Penn State disgraced / From sex acts, to silence, to shame: excerpts from an unfolding scandal
The Philadephia Inquirer
There is one line amid the 23-page grand jury presentment that marks the depth of the alleged depravity in the Penn State scandal. As a father of three sons, it makes me sick to read.
Here is the context: It was about 9:30 p.m. on March 1, 2002, in the Lasch Football Building on the main campus.
And here is the line: "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 [Jerry] Sandusky."
The "he" has been identified by media outlets as Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant and now an assistant coach at Penn State. Mr. Sandusky, of course, is the former Penn State football coach who has been charged with sexually assaulting eight boys over a decade.
So what did Mr. McQueary do in that moment? Did he shout? Did he pry the attacker off the young boy? Did he seek help from anyone who might have been nearby? Did he call the police?
The answer to all these questions is no, according to the grand jury report. Instead, the 28-year-old called his father. And John McQueary told his son to call head football coach Joe Paterno. He did ... the next day.
Penn State football is usually the highlight of my fall. But just as my Catholic mother stopped going to Mass for a time because of the church sex-abuse scandal, I don't think I'll be able to watch the Nittany Lions any time soon. For the first time, I'm ashamed to be a Penn State football fan.
I graduated from Penn State in 2006. When I arrived on campus, I had no interest in any sport involving a ball. But I quickly realized that being alone on campus with my principles on game day was not as much fun as taking part.
I was taken in by the cult of JoePa. Penn State, I learned, had one of the highest rates of graduating football players. A friend who played for the football team told me that one of the reasons Penn State wanted him was his moral character. The team was among the least-penalized in the nation.
When Adam Taliaferro suffered a catastrophic injury in a 2000 game, Mr. Paterno insisted that he keep his scholarship; the coach's wife, Sue, drove regularly to Philadelphia to bring the hospitalized Taliafero cookies. I fell hard for the myth of the team's virtue, and for the coach who bucked the corrupt culture in big-time college sports.
Nine years ago, when that Penn State graduate assistant told Joe Paterno the horrible thing he'd seen, the Penn State football team had just finished one of its worst seasons in history. A vocal core of fans were calling for Mr. Paterno to retire, but the old coach refused to quit.
Could Mr. Paterno have neglected his moral duty because his job was in danger? A year ago, I would have said, "Of course not." Now, I'm not so sure.
The Washington Post
I don't know college football. It's that thing that is on TV in the background as I smear Durkee's on my Christmas leftovers. But I've heard of Joe Paterno. He was the professor on the sidelines, the Penn State legend dedicated to creating a team of student-athletes.
And now everyone has heard what happened at Penn State. And the indignant response resounds. "I would have said something," everyone says. "I wouldn't have gone to my supervisor. I would have gone straight to the police."
It is easy to say. It is harder to do. And if you don't believe me, consider who didn't do it: Joe Paterno.
The bystander effect is a terrible thing. Look around you and notice that everyone is doing nothing, and you can conclude that nothing is the thing to do. It happens far more often than we'd like.
While the murder of Jayna Murray took place at the Bethesda, Md., Lululemon, Apple employees next door reported hearing screams for help and the sounds of thumping and dragging. They did what everyone else was doing. Nothing.
Thousands of us watched, stunned, the video from China of toddler Xiao Yueyue being struck by a white van and then left bleeding in the street, where she was hit by a large truck as 18 people passed by.
Joe Paterno says he did what he was supposed to do. He reported the situation to his supervisor. Fair. That is what everyone else did. And then?
The number of people at Penn State who reported horrible things and then washed their hands of the affair is unsurprisingly substantial. Building Penn State's program was the work of decades, and to be forced to crack open its brilliant facade and let dark, ugly things crawl out was a prospect from which everyone shrank.
Technically speaking, Joe Paterno didn't act wrongly.
Or, put another way, he didn't act, wrongly.
The Altoona Mirror
This scandal is just beginning, and anyone who believes things will get a whole lot better before they get worse is kidding themselves.
There are still so many unanswered questions in this sickening scandal, and now the national media and its heavy-hitting investigative journalists are making their way to Central Pennsylvania.
They will dig and dig looking for scoops, they will ask questions that have never been asked and they will look under every rock trying to find more details and answers about how Jerry Sandusky was allowed to be an alleged sexual predator for so long without getting caught.
Who knew about his past? How much did they know about it? Why didn't they come forward all these years?
Did the remaining members of Penn State's coaching staff know about Mr. Sandusky's alleged penchant for little boys and, if so, why didn't they come forward years ago?
Did anyone cover up anything? Most importantly, how many more Sandusky victims might come forward in the coming weeks and months?
Maybe there won't be anything else that's as bad as what already has come out -- it would have to be disastrous to qualify -- but each and every one will be an ongoing reminder of the appalling nature of this scandal.
Someday things will return to normal in Happy Valley. Just don't expect that to happen anytime soon.
First Published November 13, 2011 12:00 am