Another shoe is ready to drop on Penn State
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Somewhere on Penn State's distant landscape, you can find a football game if you care to look hard enough.
Aw, there it is, noon, Sept. 1: O'Brien's Lions vs. Ohio University's plucky Bobcats. Beaver Stadium. You know, the one next to the Paterno statue.
Many can't wait for that narrative to spring into life, to see what the New England Patriots offense looks like without the New England Patriots. I'd be expecting pretty much what you'd get from a weekend production of Penn State's manic but sincere No Refund Theatre kicking around "The Iceman Cometh."
Oh, wait, there's another game -- Ohio State at Beaver Stadium, Oct. 29 is it? No, Oct. 29, that's the national conference on child abuse the university is hosting. The game is Oct. 27. Take a good look at your university calendar this year; it's complicated.
But football is just so much further off than it appears. It's like looking through the wrong end of the telescope.
In the thick foreground, the pathological fog that is Jerry Sandusky has lifted and moved into the correctional system, leaving only the shrieking clarity of a tangled black forest as far as the mind can see, extending well past the football opener and perhaps the next several as well.
The next central character in this years-long drama is Louie Freeh, a former FBI director and federal judge Penn State drafted to investigate itself along every pathway clear to 1975, purportedly to examine the very roots of a culture that might soon enough allow and enable a monster to walk the earth.
The Freeh findings could be released as soon as July and are to become available not one minute sooner to Penn State than they are to the public and the media. That guarantee was one part of the university's multi-front effort to save its image along with any potential future victims of similarly unspeakable acts. It hired a full-time compliance officer to support the Cleary Act, the federal crime reporting law for schools. It's developing a training program for employees to recognize child abuse and support its prevention. It has revised its policy on the supervision of minors involved in university-sponsored programs. It has arranged counseling for Sandusky's victims through Praesidium, Inc. It will play host to that national conference on child abuse in October. It has donated $2.6 million to child-abuse prevention agencies, $1.1 million for a Center for the Protection of Children at Penn State Hershey, and $1.5 million to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
And now it can get ready to spend some real money.
When the Freeh report drops, and when everyone will presumably see what former university president Graham Spanier knew and when he knew it, what former vice president and head of the university police Gary Schultz knew and when he knew it, what exiled athletic director Tim Curley knew and when he knew it, that's the moment at which the landscape will change again.
It might not improve.
Not at all.
In an article scheduled for publication today on Law.com, attorneys cast the looming Freeh report not so much as the next blind curve in Penn State's careening history, but as the road map for litigants past, present and future.
Penn State ought to hope it is only that.
"If [the Freeh report] doesn't unearth smoking guns," Victim 1 attorney Slade McLaughlin told Law.com, "the next step is a settlement or sweeping discovery. The alternative is to let me, Tom Kline [Victim 5's attorney], and the rest of the victims' attorneys root around in Penn State's files and depose a hundred of their employees to uncover all the dirty laundry that has, to date, been kept from public view."
Penn State might not like the sound of that.
All this, by the way, is outside the ongoing Pennsylvania attorney general's investigation, the federal investigation, the NCAA investigation, the Big Ten investigation, and the investigation on any future episode of CSI Bellefonte.
It's so much easier to predict how the Nittany Lions will do on the field than how Penn State will fare over the next few years. Penn State already has shown it's more than willing to write some checks, but it undoubtedly will have to keep 'em coming. If Freeh's report shows the way to an end game, it'll be the biggest Penn State win since 1987.
For the moment, Sandusky is behind bars alone for this travesty. For Freeh's report to be fully credible, it might have to suggest that others who failed these children should join him.
For the glory of old State.
First Published June 27, 2012 10:26 am