Paterno morally obliged to answer questions on Sandusky

Joe Paterno needs to say more about what he knew regarding Jerry Sandusky and when he knew it.

Joe Paterno needs to say more about what he knew regarding Jerry Sandusky and when he knew it.

After reading the Pennsylvania grand jury’s presentation, the first thought is not that Jerry Sandusky needs to go to prison if the allegations are true – it’s that he should be tied to the bumper of a Chevy and pushed off a cliff. I say that not as a father of two but as any human being with a shred of decency, morality and a soul.

“Victim 2” (of eight listed in the document) was estimated to be 10 when he was seen in the locker room showers at Penn State being subjected to sexual intercourse by Sandusky, then 58, in 2002.

“Victim 4” was 12 or 13 in 1996 or 1997 when he was “repeatedly subjected to Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and Indecent Assault at the hands of Sandusky.”

“Victim 5” was 8 or 10 and attended as many as 15 football games with Sandusky who said he felt uncomfortable about constantly being approached by Sandusky in the showers, and one time pushed Sandusky’s hand away after being touched inappropriately.

“Victim 6” relayed similar accusations to his mother. After hearing this, she confronted Sandusky, after which he responded, “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”

And others share that sentiment.

But the matter of debate now is culpability. That is where the inferno regarding Joe Paterno comes in, and I’m not ready to make that leap yet.

Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly addresses the media Monday on the allegations of sex abuse crimes against Sandusky.

Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly addresses the media Monday on the allegations of sex abuse crimes against Sandusky.

Two Penn State officials who are charged with covering up allegations against the team’s former defensive coordinator are already out. Athletic director Tim Curley asked to be placed on administrative leave and Gary Schultz, vice president for finance and business, is crawling back into retirement. If what has been alleged in the grand jury’s “finding of fact and recommendations” are true – that a graduate assistant made the allegations regarding “Victim 2” and Curley and Schultz didn’t even report it to university police – they should be tied to the same Chevy as Sandusky.

There is the question of what university president Graham Spanier knew. Spanier denies that the “Victim 2” incident in 2002 was reported to him as “an incident that was sexual in nature” and that Curley termed the conduct as “horsing around.” He also said he wasn’t aware of a 1998 investigation into incidents involving Sandusky and children in the football showers.

The debate on Paterno isn’t legal but moral. Charges have not been brought against him. He immediately reported allegations of the 2002 incident to Curley and Schultz after he was informed by the graduate assistant. (It’s worth noting that Sandusky had retired after the 1999 season but held “emeritus” status on campus, affording him perks that included an office in the Lasch athletics building and unlimited access to football facilities.)

Should Paterno have done more? No question. He should have followed up with school officials on the graduate assistant’s claims. He should have checked on any investigation with law enforcement. But did he fail to do so because Sandusky was a long-time friend, or did he simply mess up?

Many have already called for Paterno’s resignation. I want to hear more from the man first. Actually, I want to hear anything from him.

The statement Paterno released Sunday isn’t nearly enough, even if it touched on the correct themes. An excerpt: “ The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling.”

Paterno long has been held up in college athletics as the standard for doing things the correct way. Nobody ever has questioned his moral compass. But when the charges against Sandusky were released,  many figured the compass had turned 180 degrees.

Suddenly, it’s as if he’s the personification of evil. That’s a little too much too quick.

There are questions Paterno must answer – and preferably before the Nittany Lions play on Saturday against Nebraska. He needs to stand in a room and not hide behind an emailed statement carefully crafted by an attorney. He needs to expound on what he knew and when he knew it. He needs to give details. He needs to show regret and remorse for not doing more. He needs to be convincing.

Jerry Sandusky may be a monster. But monsters have enablers.

The stated mission at Penn State is “Success With Honor.” This is a time when Paterno needs to assure everybody he met not so much his legal obligations as his moral ones.

Would he have dropped the matter so quickly if the alleged victim was somebody he knew — his child, his grandchild, the son of a close friend? Then, would he have done more?

Even if the Pennsylvania attorney general does not bring charges against Paterno, this has the potential to tarnish his legacy. It’s not about football or win totals. It’s about what’s right. He owes an explanation to the public. He certainly owes it to the victims.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

481 comments Add your comment

OldTech

November 7th, 2011
4:23 pm

Of the 8 victims, Joe Pa only knew about 1?

cb

November 7th, 2011
4:24 pm

Sickening events.

Coastal Dawg

November 7th, 2011
4:29 pm

Ugh! Always holier than thou.

Herschel Talker

November 7th, 2011
4:30 pm

Schultzie:

This whole thing is disgraceful. Sure I may rail on Mark Richt and think that he is not fit to be head coach at UGA, but thank God Richt is a good Christian man who would not tolerate this behavior under him or cover up as much.

These events are stomach-turning and shameful. Penn State needs to clean house, Paterno included.

HT

Coastal Dawg

November 7th, 2011
4:31 pm

Only one! Oh, nevermind, huh, OldTech.

OldTech

November 7th, 2011
4:37 pm

No Coastal. He reported the incident & did not cover up (according to reports). If that was the only one he knew about, then I think it is OK. He trusted Penn State officials to do their job after he reported. However, why does no one comment on the investigation of one of his coaches in 1998? If Joe Pa knew of that investigation, then just reporting the 2002 incident was not enough.

ViningsAJ

November 7th, 2011
4:37 pm

I must say, a sickening report. I actually am quite ready to pass on judgement – those in a leadership position, particularly the highly visible collegiate athletic programs of today – are duty-bound to ensure they and their staff conduct themselves in a highly moral and appropriate manner. That isn’t to say there is an obligation to follow staff members around and look over their shoulder. But, at the first hint of impropriety, JoePa’s responsibility charged him to question and ultimately fully understand the implications of what the graduate assistant disclosed. Next, simply reporting the events to the next in chain in command does not absolve JoePa of responsibility for ensuring the right outcome is reached.
In my opinion, JoePa either selfishly chose to only hear so much so he could assert plausible deniability in the future, or he’s lying – either are unacceptable from one of the supposed ‘good guys’ and leaders of a premier institution football program.
Not to mention, he’s a human being – and not only did he miserably fail the leadership standard – but the moral compass is down the drain as well.

theriddler

November 7th, 2011
4:38 pm

Some people will do ANYTHING to retain their power and authority. In this case the big wigs turned a blind eye for many years.

steve brown

November 7th, 2011
4:39 pm

Since when do you see or know of a heinous crime and are only obligated to tell your boss (as if Paterno has a boss). The reason you go to the authorities is to have a lesser chance of a coverup (one buddy or co-worker covering for another). Look how many times we have heard of sexual abuses being hushed up in the clergy. Paterno needs to go away now.

Lynne

November 7th, 2011
4:42 pm

I’m a decades long PSU alumni and supported keeping Paterno during the years when the team experienced it’s first losing season and people were calling for his resignation. It pains me to say this but the whole lot of them, JoPa included, need to leave. Moral obligations of right and wrong should always prevail especially when dealing with a child’s welfare. How stupid does the administration and Paterno’s think we are that the first question that would come to mind is why was Sandusky not reported to the authorities at the onset. Yes Joe did do his legal obligation, but fell far short of his moral obligation. I have watched Paterno coach since he began as a head coach, use to see him in the halls of the Recreation Bldg. on campus when I was a student in the 70’s.
The start of Joe’s career brought the University to the place it was before this criminal act became public and unfortunately the other bookend to the end of his career is that he will have played a part in destroying all that he was so much a part of building. What really is upsetting, besides the fact that this horrible, God-awful series of events happened is that it also leaves us alumni in the position that a few men had the power to take away the pride we always had in graduating from the University.

T. Urbansky

November 7th, 2011
4:45 pm

You are letting Paterno off WAY to easily. With what he knew, he could have stopped all the future abuse. It’s what any decent human being would do. I say he should be tied to the Chevy along with the others. His ego meant more to him than the children did.

Jed

November 7th, 2011
4:46 pm

You don’t know a man since 1962 or 1963 and not know what was going on. Seeing a grown man with a litany of young boys over decades and not feeling something was amiss? C’mon, Joe’s IQ is higher than 45. I’m wondering if the wolves are packing together on this one. Sandusky should have not been allowed bail and put on a suicide watch. That might be the only way this story ever unfolds.

Mike

November 7th, 2011
4:48 pm

Joe’s legacy is already tarnished.

Why didn’t anbody try to find the kid involved? Because they really didn’t care.

Everything about this sounds like they wanted to protect Sandusky and/or the PSU image. Not one thought about the kids. You just know there was more than this one incident if JS was parading around with young boys in the facilities. There must have been pretty consistent rumors. I’ll bet it was pretty obvious if anyone really cared to find out.

Ironic that Joe gets the record for wins (by selfishly staying about 15 years longer than the school and fans wanted)

Paul in NH

November 7th, 2011
4:48 pm

Jeff – A brave and well-written blog on your part. Let’s see what comes out before Paterno is burned in effigy. Paterno could hide behind the “I have been advised to keep quiet so as not to compromise the investigation” approach but hopefully he will answer questions.
As a former 15 year resident of PA and an admirer of PSU, I am sickened by the entire affair.

Mike

November 7th, 2011
4:52 pm

Why didn’t they try to find and help the young boy? Everything they did was to protect JS and precious PSU. They did nothing to protect these boys even after this creep was caught red-handed and they ALL knew about it. To hell with all of them.

Joe stayed 15 years longer than anyone wanted him to because he was not going to let anything get in the way of his record. I’ll bet he wasn’t going to let the welfare of young boys get in his way either. If this incident was reported and known to be true, there was probably ample evidence of JS parading around with young boys to suspect the worst. They just didn’t care enough.

Walker, Texas Ranger

November 7th, 2011
4:53 pm

I would rather have a team on 10 players with expired dl’s, dui’s and bad grades than one coach that is a monster. Penn State, Ohio State and USC thank you!

Vance Duly

November 7th, 2011
4:56 pm

How could people SEE acts taking place with young kids in the showers and not do anything other than tell someone at the school….?!?! What about STOPPING the act — intervening!!!!?!?!?!?!?! But, NO, at least 2 witnesses just LEFT and reported it to a “higher-up”. So, they LEFT the kids to be molested/raped………. What kind of human walks away from a kid being sexually assaulted?!?!?! THEY should also be held accountable. It just stinks of a “circle the wagons” mentality. Nobody called the police, either……… Wow.

Jed

November 7th, 2011
4:56 pm

Oh, and when was that picture taken? Because if it was after 1998 then Joe had to have known at the time it was taken that Sandusky had already been investigated for being a pedophile.

liberalefty

November 7th, 2011
4:57 pm

obviously JOE PA DIDNT GIVA CRAP ABOUT kids being raped. no parent should send their child to play for this ole fool

El Bravo

November 7th, 2011
5:00 pm

I must respectfully disagree with you on this one Schultzie; This just looks like a sleazy cover up. There is enough information on this indictment to fire all 4 upper management members of Penn State to be dismissed immediately (Curley, Schultz, Spanier and Paterno). Paterno had a moral responsibility, as the most visible figure in Penn State, to make sure that his old buddy was investigated by the authorities. The Graduate Assistant and his father came to him to report the rape of a child at the school’s gym and he just passes the buck to his boss? He claims to not know all the details of the assault. Really? An employee of yours comes to your home on a weekend because he must give you this information immediately but you do not bother to ask him any details??? You just pass it up the chain as “horsing around”??? Even if Paterno was this clueless his actions are moronic and indefensible and still sufficient for dismissal.

Dawg Whisperer

November 7th, 2011
5:04 pm

This may not exactly be on point with the sex abuse allegations in this particular case but the entire mentality of worshiping collegiate football and its symbols (coaches, players and even mascots) is beyond pale. We, as fans, are responsible for worshipping idols that are falliable.

There should be no alternative but for coach Paterno to take the high road and acknowledge his acts of omission, and announce retirement at the end of the season before he is forced out. When it comes to the welfare of our children, there is no margin for error. Why these allegations were not reported to the proper police authorities is inescapable. It’s too bad that this will probably follow Paterno’s legacy but it sets an example for the rest in the collegiate sports fraternity.

Guarded attack

November 7th, 2011
5:05 pm

Jeff – At least you came close to tarnishing the old man. Somebody needs to take a flame thrower to this story and to the people who knew.

CMR would never ever allow something like this to go a step further. Students need to boycott the next home game. That would get the message across. HE KNEW!

T3

November 7th, 2011
5:06 pm

Anything short of JoePa’s IMMEDIATE resignation is morally unacceptable.

P – Pedophile
S – State
U – University

Bammer

November 7th, 2011
5:06 pm

Lynne,
You are absolutely correct as far as what is legally the right thing and then what is morally the right thing. And you are not alone as far as the by-product tarnishing you as an alumni. Any school that has had anything happen to them i.e. scandal, probation, whatever, is unfortunately linked to the actions of some other idiot(s). How long have I been hearing about probation and death penalty and “no class” simply because of what men like Logan Young and Harvey Updyke did? Men who never darkened a door at my alma mater by the way. So, hate it for you as well, but at least you are being the moral and better person by not rationalizing something just because it’s your school.

El Bravo

November 7th, 2011
5:07 pm

Mind you, Sandusky was investigated by campus police for similar offenses to witness 5 and 6 on the indictment back in 2000 and yet he was able to keep all the privileges afforded to him by the school (an office, full access to all the facilities). Joe Paterno and the school officials were interviewed by the Grand Jury a year ago and Sandusky was still working out at the Penn State gym last week. What do you have to do for anyone to take any action on that campus???

ormewood

November 7th, 2011
5:08 pm

This makes PSU look the Catholic Church. Everyone even remotely associated with these needs to go now, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If true, there’s a special place in he!! for Sandusky.

El Bravo

November 7th, 2011
5:08 pm

I should have said victim 5 and 6 not witness…

Nativebird

November 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

Any adult in any position of authority particular in institutions where leading young people is the mission, should ALWAYS be viewed through a lens of “enhanced scrutiny” if not suspicion. This is where the monster’s live. Not to convict all, as it is not fair to the innocent. But the innocent will be found to be innocent. The monster’s are in there….there is NO doubt about this. They must be found…and exposed. Paterno is from a generation, and time in this country, when most knew “who” these people where, and what was going on; and hush, hushed it, swept it under the rug out of an inability as a society to deal with the tragic reality that this goes on under our noses.

Saywhut

November 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

Paterno should have vigorouly investigated, through the police, the matter. Any upstanding person would ahve done so.

DawgFan

November 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

Ethically, Paterno should have contacted his immediate superiors as well as called the police that had jurisdiction over that area. Every educator knows this! So why didn’t he??? He too should be held liable. Can’t even fathom the amount of negligence this will cost PSU but if I was a parent of one of these kids…Penn State will be dealt some HUGE lawsuits. Don’t see how Joe Pa avoids firing for checking up on it.

dean

November 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

This whole thing is incredulous. Anyone and everyone who knew and looked the other way needs to join the handcuff brigade. Those kids were/are scarred for life.

Reality

November 7th, 2011
5:12 pm

OK Jeff,

Taking the highest road possible, Joe’s BEST defense is that he is senile and doesn’t know the difference between rape and “horsing around”. Even if we give Joe a pass and say he didn’t know exactly what was happening-he should retire immediately if he doesn’t have the mental acuity to recognize this as serious. He knew JS very well and this guy was pretty blatant. If you didn’t know it’s because you didn’t want to know.

How can you look at him the same and take him seriously when he talks about ethics and integrity. He doesn’t deserve to be the public face of any school any longer. I’m thankful he isn’t affilaited with my alma mater.

chuck

November 7th, 2011
5:13 pm

Mr. Schultz. You seem to be fascinated with people who are called by some “celebrities”. You have to weigh in on Kim whatever her last name is, and then on Herman Cain. Are they in the world of sports? Of course we all know that you are a liberal, but how about just staying with sports because if we are interested in that world we can read about it in other places. Thank you.

SC Ace

November 7th, 2011
5:13 pm

I’m sure it’s been said elsewhere, but does anyone think that Curley et. al. was really JoPa’s boss? I’d argue it was probably the other way around. Sure looks like JoPa was covering up for his old buddy. I don’t know who just makes a phone call to the AD the next day. I can understand the grad student being freaked out and fleeing – though it was the wrong reaction it was an understandable one.

PSU will clean house. They have to if they want to survive this.

eddie long

November 7th, 2011
5:15 pm

JOE PA SHOULD BE FIRED

chilidawg

November 7th, 2011
5:18 pm

JoePa has lost a lot of my respect for him. To allow this pedophile to hang around Penn State and have an office after he was aware of the allegations is inexcusable. Sad, sad, sad sunset on a great coaching career.

PMC

November 7th, 2011
5:19 pm

I’m just not clear why no one called police ever.

Ok you reported, why didn’t anyone call the police?

Vain Jangling

November 7th, 2011
5:19 pm

For anyone to characterize what was witnessed in the shower as “horsing around” shouldn’t be allowed around horses.

amsjacket

November 7th, 2011
5:20 pm

I think Jeff is half right here – Joe Paterno needs to tell his end of the story before the Nebraska game. I’m not sure it’s enough, though, because Paterno didn’t follow-up on what he heard. He probably found it hard to believe, though. The assistant who saw it with his own eyes also is very culpable here…he was the direct witness. Ultimately he could have stopped it…Joe had to follow due process.

All that said, a carefully attorney crafted letter and no press conference will be a tacit admission that Joe’s reputation and legacy is more important to PSU than justice. If nothing else happens the board of regents (or whatever the governing body is for PSU) faces a stern leadership gut check.

Of course, on the other side of the ledger are the now-swarming liability lawyers looking to pad their own wallets…this will not be pretty regardless of how it plays out. Like Jeff said in one of his earlier columns, the guys in suits are setting a poor example for the students in uniform.

OkieDawg

November 7th, 2011
5:20 pm

Jeff, like you, I read the grand jury report. It is sickening the way these administrators and Paterno turned their back on these poor innocent children. Adults must protect children. Surely Paterno feels this way, he is a decent man. But I do not know how he could display such bad judgement. And the leaders of Penn State were derelick pass the point of comphrehension. If this scumbag is found to be guilty, there should be no limit to his punishment. With that said, can the NCAA sanction the football program with any kind of probation? Or is it a matter for the courts to decide the proper treatment of the individuals who failed in their oversight?

PMC

November 7th, 2011
5:21 pm

No one’s going to remember it now, but Joe has done all kinds of work for Thon and the like for disabled children all over.

That Sandusky has had this foundation probaly unchecked since 1979 is scary bad.

Bammer

November 7th, 2011
5:22 pm

And he (Sandusky) had 8 foster children as well. Yikes.

Dan

November 7th, 2011
5:23 pm

I think the DA or DA’s who sat on this evidence for a decade, need to be brought to accountability as well.

GP

November 7th, 2011
5:23 pm

Damn Joe, you got your precious record – Now go the hell away scumbag!

You did this to yourself but going out of your way to ignore the obvious. Thankfully my child wasn’t standing in the way of your precious legacy like all these other boys. The irony is that you were in a position to help save these boys and you would have cemented your legacy as a great man by doing so.

Took the shortcut instead-always the longest route there is

Mr Charlie

November 7th, 2011
5:24 pm

What am I missing, if your child says he was raped in the shower, why do you call the school? Don’t you call the police?

Guarded attack

November 7th, 2011
5:24 pm

sharecropper

November 7th, 2011
5:25 pm

Paterno’s smarmy defense is that how could he be expected to spot Sandusky the predator, when experts in the field didn’t. Except it begs the central issue: nobody ever contacted or notify trained observers. Nobody. Paterno et al kept it close to the vest. You had to know there was a reason Paterno wouldn’t retire despite being a danger to himself and others on the sidelines at the age of 85: he was the only one who could keep it secret, and if that allowed Sandusky another 13 years of pedophilia, a small price for good old Linebacker U. Now it makes one wonder what else is going on in his secret chamber of horrors.

Sopwith Camel

November 7th, 2011
5:26 pm

Jeff, you are certainly correct on this one. I can’t imagine Paterno hearing about this and only reporting it. He had an obligation himself to turn heaven and earth to get to the bottom of this. After reporting it to his boss he should have gone straight to the police and done everything possible to contact the child and his parents to find out the child’s side of the story. And if he found out something did happen as reported, he should have gone straight to his boss again and to the DA, reported his findings and demanded that charges be filed and have that SOB arrested right then. And putting myself in his shoes, I think I would have had a hard time not picking up a baseball bat and going over to the SOB’s house and opening up his skull with it. But to do NOTHING???? That’s just as criminal. I think the whole PSU bunch ought to not only be fired but arrested. My 2 cents worth!!

Jacket Dan

November 7th, 2011
5:28 pm

Disgusting. Fire them all and lock the ones up who turned a shoulder.

Vain Jangling

November 7th, 2011
5:28 pm

Thank you ormwood for mentioning the Catholic church before I did.