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THIS IS PENN STATE
L. JON WERTHEIM
November 21, 2011
"HAD SANDUSKY NOT BEEN SO BRAZEN, HAD HE SIMPLY RESTRICTED HIMSELF TO THE FOOTBALL FACILITIES, THERE IS LITTLE TO SUGGEST HE WOULD HAVE BEEN CAUGHT. FOR SANDUSKY—IF NOT FOR THE BOYS—PENN STATE FOOTBALL WAS A SAFE HAVEN."
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November 21, 2011

This Is Penn State

"HAD SANDUSKY NOT BEEN SO BRAZEN, HAD HE SIMPLY RESTRICTED HIMSELF TO THE FOOTBALL FACILITIES, THERE IS LITTLE TO SUGGEST HE WOULD HAVE BEEN CAUGHT. FOR SANDUSKY—IF NOT FOR THE BOYS—PENN STATE FOOTBALL WAS A SAFE HAVEN."

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The Sandusky grand jury report strongly suggests a similar desire to keep things quick and quiet. The first allegation against Sandusky stems from a 1998 incident in which he allegedly bear-hugged an 11-year-old boy in the shower at the football facility. When the boy came home with his hair wet, his mother contacted university police, and an investigation was launched. Police listened in to discussions between the mother and Sandusky in which Sandusky apologized and admitted, "I was wrong.... I wish I were dead." Yet shortly thereafter the case was closed. No charges were filed.

In an eerie twist, the local prosecutor at the time, Ray Gricar, disappeared in 2005. His laptop and hard drive were recovered from the Susquehanna River, irretrievably damaged, and his body was never found. It made for hot conspiracy theories last week. Contacted by SI, Tony Gricar, Ray's nephew and the family's spokesman, would not dismiss anything out of hand. He said that while his uncle was indifferent to the football program, he knew he would need an airtight case. "There [were] far-reaching consequences for Ray bringing a case against Sandusky," Tony Gricar said. Borrowing a line from The Wire, he added, "You come at the king, you best not miss."

Sandusky retired following the 1999 season, asserting that he wanted to devote his full energy to The Second Mile. But as part of his retirement package, he was conferred emeritus status, with full access to the Penn State football facilities, including an office and a phone. According to the grand jury report, in the fall of 2000, a Penn State janitor saw Sandusky in the football showers performing oral sex on a boy. The janitor was so upset he was moved to tears, and co-workers feared he might have a heart attack. They also feared for their jobs. (The report notes that after the alleged incident, Sandusky was seen driving slowly through the parking lot on two different occasions that night.) No report was ever filed; the witness now suffers from dementia and was incompetent to testify before the grand jury.

The charge that has generated the most discussion, and that led directly to the firing of Spanier and Paterno, stems from a 2002 incident. McQueary testified that on March 1 of that year he came across Sandusky having anal intercourse in the football showers with a young boy whose hands were pinned against the wall. The 6'4" former Penn State quarterback—a onetime teammate of Sandusky's son Jon—made eye contact with Sandusky, then 58, and the victim, whom McQueary estimated to be 10. But he did not intervene. Instead, after phoning his father (a health-care administrator affiliated with a local clinic to which Paterno has donated at least $1 million), McQueary conferred with Paterno the next day and told him what he saw. The coach then waited another day to speak to Curley. The athletic director then talked to Schultz, who relayed the incident to president Spanier. Except that as the account moved along the chain of command, the allegation apparently shed severity with each retelling. By the time it reached Spanier, it was merely behavior that, as Spanier testified, "made a member of Curley's staff 'uncomfortable.'" Unaccountably, though Curley saw fit to inform The Second Mile's director of the episode, neither he nor anyone else reported it to university police or any other police agency. Nor was there any attempt to identify or contact the boy.

Sandusky kept his office at Penn State and continued to have full access to the football facilities. The lone result of the 2002 incident—a decision approved by Spanier—is that Sandusky was prohibited from bringing children on campus. Don't do it here. Among all the graphic and horrifying detail in the grand jury testimony, this point is perhaps most damning.

Sandusky's alleged activity continued. It just moved elsewhere. The only two victims in the grand jury report whose identities remain unknown—whom authorities couldn't contact—were the ones assaulted on the Penn State campus. Had Sandusky not been so brazen in Mill Hall, had he simply restricted himself to the football facilities in State College, there is little to suggest he would have been caught. For Sandusky—if not for the boys—Penn State football was a safe haven.

While it may be imperfect, comparisons to the Catholic Church sex scandal are inevitable: A serial offender in a position of trust and power, with special access to youth, abused that position to commit heinous crimes. In the case of the church, says Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who has successfully represented sexual abuse victims against clergy, the predator benefited from a culture of insularity. "From low-level administrators to the top level, they looked the other way, and when they did see something, they chose to remain silent," Anderson says. Referring to both Penn State and the church, he adds, "When [the allegations] are revealed and reported and made known multiple times, there's a deliberate decision to protect the institution and reputation at the peril of the children."

Adds David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, "Usually child molesters are charismatic, lovable folks on the outside. And many victims feel, I won't be believed; he'll be believed."

Unlike other sports scandals, this one will not fade once the season or the school year ends. There are pending criminal trials. Inevitably, there will be a raft of civil litigation. There will be multiple investigations, one of them headed by Penn State trustee and Merck president and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, who has already vowed, "The chips will fall where they may."

Among the questions that demand answers:

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