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.

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.  

Sandusky Verdict: Guilty on 45 Counts

The Sandusky jury returned a verdict shortly before 10 PM this evening.  A decorum order issued by Judge Cleland prohibited any transmission on the 48 counts until the trial was adjourned.  That meant going over any final motions.  No members of the press were even able to rush out of the courtroom upon threat of arrest.  

I received an email from the court at 9:30 disclosing the verdict and saying court would convene twenty minutes later at 9:50.  I have to say the court has kept the media up to date all day about every action of this jury, meal breaks etc.

The verdict of guilty on 45 counts mean he will serve the remainder of his life in state prison.

Update: Penn State President Rodney Erickson released the following statement.  Alumni continue to be blinded by the fact football must take a back seat to child welfare.  Until they do no one can be Penn State Proud again.

Trial Verdict

June 23, 2012

Dear Penn Staters,

Yesterday Penn State learned that a verdict was reached in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Gerald Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of the 48 charges filed against him.

The legal process has spoken and we have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing.

My administration and the Board of Trustees maintain a steadfast commitment to pursuing the truth regarding Mr. Sandusky’s actions. While we cannot change what happened, we can and do accept the responsibility to take action on the societal issue of child sexual abuse-both in our community and beyond. The University is committed to ensuring that our campuses are safe for children and to being a constructive participant in building greater awareness of child sexual abuse and the practical steps that can be undertaken to prevent, report and respond to such abuse.

The University has already established a confidential counseling process for victims of Mr. Sandusky’s conduct, and that process remains open. (For further information, please visit http://live.psu.edu/story/58590.) While counseling is critical, some victims have sought and continue to seek a direct dialogue with the University to discuss the University’s responsibility for Mr. Sandusky’s actions.

Now that the jury has spoken, the University wants to continue that dialogue and do its part to help victims continue their path forward. To that end, the University plans to invite victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the University arising out of Mr. Sandusky’s conduct. The purpose of the program is simple-the University wants to provide a forum where the University can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the University. Counsel to the University plan to reach out to counsel to the victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse in the near future with additional details.

President Rodney Erickson

Office of the President

Sandusky Trial: Jury Deliberating

After the trial went to the jury yesterday it was reported that Coach Sandusky also molested his adopted son Matt.  Ever since this story erupted last fall there have been reports about Matt.  He was prepared to testify as a rebuttal witness had Jerry testified.  Now we know why he didn’t do so.  This would have been devastating to the defense.  

At 8:55 AM this morning the jury resumed deliberations they suspended at 9PM last night.  They are sequestered without access to news.

I expect convictions on all but the two cases in which victims were not identified.  I doubt the state was able to meet the standards for proof without them.  The original counts are down to 48 from 52, also something I predicted.  I would be surprised if there isn’t a verdict today.

News & Notes June 21, 2012

The Sandusky case goes tot he jury following closing arguments.  Judge Cleland issued a stern warning to credentialed news outlets (we’re credentialed for the trial) not to report any of the verdicts before he officially adjourns the trial.  His onerous order threatens sanctions.  I’m betting someone will jump the gun for the scoop.

Commerce Sec. John Bryson resigned today after suffering recent seizures.  We wish him the best of health going forward.

Gov. Corbett surrendered to legislative Republicans on the budget.  They’re up for re-election this year and have to answer to the voters.  He isn’t.  Pennsylvanians are mad a shell about the draconian cuts.

Stafford student loan rates are set to double on July 1st.  Congressional conservatives refuse to do anything.

The federal transportation bill, being drafted over three years, is also not being passed before July 1st.  Roads and bridges are decaying while Tea baggers play their fiddles.

Is Mittenms chastising Florida Gov. Rick Scott about the way his state’s economy is improving?  Romney doesn’t need Republican Governors crowing about the health of the economy.  Republicans have spent three years sabotaging the economy in order to win this year and the improving situation plays against Mitt.

Senate Republicans sought to gut the Clean Air Bill once again.  They want coal companies and power plants to be uninhibited in spewing mercury and other toxic substances into your air.  Mercury causes autism.

The Newseum ironically barred the press from covering an event there recently.  How does a museum dedicated to the media justify blocking the press?  If you’re outraged Change.org has a petition to sign.

Rabid dog Catholic leader Bill Donohue has a message for Jews:  “Jews Had Better Not Make Enemies Of Their Catholic Friends.”  Yes, just like their Catholic friends took such good care of them during the Inquisition.  Catholics have never been friends to Jews.

Remember the white Chevy truck I showed with the big Romney sign?  It was at the Wawa event in Quakertown Saturday.  It is no more after Karma intervened.

Conservative Democrat Mark Critz won’t attend the DNC convention saying Obama is a liability.  His southwestern Pennsylvania district is very conservative and the President isn’t popular with all the crackers there.  Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on your way out Congressman.

The Department of Labor reports that three state agencies will get grants for homeless veterans.  The YWCA of Greater Harrisburg gets $178,750, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western PA gets $300,000 and Impact Services Corp of Philadelphia sees a grant of $300,000.

Sandusky Trial: Defense Rests, Coach Doesn’t Take the Stand

The defense rested today without Jerry Sandusky taking the stand.  This was probably a good gamble with prosecutors waiting to use unaired segments of interviews he conducted after the scandal broke.  The coach might have had a difficult time explaining some of the comments found in them.  An example:

Costas: “So it’s entirely possible that you could have helped young boy A in some way that was not objectionable, while horribly taking advantage of young boy B, C, D and E. Isn’t that possible?”

Sandusky: “Well, you might think that. I don’t know. In terms of my relationship with so many, many young people, I would guess that there are many young people who would come forward – many more young people who would come forward – and say that my methods and what I had done for them made a very positive impact on their life.

“And I didn’t go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I’ve helped. There are many that I didn’t have – hardly had any contact with who I have helped in many, many ways.”

That sounds a lot as if he were defending himself by saying he hadn’t molested every boy he met.  How noble…

Juror number 6 was excused today after falling ill.  She was one of the few with no ties to the university.  She is replaced with an alternate.

The defense attempted to impeach the credibility of Mike McQueary by showing he attended some Second Mile events even after finding Sandusky engaged in anal intercourse (rape) of a young boy.  I don’t find that unusual.  If you a football coach at Penn State and not supporting The Second Mile you’d have a lot of explaining to do and it was obvious the young assistant coach was very uncomfortable discussing what he saw.

Will this jury understand human nature or believe the attacks on credibility?  A case like this come s down to that issue.  To believe eight young men or one coach?  Closing arguments commence at 9AM Thursday morning and the case goes to the jury.  I expect a quick verdict either way.  Either they’re convinced or they’re not.

Sandusky Trial: Showers & Underwear

The defense began yesterday following a final prosecution witness.  The mother of the 18 year old whose interactions with Jerry Sandusky triggered the investigation testified.  Filling in vital information for the jury she explained why there weren’t blood stains on her sons underwear following forced sodomy:  there wasn’t any.  She said her son kept telling her he’d tossed his undies in the  trash after having “accidents.”  The defense had sought to undermine the boy by asking why his underwear didn’t show signs of the abuse.  This was a powerful stab into the heart of a defense seemingly limited to explaining that showering with boys is normal and that histrionic personality disorder explains his “grooming” of the kids.

If this is the best the defense can do Mr. Sandusky should have saved us all the cost of this trial and begged for the best deal possible.

The eight young men who testified all seemed greatly embarrassed at having to tell tales of their sexual exploitation and abuse in public.  I should think this is normal.  Would you like to get on a stand in open court somewhere and talk about your sex life?  The fact this was gay sex and these boys all seem to be straight makes it that much  more so.

The defense has tried to make a big deal out of the fact most of the alleged victims weren’t totally forthcoming when asked about their experiences, that it wasn’t until they testified before a grand jury that all of the details came out.  I find that normal:  who would freely relate such things unless forced to under oath?  I find, in fact, that this strengthens the testimony because I believe it’s normal human behavior.

Eight victims have told similar stories about how Coach Sandusky groomed and seduced them, of how they felt powerless to oppose him and about the lavish gifts and access they got in return for sexual favors.  Two victims have yet to be identified and those charges may not be provable beyond a reasonable doubt.  Prosecutors dropped one charge yesterday because the incident occurred before it was a crime under statute.

Judge Cleland expects the case to go before the jury Thursday.

News & Notes June 15, 2012

I still haven’t received any apologies from PA Dems or the DNC for being shut out of a Party meeting last Saturday in violation of the DNC Charter.  It appears Democrats do not believe in a free and open press.

I spent Thursday morning at the Kutztown Produce Auction watching rolling farm fields and grazing horses while bidding on local produce and plants.  A thoroughly civilized way to spend a beautiful summer morning.

Penn State VP of Security Gary Schultz maintained a secret file pertaining to Jerry Sandusky.  State prosecutors only obtained it after it was handed over by a commission investigating the university for the university.  The contents of the file were covered by subpoenas issued by the OAG and not provided by Penn State fueling allegations of a cover up and obstruction.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, touted as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney, finds herself mired in an email controversy this week.  Key staffers are being outed for using personal and campaign email accounts for state business and vice versa.  Since personal email cannot be archived for records and are not transparent this is a violation of state law.  It appears they were used to circumvent oversight.

I mentioned a case earlier this week where a man in Texas was fraudulently hiding behind a Stand Your Ground law in a cold blooded murder.  A jury convicted him.  You cannot stalk someone, provoke a fight, kill them then claim self defense.

In a related case George Zimmerman’s wife was arrested this week for perjury.

The right wing noise machine has a new cog.  This one is as reprehensible as the others with no standards for factual reporting.

The WTO has found for the U.S. against China a trade dispute over steel.  The steel industry here in Pennsylvania should gain from this victory.  From the Administration:

The United States alleged that China improperly initiated countervailing duty investigations involving several U.S. laws.  The United States also challenged the manner in which China conducted its investigation, alleging that China violated numerous procedural and due process obligations, impairing the ability of the United States and U.S. companies to defend their interests.  The United States also alleged that China’s finding of injury to its domestic industry was unsupported by the evidence on the record.

The Panel’s favorable decision regarding China’s unfair anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S.-manufactured GOES is notable in many regards. The decision confirms that China must do more to meet its transparency and due process commitments.  This decision also carries the potential to strengthen future challenges to China’s trade remedy tactics.

Trade Rep. Ron Kirk reiterated on a conference call this morning that he and the P{resident will not hesitate to protect American workers.  We were given a one minute notification for this conference call…

Mitt Romney will make three campaign stops in the state tomorrow (Saturday).  The first is in Carbon County at Weatherly Casting.  He then goes to the Wawa on Route 663 outside Quakertown.  This is right by the Turnpike interchange and I’ll be there.  He then goes to Lebanon County.

R Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison for his Ponzi scheme.  At least one fraudulent banker has gone off to jail.  Now it’s time for the rest.

We could begin with Jamie Dimon who went to Congress and begged to be able to call the shots on all government regulation of the financial sector.  He already has that as evidenced by the groveling paid to him by Senators.  Of course this sort of boot licking is common by people to their bosses.

A PR flack hired by Wal-Mart impersonated a reporter at a union press conference calling attention to labor abuses at Wal-Mart warehouses.  She got caught.  I wonder if she’s done gay porn?

The Tea Party isn’t racist, they just tell racist jokes.

Want to send a message about how much you dislike Gov. Gasbag’s policies?  This article has a poll at its end.

A Michigan lawmaker was reprimanded for using the word vagina.  She was banned from speaking on the floor for two days.  Here’s what she had to say about a bill banning some abortions:

“I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours? And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.”

Police and private security evicted the remaining residents and protesters at Riverdale Mobile Home Park.  They were forcibly removed so Aqua America can steal water to sell to frackers.

Don’t eat at Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants.

Sandusky Trial: Prosecution Rests

The prosecution rested after just four days.  It took three and a half years to gather enough evidence for a four day case?  As investigators testified this week there was enough to justify an arrest of Jerry Sandusky all the way back in 1998.  Penn State buried that incident and the coach went on to molest other boys hundreds of times.  One victim yesterday recalled at least fifty incidents against himself alone.  He recalled crying out loud when the founder of The Second Mile raped him.

Why did it take 13 years until the law caught up with this monster.  One victim told the court he called himself the “tickle monster.”  Sandusky is a monster.  Will a jury largely comprised of PSU linked citizens convict one of their own?  The defense begins refuting the case on Monday though I’m not sure how.  It doesn’t matter to me if the monster has a personality disorder.  It doesn’t matter to me if some victims may be motivated with monetary gain.  If only half of what they said is true they deserve remuneration.  Two alleged victims remain unidentified and I won’t be shocked if Sandusky gets acquitted on those charges.  I’m not sure if, as a juror, I;d find there’s enough of a case without knowing who those kids were.  Beyond reasonable doubt remains a formidable hurdle in those counts.

Still, Tom Corbett has to come before the public and explain his actions as AG.  He must stand to questions about the conduct of his office in investigating these incidents.  There’s no way the Coach should have been a free man this long.