Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary testified in court yesterday, during a preliminary hearing in the case against two Penn State officials charged with perjury and failing to report what McQueary told Paterno about what he saw Jerry Sandusky doing in Penn State athletic facilities.
Here is the heart of his testimony:
I described it was extremely sexual and that some kind of intercourse was going on. There’s no question in my mind that I conveyed to them that I saw Jerry in the showers, and that it was severe sexual acts, and that it was wrong and over the line.
And when McQueary told Paterno, what did Paterno say, according to McQueary’s testimony?
He said: ‘Well, I’m sorry you had to see that. It’s terrible. I need to think and tell some people about what you saw, and I’ll let you know what we’ll do next.’
So, Paterno was sorry that McQueary “had to see” it, but expressed no alarm or care for victim of the crime. This pretty much shows where Paterno’s sense of duty was directed: save the team and the hell with anything else.
The New York Times has a detailed interview with Jerry Sandusky, accused of child sexual abuse at Penn State. He denies everything.
Joe Nocera, writing in today’s New York Times, notes that at the time the 2002 child sexual abuse incident in the Penn State locker room was reported to Joe Paterno, information about the widespread sexual abuse in the Catholic church, and the damage to the church from such activity, was widely known. Joe Paterno is a devout Catholic and was likely watching these developments with great interest.
By March 1, 2002 — the date, according to a grand jury report, that Jerry Sandusky, the former Paterno assistant, was spotted in the locker-room shower raping a boy believed to be about 10 years old — every Catholic was sadly familiar with the sex abuse scandal that had engulfed the Roman Catholic Church. They knew that predatory priests had taken advantage of their proximity and positions of trust to sexually abuse young boys, just as Sandusky appears to have done. They knew that church leaders had covered it up. And they knew the devastating consequences of the abuse.
Two months before Sandusky’s alleged rape, The Boston Globe had begun publishing its powerful series on clergy sexual abuse. Dioceses were being sued by lawyers for the victims, who, in turn, were coming forward to describe how the abuse they suffered as children had shattered their lives. Alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression were common themes.
Watching the damage to the Catholic church caused numerous cover-ups, why in the world didn’t Paterno act to protect his beloved Penn State by disclosure to the police at the time he first became aware of the problem?
Nocera also condemns the standard big-time college football practice of refusing to pay or insure “student-athletes” while making millions of dollars from football programs. He wonders whether that isn’t a form of abuse as well.
Nebraska’s Athletic Director has advised its fans not to wear red tomorrow at the game with Penn State for fear of their safety.
Tom Osborne, Nebraska’s athletic director, has asked his team’s usually decked-out fans to refrain from wearing Nebraska’s trademark red. Osborne said he was not worried about the football team’s safety, but he wanted to make sure the team’s fans stayed safe.
“I just don’t know if it’s a good idea in this circumstance to stand out,” Osborne said to The Associated Press on Thursday.
Update: And, oh, a new investigation has been opened in Texas with respect to the same former Penn State coach. And Paterno has reportedly lawyered up.
Generally speaking, it is easy for a scandal like this to become overblown and hysterical, identifying abusers everywhere and this argues in favor of restraint and care in evaluating exactly what happened and what is a false claim. In this case, however, we have an eyewitness to at least one abuse incident who was 28 years old at the time he saw the abuse first-hand, and at least 8 victims (now adults, not children) testifying. The compaining individual in the Texas event was not one of the 8 in the original indictment.
Because of the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, Moody’s is reviewing whether a Penn State credit rating reduction is called for.
Moody’s Investors Service has placed the Aa1 revenue bond rating of Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) on review for possible downgrade to assess credit risks emanating from the announcement this week by the Pennsylvania Attorney General of the filing of criminal charges involving child sexual abuse against a former assistant football coach, as well as perjury and failure to report charges against two senior university officials, including the CFO of the university. The university board has also dismissed Penn State’s president and head football coach.
Over the next several months, Moody’s will evaluate the potential scope of reputational and financial risk arising from these events. While the full impact of these increased risks will only unfold over a period of years, we will also assess the degree of near and medium term risks to determine whether to downgrade the current Aa1 rating. We will monitor possible emerging risks emanating from potential lawsuits/settlements, weaker student demand, declines in philanthropic support, changes in state relationship and significant management or governance changes.
As of today, Penn State’s debt is rated Aa1 by Moody’s.
Given the outrageous failure to alert police to child sexual abuse occurring on the Penn State campus, will the NCAA launch an investigation into the football program? The inaction by Penn State officials would seem to be highly damaging to college football’s reputation.
I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.
That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.
My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.
– former Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno a few hours before he was fired by the Board of Trustees.
What could he have been thinking? That he was entitled to choose his own departure date (and cut off discussion by the Board of Trustees) after it became known that he did not report child abuse occurring on Penn State’s campus 10 years ago? If he grieves for the victims, perhaps he should have taken real action to protect children before they were victimized. And did he think that he could actually appear with the Penn State team on the sidelines at their game with Nebraska this weekend? And why did he need “hindsight” to decide that more should have been done.