Say It Ain't So, Joe
Joe Paterno is back in the news, and the case for his defense gets stronger. Creation Date Thursday, 14 February 2013. Hits 21625
With the release of the Paterno family report disputing the findings of the Freeh report, the questions surrounding the legacy of former head coach Joe Paterno has been reopened in the court of public opinion, and while a few people seem to be having their eyes opened, many protest the attention this is receiving. As a regular listener to Mad Dog Radio on Sirius XM radio, I hear many of the callers saying they are sick of the story, Joe will always be a bad guy, and they are tired of talking about it. Now I submit to you that I do understand why they feel this way, but I think that many of them have bought the rhetoric without an understanding of the facts. If you will allow me the opportunity to present only the facts from legitimate news sources and actual transcripts of the court testimony, then I believe you will see why the case against Paterno is weak at best and fraudulent at worst. Buckle up, because here we go.
First, the case against Paterno.
I don't want to make light of this at all. The charges leveled against Paterno have very significant moral and ethical implications. If in fact he did (or more specifically, didn't do) what he is accused of, than one would be left with some very real and serious questions about the morals of the man.
The allegations against Joe started out as more of a failure to report, and grew into him taking part in a conspiracy to cover up a criminal sexual exploitation of a child which occurred on the Penn State campus. The act was alleged to have been perpetrated by a former Penn State Coach, one Jerry Sandusky, and to have been witnessed by a Penn State assistant named Mike McQueary. What is not in dispute is the McQueary reported the incident to Paterno, who then in turn reported it to the Athletic Director and the University President. The allegations against Joe began to be made when the Grand Jury released its findings, which contained in part the following summary of testimony from Mike McQueary.
He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be 10 years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.
Now if in fact Mike did witness this incident, report it to Joe Paterno, and all he did was pass it up the chain then Joe fell woefully short of an appropriate, compassionate, and morally appropriate response. But is this an accurate description of what happened? More importantly, as far as Paterno is concerned, did he ever hear this version of events?
What did Joe know, and when?
In a court proceeding regarding the perjury charges facing Gary Schultz, Mike McQueary testified about his reporting of the incident to Joe Paterno. This is a link to the PDF of the court transcript of his testimony, and the part that I will reference will begin on page 24 and end on page 25. This is part of what Mike testified under oath to telling Paterno.
- (When describing what he told Joe.) I went over to his house, sat at his kitchen table, and told him that I had seen Jerry with a young boy in the shower and it was way over the lines. It was extremely sexual in nature and I thought I needed to tell him about it.
- (When asked if he described the positioning of the two people in the shower.) The rough positioning I would have described to him, but not in very much detail.
- (When asked if he used the term sodomy when discussing this incident with Paterno.) No, never.
- (When asked if he had used the term intercourse in his discussion with Paterno.) Never.
- (When asked why he did not use these terms.) Out of respect and just not getting into detail with someone like Coach Paterno, I would not have done it.
From the sworn testimony of Mike McQueary, we see here that he never told Paterno about intercourse or sodomy, and he twice says that he did not give details to Paterno out of respect for him. Now I'm not sure why, when reporting such an incident one would not give the details of said incident, as this behavior is counterproductive to the whole purpose of reporting an incident. What is clear here is that Paterno could not have known that the incident being discussed was rape of a child, and it would be impossible for him to understand the deeply serious nature of the allegations based on the lack of details given to him.
I think that most reasonable adults would agree that a grown man showering with a young boy, especially one which is not his son, is inappropriate. It would be hard to see such an occurrence and not think that this behavior was sexually inappropriate. But that allegation alone is a far cry from witnessing a young boy being sodomized by an adult male. Paterno's response to the matter is much more understandable when one realizes that he was never informed of the details of the incident that were released in the grand jury report.
Is Mike McQueary a credible witness?
When I called in to the Evan and Phillips Show to discuss this matter, I mentioned that I didn't believe that Mike McQueary witnessed a rape. I was blown away that they said it was "unbelievable" that I thought that he was exaggerating the story. I was asked for a motive for him to lie, and when I could not provide one, I was easily dismissed. While I could, I suppose, create some motive for him to be less than honest, I don't feel the need to. Instead, I would rather take a minute here to show how much McQueary's story has changed at the different times that he has told it.
- Here is the testimony of Dr. Dranov, a McQueary family friend in whom Mike confided at the time of the incident. “He had gone into the Penn State football locker room. When he came in, he described to me what he heard as sexual sounds,” Dranov said. “I asked, ‘Mike what do you mean?’”
“He couldn’t go on. He just seemed to get more upset,” Dranov said. “He turned and looked toward the shower and made eye contact with a young boy.”
Dranov testified that he asked McQueary if the boy seemed startled or frightened. McQueary said no.
“An arm reached out and pulled the boy back,” Dranov said McQueary told him. “I can’t remember what he said next, but he looked into the shower, and a man came out. It was Jerry Sandusky.”
“It was clear in Mike’s mind that this was an incident that had to be reported. He knew that he had to report it. I encouraged him to report it to his supervisor that was Joe Paterno,” Dranov said.
“Did he describe any particular sex act?” Karl Rominger asked Dranov.
“No he did not.”
- In the perjury trial, Mike was asked what he saw, and he said... "(Sandusky) Having some type of intercourse with him. That's what I believe I saw." and in response to a question of the two individuals movements he said... "Slow movement, certainly not hard or fast movement, but a little movement."
- In Mike's testimony, he says multiple times that Sandusky and the victim were still in the building when he left. He says that they were alerted to his presence, but they were still there. But in an email to a friend he made the following claim. “I did stop it, not physically ... but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room
- In court, Mike clarified his claim that he reported the incident to the police. He said that he reported it to Schultz, who was the head of the police, so he viewed him as the police, and this was the only law enforcement official he spoke to. But in the same email, he made the following claim. "I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police"
- The time of the occurrence of the incident was changed between the grand jury report being released, and the trial. This was due to an error pointed out by Joe Amendola , an attorney for Jerry Sandusky. Mike McQueary was more than a year off on the date that he had claimed that the incident occurred.
It is important to note that according to testimony from every witness involved (with the exception of Mike himself), including the father of McQueary and a doctor who was a family friend, the first incident where McQueary ever used the words "rape" or "intercourse" in regards to the incident came more than 10 years after it occurred. Not one witness testified to him using any of these descriptions at the time that the incident occurred. It is for these reasons that I question the integrity of McQueary's testimony, and I am not alone in this. The jury convicted Sandusky of every count except the 3 relating to the rape alleged by McQueary.
At this point, it seems ridiculous to me to even address this issue, at least to the extent of Paterno's involvement, but I will anyway for the record. First, we have the testimony of McQueary that Paterno was never told of a rape. But more interestingly, we have his testimony about the phone call that lead to the house visit where he told Paterno about the incident. From Mike's testimony, Paterno thought he was calling about some of the job openings he had and Joe informed him that he was wasting his time. Now let's assume for a second that he wanted to orchestrate a coverup. What would be the logical way of doing it? Why not tell Mike that he did the right thing and explain how this could embarrass the University if it were to get out. You could inform him that you had given some further thought to one of those jobs that was opening, and you did need his services after all. You could make it clear that his further silence would show his commitment to the University and the program. But that, of course, is not what happened. If I want to believe that there was a conspiracy to cover this up, I have to believe the following things.
- Joe's first step in the coverup was to deny a job to a key player in the coverup.
- His second step in the coverup is to inform the head of the police which had jurisdiction and the University President.
- He never informed the only witness to the event that was being covered up that there was indeed a coverup.
- They did not destroy or attempt to hide any of the emails or notes about the coverup, to include the files that Shultz left behind when he retired.
- When preparing to lie to a grand jury to perpetuate the coverup, none of the 3 people involved hired a lawyer nor took the most basic step of saying "I can't recall."
- They reported the incident they were covering up to the Second Mile charity.
Now let's face it. If this was a coverup, it was the worst coverup in recorded history. Of course that doesn't mean it wasn't one, it just isn't logical to conclude that it was.
There are some important things to remember here. First, Jerry Sandusky was a master manipulator. He not only fooled those closest to him, but he received Presidential praise from George H. W. Bush for his work at Second Mile and an Angels in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Am I to believe that even the Federal Government was in on the coverup too, or is it safe to say that he fooled a lot of people? There is a lot of anger that people are feeling generated by the actions of Jerry Sandusky, and that is not only understandable it is natural. Perhaps there is more anger than a single target can hold. But when we spread that anger to others who were also fooled by him, people like Joe Paterno, what do we gain? Wouldn't it be far better to learn how he manipulated so we can be better prepared for the next monster?