published Monday, June 25th, 2012

Mark Wiedmer: Sandusky's guilty verdicts not end of scandal for Penn State

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives for the first day of jury selection as his trial on 52 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a period of 15 years gets underway at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, June 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives for the first day of jury selection as his trial on 52 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a period of 15 years gets underway at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, June 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Friday night produced one of the most surreal scenes in the history of both the American judicial system and American sports.

Surrounding a quaint Pennsylvania courthouse bathed in soft light -- a picture that easily could have been painted by Norman Rockwell -- a large crowd let out a raucous yell of approval when told that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had been found guilty on 45 of 48 counts in his child molestation trial.

Could someone have glimpsed this scene when this story broke last November -- to only the cheering crowd without knowledge of the reason for their behavior -- they might well have assumed Sandusky had been found innocent.

After all, we love our college football heroes in this country, especially in such pastoral settings as State College, Pa.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Lincoln, Neb.; and the like -- communities whose very emotional being is tied to the success or failure of Big State U.

And make no mistake. After assisting Penn State head coach Joe Paterno for 32 years before he retired at the close of the 1998 season, Sandusky was a hero to most of the Nittany Lion Nation.

So anyone unaware of the grisly grand jury details of the charges against the long-retired Sandusky -- that he repeatedly had molested 10 boys over a 15-year period -- might easily have concluded on that Nov. 5 evening that he'd beat the rap if the case were tried in the Centre County Courthouse, which stands a mere eight miles from PSU's Beaver Stadium.

But then the details came to light. Details to make you sick. Details to make you not just angry, but livid. Red-faced, profanity-laced livid. How could this possibly have happened for 15 years without someone calling the cops?

How could the seemingly Clorox-clean Paterno -- described by one lifelong State College resident in the first week of the scandal as "the moral compass" of the town -- have known nothing until more than three years after Sandusky retired?

And once knowing, how could he have done the bare minimum, passing the information on to someone higher up the food chain rather than going directly to the police?

How?

We know why -- to protect the reputation of Penn State football.

But how could anyone, particularly a parent and leader of young people such as Paterno, ignore the presence of a child molester?

HOW?

That all of this probably killed the 84-year-old Paterno within three months of the scandal first breaking surely sheds much light on the guilt he felt for doing next to nothing all those years.

And the cheers outside the Centre County Courthouse on Friday night show that sometimes justice prevails, that at least a fair number of people in central Pennsylvania -- be they Nittany Lions supporters or not -- recognized a monster when they saw one and celebrated the certain end to his reign of terror against innocent boys.

But that doesn't mean all this now goes away, however much Penn State supporters will hope it does. The legal system is not yet done with PSU's role in all this. Civil suits almost certainly will soon follow.

In many ways, this is merely the end of the first chapter of a long, sad, profoundly troubling story.

This isn't to minimize what was celebrated Friday night. In my 55 years on earth, this country has endured more than a few monsters in our midst, men capable of unthinkable evil. The Boston Strangler. John Wayne Gacy. Charles Manson. Jeffrey Dahmer. Son of Sam.

Some would rightly argue that to mention Sandusky in the same breath with serial killers is absurd. But Sandusky murdered these young men's innocence, scarred their souls, left them less than whole for the rest of their lives.

Or look at it this way: The monster's 68 years old. Many of his victims are now in their 20s, not yet one-third through their lives. They'll be forced to deal with his atrocities far longer than he'll suffer in prison.

Still, the legal system won its battle with Sandusky. The more troubling question may be what we take from this as a society, particularly where our college athletic programs are concerned.

Former Penn State star Mike Guman stubbornly (or perhaps hopefully) told philly.com over the weekend: "No matter how much they look at it, it is not Penn State football. It's Jerry Sandusky. It's one man doing acts that were just unimaginable. ... It's not the Penn State scandal."

In 2002, more than three years after he retired, Sandusky reportedly molested a boy in a shower inside the football complex. While still actively coaching he was investigated for sexually abusing a boy and was reportedly overheard by both university and State College police telling the victim's mother, "I know I was wrong. I wish I was dead."

But the capper is this: Less than a month before he was arrested last fall, Sandusky was a guest of university administrators in a Beaver Stadium luxury box during a game.

If that's not a Penn State scandal, what is?

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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biff_loman said...

I hope you like being sued for libel, Mark. I've referred your article to the attorneys for the Paterno family. Enjoy!

June 25, 2012 at 11:11 a.m.
biff_loman said...

Get your facts straight Mark. The incident reported by Mike McQueary occurred in 2001, not 2002. Lazy journalism.

The 1998 incident after which sandusky was caught on tape wishing he was dead, WAS INVESTIGATED BY POLICE. The DA decided not to press charges.

How is reporting second hand information to your superiors, including the Head of University Police, which he is required to do by the School instead of going to outside authority, doing the bare minimum? Joe Paterno was not a witness. Guess who was a witness for the State in their investigation? Joe Paterno. Guess who has been charged with perjury? The men he reported the incident to.

Stick to writing about things you have a grasp on, SEC football and the Braves.

June 25, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.
bilythkid said...

Excellent article. Joe Paterno deserved to be fired and he died in shame. He should have been arrested and put in jail. He died a coward.

June 25, 2012 at 11:57 a.m.
bilythkid said...

You Are: Ped State!

June 25, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
biff_loman said...

See the kind of moronic thinking you spread when you print articles like this, Mark?

Paterno was a state witness, what was he going to prison for? He died of cancer, not any of this romantic broken heart or guilt crap the media writes about

June 25, 2012 at 12:18 p.m.
DannyHaszard said...

Penn State,Pedophile Priest cleric enabler and Jehovah's Witnesses molestation unholy trinity big news same week. Jehovah's Witnesses hit with $28 million sex abuse settlement Oakland,Calif.-Google it.

Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation. It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large. These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles. The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already. -- Danny Haszard tell the truth don't be afraid

June 25, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
bilythkid said...

Paterno was a child sex rapist enabler - him and his cronies ...protecting the brand...woops...that didnt work out...

June 25, 2012 at 12:33 p.m.
bilythkid said...

paternos motto was success with honor - his fate was failure with shame...his mantra was protect the kingdom - when it should have been protect the children...

June 25, 2012 at 12:42 p.m.
moonpie said...

biff,

If this had been murder, neither Mike McQueary nor Joe Paterno would have done enough.

If you were coach of a football team and you learned that a murder had happened in your locker room, would you or would you not tell the person who saw it to go to the police and tell all?

To not do so is a terrible thing.

Child rape is so awful that child rapists are held in contempt by prisoners of all ilks, including murderers.

Just because this is not a capital offense, this does not mean the crimes were not terrible.

If Sandusky had been stealing petty Cash, something that affected ONLY THE UNIVERSITY, then Paterno and Mike McQueary may have have the moral, ethical footing that you seem to be seeking.

But this was a crime against children. It was rape.

Paterno was fired and humiliated for good reason.

His choices led to his legacy. His legacy is just as it deserves to be: forever overshadowed by what is important.

June 25, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.
quercus_1 said...

How can you question the judgments of a man who dedicated his life to serving youth and competing the right way? If you knew anything about Paterno you would know that winning football games was never his priority—it was being a leader for youth.

“How” could this have happened, you ask. Then you go on to assume information as if you were there and point your finger of judgments at Paterno. Paterno was no longer his boss, yet you call him out as a representative of central PA’s uncaring attitude towards the victims in the Sandusky trail and the priority we put on winning.

Sir, I live here in Chattanooga now and I am from that quaint little PA town of Bellefonte and I take serious offence towards your ignorance and assumptions. In response I have a question to you, why didn’t his wife, a person a whole lot closer to him than Paterno, do or say anything? A Chattanooga native and not from football crazed central PA, Dottie Sandusky surely hates little kids too! Since she had to have known her husband was really a monster, but let him molest children in her own home.

I use sarcasm only to show how ridiculous your (lack of) reporting is in this article. If you wanted to write about something why not write about the how Sandusky fooled his wife, his family, a nationally known non-profit for children, and everyone else who knew him. That this monster did what he did and even some of his own victims hadn’t known that they were molested until recently. And, that these monsters are a fact of our society, there are others just like him, doing what he did, and they live in communities all across this great country. But no, it is a whole lot easier to sit up in your perch and demonize people.

June 25, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.
moonpie said...

quercus,

I think you bring up some good points. Sandusky got away with this because he fooled some people and some people failed to act.

This is the great tragedy that people failed to act.

I imagine that his wife did not know. None of us can know. I imagine she always wanted to believe the very best of her husband and this was not on her radar.

I don't know why anyone would skewer Mark Wiedmer for saying the very obvious.... whether anyone likes it or not.... this is now part of the Penn State legacy.

The courts found him guilty, guilty, guilty.

Demonizing people? The parties involved demonized themselves.

Why not skewer the jury while you're at it?

June 25, 2012 at 8:44 p.m.
biff_loman said...

moonpie,

take umbrage with university protocol that required he report in the manner he did. mcqueary testified that paterno did in fact follow up and was told that the situation had been resolved. should he not trust his bosses that they had taken care of the situation?

paterno and mcqueary were state witnesses who did their job as required by law. what precedent does it set that these two men are for some reason the most reviled by most in the media and some in the court of public opinion? do you think that seeing the results of how those who report child abuse will be treated will persuade or dissuade those that come across it in the future to come forward?

everyone is against child rape. you and the media don't have to trip over yourselves to prove to anyone and everyone that you're against it. the facts of the case have not been given yet, so you and Mark should do yourselves a big favor and not make assumptions about details that you couldn't possibly have knowledge of, it opens you up for litigation.

June 25, 2012 at 8:52 p.m.
biff_loman said...

how could i skewer Mark Wiedmer? He made a libelous statement:

"And once knowing, how could he have done the bare minimum, passing the information on to someone higher up the food chain rather than going directly to the police?

How?

We know why -- to protect the reputation of Penn State football."

He can't possibly know this to be truth and he put it in print.

Dottie Sandusky may not have known? Her husband had a special room in the basement for the boys he brought over while she was there, one of whom testified that he screamed for help. Sure, she had no idea.

There are plenty of feet to lay the blame at least of which is a person who received 2nd hand testimony to an event and did what was required of him by reporting it to his superiors. Had this person not been Joe Paterno, it wouldn't be a big deal, note the lack of uproar over Gary Schultz's involvement even though he perjured himself in his Grand Jury testimony.

The earliest victims could have come forward at some point to spare later victims. The DA who was handed Sandusky on a silver platter in 1998 could have pressed charges. Anyone at the Second Mile who basically pimped these kids out to Sandusky could have raised suspicions. The school teacher who witnessed Sandusky "wrestling" with one of the victims could have said something. Dottie Sandusky could have done the right thing. Sandusky's adopted son, whom he molested, could have turned on him sooner. Where's the uproar over these individuals who had far far more to do with this situation. That's right. They're not national figureheads, so stories about them wouldn't result in advertising dollars for those in the media.

June 25, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.
moonpie said...

biff,

If you witnessed a child rape, would you stop at telling your boss?

If yes, then you would not have done enough. (Because it's not just a school matter. It is a criminal matter. This is outside the school's jurisdiction. That's the point I'm making that you don't seem to understand.)

If you would not report it to the police, then you would are culpable, just like Paterno and McQueary.

Are there legal actions that could be taken against them (P&M)? Perhaps not. But future rapes could have been prevented.

I'm not saying Paterno or McQueary are bad people. They made terrible mistakes that children paid for.

So go ahead and sue me for having an opinion that these men did not do enough. But we'll probably have to wait a long time to see if I'm wrong about the legacy being tarnished.

Let's see how many future articles are written about Joe Paterno which don't mention this.... there will be some, but they will be the exception.

Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts in the public courts.

Paterno will probably be convicted forever on one count in the court of public opinion. That's my opinion. Defend him all you want. I would not want anyone with your opinion looking after my children.

If my child was raped at day care and you saw it..... you just tell the boss and wash your hands.....?

No. You don't.

And that's why your argument comes up short. The actions came up short. Critically short.

June 25, 2012 at 9:11 p.m.
moonpie said...

Oh biff,

I noticed in your last post you're blaming a lot of victims. It was victims who brought this to the light of day.

I hold adults in positions of responsibility more responsible than I do children, especially children who are the victims of rape.

As for others at Penn State who got word? Indeed the farther removed from the report, the little less culpable you are. But no one who knew about it should be proud of their behavior.

I blame McQueary the most for not doing enough. Paterno is second. I can see an argument for blaming Paterno more because of his position of influence, but I blame McQueary more.

June 25, 2012 at 9:16 p.m.
biff_loman said...

So Paterno witnessed the rape now?

McQueary didn't report what he saw to the Head of University Police, who had jurisdiction over the area where the event occured? Oh wait, he did, and now Gary Schultz, head of University Police, has been charged with perjury.

Guess who State College Police would have referred McQueary to had he called them? You guessed it, University Police.

Your opinion is lacking because you clearly don't know the facts of the case. A lot of that has to do with hack job reporting, like what Mark Weidmer has done in this article, so I can't completely blame you, but if you want to comment on an issue you should properly inform yourself.

You wouldn't trust your kids with me? Cool story. I don't know you and am not licensed for child care. That's probably good enough reason not to leave your kids with me.

Once again, the facts of the case have not been presented yet. It is hasty of the general public and completely irresponsible of journalists to inject speculation into what is known to have occurred. I'm sure you'd love it if something like this happened to you, everyone in the local media skewered you for not doing enough, then the facts came out and you actually had. I'm sure you wouldn't sue for damages at that point, because as you've proven here, you don't care about letting the facts come out.

June 25, 2012 at 9:21 p.m.
biff_loman said...

All of Sandusky's victims are adults now. Do I blame them personally? No, but they had a lot more knowledge of what Sandusky was up to than Joe Paterno, who got a hazy account of it from a graduate assistant.

Had any of them come forward sooner it would have saved the rest of them. It was the most recent victim that came forward alone who prevented further abuse.

June 25, 2012 at 9:24 p.m.
moonpie said...

Biff,

Campus police?

Forgive me for being underwhelmed.

If you reported this to campus police and nothing happened, would you stop there?

The Penn St. Police say they have no record of it.

So either their record keeping is poor. Or perhaps their investigating is poor. Or McQueary's personal communication to a friend was a way to make him feel better.

You pick.

None of them are good.

He supposedly did discuss the case with a University official to whom the police reported. Again, given the nature of the case, and the subsequent revelations, I'm underwhelmed.

But, let's assume for a minute that the report actually occurred.... How much child rape experience would you imagine that Penn State University Police have? If such an event was reported, are they qualified to investigate? They have been granted the right, as most campus police have, to investigate; however, when major crimes are reported, most campus police call in local authorities.

Is it your contention that major crimes are usually and appropriately investigated by campus police?

It is notable that that other law enforcement was not brought in.

It is my opinion that McQueary did not do enough.

I think all of them wish they had done more.

Jo Pa said he, himself, did not do enough in retrospect.

I'll concede that by some standards, the statement of Paterno's motivation, could be considered libelous according to the strictest interpretation. But I don't believe a case could be successfully brought against Mr. Wiedmer's opinion. Granted, it's speculation. I can't say either way, but it is very suspicious.

I'll let you have the last word on all of this.

June 25, 2012 at 10:51 p.m.
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