread here, so this is probably not the best place to address them directly.

  410. Embee, thanks for your response. In high school I was on a championship debate team, and on a debate scholarship as an undergraduate; which prepared me to both understand and argue both sides of an issue, something that served me well in law school. This is something, in my opinion, a good lawyer also learns in law school.

    My post was not so much trying to defend what McQueary did (something I could never do); but provide insight into what his defense might well be. Lets also keep in mind that McQueary might also have been aware that previous efforts to shine light on what Sandusky did, and was still doing, had all failed.

    The plain fact of the matter is that Paterno was the key to the coverup. He was the strong man at PSU at least for the last 20 years; nothing of note happened there that he did not approve. There is plenty of blame to go around, but in my book he gets the lion’s share.

  411. I wonder whether those defending Paterno ever notice that a very high percentage of people doing so have a personal connection to Penn State and whether that ever makes them wonder whether their thinking on this subject might not be totally reliable. It’s pretty striking to me.

  412. ragebot – in the interest of clarity I want you to know that I never saw you as a McQueary apologist; to the contrary, your post highlighted the inanity of his presumed “defense.” Well done. If my post seemed to indicate otherwise it was my inartful writing, and not my thoughts or sentiment.

    I absolutely agree that Paterno deserves the lion’s share of the blame, for creating and maintaining an environment that accepts pedophilia as a price to pay for maintaining an image.

  413. One thing that takes a little reading in to ‘Walk Away From Omelas’ is that the people of Omelas are clever. They are not mindless zombies in a utopia. They have a system and they protect it.

    Notice how they separate people as they come of age, and have a group (all of whom who are bought in) tell the new individual of the tortured child. They make sure that the new individual is alone and doesn’t have anyone else to look to or get support from.

    It’s a utopia, so by definition anyone who speaks out within the utopia of the child, thus disturbing the utopia; would be destroyed. Just like many people who try to report crimes are. (And while we don’t know whether the DA was killed in response to this case, it was on his docket at the time and it’s fairly obvious he was done in and his evidence destroyed.)

    If you intend to come back to Omelas, raze it to the ground, and rescue that child, you had better be strong, clever, and have good friends watching your back.

  414. On the matter of financial punishment … this morning my son said he’s seen (didn’t say where, unfortunately) that massive civil suits are being filed against Penn State and a number of the individuals involved that already add up to a significant portion of the university’s endowment. If someone can come up with more factual info on that, I’m sure we’d all appreciate a link to it.

  415. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how maybe Paterno didn’t know what McQueary says now happened, he said fondling or horseplay. When we’re talking about a grown man and a 10-year-old boy, fondling is assault. So all the same rules apply.

    Thank you, Julie. This is not the first occasion where (some – too damn many) people seem desperate to split hairs to minimise, or flat out deny, any abuse ever took place. You know, as Whoopi Goldberg sickeningly put it, there’s “rape-rape” and the other kind. Right? It’s s a standard trope of rape culture to swaddle abuse and assault in euphemisms. After all, “fondling” and “horseplay” doesn’t sound as icky as your boss forcing his hand between your legs and inside your underwear (yes, Herman Cain apologists I’m looking at you) or a grown-man forcing a child to blow him. Does it?

  416. Just saw elsewhere that Sandusky has an autobiography titled…wait for it……

    “Touched.”

    This man is depraved.

  417. I wonder whether those defending Paterno ever notice that a very high percentage of people doing so have a personal connection to Penn State and whether that ever makes them wonder whether their thinking on this subject might not be totally reliable.

    Actually, I think most of us with a connection to Penn State aren’t defending Paterno, or the student rioters. However, we are perhaps more aware than most that there are thousands of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who didn’t know anything about these crimes, and couldn’t possibly have known, yet are expected to shoulder a portion of the blame. It’s rational to reject such expectations, and so a defense of the University community gets misconstrued as a defense of Paterno.

    It’s fair for those people to ask “How can the University heal?” — except I think that question is somewhat premature. We should be asking now is “How can justice be served, and the victims healed?” Once that’s accomplished, then we can consider how the University — the University, if not the football program — can be healed. Because right now, the response I’m hearing is that the University doesn’t deserve to heal, and should be torn down.

  418. Can you really trust the University to truly divulge all information and change the way they operate if they have a lot of the same people there as they had when all of this has been taking place?

    Can you really know that they’ve turned on all the lights and all the cockroaches are accounted for? Or did they find a couple really big cockroaches and exterminate them to prove a point and it ends there?

    10+ years of shady activities being covered up points to a system in place that would rather turn out the lights than clean up the problem. I don’t think it’s reasonable in the slightest to trust any information coming out of the University. I also have my doubts that they will look into anything beyond child molestation charges during their investigation of the University due to big money being involved in the University and their football program.

    You don’t upset the donors, they might donate to your campaign someday.

  419. Just following the money for a moment, the era from the end of the 80s to the mid-90s saw insane profit for PSU, largely under the guidance of a man who coincidentally had first been a professor at PSU in late 70s during the great Paterno run (and the founding of The Second Mile) with which our story began. Taking full advantage of football magic to sell PSU, this guy pulls in record breaking fundraising for a public university, 350 million in one campaign, and nearly a billion in the decade he was there; he triples PSU’s endowment, then resigns to work in philanthropic management (in 1995, the year Spanier joins), then spends a decade raising billions more for U of Arkansas, and becomes its Chancellor. Through part of this (at least up to 1996) he is still a board member of The Second Mile, according to a googled Penn State PR sheet produced when they awarded him an honorary degree in that year.

    I am not saying this particular board member had personal knowledge of the 1998 or 2002 incidents, and how could one know – although I can’t tell if his departure occurs before or after spring of 2002, when the TSM executive officer alleges that he legitimately believed that no abuse took place, since they were given reason to believe that by Tim Curley, who allegedly told them in 2002 that there was no basis for the allegations against Sadusky they had earlier in the year been informed of by PSU. This would suggest that the man who served as Primary Counsel to The Pennsylvania State University, as well as Pro Bono Counsel to The Second Mile, Wendell Courtney, was very good at compartmentalizing information between his two jobs. It may help explain why Wendell Courtney lied earlier this week and said he had only begun his work with the Second Mile in 2009, prompting the PA Attorney General to issue a statement that based on Grand Jury testimony Courtney had lied and had actually begun his work at The Second Mile before the ORIGINAL 1998 incident. At the very least, the fact that people involved in that ol’ Penn State football magic, and people involved in one of the great public university endowment success stories, were all part of both the charity and the university, perhaps even up to 2002, and for certain their counsel was literally the same person. Beyond personal culpability, this might add some perspective to the higher forces at work that helped to blind the principles to what they were doing.

  420. Further to my last one (1:59), my next stop after here in my “morning rounds” was My Yahoo and Yahoo News, and there’s an interesting article today on another possible form of financial punishment, at … sorry, tried pasting the link but it runs about 8 lines that way and probably wouldn’t be usable. You should be able to find it yourselves at Yahoo.

    It’s headed “Will Penn State’s corporate sponsors bail?”, and in summary says that so far none of the big-money sponsors have any immediate intention of terminating their contracts, although several say they’ll be keeping a close eye on new developments in the investigation, particularly in regard to the timeline and who-knew-what-when.

  421. BrianMac:
    Actually, I think most of us with a connection to Penn State aren’t defending Paterno, or the student rioters. However, we are perhaps more aware than most that there are thousands of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who didn’t know anything about these crimes, and couldn’t possibly have known, yet are expected to shoulder a portion of the blame.

    *sigh* Perhaps I’ve spent way too much reading female/feminist bloggers on the subject, but this seems to be a pretty standard derail trope of any discussion of abuse or ‘rape culture’. Do I believe than Penn State is a giant cluster of serial child rapers? No, that’s just bloody silly. But it’s just a cop out to say “hey, a few rotten apples. Got nothing to do with me” and not look at the social and cultural context such behavior exists in.

    Just because I’ve never raped anyone or shown the slightest sexual interest in children, does not mean I’m therefore exempt from taking a good long, hard, self-critical look at my own attitudes and behaviour. IMO, the epic levels of denial around Penn State

  422. I guess my confusion comes in when your “legal obligation” is met by telling your *boss* about a rape you (or someone who came and told you) witnessed. If you’re a secretary and you see a coworker raping a kid in an office building (or a coworker tells you about witnessing this), why would calling the CEO be the proper next step, legally speaking? Why in the WORLD is the “legal obligation” not to call law enforcement?

  423. Luiz,
    I agree that an accusation should not be treated as proof, but here’s what should have happened anyway.

    JoePa and the AD should have investigated the crap out of this. Not just turned over to the police, but conducted interviews of their own. Because if this guy did NOT do what he was accused of, the accuser is evil. Yes, evil. It is an objective evil to accuse someone of something so terribly heinous that his entire life could be ruined by the mere accusation.

    BUT, there is evidence that the accusation of this was not a surprise to anyone in the organization, which says A LOT.

    Third, the witness did nothing at all to stop what he was seeing. That in itself is enough for him to be fired. You don’t walk away from a child like that or you are guilty too. I know I’ll get hammered for this, but imagine the emotional impact rape has on a kid. Imagine the opportunity for healing that moment had for that child if another man–a stranger– came in and saved you, put his arm around you and showed you what a real man is, which is a protector of children, not a rapist.

  424. Thanks you so much for this. Reading the news about this over the past few days I keep thinking it can’t possible get any worse – and then it does. The latest story about former PSU football player planning a rally at this weekend’s game – hoping to get 800 former players to come and “support the kids” – no, not the victims of this horrific and ongoing abuse – the football players. And the icing on top? He wants to raise money to send to Sandusky!

    Again, thank you for this. I was feeling like I had fallen down the rabbit hole – obviously football and power are so much more important than the innocence of children.

  425. “I’m thinking this might be a good deal uglier story even than it appears. Someone already mentioned the dead DA and his missing hard drive. And now there are some really ugly rumors about trafficing coming out.

    Sandusky was a famous coach when he retired. Yet no other college or professional team recruited him. Why not? Did they know what was going on? How many people were keeping quiet about this?”

    Just to keep as much accuracy as possible in this swirl of rumors, truths, and half-truths, Mr. Gricar was/is missing and *assumed* dead.

    However, what I find interesting about this question

    “How many people were keeping quiet about this?”

    is that the same person who was State’s AG at the time Mr. Gricar — the currently missing DA who did not prosecute the earlier allegations — presumably reported to him, is the current Governor.

    Make of that what you will.

  426. Casey:

    You’re not the only one wondering, but here’s my question: When the legal bar is so far below the baseline for “not being a spineless rape-enabling douchebag” should you really be citing the letter of the law?

  427. I accidentally underrepresented (in @2:29pm) the scale of the Paterno factor by saying the endowment was tripled. The Penn State endowment was multiplied by six or seven times in the decade before 1995. Some of the first of new millions to roll in, in the late 80s, by the way, were for the Paterno Library Fund.

  428. ” It is an objective evil to accuse someone of something so terribly heinous that his entire life could be ruined by the mere accusation.”

    *eyeroll*

    Not if the person accused actually did the heinous thing, it isn’t.

  429. Justin Jordan: I suspect that the reason McQueary will not be at tomorrow’s game is for his own security, as he has become very unpopular among two groups completely opposed to each other. One is those who believe that he failed by not stopping Sandusky from raping the boy and not calling the police himself. The other is those who blame him for indirectly causing Paterno to be fired by testifying to the grand jury.

  430. I would like to make one small statement as an adult victim of child abuse. If you ever encounter this situation, unless you know the victim personally, immediately call the police and ask for instructions on what to do. The only tiny piece of dignity I have to hold onto in the memory of my abuse is that no one was there to see it.

  431. All you Penn-Staters now know what it is like to be a Roman Catholic.
    These terrible things happen. You had no idea, but it makes you dirty as well.
    My suggestion .. take your lumps and make a better future.

  432. “Why in the WORLD is the “legal obligation” not to call law enforcement?”

    Your legal obligation IS to report crime. period.
    Company policy is irrelevant.
    Company policy about you NOT interfering directly with an ongoing crime is to prevent lawsuits.

    You watch someone get hit by a car and the car drive off?
    Write down the number, call the police, aid the victim (drag them out of traffic slowly)
    TADA, you are a moral human.

    You watch someone rape a child?
    You go home and then make a call the next day?
    You are pond scum.

  433. David @ 9:23
    htom@9:09am Amazing: you can’t even write any of the names.
    I find it amazing I’m using my own name in this conversation, I don’t need to use others’, they’ve already been fixed in your minds. I don’t want to be a party to reinforcing that learning of yours. If there’s an upheld conviction, maybe then. A futile gesture, I know, but there’s little else left now.

    Frank @ 9:46
    It would have been unfortunate for the rescuer because of the typical response of law enforcement and the rescuer’s subsequent treatment. cf this story. Note that story is unusual because the shooter was not charged. If the alleged rapist has been at it since 1992 — a decade before the incident we’re discussing — there’s a whole lot going on that needs to have been better addressed (that behavior code was written in 1995 or 1997, I forget which.)

    David @ 9:56
    @htom. You didn’t just say that the thread was worthy of condemnation, you said it was worse than the original crime. So I’ll ask again: is a blog post with 400+ comments worse than the serial rape of young boys?

    What I said was

    … Attacking others for the failure of the observer to so interact, when the observer reported as he was required to do says more about the policy and laws than about the crime, perpetrator, or observer. The mob appears to be ashamed that such a thing happened and demands a scapegoat.

    I’m saying such vengeance (the mob’s, not the observer’s) is even more wrong than then original crime. …

    Pervert has already privately raped a bov vs mob publicly raping an innocent’s reputation, thus discouraging others from either interfering in future rapes or reporting the witnessing thereof. Which is worse … which creates more bad in the future? One crime is done, the other is ongoing. Which are you participating in, which are you attempting to interrupt?

    Didn’t go to either Penn or Penn State. Didn’t play college football, don’t follow it. Don’t know any of the named principals, and was only vaguely aware of them. Not interested in having sex with children. Not interested in defending convicted folk who rape children.

    I want them convicted, not lynched.

    mythago — sigh. Maybe I should stay away from such topics, maybe I have a touch of PTSD about mobs. When I see one starting to form, I feel I have to either run, or fight them.

    Scalzi — I’m out of this thread. I hope I haven’t offended, and apologize again for having misunderstood you.

  434. “Your legal obligation IS to report crime. period.”

    … but you see, the entire education establishment has been conditioned not to do this.
    Just ask them what would they do if they found out there was an illegal alien in their classroom.

  435. @BigNed – Thank you for the comment. That was issue was bothering me a bit too.

    @Dr. Noisewater – wow.

    @Joshua – you are at least half right, though I bet they weren’t concerned for just one man’s security; rather, they fear the whole event might explode.

  436. Sandusky started the Second Mile in the 70′s (probably to have a group of little boys at his disposal). I bet we would all be sick to know how many innocent boys he has actually violated over the years. And another question I have is why the Second Mile let him keep taking kids home when they were informed of his misconduct. This will be another can of worms when all the details come out. Did the President of the Second Mile not want to lose his job that Sandusky gave him? Cover up? You bet.

  437. Well, IF (IF!!!!) we find out that those things happened at Penn State, I agree. But right now, what you’ve written is based SOLELY ON MEDIA SPECULATION. Do you know exactly what McQeary told Paterno? And you know what was said exactly….how? Because that’s what was alleged in the news? Because you supposed that’s what was told Paterno? There is too much he said/she said at this point.

    Before we burn more people with torches and stick them with pitch forks, I’ll wait until the FACTS come in on the case and decide for myself, and not based on tabloid justice, what anyone’s moral failings were.

  438. Greg, surely you mean unsubstantiated claims of calls for violence coming from Tea Parties…

    Or can you provide some links to actual news reports/videos of such calls for violence?

  439. The only problem I have with this article is that it doesn’t address the pressures to conform and the manipulative skills of deviates. I have a funny uncle who didn’t bother me but tried to seduce my brother. That uncle retired as a brigadier general.

  440. Mallen, does your definition of “solely on media speculation” include the findings of fact of an investigating Grand Jury that worked on the case for three years? If not, you’re just plain wrong. If so…I respectfully submit that that’s an extremely eccentric definition.

  441. @Neo:

    Yeah, because having children of illegal immigrants in your classroom is exactly like coming across a grown man in a shower with his dick in a child’s mouth or anus. I kind of see the point you were trying to make, but in context you picked a really bad false analogy.

  442. What Elizabeth Moon said, way upthread. Whether or not Paterno had a legal obligation to see that the matter was immediately reported to the police, he certainly had a moral obligation in that direction. Not just to report it, but to take steps to make sure it never happened again in a facility under his supervision.

  443. I read that Mr. Paterno did not report the allegations of the Grad Assistant until 10 days after he was told. Why would he wait so long? Busy with coaching young men, I suppose. Molding the hearts, minds and bodies of young players is hard work.

  444. John, Thank you for your post.

    Concerning appropriate action I would ask the following question:

    What you want others to do if it were your child in the shower with that animal? Report it to their superior and, when nothing happens, just let sleeping dogs lie? Really?

  445. Tully: The problem is that Paterno and others apparently took the “in a facility under his supervision” part to be the be-all and end-all. They told Sandusky he was banned from bringing children to the athletic facilities; they didn’t take any action (like calling the police) to prevent him from molesting children elsewhere, such as via the children’s charity that Sandusky was one of the founders and organizers of.

  446. Mallen, et al:

    You know, I’m just going to make a rule from here on out that people who bluster in here and start spouting “WE DON’T KNOW THE FACTS” while apparently not being aware of the existence of the grand jury report (or, alternately, choosing to ignore it, or even more alternately, appear not to know how a grand jury report works) are just going to get Malleted, because I’m tired of having to point them in that direction.

    This rule is in effect starting now.

  447. You left out option :

    H. Finagle this abuse situation so that you get a plum job in a Big Ten Football program for 10 years.

    I think he took option “H”

  448. John Scalzi

    “You know, I’m just going to make a rule from here on out that people who bluster in here and start spouting “WE DON’T KNOW THE FACTS” while apparently not being aware of the existence of the grand jury report are just going to get Malleted, because I’m tired of having to point them in that direction. ”

    I tried to read the damn report- but I threw the damn thing on the floor. Beyond disgusting.

  449. 1. I know this is unpopular but we need to remember that nobody has been convicted of anything yet and are entitled to the presumption of innocence. All we have is the grand jury report, which is an ex-parte document driven by the prosecutors. If the allegations are proven there is not a dark enough hole to stick these folks in, but we should not skip the essential step of due process.

    2. I thank God I have never been in the place McQueary claims to have been in because I cannot imagine how horrible that must be. I agree that the right and best thing to do is protect the child, but before we condemn people as cowards lets acknowledge that we don’t know how we would react if we were in their place. You should not demand a standard so high you are not certain you can meet it yourself, and if you haven’t been there you don’t know how you would act.

  450. There is just one question we need to ask of each adult that witnessed or were told what was going on whether they did the “right” thing. What if the child being raped was their child or grandchild, would their actions have been any different? We all know the answer. And it tells us all we need to know about the cowards that did nothing.

  451. Well put John. Correct actions and order of response. I’ve heard too much about the fallout in their lives directly from people who were not rescued. What to do really is simple.

  452. I guess I set myself up to be malleted but I know how a Grand Jury report works, it is an ex-parte proceeding, no defense counsel is present, there is no cross-examination of witnesses by defense counsel, the legal standard to return an indictment is much lower than securing a conviction etc. And given the fact that juries are constitutionally required to give defendants the presumption of innocence and put the burden on the government our founders apparently did not consider a grand jury report all the facts.

  453. Specifically, it was Tim Curley and Gary Schultz who supposedly made the decision to ban Sandusky from bringing children to campus, according to the grand jury’s presentment.

  454. Another Penn Stater here. I’ve been trying to keep my head down, but I can’t let this pass:

    Do I believe than Penn State is a giant cluster of serial child rapers? No, that’s just bloody silly. But it’s just a cop out to say “hey, a few rotten apples. Got nothing to do with me” and not look at the social and cultural context such behavior exists in.

    Are you aware that the football program at Penn State is almost completely self-contained at their own facilities? In my six years at University Park, I hardly ever saw a player or a coach except at the stadium on Saturdays. The social and cultural context you’re talking about is a small brotherhood of coaches and assistants who have very little interaction with the students and instructors at the various academic colleges.

    Do you honestly believe that the greater part of Penn State condones this sort of behavior? Does it occur to you for one moment that we have a few thousand liberal arts majors who believe just as you do, and who would go absolutely berserk at the first whiff of this sort of thing?

    To the extent that students, alumni and staff have been in denial this week, it’s because we’re in shock and grief, and denial is a widely-recognized consequence. So’s anger, which goes a long way to explain (without excusing or justifying; I’ve already written my letter to the student paper letting them know they’re not helping) the violence of Wednesday night. But to claim that a student body larger than a good-sized city lives in a state of denial is absurd. It’s the equivalent of finding an arsonist in the fire department of a city the size of Harrisburg, and concluding that residents of the city are guilty of fostering an “arson culture.”

    Blame the Athletics Department. Blame the Administration. Blame those who knew and did nothing, or who chose not to look too carefully. God knows there’s plenty of blame to go around. But don’t assume or assert that a couple of hundred thousand people all turned a blind eye to this sort of thing for the better part of 20 years.

    We’re guilty of ignorance; not complicity.

  455. BK123:

    “I know this is unpopular but we need to remember that nobody has been convicted of anything yet and are entitled to the presumption of innocence.”

    It’s not unpopular; I mentioned such a thing upthread. However, a legal presumption of innocence does not require no one at all speaks an opinion until the trial.

    “but before we condemn people as cowards lets acknowledge that we don’t know how we would react if we were in their place.”

    You appear to be making the assumption that no one here has been in a sufficiently congruent situation; you also appear to be making the assertion that no one is allowed to express an opinion on what one should do in a situation like that. I agree we don’t know what we would do until something like that happens to us. But that is a separate discussion from what we should do.

    This is another example — I think probably unintentional — where someone wanting to be “reasonable” is in fact trying to box in the parameters of a discussion such that if followed to specification means that no one would be able to speak on the subject at all. And that is, I’m afraid, rather unreasonable.

    “I know how a Grand Jury report works, it is an ex-parte proceeding, no defense counsel is present, there is no cross-examination of witnesses by defense counsel, the legal standard to return an indictment is much lower than securing a conviction etc.”

    Please go upthread to the previous discussion of grand juries; you’ll find those disagreeing with most of those assertions you’ve just made. You didn’t get the mallet, but I’m not particularly interested in having yet another argument as to the validity of the grand jury report when it comes to what transpired in that locker room and what Mr. Paterno, et al knew of the event.

  456. Peter Cibulskis @ 3:35 pm. Re why McQueary is in the clear (for now). And perhaps following up on what BK123 and others just said, which I read after writing the below.

    John is right that McQueary fucked up. However, it is now the present, we can’t change the past, and everything hangs on whether he specifically mentioned seeing anal sex. The Grand Jury merely reports that he told university officials “what he saw.” It does not say explicitly that he spoke the words, “there was anal sex,” perhaps giving the university officials a potential way out in cross-examination. Paterno, somewhat ironically, is the one who came closest to coming clean that he was aware something “sexual” happened; and I wonder if he thought he was going to take the fall in a deal brokered by the board that he would retire honorably at the end of the season. But that apparently fell through, for unknown reasons, as board members started talking to the press, and he was then abruptly fired – I’d love to know exactly what happened to precipitate that but don’t see how we will ever know.

    I can’t begin to imagine the tremendous pressure on McQueary right now regarding what he is going to say when he takes the stand in the trials of the Penn State legends. And that pressure goes far beyond the question of whether he keeps his job. (In fact, his job is one thing that seems to be protected under a state whistleblower law.)

  457. BK123

    “I guess I set myself up to be malleted but I know how a Grand Jury report works, it is an ex-parte proceeding, no defense counsel is present, there is no cross-examination of witnesses by defense counsel, the legal standard to return an indictment is much lower than securing a conviction etc. And given the fact that juries are constitutionally required to give defendants the presumption of innocence and put the burden on the government our founders apparently did not consider a grand jury report all the facts.”

    I know where you are coming from- and the Duke case certainly reminds us not to rush to judgement.

    But there are what- 8 victims listed?- and at least two witnesses who saw actual rapes.

    The coverup isn’t about guilt or innocence- its about suppressing a potential crime.

    Even if some of the report is off- there certainly was enough going on that a coverup was a highly unethical- if not illegal act.

  458. BK123 says, at 4:13 pm

    You should not demand a standard so high you are not certain you can meet it yourself

    G-d help us if we DON’T set the standard that high, and strive to meet it ourselves.

  459. neo: “… but you see, the entire education establishment has been conditioned not to do this.
    Just ask them what would they do if they found out there was an illegal alien in their classroom.”

    what we have been conditioned is to apply a sliding scale to reality.
    0 – we wont do anything: someone jaywalking, rolling stop right turn, speeding, littering

    10 – 911 and run and try to help: fire, rape, murder, assault, robbery, car crash, person falls on to train tracks, etc. Certainly, we apply a judgement call as to our own personal safety when it comes to get involved. Large angry mob attacking one person? 911, and record with video. Any number of people beating on a small child or woman? 911, quick pic and charge in swinging and kicking.
    (being tall and FAT gives me lots of momentum)

    everything else is somewhere in the middle

    1 – people walking down the street smoking pot? meh, whatever. deep sniff to see if it is good pot.
    5 – someone lights a cigarette in a movie theater? FUUUUUUU “Yell at tard until he puts it out. any lip and I get him thrown out.”

    1 – illegal alien in class? whatever. I dont care.

    different people will have different reactions to crimes between 0 and 10. I am sure that there are some asshole kids out there who call the cops/INS on illegal aliens in their classrooms. sad. but true.

    but watching a rape in front of you? child, adult, dog, who cares.
    if your FIRST thought isnt 911 or stopping it, you are so morally farked that you really dont belong in civil society. Worried about getting beaten upon? fine. 911 and take pics.

    FFS, unless the person has a gun, kick them and dont stop kicking them until they stop moving or the police arrive.

    /sigh

  460. I am not saying people shouldn’t say what someone should do, I am saying we should perhaps be more understanding if someone falls short, since maybe if we are actually faced with the situation we will find ourselves falling short. And if you stopped a child rape my hat is off to you.

    As for expressing opinions before trial, you can do whatever you want, but I would argue that before all the due process has occurred people’s opinions should be tempered by the fact that things are uncertain, which is why we say “alleged”.

  461. I find it amazing I’m using my own name in this conversation, I don’t need to use others’, they’ve already been fixed in your minds. I don’t want to be a party to reinforcing that learning of yours. If there’s an upheld conviction, maybe then. A futile gesture, I know, but there’s little else left now.

    I think rather your subconscious is so uncomfortable with the ridiculous argument that it’s making that it won’t let you write the names down.

    I’m saying such vengeance (the mob’s, not the observer’s) is even more wrong than then original crime. …

    Pervert has already privately raped a bov vs mob publicly raping an innocent’s reputation, thus discouraging others from either interfering in future rapes or reporting the witnessing thereof. Which is worse … which creates more bad in the future?

    Your gloss of your point is not what you originally said. You may reformulate it that way, if you wish, but that avoids my followup question: what mob violence has occurred? Has anyone been physically hurt? Has anyone suffered anything more than losing their job?

    And the moral equivalency here:

    One crime is done, the other is ongoing

    Is just appalling. So now a blog post and 500+ comments are a crime equivalent to the raping of small boys? That’s a statement of utter moral bankruptcy.

    All we have is the grand jury report, which is an ex-parte document driven by the prosecutors

    Again, even going off the facts NOT IN DISPUTE (ie that Paterno et al admit to) there were appalling moral breaches.

  462. Bruce:

    “However, it is now the present, we can’t change the past, and everything hangs on whether he specifically mentioned seeing anal sex.”

    Well, no, it doesn’t hang on that at all, actually. What it’s reported the Paterno said happened (“fondling or some sort of sexual activity”) more than leaps the bar for action being required.

    This sort of niggling nit-picking is ridiculous — there’s no doubt Paterno was aware McQueary alleged some manner sexual contact and reported it to his superiors.

  463. All this “he did enough” or “he didn’t do enough” and “he wasn’t told” and “we don’t know what he was told are missing what is, to me, the point.

    Joe Paterno was the BMOC (literally) at Penn State. He was powerful enough to tell the Board of Trustees “no” when they told him he should consider retiring.

    If he had an ounce of human dignity in him, he would have made sure Sandusky could not have hurt any more boys when he first heard about it. Not just on the Penn State campus, but anywhere. Joe Paterno’s primary failure is not a failure to comply with policy, but to actively look aside from the abuse.

    There is a lot of blame, and there are dozens of people who are guilty of a failure to act. But, I hold Joe Paterno up to a higher standard because he professed to be building men of character through football and he held himself up as a moral coach that did things “the right way.”

    Looking the other way when a colleague is raping people is not moral. Failure to act does sully everything JoePa has done. You can’t be a moral human and not act to protect innocent victims.

  464. Re my 4:23 pm, to clarify, he merely says he reported to Paterno “what he saw” but later says he gave Curley and Schultz some more explicit detail (although exactly what he said may still be challenged) at meeting which Paterno did not attend (almost certainly) in order to protect himself. I think a lot of this drama is all about keeping some rich and/or legendary people out of prison, while allowing the bureaucrats to pass the buck to the greatest extent they think they can possibly get away with.

  465. However, it is now the present, we can’t change the past, and everything hangs on whether he specifically mentioned seeing anal sex. The Grand Jury merely reports that he told university officials “what he saw.” It does not say explicitly that he spoke the words, “there was anal sex,” perhaps giving the university officials a potential way out in cross-examination.

    JS has already dealt with one aspect of this, but let me just say, please, folks, READ the grand jury report. McQueary testified specifically to the fact that he talked about anal sex to Curley et al. He said “what he saw” refers only to Paterno.

  466. The VP Paterno reported the crime to (who is under indictment) is the administrator in charge of Penn State Police.

  467. John @ 4:32 pm, just saw your reply, and you may be right. I’m just trying to process why things are shaking out in a bizarre fashion.

  468. @BK123, there’s nothing alleged about Mike McQueary’s testimony to the grand jury. He testified that he saw Jerry Sandusky anally raping a 10 year old boy. His response was to call his father; then tell Paterno the next day.

    There’s nothing “alleged” about Paterno’s testimony to the grand jury. He testified that he was told that his former assistant was fondling and doing something of a sexual nature to a 10 year old boy at 9:30 at night in the showers at the football building. His response was to tell the athletic director about it the next day.

    For a coach that claimed to believe in Success with Honor, he neither did the honorable thing, nor taught his former player/then GA to do the honorable thing.

  469. No worries, Bruce.

    Folks, I know the thread is long at this point, but a lot of the topics coming up now have been discussed earlier in the thread. Please make a little time to go back and read some of it — you might see a point you want to raise addressed to your satisfaction (or alternately addressed so that you might have something to go off of slightly different than what was said before).

  470. Mr. Scalzi–

    I am delighted to find your site again.

    Despite the very sad and unfortunate situation at Penn State, you have isolated and explained the precise problem explicitly.

    Doing what is right is hardly a measure of one’s character in simple and easy matters. When matters become tough and entangled, then, one finds their own measure of self. I like Paterno, and I think he is one of the best coaches ever, but he abbsolutely failed a most critical test of character.

  471. @Sherri: What I am saying is that no defense attorney has had the opportunity to depose the witnesses, try to find errors in their testimony, Sandusky has not been able to confront his accusers, which he has a Constitutional right to do. Until that happens (or Sandusky pleads) we cannot say that due process has finished.

  472. “However, it is now the present, we can’t change the past, and everything hangs on whether he specifically mentioned seeing anal sex.”

    Actually, no, everything hangs on whether Sandusky abused numerous (or even just one) child/ren.

    “… I am saying we should perhaps be more understanding if someone falls short, since maybe if we are actually faced with the situation we will find ourselves falling short.”

    Also no. McQueary deserves no “understanding” as he is complicit in a crime. Please save the “understanding” for the victims. McQ deserves to be studied, perhaps, as the subject of an investigation in to why a sports culture is deleterious to our society, but that’s all. And the post-comma threat about finding ourselves in a similar position is as pathetic as it is selfish. You just said you wanted to set the bar low so that you would pass. Disgusting.

  473. Amen! I’ve been asking the same question since this story broke: “How the hell does an adult not physically intervene in that situation?” I suppose no one really knows how they’ll respond in a crisis but I know this: I would sooner beat the shit out of a man raping a child than leave, call my dad and ask him what to do.

    And I also know if I ever called my dad with such a “dilemma”, his response would be “Go back and beat the shit…”

  474. John @ 4:32 pm, and David subsequently, as per my earlier posts about the wider scope of the problem, I am basically wondering if what “hangs on” such minor details of the language used in court is revealing how deep the rabbit hole goes. Does anybody seriously believe, for example, that the President didn’t know a thing? The last thing Penn State wants is Trustees taking the stand. It strikes me that all of the stories so far, including McQueary and Paterno as well as the ones who are lying even more brazenly, are calculated elements of a much broader damage control effort that we can’t know the full extent of. I hope I’m wrong, of course. I just fear that too much was known about this for too long to take what anyone says to the Grand Jury at this point face value.

  475. @BK123, I’m not talking about Sandusky. I’m talking about what Paterno and McQueary.

    Sandusky’s crimes, to this point, are indeed “alleged.” Paterno and McQueary have not been charged with crimes, however, and there is no due process to consider. They both testified under oath as to what they knew and what they did. I’m pointing out that what they did was morally well beneath the bar that Joe Paterno claimed to always stand for.

  476. Piratesquid:
    We’re guilty of ignorance; not complicity.

    OK, I obviously touched a nerve, and you’re not going to be ignored. I think any discussion of what a rape culture is, and isn’t, is a deeply emotive one and I’d like to 1) pick my words very carefully and 2) make sure I’m not just repeating stuff already said upthread. I’ve been whacked with the MoLC before, and I’m in no rush for an encore. :)

  477. @Scalzi: It looks like there is not a defense attorney cross-examining in PA grand juries, though testifying witnesses are allowed to have attorneys to help them answer questions, but not cross-examine. (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/42/00.045.049.000..HTM), and the standard of proof is lower (www.attorneygeneral.gov/crime.aspx?id=207)

    Everyone should keep in mind that if a Grand Jury was sufficient to determine guilt or innocence, rather than whether an indictment should be brought, there would be no need for petit juries.

  478. A similar question came up years ago when I read a story in the local paper about a kid who was attacked an I think killed, by an adult, in a restroom at a legal casino in Nevada. There was also a witness, who fled, and didn’t report it. The witness wasn’t charged because there was no law requiring bystanders to act. Now, I have two boys myself, who at that time were early teens, and were both black belts. They were probably big enough to stop an adult, but only with the use of deadly force, risking a manslaughter charge. So I told them, if they encountered something like that, to first yell at the criminal to try to scare them off. But then, if they had to intervene, I was ordering them, as their father, to do it, and to use deadly force as necessary. That way, if they had to face a police investigation, they could blame me. I still think that was good advice. Now, they are both over 21, second degree, and nobody in their right mind would try anything with them.

  479. “Dana King:

    “I guess it’s Paterno’s bad luck he wasn’t indicted. Then he would only have been suspended.”

    It’s entirely possible he could be indicted, actually.

    Otherwise, your attempt at snark here is underwhelming. If this is what you have to contribute to the thread at this point, you may wish to consider moving on.”

    I rather lost interest in Mr. Scalzi’s opinion at this point. Though ‘when someone you know and trust comes to you and says “I saw, with my own eyes, your former Defense Coordinator raping a small boy in your locker room?”’ contributed.

  480. This has been a fascinating thread to read. This is probably going to sound a little clinical and perhaps judgmental, but given the rest of the thread, I hope that isn’t a problem.

    I want to applaud our host’s careful stewardship of the comments, which allowed Reed to come around to what was actually going on, and applaud Reed for being open to coming around. That doesn’t really seem to happen that often in online fora (or face-to-face, for that matter).

    Speaking of stewardship, I guess what I’m wondering about is methods of trying to Make The World A Better Place, where Things Like This happen less. I think forcefully calling people out, giving voice to the moral revulsion most people feel at the privileged exploiting the helpless, is a very good start. But this got me thinking:

    Kathryne says:
    November 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm
    Reed- that’s very high minded of you, and I say that sincerely. I too do my level best to look for the best in people and I am largely rewarded with finding it. However, this guy failed to help a child who was in immediate need of help. And in failing that one child, he failed God only knows how many more. He chose to call his father instead of the police. He chose to be coerced or cajoled or otherwise convinced that someone other than the legal system was the best route to ‘handle’ dealing with a heinous crime against a child. That we know. And at that point does it really matter if you live in the same town on the same street or in the same house? Because your proximity to him doesn’t change anything.

    We’ve come a long way, as a society, from the mediaeval notions of tribal solidarity and social compact as zero-sum game against Other. But there is a long way to go before we are something that could be considered, by our own, current standards, as something approaching a truly just society. (And everyone, to some degree, is tribal. I’m pretty sure it is a very deep-seated thing.) Putting on our science fiction world-building hats, what systemic changes could we make to the present day U.S. that would make it less likely that comforting the comfortable, protecting the tribe and knowing your place is the default role one feels when confronted with an powerful alleged monster buggering a little kid?

  481. Rolling your eye M because I forgot to add “if he didn’t do it.” though I thought that was CLEARLY implied. My point was the accuser and the accused ought to have been investigated to the max. duh.

  482. You are obviously correct that the awfulness of this situation stemmed from individual failings that ranged from moral idiocy to moral bankruptcy.

    Unfortunately, events such as this generally give rise to a “Call for Reform.” I.e., policies designed to “save the children” that more often lead to government sanctioned abuses on an even larger scale. That, of course, is what the story of Omelas is all about.

  483. John: This is really crazy – what happened at Penn State and all the years that it was *allowed* to continue happening. I want to thank you for putting into words what my rage and subsequent “beating myself up for feeling this way towards humans” wouldn’t let me say. Keeping silent about injustices such as this are what make us into monsters – almost as monstrous as the monsters (pedophiles) themselves.

  484. I remember when Crystal Mangum accused three Duke students of gang rape. Her accusation was taken very seriously by law enforcement and the DA. She was supported by a Grand Jury too. Three men were expelled from school and arrested. And so on. On her word alone. We know how that turned out.

    REMFs have no business passing judgement on those who entered battle and were found wanting.

  485. BK123:

    “Everyone should keep in mind that if a Grand Jury was sufficient to determine guilt or innocence, rather than whether an indictment should be brought, there would be no need for petit juries.”

    All of which, as noted upthread, is not particularly relevant in this case, as the Grand Jury was not for either McQueary or for Paterno, who were called as witnesses, and whose testimony no one disputes.

    Look, folks, no matter how you try to slice it, what’s not in contention is the following:

    1. That any sexual activity between a grown man and a child is illegal.
    2. That McQuery asserts that he saw Sandusky having sexual activity with a child.
    3. That McQuery informed Paterno of what he saw.
    4. That Paterno informed his superiors that McQuery said he saw the sexual activity.

    Any attempting to assert that we don’t know these things is incorrect, and it is these things that are the meat of the discussion here.

  486. This the best that I have read by anyone/anywhere. It’s not rocket science as is argued by those who want to give Paterno a pass and said that he did the legal thing. And then to have it compounded by 5,000 students acting like morons because their beloved coach was dismissed for not doing his job. Child rape is a crime. You report it, You call the police. You don’t kick the can upstairs and then conveniently forget about it. You act like a man, like a human being. Any other excuse for not doing so is the act and thoughts of someone less human and by far less of a man.

  487. I can’t begin to imagine the tremendous pressure on McQueary right now regarding what he is going to say when he takes the stand in the trials of the Penn State legends. And that pressure goes far beyond the question of whether he keeps his job. (In fact, his job is one thing that seems to be protected under a state whistleblower law.)

    yup. The pressure is pretty simple: do you act like a man and tell the truth, the whole truth, including the part about your jobs and promotions, or do you stick to the “facts” that they can prove and hide like a toad.

    My guess is that McQueary will ask for and get immunity to testify and it will include some very interesting dirt. We can expect that there will be additional indictments.

  488. “I am not saying people shouldn’t say what someone should do, I am saying we should perhaps be more understanding if someone falls short, since maybe if we are actually faced with the situation we will find ourselves falling short. And if you stopped a child rape my hat is off to you.”

    It strikes me that all of us insisting that yes, we would save the child and beat the hell of the rapist and even maybe suffer criticism and job loss as a result, even if unrealistically optimistic, serves an important social purpose: that of communicating expectations to each other, and hopefully emboldening each of us as much as possible to do the right thing. We are applying what is unfashionably known as “stigma.” And that is a good thing, because if nothing else it lets people know that if they fail a test (like “did I stop a baby rape when I had the chance?”) they can expect to be vilified. Maybe it improves the chances that the next person will act.

    But apologizing for this poor excuse of a man — McQueary — on the grounds that not everyone would have the courage to do the right thing — is tantamount to supplying the excuse for some future McQueary not to act. “Most people wouldn’t risk it. It takes a special person to be a hero. I am just an ordinary guy. I didn’t do anything to deserve having to make this choice. Others will reassure me that many people would have stood by and done nothing. Therefore I, too, will stand by and do nothing.”

  489. And the benevolent Saint Joe Pa. will for ever be remembered as the man who apparently slept well at night, knowing he protected and enabled his longtime friend and pedophile. He spent years (decades?) looking the other way, not wanting to know, hoping no one but the victim’S’ suffered through this ‘unfortunate event’. Yeah, I’m sure he wishes he’d have acted differently now…

    He stood by and did nothing while evil continued to fester from within his organization.

  490. @Scalzi:

    It is false to say nobody disputes that testimony since presumably Sandusky will dispute the key element, that there was sexual conduct with a minor. If (hypothetically) Sandusky is innocent then McQuery may have lied to the grand jury, in which case he is a perjurer but not quilty of cowardice in the case above, or been mistaken in what he saw which means his lack of action may have been in part due to uncertainty rather than pure cowardice. Its not that these situations are likely, but we have not done the necessary work to say with certainty.

    Also, for the record, since nobody does any legal research in this thread, PA Grand Juries are ex parte North Huntingdon Tp. v. WCAB,165 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 33 at 38 (1994)
    644 A.2d 227 (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5967018251206885058&q=grand+jury+%22ex+parte%22&hl=en&as_sdt=4,39&as_ylo=1992), so nobody cross-examines the testimony that is given, which increases the likelihood that testimony may be shaded in one direction or another intentionally or subconsciously. You need a confrontational process to get testimony that is really tested.

    Less anyone thinks I am sympathetic to child rapists or their enablers if this is proven I hope Sandusky burns in Hell, I hope everyone who intentionally looked the other way suffers, but having never been in the situation McQuery claims to have been in, and having never seen something so horrible, I am loathe to judge him personally and I am loathe to skip an essential step in our due process.

  491. And to everyone, I agree our social standard should be you beat the hell out of rapists. And you can have whatever stigmatization you want, so long as you are willing to suffer the stigma you would heap on others if you fail yourself.

  492. If I told you “You can have your dream job but to keep it, many young boys will have to be sexually assaulted by a co-worker and you will look the other way and do nothing, would you accept the job? I would hope you’d punch me in the mouth and walk away.

  493. @bk123

    Whether Sandusky is guilty or not isn’t not important for whether or not Paterno (and others) failed morally – regardless of whether Sandusky did it, they believed he did and failed to act in an appropriate manner. That they believed he did it is not in dispute. At all. What they did in response is not in dispute. We have their own words available.

  494. Also, for the record, since nobody does any legal research in this thread

    Hey, asshole, what do you think my Nov 10 @ 1:19 pm was the product of? My imagination? I hate people who walk in to a thread all snotty and decry the failings of those before them.

    The Grand Jury was an investigating one, not an indicting one, so your presumption of prosecutorial intent is incorrect. In addition, witnesses are allowed to bring counsel, so McQueary certainly could have brought a lawyer with him. Finally, you’re blithely ignoring JS’s point: the stuff that we’re criticizing people like McQueary for is NOT IN DOUBT. IT’S WHAT THEY ADMITTED. Even if Sandusky contests the allegations, McQueary believed that he saw the rape and says that he walked away.

  495. bk123
    I really don’t think that your religious views are in any way relevant to this discussion; you should try to bear in mind that not everybody believes in hell.
    Claiming that you believe that people will suffer in an afterlife is simply a device for excusing people who have behaved in a profoundly immoral way in this life…

  496. Drug War. Drug Warriors. Every single day. Every single American.

    I seem to be the first to bring it up on this long thread.

    j’accuse

    Where is the courage friends to write even words to a blog?

  497. M Simon, what on Earth are you talking about? You’re first to bring up the Drug War; fine. I’m first to bring up the disappearing habitats of migratory songbirds.

    Or perhaps you’d care to explain the relevance of the War on Drugs to the Penn State Rape Scandal?

  498. @David: I read it, you are missing the point, its not McQ’s lawyer who may call his testimony (and therefore the logical chain discussed above) into question, it is Sandusky’s lawyer, who is not allowed to be there under the law (http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/234/chapter2/s231.html). And frankly, you mislead Reed at 1:42 since defense attorneys are not allowed in the grand jury.

    Also, I am not ignoring JS’s point, read my top paragraph, its not that if things were as McQ says they are he didn’t mess up BIG, its that, because he hasn’t been crossed we cannot say things are as he says they are. News flash, people lie, or misremember, or get led in grand juries all the time. Until all the due process is done we can’t assume things are true just because someone said them.

  499. Just random comments.

    Before McQueary reported what he claimed he saw to Paterno he was brave enough to step into the middle of a knife fight between two PSU football players and break up the fight. When he reported what he claimed to have seen to Paterno he started to get into specific details and Paterno told him to not describe the graphic stuff.

    Clearly McQueary was a big strong guy who could have over powered Sandusky, who was more than twice McQueary 28 years. McQueary’s actions at the knife fight, and as a football player, suggest he was not lacking in courage or knowing what the right thing to do was.

    As I posted earlier I am not trying to defend McQueary, rather to understand why he acted so out of character in this instance given his physical abilities and history. The only thing that makes sense to me is that it was not much of a secret in PSU football circles that Sandusky had a history of being attracted to boys and to some extent had tacit approval to do it as long as he did not scare the horses.

  500. its not McQ’s lawyer who may call his testimony (and therefore the logical chain discussed above) into question, it is Sandusky’s lawyer, who is not allowed to be there under the law

    But it doesn’t matter: McQueary believed that he saw a rape taking place and he did nothing. Even if he was wrong, he still believed it and thus still failed, morally. And he was entitled to counsel, who would have shaped what he said.

    we cannot say things are as he says they are

    Ah, so your defense of McQueary is based on the idea that we should not believe what the man himself said?

    What do you believe he was mistaken about, or l