Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I am NOT Penn State

I did not graduate from Penn State. No one in my immediate family or my husband's immediate family graduated from Penn State. I have never really followed Penn State football closely. I know very little about Joe Paterno's legacy, statistics, and program. I was not recruited by their women's basketball program when I had hoped to be, very much. Really, aside from attending a few of their basketball camps, meeting Paterno briefly in passing (not really even knowing who he was at the time), and growing up in the same state of Pennsylvania, I have zero ties to the university. I am not a defender of Penn State's pride, or of Joe Pa's legacy. I'm a defender of the truth.

And so, I am utterly appalled at the way this child abuse case has been handled, the complete lack of due process, the amount of control the media has been allowed in such a sensitive story, and the amount of people willing to assume the absolute worst of a man who has done so many great things.

I have always considered myself a two-sides-of-the-story (maybe more) girl. Maybe it's the writer in me, or my journalist instincts, but when people in my life have hurt me or my family, or people I've known do things I don't agree with, I still try to find the good and try desperately to get the whole story. I'm not perfect at this, especially with family, but I tend to ask a lot of questions, not because I'm nosy or because I'm finding ways to judge them, but because I'm genuinely seeking the truth. Every now and then there is a public case, such as this Penn State scandal, that sparks that same truth seeking, question asking, nature in me, and I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut about it. Often times I'm viewed as taking a side (the wrong side), when in fact I'm trying to show all sides, and hopefully enlighten some people along the way. Do I expect people to always agree with me? Absolutely not. But I would hope that some would try to understand and respect what I have to say.

Please forgive my lack of sites. Google is not currently working on my computer, so I can't look up all of the stuff that I once read to link it up here to this blog, but feel free to google anything I say here. It is all at your disposal.

Lets start at the beginning. Before any facts were out or released, the media jumped all over it, declaring it a "cover up." Might they have been right? Sure, and they still could be, but it was not their place to skip over the due process, skip over the facts and/or evidence, and make that judgment call. Piers Morgan on CNN stated, without any facts to back it up, that, "Clearly we have a cover up here." I'm sorry, you were a British journalist when now? Your credentials here are America's Got Talent. Clearly that qualifies you to speak about Penn State, live, on CNN without any proof to back up such a bold statement. Moving on.

The very first thing that media chose to ignore was the fact that Paterno did go directly to his superiors, one of which was head of campus police at the time. Perhaps he did not go to them fast enough for your judgmental accusations, but keep in mind, he did not actually witness the abuse himself. Put your finger pointing self in his shoes for just a moment. He received very serious allegations about a friend and trusted colleague; accusations that, true or not, had the ability to destroy a career and a life. Hindsight is 20/20. It's really easy for all of us to sit here and say, "Well, they should have handled it more swiftly, and brought the ax down on Sandusky immediately," but what if...just what if...what they had heard wasn't true? I have known a teacher who's career was wrecked because of one child who decided to say he touched him inappropriately. He lost his job, left town, and a year or so later, that child admitted that he had made the whole thing up. It is possible that Paterno and his superiors used discretion where this was concerned, and took their time in making decisions based upon something that they had no real facts or evidence of at the time of the first known incident. Obviously, Sandusky's crimes have been proven to be true, so it makes it really easy for us to anger quickly and point our fingers at people when we've likely never been, nor will we ever be in their position.

The ongoing debate I keep hearing from everyone is that Paterno failed to report this. False. When the media first grabbed a hold of this story they repeatedly said that he merely went to his boss, but not the authorities. I'd like to make two points here. First and foremost, a fact that most of the media has left out is that one of Paterno's superiors he spoke with was Gary Schultz, who, at that time, was, in fact, the head of the campus police. You can find that information in the Grand Jury report, as well as the fact that the prosecutors stated that Paterno fulfilled his legal obligation and requirements. My second point is this; there is a specific protocol that is to be followed in cases like this. I have had some current and former teachers attest to this. My dad, who taught for 34 years, informed me that if any abuse of a child was suspected in any way, shape, or form, he was to go directly to the school's counselor; not the police or authorities, the counselor. From there the matter would be handled, it was deemed private, and unless called upon to testify in any way, he was to remain out of it and was no longer informed of the proceedings. That protocol is in place for a legal reason, and if you have a problem with that, and with who Paterno went to, maybe what should be changed is that protocol. Maybe we should all demand that it change, and that harsher actions take place immediately, because unfortunately, many pedophiles likely slip through the cracks because protocol is followed, but then no victims come forth, or no charges are actually filed.

Since the Freeh Report has been released, everyone has jumped all over the "incriminating" e-mails. Have you read them? They are incredibly vague, and they take place mostly between Curley, Schultz, and Spanier after Paterno had notified them of what he knew. The particular e-mail that most are referencing is written by Curley. Now, if Curley truly believed that Paterno tried to convince him to cover this up, why on earth would he be quoted at Paterno's funeral, stating what an honest man of integrity Paterno was? He just destroyed his own case, and suddenly Paterno is no longer his scape goat. 

Many people also disagree with the way Sandusky's retirement was handled. First of all they believe he should have been fired immediately, and not allowed to retire, but then they are also angry with the fact that he was still granted access to the facility and still trusted to be responsible for little boys. Everyone wants to blame Paterno for all of this, and maybe he could have made more of a stink about it, but what Sandusky was given in retirement was not really up to him. Just as in any university, that is the decision of the administration. And given what we now know about the protocol followed, it is possible that Paterno believed it had already been handled. The incidences that occurred after his retirement occurred within his Second Mile Charity, and his alleged crimes and accusations had been reported to them in 2001. Paterno had no control over that charity, and yet they continued to allow Sandusky responsibility of those boys for another decade! 

Another argument I hear repeatedly, which has very little to do with whether or not Paterno is actually guilty here, is that the Penn State faithful have forgotten about the true victims, the suffering children. FALSE. Though the emotions in this case are very closely tied, and you may see them as one and the same, these are separate issues for the Penn State community. They are not the heartless bunch you'd like to believe they are in your own blind rage. They do not only care about football and the Paterno legacy, or the reputation of the university, but they do have the right to care. They have the right to mourn and be upset about all that has transpired and how this affects them and possibly their children who are currently enrolled there. They have the right to be saddened by the damage one man's crime has done to what was once a highly regarded educational institution, without being accused of being heartless. Their focus on Paterno, and what you might call a disregard for Sandusky's innocent victims stems from the media's focus on Paterno. Do not forget who turned the spotlight onto Paterno and his family in the very beginning, before any of the facts were even made public. Sandusky has faced judgment, but where the media and public eye are concerned he's had it a heck of a lot easier than the Paterno family. The double standard of this astounds me. Penn State is heartless for being saddened by this turn of events within their community, yet you calling them heartless, and disregarding their feelings in the matter, and even sometimes saying that "it's a good thing Paterno is dead," and "he got what he deserved," are not heartless actions? I think that most of us have been affected by child abuse in one way or another. It may have been you personally, or it may have been a close family member or friend, but we've all been touched by it somehow, and no one takes it lightly. So to throw around such hurtful accusations about the PSU community is ignorant, close-minded, and judgmental. I am just being honest.

Let's say, for a moment, that Paterno is absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, guilty of covering up Sandusky's crimes. Then, his family is not only mourning the death of a father and husband without any peace, but then they have to face the shocking reality that he was never the man they thought he was. It is my personal opinion, that the lack of compassion that has been shown his family, his friends, and his community is heartless.

Now we have the issue of punishment, and more innocent children will suffer at the hands of Sandusky's crime. So many people believe that Penn State is getting exactly what they deserve, but lets say that even if all of the administration has been proven to have covered this up, do you really believe that the current student athletes there deserve to have their dreams, careers, and lives torn apart by something they had nothing to do with? It is nothing compared with what those young victims already suffered, but how can a community move on from this by continuing to destroy young lives in some way?    

I do not believe that we currently know enough to incriminate Paterno in a cover up, but I am not afraid to admit that I could be wrong. It is possible that Paterno had a hand in covering this up, but let the facts determine that, not some vague e-mails between others or misquotes and phrases taken out of context by the media. That is the difference between me and the majority. The majority will shake their angry fingers believing they know absolutely everything about everything, and never for a second think it possible, that they could be wrong. People are blinded by rage because of the disgusting things Sandusky did, and the truth right now, as I see it, is that in the public eye, you can't do enough to punish Sandusky, and so Paterno becomes the example, the fall guy, because he, and now his family, stands the most to lose.

All of that being said, if Joe Pa is half the man that his family, friends, and the Penn State faithful believe him to be, nothing I've said here even matters. If he were alive today, he would graciously take the fall here. After all, he handled his very disrespectful firing over the phone with more grace and dignity than anyone has handled the rest of this case. If he is who he is believed to be, by his supporters, he would let them take any worldly thing from him they could, because nothing is more important, more devastating, more heartbreaking than he suffering that those poor, innocent boys had to and continue to endure.

Whatever Paterno's involvement, remember that many great people in history have made very grave mistakes, and we have not removed their memory from our history books, or blotted out all of the good that they did from the records. Remember that David, a man said to have been after God's own heart, had a man purposely killed because he was lusting after his wife, and Paul, formerly Saul, once used to crucify Christians! Show a little mercy, a little compassion, and a little forgiveness for a man who, no matter what is proven, was genuinely saddened and regretful that he didn't do more.

And I keep coming back to this verse:
"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" James 2:12, 13


  1. Great post! Spot on!

  2. Anonymous #I READ IT!! I REALLY DID!!!July 24, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    I don't think Anonymous #2 read your post. I'm convinced (s)he landed here from some outlandish, nonsensical blog-world...this conclusion reached by:
    "Do a little research next time beyond the facts of this case."
    ...facts outside of this case:
    Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror.
    Herring farts are a mode of communication and safety response.
    Poor, lost Anonymous #2

    I say....excellent post. Because I DID read it.

    1. Thank you.
      While I don't have problems with people disagreeing with me, I do, thankfully, reserve the right to delete completely hurtful, hateful comments from my blog.
      Thank you for reading and for having the basic common sense it takes to understand what I was trying to say. =)

  3. Bottom line, Erin, KIDS WERE ABUSED BY SANDUSKY--admittedly by him! And it was covered up by Paterno and Penn State--again admittedly, in 1998, in 2002... Paterno said he "told authorities"--but if I was a head coach and someone on my staff had these alligations, I would do EVERYTHING in my power to see to it that they're removed from MY PROGRAM! They all deserve every ounce of shame thrown their way.

    Imagine Elijah goes to football camp, is bear hugged by a naked coach in a shower and he comes home and tells you this. As a mother, I'd like to know what you'd do. And what if another coach said he heard "slapping sounds" with Elijah in the shower, and no one did anything--for the sake of saving a football team and legacy. I guess you'd do nothing for sake of shaming everyone involved, eh?

    As for the sacrificed athletes currently at Penn State--the NCAA has given them clearance to go to other programs without having to sit out the required transfer year.

    I'm absolutely disgusted at this stance you're taking. "EVIL TRUMPS WHEN GOOD MEN FAIL TO ACT" Pretty UN-Christian, I'd say...

    1. I hate to burst your bubble but by the very definition a cover up would require you not to tell anyone of the events that occurred and you surely wouldn't go outside the organization with the story. By last count Mr. McQueary told his story about the FORMER coach to 5 people directly, covering 3 different organizations on the night in question and the subsequent week, and the incident was relaid to a 6th person and 4th organization which had the charge of the unidentified child involved and was the current employer of Mr. Sandusky. 2 of the people the story was told to are medical doctors, not affiliated with the school, 1 the overseer of the University Police Department, a fully accredited and trained police force. Of those people told, 4 concur that they were not made aware of the graveness of the situation nor was it described as anything sexual, the two doctors are in that group. The 6th person was the head of the 2nd Mile charity for under privileged and at risk kids.
      Mr. Paterno, obviously trying to cover things up passed on Mr. McQueary's story to those with knowledge of the reporting policies of the school. Mr. Curely and Mr. Schultz, obviously trying to cover this up investigated the facts of the matter, with knowledge of the extremely similar incident in 98 in which Mr. Sandusky was cleared by the DPW and the DA's office. They, obviously trying to cover it up, sent emails about it, kept files on it, and arranged meetings about it through their assistants. They, obviously trying to cover it up, then took it out of house and reported it to those that were responsible for the care and well being of the child, and the employment of Mr. Sandusky. That is a awful lot of nothing that they did and an awful lot of people and organizations to involve in a cover up and such a small part played by Mr. Paterno yet you give him top billing.

      You say they did it for the sake of football, but ask yourself honestly, what bad press for the football team comes out of them reporting that a FORMER coach was caught in the showers with a boy in 2001? Then ask yourself, honestly again, what bad press would come out if it was reported that a founder of a children's charity was caught in the shower with one of the charity's boys? Maybe it wasn't about football after all. Maybe they were trying to be discrete about it to protect the charity and its children?

      I understand your disgust at Mr. Sandusky's actions as they are horrible, indefensible acts and shameful for any human to act that way, but let that disgust lead you to the facts of this case, not rash media driven decision on people that unfortunately thought better of a man that, until his true nature was revealed, was considered a blessing and savior to many, many kids. Aim your disgust at a society that is quick to condemn child molestation when it is discovered, but thinks this only happens when "good men fail to act" and they would be able to tell if someone was molesting a kid and go right to the cops. There is one fact that is glaringly obvious in all this and it is that child molesters are able to keep molesting kids because they are VERY good at disguising it and getting away with it.

      Most importantly aim your disgust towards trying to help people understand just how widespread this issue is and that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested. Do get just type how you are angry at "Penn State" because "they allowed" this to happen (btw, the amount of times the ball was dropped in this case PRIOR to it getting to 2001 and penn state would make your head explode), make sure that you do something with that anger to make a difference. Here is a link to an article with some great charities that help kids that have been abused: http://misd.info/for-the-kids-a-call-to-action/

    2. hate to burst YOUR bubble, but a cover up could involve a conspiracy to withhold key information to help uncover evidence of a crime. THIS IS THE VERY REASON Curley and and Schultz are charged with perjury. While it has YET to be 100% determined who all was conspiring and covering what up... the evidence points to a collusion of misdeeds and missteps that could have helped children much earlier in this process and prevented many many cases of abuse.

      By the way I am a victim of violent sexual abuse. I was attacked and abused by a stranger. I told adults (a parent and other trusted friends). Adults were aware and did nothing to help me report it or get treatment in anyway whether medical or mental. I am also a Penn State graduate.

      I carry anger, shame, and hurt for the abuse that happened to me. I wish there was justice for me. Sex crimes involving children make people uncomfortable. Some want to warrior for the child and bring justice, some people want it to just "go away" as a painful memory without further inquiry or discussion.

      This is obviously a lightning rod for many in Happy valley. It's sad that the children and families of all concerned parties (children or perpetrators) have to endure these graphic disgusting details about their loved ones. But as painful as it is to hear, I guarantee it was more painful to be on the receiving end of those heinous.

      Penn State needs a fresh start. Let the consequences stand (as much as it stinks for those who directly had no part... its what the governing agencies involved have agreed upon). Penn State will rebuild and endure. It is not the end of the world. This school needs to accept their lumps and move on with this in a productive, responsible, and hopeful manner.

  4. I'd like to ask a question that only requires a one word response: If your child were sodomized in a shower by a "trusted" adult. it was reported immediately to someone who was expected to take action, and they said "thanks for letting me know. It's the weekend, I don't want to disturb anyone's weekend with this news. I'll address it Monday."....would you find this a perfectly acceptable response to the situation knowing that in the meantime, your child could be identified and receive medical treatment if necessary and be protected from additional abuses? This only requires a yes or no answer on your part.

    1. I'll answer your question in one word Yes, if someone reported your child was being sodomized in the shower you would report it immediately.
      The problem is what you claim was reported was never reported and that is where the whole cookie starts to crumble. As per his testimony at the trial and the grand jury summary Mcqueary went home and told his dad that he saw Sandusky in the showers with a kid and he didn't know what to make of it but he didn't feel it was right. Dr. Dranov, a family friend, who was the second person that night to be told of what Mcqueary saw, testified to the grand jury that Mike never told him of anything sexual going on and he didn't think it that serious, maybe just some locker room behavior. Mcqueary's own testimony as to his report to Paterno was that he was intentionally vague in the details. Paterno's own testimony agrees with this, that Mcqueary was vague, that he "might" have seen some inappropriate touching, maybe some fondling but he didn't get a good look, but that he was very upset with the situation. Mcqueary's testimony again in his reporting to Curely and Schultz he states that he never used the term "anal rape" and that he never saw intercourse, and his description of their positioning would have made it physically impossible.

      Maybe if Mike had been sure of what he saw and actually told someone about it in the terms you seem to think he said you wouldn't have to worry about asking questions based on half truths.

      As far as the "I'll address it Monday" quip. Mcqueary saw it Friday. Called Joe Saturday, went to Joe's house later Saturday. Joe calls Curely on it Sunday. Since it wasn't grave enough to immediately go to the police Friday night, I would think a half day turn around was pretty good.

  5. I think what we should be demanding, instead of the burning of all things Penn State and Paterno, should be the reform of our legal system in regards to how things are handled.

    After all, the first incident had only a partial witness without a complaining victim. The law requires there to be one before firm action can be taken.

    Without a witness I'm sure Joe Paterno would be accused of crying wolf on behalf of someone else- since he himself had not seen a thing, wouldn't you think the "witness" would have pushed further if he actually saw what happened?

    I appreciate you taking the time to present facts here and allow them to speak for themselves. What's the most hurtful is that it took 10+ innocent children to suffer and we're still pointing fingers instead of looking towards reform that could help prevent this from happening elsewhere.

    1. I agree with not placing blame on one person. We have a system of failures. However guilt should be shouldered but ALL kinks in this particular chain starting with Sandusky obviously but up to and including all direct witnesses (janitors and Mcqueary )and those who were made aware but direct witnesses and CHOSE not to act. I WILL JUDGE (Eventhough it is "unchristian-like") because I feel it is very COWARDICE to not defend those who cannot defend themselves... in this case children. Other abhorrent people in this category include elder abusers, animal abusers, abusers of the disabled....the list goes on.

  6. First of all, as a former Penn State graduate I very much appreciate this article and the stance you take in pointing out that we, Penn State as a community, should be given room to be allowed to grieve the loss of an entire community that we have held close to our hearts and that has shaped our lives without being accused and shamed for it. But I find it funny how in your article you make reference to the fact that people and the media have been flippantly using the term "cover up" without actual evidence that Paterno had actively covered anything up - and commenter Kimberly CONTINUES to do exactly that. I would like to ask where her proof of this cover up is? Did you read the grand jury report Kimberly? Did you even read the highly damning Freeh Report for that matter? Since you so clearly seem to know that there was a conspiracy to cover up heinous acts. But I know you didn't read those, because if you did you would know that there has been no evidence to prove that Paterno covered anything up. An eye witness came to him and gave him vague facts and he reported it to the head of the university, as would anyone else in that situation. He did not know any facts, he had no evidence to go on, and no victims had come forward. So I ask you, what was he supposed to do? Call the Governor of Pennsylvania and tell him he had heard something, not sure if it was true, no evidence to back it up, didn't actually witness it himself, and had no victim coming forward to report it? Hold a press conference and let the entire community know? Go to the Second Mile and....what? Shut it down? He didn't have the ability to do that. So he should report it someone who does, right? Ok well...that was what he did. I'm at a loss for where the cover-up comes in? I'm SURE that you would have done the exact same things! Right? Well the truth is, you have no idea what you would have done. You can't even begin to imagine it. Because not only will you never have the responsibility of a high profile position where you are required to act with caution and within the constraints of the outlined protocol, you don't even know the circumstances of the events and exchange of information that happened between the involved parties.

    Contrary to how we are being portrayed at Penn State, we do care about the victims very much. And we would give anything to do something to take away the pain that they have experienced. But punishing innocent students, faculty, and community members is not taking away the pain for the victims, it is only contributing. What is happening to the school and the community right now is exactly the reason that these victims did not want to come forward in the first place. Penn State is their community too, and they were nervous and upset for the turmoil that would ensue from coming forward with their stories. Unfortunately these punishments will do nothing to stop a sadistic psychopath like Sandusky from doing what he is determined to do. So where do the punishments stop? How many more innocent people have to pay for the acts of Sandusky and the highest reporting authorities of Penn State (Curly, Shultz, and Spainer - the only people in this situation who had the power to change anything).

  7. No one is blaming Penn State as a whole. It was poor executive administrative decisions and Grand Jury perjury charges that reek of conspiracy by few in the inner circle.
    By the way, I AM AN ALUMNI. I feel for the victims FIRST, the students SECOND because they are victims too... being penalized by poor choices of the past that they had nothing to do with.

  8. I think the problem is that in many cases, people don't care. It sucks to realize this, but many people do not care. Joe Paterno's actions put him on this list.

    He cared about his friend. He did the bare minimum to make sure his own bases were covered and pass the buck. When nobody takes action, and people simply pass the back, horrific events like this occur.

    At the end of the day, Joe Paterno is gone. His friends and family must deal with their grief in their own way, but that is irrelevant to what the survivors of childhood sexual abuse that are alive today must deal with. You are projecting your own sentiments on a man who cannot speak for himself because he is dead, as much as the media is projecting their sentiments onto Jerry Sandusky and the PSU staff, only Joe Pa's side is much, much less sympathetic.

    A dead man's name is tarnished? So what? He's dead. He needs no sympathy. His soul is no longer with us. A living person's life is destroyed... Many living people's lives are destroyed by horrific, rampant abuse? This is a much different situation, that requires the rousing of human sympathy.