Sandusky Doing Hard Time, Spanier Charged

Jerry Sandusky is now doing hard time at the state prison in Greene County in southwestern Pennsylvania.  He was evaluated at the institution in Camp Hill where all new prisoners are sent initially.  His sentence is 30-60 years.

Meanwhile former University President Graham Spanier was charged today with perjury, obstruction and failure to report child abuse.  Those charges come from the Freeh investigation which uncovered emails which show he and others covered up the Sandusky crimes for 14 years.  I did a brief interview with Spanier about on February 4, 2011 when President Obama was on campus.  He rudely cut off the interview.  It has been more than a few times lately as people do internet searches for the guy.  I wonder if he’s as smug today?

Sandusky Sentenced

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison this morning.  On an overcast day in Centre County hundreds of media people gathered to listen to a man deep in denial.  Last evening he issued this statement:

I’m responding to the worst loss of my life. First I looked at myself. Over and over, I asked why? Why didn’t we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial? Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations? What’s the purpose? Maybe it will help others. Some vulnerable children who could be abused might not be as a result of all the publicity. That would be nice, but I’m not sure about it. I would cherish the opportunity to become a candle for others as they have been a light for me.

They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage. Our love continues.

A young man who is dramatic and a veteran accuser and always sought attention started everything. He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won. I’ve wondered what they really won. Attention, financial gain, prestige will all be temporary.

Before you blame me, as others have, look at everything and everybody. Look at the preparation for the trial and the trial. Compare it to others. Think about what happened, why and who made it happen. Evaluate the accusers and their families. Realize they didn’t come out of isolation. The accusers were products of many more people and experiences than me. Look at their confidants and their honesty. Think about how easy it was for them to turn on me given the information, attention, and potential perks. I never labeled or put down them or their families. I tried and I cared, then asked for the same. Please realize all came to the Second Mile because of issues. Some of those may remain.

We will continue to fight. We didn’t lose to proven facts, evidence, accurate locations, and times. Anything can be said. We lost to speculation and stories that were influenced by people who wanted to convict me. We must fight unfairness, inconsistency, and dishonesty. People need to be portrayed for who they really are. We’ve not been complainers. When we couldn’t have kids we adopted. When we didn’t have time to prepare for trial we still gave it our best. We will fight for another chance. We have given many second chances and now will ask for one.

It will take more than our effort. Justice will have to be more than just a word. Fairness be more than just a dream. It will take others. Somebody apolitical with the courage to listen, to think about the unfairness, to have the guts to stand up and take the road less traveled. I ask for the strength to handle everything and the willingness to surrender only to God regardless of the outcome.

This man molested at least eight boys, some as young as 11.  He did so repeatedly and there were witnesses to some of the transgressions.  How he can stand and claim none of it happened makes me think he suffers from a serious mental illness.  This is more than a river in Egypt.  Most convicted criminals show remorse at sentencing, not Sandusky.  He destroyed (with help) an entire University’s reputation and ruined a respected football program.  According to him it was all set up by a large conspiracy of disgruntled, troubled youth who couldn’t figure out their own lives.  Those who caught him in the act apparently were hallucinating.

I almost feel sorry for Jerry Sandusky and his deep state of denial.  Almost.  Wait, I don’t feel anything but contempt for the man.  He got what he deserved.

Meanwhile Penn State football lives on under dynamic new coach Bill O’Brien.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been prouder of this team than Saturday when they rallied for 22 unanswered points against an undefeated Northwestern team.  Fifteen rats left the ship but with outstanding coaching and motivation provided by all of the bad press those who chose to stay are showing  amettle seldom seen in sports.  Their success in the midst of scandal and sanctions should be a ray of light for all young men wishing to be part of something bigger than themselves.  Coach O’Brien is showing how the game had passed by JoePa and how badly change was needed in Happy Valley.  If I’m a star high school football player I’d want to play for this man and this team regardless of NCAA sanctions.

Tom Corbett still has to answer for his role in all of this.  Mike McQueary is suing Penn State for loss of reputation and a new report says the boy he saw being raped was molested again following that incident.  That justifies the firing of Joe Paterno and the other University administrators who covered up the offense.  The State House is now paralyzed over a resoultion calling for an investigation of Corbett’s investigation.  Too many questions remain over why it took him three years to indict Sandusky and whether he stalled it for political purposes.  Pennsylvanians and Jerry’s victims deserve to know the truth.


NCAA Sanctions Strip Paterno of Record

Sanctions handed down this morning against Penn State include a $60 million fine, loss of bowl games for four years, loss of ten scholarships per year for that period and strip the University of all football wins from 1998 on.  This means Joe Paterno’s record as the winningest coach in Division 1 history is history.

The fine is equal to the income produced by the football program for one year.  The loss of forty football scholarships over the four year term means the football team will not be competitive.  Some players may have to pay their own way if they wish to attend Penn State.  They’ll elect to play elsewhere first.

Mark Emmert cited the culture surrounding “hero worship” as a contributing factor for the charges against Jerry Sandusky.  Both coaches were the subject of this and Paterno was anointed sainthood by many fans and alumni.  The Freeh Report proved they were sinners, not saints.

Paterno Statue Removed

The statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium was removed this morning.  University President Rodney Erickson made the decision and released this statement:

Since we learned of the Grand Jury presentment and the charges against Jerry Sandusky and University officials last November, members of the Penn State community and the public have been made much more acutely aware of the tragedy of child sexual abuse. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse. I assure you that Penn State will take a national leadership role in the detection and prevention of child maltreatment in the months and years ahead.

With the release of Judge Freeh’s Report of the Special Investigative Counsel, we as a community have had to confront a failure of leadership at many levels. The statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium has become a lightning rod of controversy and national debate, including the role of big time sports in university life. The Freeh Report has given us a great deal to reflect upon and to consider, including Coach Paterno’s legacy.

Throughout Penn State, the two most visible memorials to Coach Paterno are the statue at Beaver Stadium and the Paterno Library. The future of these two landmarks has been the topic of heated debate and many messages have been received in various University offices, including my own. We have heard from numerous segments of the Penn State community and others, many of whom have differing opinions. These are particularly important decisions when considering things that memorialize such a revered figure.

I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.

On the other hand, the Paterno Library symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University. The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno’s commitment to Penn State’s student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts Coach Paterno had on the University. Thus I feel strongly that the library’s name should remain unchanged.

Coach Paterno’s positive impact over the years and everything he did for this University predate his statue. At the same time it is true that our institution’s excellence cannot be attributed to any one person or to athletics. Rather, Penn State is defined by our actions and accomplishments as a learning community. Penn State has long been an outstanding academic institution and we will continue to be.

The world will be watching how Penn State addresses its challenges in the days ahead. While some may take issue with the decisions I have made, I trust that everyone associated with our University will respond in a civil and respectful manner.

I fully realize that my decision will not be popular in some Penn State circles, but I am certain it is the right and principled decision. I believe we have chosen a course that both recognizes the many contributions that Joe Paterno made to the academic life of our University, while taking seriously the conclusions of the Freeh Report and the national issue of child sexual abuse. Today, as every day, our hearts go out to the victims.

It was the correct decision.  As long as it stood it was an “in your face” reminder tot he Sandusky victims.  Imagine being one of those men and knowing that every day people were worshiping one of the men responsible for covering up 14 years of child molestation?  It was a lightning rod and, as such, had to come down.

Penn State Fallout

The fallout from the Freeh Report continues at Penn State.  Much of what I’ve been saying since November’s arrest of Jerry Sandusky turned out to be correct.  Being an alumnus I understand the culture of football which drove all of Happy Valley, some for the best and, as we now know, some for the worst.  While Joe Paterno did much good and elevated the University to national prominence he did so at a high cost.  The reputation of all of us who graduate dis now tainted.  Was it worth it?  History will write that chapter.

Meanwhile the NCAA is discussing imposing the “death penalty.”  Considering how much more damage this loss of institutional control cost compared with SMU it is warranted.  Southern Methodist is the only school, to date, to have its football program suspended by the NCAA.  I think it would be good for Penn State to lose football for a period so it can refocus on what matters:  academics.  Too many of those at the top lost control of the school’s real mission:  education and research.  This trickled down to students, the community, the fans and players.  More and more the football players were out of control too.  Let Beaver Stadium sit empty for a couple seasons and allow the players to transfer and retain eligibility.

Three new alleged victims have come forward saying Sandusky molested them in the 70’s and 80’s.  He was a University employee at the time.  Some experts are estimating Penn State’s legal liability at $100 million.  This was all done, as we recall, to avoid bad publicity.  That strategy didn’t work out too well for Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Joe Paterno.

Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated has a good column this week.

Spanier once said a sports agent threatened the reputation of PSU by buying a famed running back some clothes.  That incident only cost the agent $1000 and access to the athletes.  Too bad he never considered how his own actions might stain that reputation.

Penn State needs to regain its perspective about the mission of the University and suspending football for a time should enable that outcome.

Washington Post Calls Paterno A Liar

Jerry Sandusky took Joe Paterno down with him.  Shortly before his death the head coach did an interview with The Washington Post. Today that publication came out and labeled him a liar:

Joe Paterno was a liar, there’s no doubt about that now. He was also a cover-up artist.

No reporter likes being lied to and every political candidate out there knows a cardinal sin is to lie to the press.  The reason is because once you piss off the press you’re toast.  There’s a saying:  never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.  JoePa lied to The Post and they’re exacting their revenge on his legacy by exposing him as a liar.

Paterno said in the interview that he never knew about the 1998 incident in which Sandusky was caught showering inappropriately with a boy in Paterno’s football building.  The Freeh Report uncovered emails showing he did know about it.

Through all of this today I recalled former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer’s comments after Sandusky was arrested.  He said coach’s know everything that happens in their programs and their locker rooms.  It’s a small fraternity on a campus and a close one.  The Report says Joe had total control over his facilities and knew everything that happened there.  It reinforced Switzer’s comments.

So we learned today that Joe Paterno wasn’t a saint.  This is shocking news to many Penn Staters.  Of course Paterno put himself on that pedestal.  He profited personally from the adoration in the form of endorsements.  He basked in the worship from his fans.  It fed his ego.  Heck, he was just another human being with flaws.  Fortunately for him lung cancer got him before the Freeh Commission exposed his lies.  The Post hasn’t forgotten he lied to them on his deathbed.

People are supposed to come clean on their deathbeds so I’m disappointed JoePa, a devout Catholic, never confessed and repented.  He denied it all to the end.  His family, in a statement today, continued in its deep denial and needs to realize it’s time to end the cover up.

None of us are saints and Joe Paterno wasn’t one either.

Freeh Penn State Report Due Thursday

The Freeh Commission Report on Penn State, Jerry Sandusky and the university’s football program will be released at 9 AM Thursday.  That will be followed at 10 by a press conference.  Former FBI Director Louis Freeh was hired by Penn State to investigate how and why child molester Jerry Sandusky was allowed to have access to the Lasch Football Building even after being caught sexually molesting two boys there.  Emails revealed Joe Paterno lied about his involvement and exposed President Graham Spanier saying the “humane” (his word, not mine) thing to do was to not report the 2001 McQueary event to authorities.  That was required by law.  Sandusky went on to molest more kids.

The Paterno family, seemingly channeling JoePa from beyond the grave, continues issuing statements pretending to know what the coach did or did not do.Their knee jerk reactions defending the indefensible are pathetic.  The report has not been released but they are purporting to know everything Paterno did, or didn’t do in attacking leaks of the emails.

Perhaps if Penn State had complied with Attorney General subpoenas and turned them over when demanded by a court the Freeh Commission wouldn’t have been left to discover them.  The information about the way Paterno manipulated another incident involving a mini riot by his players and how he covered it up has been public information for some time.  How much else did Paterno cover up in the desperate manipulation of University officials to protect and out of control football program?

Penn State needs to rethink its football program.  The primary mission of the institution is academics, not sports.  If the tail is wagging the dog then it must be removed.  Suspending or ending football as the University of Chicago once did may be the only suitable remedy.

Paterno Firing Justified According to Email Records

The Penn State Board of Trustees has been the object of utter scorn by alumni upset over the firing of football coach Joe Paterno.  They elected two outspoken (one of them obnoxious) members tot he BOT in retaliation, a bit early as it turns out according to email records leaked tot he press. The Penn State internal investigation led by former FBI head Louis Freeh unearthed previously hidden email exchanges among the principles in the university’s cover-up:  President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and VP Gary Schultz.

Interestingly these email records weren’t turned over to Attorney General investigators as part of subpoenas of such records.  That could enatil further criminal charges.  The scandal has, so far, cost PSU $12 million.  Lawsuits against the University by victims of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse will raise that sum exponentially.  Spanier may very well face criminal charges for the cover-up.

Federal and state laws require reporting to authorities of suspected sexual abuse of minors.  The emails show a discussion among the principlas about the matter and a final determination that the “humane” (their word, not mine) thing to do was to hush it up to protect Sandusky.  This happened in 2001 following the infamous instance where Mike McQueary walked into a football locker room to find the former coach raping a boy.  Because no investigation ever happened no one, to this day, can identify the victim.  The emails show that, at one point, Curley discussed the matter with Paterno in a follow-up conversation.  It was following that that the decision was made to drop the matter and not report it as required by law.  Spanier even mentioned the danger of doing so could have tot he university if knowledge of the incident became public.  Of course it did.

Joe Paterno claimed he passed along the information then had no further involvement.  The emails show that NOT to be the case.  Tim Curley, after discussing it again with the head coach then suggested the matter be dropped.  It was.  The Paterno family, in a statement released yesterday, claimed the coach never used email and so wasn’t involved in the communications leaked.  No one has claimed he authored any of the emails so this disclaimer is mysterious and misdirectional.  Curley said, in his emails, he went back to Paterno and discussed the matter as he, Spanier and Schultz sought a solution to the situation.  After that later conversation with Joe the three decided not to do the moral thing.  For this the firing of Joe Paterno was entirely justified.

The humane course of action, of course, would have been an immediate police investigation to identify the boy, interview Sandusky, the alleged victim and Mr. McQueary.  Valuable time was lost as the administrators discussed how to handle a sensitive matter.  Their decision was to cover it up after consultation with JoePa.  That’s as damning as it gets.

I sincerely hope all involved in the cover-up face criminal charges and that the alumni wake up to the fact the football program was put ahead of child welfare.  This was inexcusable and alumni supporting that decision and protesting the treatment of a head coach knee deep in the shit should be disgraced.  The reputation of a proud institution is on the line and my fellow alumni further damage it in their denial.  The evidence is irrefutable.  

News & Notes March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of our Irish friends.

Former State Sen. Bob Mellow, long under federal investigation, surrendered on charges and agreed to a plea deal which will see him do five years.

In other legislative criminal news the Orie trial continues in Pittsburgh.  The prosecution rested after several more staffers testified about doing political work on the taxpayer dime.  An expert then testified about the documents which were forged and introduced in the State Senator’s first trial.  The signature of Orie’s former Chief of Staff Jamie Pavlot were forged onto new documents from the Senator insisting that no political work be done.  Although the expert couldn’t say who authored the documents and forged the signature who had a motive to do so?

Gov. Gasbag’s callous comments that women undergoing a forced medical procedure “just close their eyes” has gone viral nationally and embarrassed Pennsylvania:

Since when are our state legislators medical professionals qualified to insert themselves between a woman and her doctor for a legal medical procedure?  This is the definition of Big Brother at its worst.

Bob Kerrey is running into some residency issues while trying to run for his old Senate seat from Nebraska.  The problem:  he lives elsewhere.

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana hasn’t lived there since 1977 so a county elections board revoked his voters registration.  He has lived in Virginia since selling his home back in ’77.  He continued to use the address for voting however which constitutes voter fraud.  Why is it when we do find voter fraud its almost always Republicans engaging in the crime?

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission approved water use from the river for hydro fracturing this week.  Each gas well consumes a minimum of five million gallons of potable water which then becomes toxic.  The earth has only a fixed amount of fresh water, none is produced, so every gallon poisoned for energy is a gallon less available for human consumption.  

Republican presidential hopefuls have been on a rant against using teleprompters lately.  Perhaps they should rely on them more themselves.  Rick Santorum refuses to use a set stump speech and commits bimbo eruptions at every opportunity.  His latest:  telling Pueto Ricans they should speak English if they want to become a state.  

A former GOP Congressman wishes he’d simply kept his mouth shut after saying poor people should consider suicide to several dinner friends.  Todd Tiahrt was in a parking lot when he said “suicide helps” in a discussion about what to do for poor folks.  This is the problem with the 1%:  they wish we’d all just go away.   (new link)

More Penn State employees were issued subpoenas to testify before the AG’s grand jury probe.  Meanwhile Jerry Sandusky was denied details on when the alleged acts of child molestation happened.  I’m no fan of the guy but how do you present a defense when the prosecution cannot even give a general time frame of when the alleged crimes happened?  With a change of venue denied I’m thinking there’s no way the guy gets convicted.

Texas has lost all federal funds for women’s health because it defunded Planned Parenthood.  While Gov. Perry called it a political stunt by President Obama the law is quite clear on this and Texas was warned before passing the bill.  What is political is using Planned Parenthood as a political tool as Perry did.  

In another show of “southern class,” a fan from Southern Mississippi shouted at a Kansas State player regarding his immigration status.  The March Madness game lived up to the billing when the fan yelled “where’s your green card” at Angel Rodriguez.

Katie Goodman and friends did a great rant on closeted conservatives:

Ten companies continue advertising on Rush.  Think Progress has the list.

Things at Penn State have gotten very ugly.  Board of Trustees members have been getting death threats from morons blaming them for JoePa’s death.  The BOT didn’t kill the coach, you might recall how ill he was the winter of 2010-2011.  He was so sick he couldn’t go to work and was in and out of the hospital.  Anyone who thinks the lung cancer killed him in the space of two months is an idiot, the guy had been sick for at least a year.  The question is why it was kept secret?

A Death In the Family

I tried keeping my eyes dry watching yesterday’s memorial service but found it was impossible.  We had a death in the family this week, the Penn State Family.  It’s been a tough week.  It shouldn’t have ended this way for Joe Paterno but no one has the power to change events, even the legendary coach.  What we did see yesterday though was everything which is good about Penn State.  I sat there thinking that, perhaps, this might change the attitudes of many people whose sole opinion of us is the controversy surrounding a former coach.

I really enjoyed Jimmy Cefalo’s touching remembrance.  Maybe it was because he represented my era or perhaps because he reminded us how Joe took the sons of small town Pennsylvania, sons of coal miners (my father, class of ’42, was the son of a coal miner) and molded them into men.  The Paterno legacy, as was said, is not 409 victories, 2 national championships, 5 undefeated seasons, 50 consecutive non losing seasons, or a 106,000 seat stadium.  His legacy was the thousand former lettermen sitting on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center.  It was how he touched the lives of millions of people, of hundreds of thousands of alumni.  He lives on in all of us.

There’s an old saying that no one really dies until the last person who knew and remembers them breathes their last.  I like to believe in that and in such a case Joe Paterno will live forever.

I was disappointed any mention of the scandal engulfing the University and which led to Joe’s dismissal was even mentioned.  His life transcended one moral lapse.  I’d have rather listened to all the remembrances and stories shared about his life, his passions and his ideals and they were abundant.  Unfortunately Nike Chairman Phil Knight couldn’t resist and reminded all of the painful final chapter of Joe’s life:

“There is a villain in this tragedy, and it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno’s response,” Knight boomed.

“I do not follow conventional wisdom. Joe Paterno was my hero for 12 of the last 12 years. My question is, who was the real trustee of this university?”

This was not the time to excoriate Tom Corbett, there will more appropriate times for that.  Knight’s question however, was poignant in that it reminded us that Joe Paterno was really the one person, “the Trustee,” who really ran Penn State and that was the problem and the source of his downfall.  We could have done without that reminder.  That was the culture which nurtured Jerry Sandusky and resulted in tragedy, not for Joe Paterno, but for young boys raped inside the Lasch Football Building.

This week wasn’t, and shouldn’t, have been about the Sandusky scandal, it was about Joe Paterno and his real legacy.  Other than Knight it was a beautiful day beginning with the Glee Club singing the alma mater and ending with a lone Blue Band trumpeter playing “Hail to the Lion” (not those songs cited erroneously in The Morning Call).

Today the Lion is at rest, hail to the Lion.