"The Betrayal of Joe Paterno" Chapter Ten: Conclusions
CHAPTER TEN: CONCLUSIONS
One year after the release of the Freeh Report, this is what seems to be reality of the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal and its impact on the State College community:
Joe Paterno’s reputation and legacy have been completely destroyed, the Penn State football program has been crippled, and the university’s reputation has been badly besmirched. Many lives have been greatly damaged, money has been lost, friendships have been severed, and wonderful memories have been painfully erased. The public battle to tell the real truth of what happened here has been badly lost and, thanks to the media shutting down the investigation, there is no chance of that dramatically changing anytime in the near future. The only current hope for justice hangs on two very different court cases, neither of which may ever even reach the point of an actual verdict.
What caused this seemingly dire set of circumstances? Well, in my view it all comes down to lots of cowardice, stupidity and back luck (most of it flowing directly from the “Original Sin” of this story, the decision of the Penn State Board of Trustees to effectively fire Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier, thus creating in the media/public’s mind an irreversible “guilty” plea).
The media and most of the public somehow bought into a scenario which makes absolutely no sense and for which there is shockingly little evidence. Think about it. Joe Paterno, a man without a major ethical blemish in a half century long career of swimming (and winning) in the shark-infested waters of college football, decided to actively protect a child molester who used to work for him, whom he never liked, and who had open disdain for him? Why? To avoid bad publicity, something about which he never previously cared and which would have been highly unlikely to come his direction anyway?
Wow. That is quite a story.
It has always baffled me that that there is absolutely no proportionality in this case when it comes to what we have been asked to believe and the nature of the evidence to justify that scenario. As someone who has a dim view of humanity in general I acknowledge that of course it is possible that Joe Paterno was a complete fraud for 50 years, or that he nonsensically decided to throw away his reputation at the end of his life for no apparent reason. But if you are going to convince me of something that outrageous you better at least bring some damn evidence to the table.
Take for instance the O.J. Simpson case. Was it absurd to think that someone like Simpson would kill two people for no seemingly logical reason? Of course it was. But the evidence that he indeed did do that was not only sufficient; it was overwhelming (though sadly, to the criminal jury, a videotape of the crime literally would not have been enough evidence to overcome the absurd burden of proof in that case). In comparison to the proof against Simpson, the evidence against Paterno is like the plains of Texas measured against Mt. Everest (and frankly the evidence of Simpson’s guilt was also stronger than what currently exists against even Sandusky).
And yet, incredibly, the media is still completely convinced that Paterno is guilty of at least grave moral weakness and potentially criminally running a cover-up to purposefully protect a person he knew to be a pedophile (and yet those who believe in the former scenario seems to have no issue with Paterno being punished based on the very different latter circumstances). The strangest part of their certitude on this issue is their universal unwillingness to debate me or anyone else on the actual facts here. You would think that if you were really so confident in yourself that you would enjoy humiliating someone like me by showing the world how utterly wrong I am. And yet the opposite has been the case. No matter how much money I offer to charity (since they all seem to say that it is the “victims” who matter most) I have never gotten anyone in the media to debate me other than for a few minor bouts on Twitter before they inevitably quickly run away realizing that they are overmatched.
If I ever did get the chance to fairly debate any of these frauds, here are just some of the questions which need to be answered in order to believe that Joe Paterno is indeed “guilty” as charged. Despite enormous efforts to do so, I have never had even one media member even try to sufficiently answer any of them.
How do you have a cover-up without Mike McQueary, the only witness, being intimately involved?
Why is McQueary not even alleging being part of a cover-up in his lawsuit against Penn State?
Why was McQueary not given the open wide receivers job until three years after the incident?
Why was McQueary not prevented from testifying by Paterno or at least told to tone his story down?
Why did Joe Paterno testify in a way which actually partly backed up McQueary, even in his final interview with the AG's office when he had to know that his “cover up” was falling apart?
Why, when all the principles knew that McQueary had testified almost a year before the story broke was none of the "evidence" destroyed and why were they seemingly completely unprepared for what hit them?
Why did Curley, Schultz and Spanier not even bother to hire their own attorneys and why did Paterno only “hire” his son Scott?
Why did Curley and Schultz not even try to get their stories remotely straight?
Why have Curley, Schultz and Spanier not flipped on each other for a plea bargain?
How is it that Spanier could even be theoretically involved when that would have either required it being his idea (in which case Curley and Schultz would have thrown him under the bus immediately), or that Curley and Schultz nonsensically told their boss that they were going to engage in a cover-up of a pedophile?
Why, if Paterno led a cover-up which destroyed his career/life did Curley release a statement praising his "honor and integrity" when he died?
Why would they cover up the crimes of someone who was an ex-coach who no one liked and who had disdain for Paterno?
Why did Paterno follow up with McQueary to ask him if he was okay with how things were being handled and why did Mike say that he was?
Why has not one person come forward to say that they knew all along that Sandusky was a pedophile?
If they knew Sandusky was a pedophile, why did Penn State football elect to maintain a close relationship with the Second Mile charity long after he left, and even after the 2001 episode?
How was Joe Paterno supposed to know that Sandusky was a pedophile when Jerry’s own wife and several of his kids are still convinced, even after his trial, that he is totally innocent?
What exactly was Joe Paterno supposed to do differently and exactly when was he supposed to do it in order to have not done “wrong” here?
Why did Paterno allow writer Joe Posnanski to follow him around and allow him to maintain access during a year which he had to know (if there really was a cover-up) that it was all going to come collapsing down after McQueary testified in late 2010?
Why did Posnanski not find even one significant piece of evidence implicating Paterno?
Why was Paterno, a guilt-prone and ardent Catholic, smiling and waving publicly after he was just fired for protecting a pedophile and had to know that his cover-up was going to become public?
Why was there not one shred of consciousness of guilt shown by anyone who was supposedly part of the cover-up?
Unfortunately, I have very little confidence that any of these vital questions will ever be answered satisfactorily, mostly because they can’t be without a giant hole being blown out of the media’s conventional wisdom about what really happened here.
After over a year of researching this case far more than I ever imagined that would, here are my current, pretty much unvarnished, thoughts/conclusions on most of the main figures in this story.
Like most people, I presumed that Jerry Sandusky was pedophile from the moment the full allegations became public (I even vaguely remember hearing a news story about the grand jury in March of 2011 and instantly thinking “I believe that”). However, my first “blink” reaction after reading the nature of the evidence against him after his arrest was that the prosecution’s case wasn’t nearly as strong as the perception that was being created. Initially it seemed possible to me that the worst of the allegations were being exaggerated, but once the trial/convictions occurred and many other victims came forward I concluded that he was pretty much the “monster” that he was being made out to be (my wife and I even jokingly nicknamed our dominant cat “Sandusky” because of how he would treat our submissive one), though the story of the McQueary episode still never rang true to me.
When I started to correspond with Sandusky via letters/e-mail and finally went to see him in prison I had no desire whatsoever to become his defender in any way. In fact, I made it clear to everyone in his camp that I believed him to be fully guilty and that the only “positive” thing that I was likely to say about him was that his trial was not fair from a due process perspective.
I took very seriously the fact that the interview I did with him would likely be his last chance to tell his story. I felt a great burden from a historical as well as a justice perspective and this only heightened my desire to have no ambiguity in my mind with regard to his overall level of guilt. My life and task going forward would be far less difficult if I did not have to worry that perhaps an injustice of some sort had been done to the most hated man in America. Since I was confident that he was guilty as hell, it was my expectation that this would not be a major problem.
However, despite this profound self interest, after our three hour visit, two phone calls, and well over a dozen letter exchanges, much to my chagrin, I was left with considerable doubt about the true nature of his crimes.
To be clear, I know that Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile who engaged in acts which were criminal, wrong and not to be minimized. As I have told his wife Dottie, I know this because of the following facts:
- He showered naked alone with Victim 2 just a couple of years after almost being arrested for doing the same thing with Victim 6. For that to make sense, at the very least there needs to be some sort of powerful compulsion driving such incredibly reckless/stupid activity.
- He took a lie detector test and the results were “inconclusive.” Based on what I know, it appears that he “passed” on the most horrendous allegations and “failed” on some of the crimes which were not overtly sexual.
- He didn’t take the witness stand in his own defense. In my mind, in a case like this, if you don’t take the stand you forfeit any right to claim total innocence.
- He told me that, while he was innocent, he “may have tested boundaries” when it came to the nature of his physical contact with young boys. This is simply an inexplicable statement (it also is essentially an admission of some level of criminal guilt) unless some strong desire is driving you to engage in such obviously troubling behavior. When he said this to me I was shocked, but I interpreted it almost as if he was a married man talking about a trip to a strip club where there are the “rules,” and then there is what you can get away with.
- There are just simply far too many victims who claim a similar pattern of “grooming” or “boundary pushing” conduct for them all to be completely lying.
But while I am sure that Sandusky is indeed a pedophile, I have increasing doubts that he really is the hideous “monster” that he has been made out to be and whether he was really guilty of the most horrific acts of which he was accused. There are several reasons that I have begrudgingly come to this tentative conclusion despite a profound self interest not to do so. (Ironically, even if he wasn’t a pedophile or in prison, I don’t think I would like Sandusky very much. I see him as narcissistic, naïve, weird, not very bright, and a bit of an egomaniac.)
First, everything he has said and written to me is 100% consistent with the notion that he is a pedophile but one who, like the majority in that Harvard study I referred to earlier, never actually engaged in overt sex acts. It appears to me that Sandusky may not even be a sexual person at all (a close reading of the transcript of my prison interview with him seems to provide multiple clues in this direction).
Second, the nature of the evidence against him on the sex acts is still far less decisive than anyone is willing to admit. Even a member of the grand jury which heard all the most critical testimony under the most advantageous of circumstances to the prosecution has told me that they have gone from totally believing the victims (specifically Aaron Fisher) to now having serious doubts, especially on the overt sex acts.
Not only did none of the original victims claim “sex” in the first version of their story, but all of their accounts shifted dramatically (often times in contradictory fashion) and all of them had a profound financial incentive to provide what the prosecution/investigators/therapists made it very clear they wanted.
There was also a remarkable dearth of the type of evidence that you might expect if someone was really raping boys for decades. Not only was there absolutely no DNA or physical evidence (the only victim who claimed being frequently anally raped was not given the type of examination which likely could have verified that), but there wasn’t even any testimony about Sandusky’s penis or inopportune erections. There was also not one bit of evidence that Sandusky ever used alcohol, suggestive sexual language, or pornography (none was ever found on is computer), and no one has ever alleged that any direct pay offs to silence victims was even proposed (though there have been rumors, which seem dubious to me, of the Second Mile doing this via free cars), all of which is almost standard when it comes to the MO of a prolific pedophile like, for instance, Michael Jackson. By all accounts Jerry had a very good relationship with his father and was not abused himself, which is the opposite circumstance of many pedophiles. Incredibly, only one person, Mike McQueary, ever claimed he saw Sandusky acting inappropriately with a young boy and he based his account on no more than a three second glimpse which is currently strongly disputed by the victim himself as well as a significant body of circumstantial evidence.
Even the number of victims, when separated out by those who claim actual sex, is far smaller than both the public perception and what one might expect under these extraordinary circumstances. Only two of the original victims say they were forced to engage in sex acts. One of those was the victim who investigators were caught on tape planning to lie to him, at the urging of his own attorney, to get him to claim sex. Two others came forward after the arrest and went under oath at Sandusky’s trial but both their testimonies have very significant problems (Victim 9 said many things which would have been logistically impossible and Victim 10 was an ex con/drug addict who, among other things, claimed Sandusky assaulted him in a silver convertible which the Sanduskys never owned).
While having four adult males testify under oath that Sandusky forced them into sex acts is indeed very powerful and disturbing evidence, that number still seems far too small if Sandusky really was the “monster” that most people now believe him to be. After all, this was after a three-year grand jury investigation and the most highly publicized arrest of its kind in history. The media made it very clear that no victim would be treated unfairly or be identified and Penn State all but handed out blank checks to any victim who made any sort of allegation against Sandusky. Then you have to add into the equation that, thanks to his role at the Second Mile and as a foster parent, Sandusky had been in close contact over the years with an extremely high number of kids, almost all of them troubled and financially disadvantaged. The pool of people who could have plausibly claimed to be a victim of Sandusky was exceedingly, and perhaps unprecedentingly, large (especially when you consider that some of the current “civil” accusers allege nothing more than being tossed around by Sandusky while swimming).
Under all of these circumstances, once the floodgates opened in November of 2011, logic would dictate that you might have hundreds of men suddenly coming forward (as has happened in other cases like that of the BBC children’s broadcaster). And yet only four people have ever testified that Sandusky engaged in sex with them (it is possible that others have come forward to claim “sex” for “civil” purposes, but why didn’t they testify at trial?). That number just doesn’t make sense to me. If Sandusky is who we have been told he is and he engaged in this behavior for 30-40 years, why aren’t there far more people alleging the worst variety of the allegations? And why did the prosecution feel as if it had to rely on four victims who didn’t even claim sex and two more “victims” who they pretended were literally nonexistent?
While hardly scientific, Sandusky’s various reactions to me have also been consistent with something being wrong with the conventional wisdom about him. Not only was he convincing on the worst of the allegations, he was constantly saying things like “I am not the monster they made me out to be,” “there were exaggerations,” “this whole thing wasn’t fair,” “I never did these despicable acts,” “I never harmed those boys.” But yet he never really fought hard to deny that he acted in ways that could be considered highly inappropriate or even criminal (except to say that he grew up in an environment where nudity was highly prevalent and accepted as normal).
His letters to me after I went on national television to discuss our interviews were also compelling in strange way. I was not at all comfortable with what I was going to say on those programs when I was inevitably asked about Sandusky’s guilt. At the time I didn’t feel quite as strongly about my suspicions that something wasn’t right about his worst convictions as I do now. Also, Franco Harris urged me to not express doubts about that subject because he correctly understood that this would be all the media would focus on instead of on Joe’s innocence. I have to admit that I did feel a little bit of regret about taking this path, even though it was clearly the smartest way to go (and, out of loyalty to Franco, I was highly unlikely to do anything with which he strongly disagreed).
When I returned home to California I quickly got a series of letters from Sandusky which I honestly did not want to open. That told me a lot about where my conscience was on this issue. At some level I must have felt like I had let Sandusky (or, more accurately, the truth) down, which is particularly ironic since I had still just been wrongly accused of “defending Sandusky” by numerous media outlets. When I did open the letters I was quite surprised by what they said and my reaction to them.
At first Sandusky was very angry with me (even referring to me as “Judas” on Good Friday), then he was understanding, then forgiving, and finally he wanted to still try and help me figure out what had really happened here. I found this evolution of his thinking (over about two weeks of letters) towards me to be both extremely interesting and also possibly consistent with at least some level of innocence. After all, if he was a hideous “monster” who had simply had failed to fool me, why would he go through that sort of emotional rollercoaster? Wouldn’t he just never have contact with me again other than maybe to say “screw you”? These letters cemented for me that, at least in the mind of Jerry Sandusky, he is not nearly as guilty of the worst of these crimes as the public perception of him (this of course leaves wide open the possibility that Sandusky truly has a very real Jekyll/Hyde split personality complex).
I fully realize that for many people this “conclusion” (I am hardly certain of this belief, but I currently have over 50% confidence that Sandusky never had “sex” with a boy) is simply not believable. I accept that unfortunate reality, but my quest here is to figure out what really happened and this is what I currently think is the truth (and, for the record, so do many others very close to this case, its just that I am the only one stupid enough to say it publicly).
Of course the primary importance of this revelation is NOT to “defend” a pedophile. Sandusky committed crimes and belongs in jail (though what created his crimes may be much more of an illness than an intent to do criminal harm). Instead, it is to show just how reasonable it was for Penn State to not act more dramatically in trying to curtail Sandusky. The evidence just wasn’t found, mostly because it didn’t really exist.
As I have been stating throughout this work, the nature of Sandusky’s crimes and the culpability of Penn State/Joe Paterno are far more interconnected, at least in perception, than certainly people like Scott Paterno would like to admit. Not only is the public far more likely to “pardon” Paterno if they ever realize that Sandusky was not going around State College indiscriminately “raping” young boys at the 50-yard line at Beaver Stadium, but this entire story makes a heck of lot more sense if my current view of Sandusky’s crimes is remotely accurate.
Think about it this way, in order to believe the current conventional wisdom about Sandusky you have to buy into a lot of really bizarre and horrific things happening to a lot of people over a lot of years without any of them saying anything about it to anyone. Then you either have to come up with a really hard to fathom scenario where either he somehow got away with all of these horrendous crimes for an incredibly prolonged period without anyone knowing what was really going on, and/or you have to buy into the theory that there was a concerted (but nonsensical and poorly executed) cover-up of his activities by some of the most respected people in the state of Pennsylvania.
However, to accept my theory of events all you have to believe is that four (in my opinion, perhaps really only the first two from the grand jury presentment) young men, all from poor and troubled backgrounds, greatly exaggerated allegations when they had their arms twisted by law enforcement, and saw a financial incentive, to do so. Based on the concept of Occam’s razor, I would suggest that my scenario wins in a landslide.
Perhaps the number one reason that I currently doubt that Sandusky ever had sex with any boys (or, that if he did, it was an extremely rare occurrence) is that the rest of the story makes far more sense if this is indeed the case. Suddenly the actions of Curley, Schultz, Spanier and Paterno seem exceedingly reasonable. Law enforcement no longer seems completely incompetent. The grand jury investigation taking three years to get an indictment is now perfectly logical. How it is that Sandusky got away with such behavior for so long is then explained. So is the fact that many of those closest to him still ardently believe in his innocence. In short, this view of Sandusky takes a puzzle where very few of the pieces match and molds it in a form where, all of a sudden, everything fits nearly perfectly.
Regardless of his level of true guilt, there are at least a couple of things about Jerry Sandusky of which I am quite sure. His living situation is so horrendous that he is currently being punished to very fullest extent of the law and probably even beyond that. If he is totally guilty, he is the most delusional, manipulative, and evil person I have ever met. If he is more innocent than the public realizes, he is both the unluckiest and mentally strongest person of which I have ever heard.
There is also no legitimate chance that Joe Paterno knew that he was a pedophile who was a danger to young boys.
Before I had got intimately involved in this case, like a lot of people, I presumed that Dottie Sandusky either had to know what Jerry was up to, or she had to be flat out delusional/crazy. I no longer feel that way. In fact, of all the people in this story, my view of her has changed the most.
I have probably had slightly more communication with Dottie than I have with Jerry and I am absolutely 100% positive that Dottie Sandusky did not know that Jerry was a pedophile and that she still strongly believes in his innocence. This is vitally important not just for theoretical reasons, but also because she needs have blatantly perjured herself on this issue for at least two of the victims who claimed “sex” to not be lying themselves.
One of the reasons I am confident that Dottie didn’t/doesn’t know that Jerry is a pedophile is that, thanks to my rather blunt nature, I am quite sure that she has never had more open/honest conversations about all of this than she has had with me. I held almost nothing back in our conversations and she never once blinked or showed a hint of weakness. Even when I explained to her why I am still convinced that Jerry is indeed a pedophile (though probably one of a “chaste” variety) she listened carefully and sincerely before rejecting my analysis in a way that was not at all based in trepidation or delusion. I expected her to not want to talk about the evidence at all for fear of what it might make her have to come to grips with, but I found the opposite to be true. While she doesn’t know everything about the case, her knowledge of it is way ahead of the average media member who covered it.
I found Dottie to be perhaps the kindest and most understanding person I have dealt with in this entire ordeal (especially when you consider that I have called her husband a pedophile in front of millions of people on national television). There is no doubt in my mind that, other than Sue Paterno, she has suffered more in all of this than any innocent person who will never be paid for what they have endured. She has lost many of her friends, Jerry’s pension and social security, and may have to sell her home. Almost every week she drives, usually alone, over four to hours to visit Jerry in a SuperMax prison where she can’t even come close to touching him.
Despite having many reasons to have anger towards the Paterno family she has never shown any of that to me and she has always tried her best to find out information which might be helpful in clearing Joe Paterno’s name. I know that she badly wants to speak to Sue Paterno and that it hurts her deeply that she has not had a chance to do that.
Think what you will of Jerry Sandusky, but in my view, unless she is an even better manipulator than her husband, Dottie is not to be even remotely blamed for his crimes.
The Pulitzer Prize winning reporter (who has since left her small town newspaper and taken a gig at CNN) is essentially a human Rorschach test on the Sandusky case. Those who think that everyone at Penn State is “guilty” are very likely to see her as a champion for victims/truth who had the guts to take on the forces of evil in State College and won. Those he see this case as a massive rush to judgment are almost certain to view her as a pawn of the prosecution who ran with a false narrative either because she didn’t know any better, it was good for her career, or both.
Of course the media loves the narrative of a small-town, 25-year-old, female reporter who graduated from Penn State having the instincts and work ethic to go after the big story and being able to bring down the old boys network while helping put a pedophile behind bars. The reality, in my view, is that you can actually go a long way in understanding what actually happened in this story by realizing just how wrong that analysis of Sara Ganim really is.
First, it may surprise people to know that I gave Ganim the benefit of the doubt for a very long time on this story. Contrary to popular belief, it took me quite a while to criticize her actual reporting very much at all. I always said that she was a lousy writer and was a pawn of the prosecution, but for a while I thought that she was sincere and that her facts were mostly accurate. Now that I have learned more about the case and her, I no longer feel that way.
I think that the naïve and ambitious young reporter at a small paper in rural Pennsylvania got lucky, got used, and then created/fostered a false narrative because she knew it would be good for her career (or, perhaps, she just fell in love with the version of story that she so badly wanted to be true). I also think that her Pulitzer Prize should be revoked. It should be rescinded if only because of her blatantly violating journalistic ethics by, as was stipulated to by the commonwealth in the Sandusky trial, inserting herself into the case and urging on behalf of the prosecution, apparently successfully, the mother of Victim 6 to find more victims so that the case (and her big story) wouldn’t die in the grand jury. I have tried to get her to confirm or deny that this story is fully accurate via Twitter but, strangely, she has never answered such a seemingly simple inquiry and she has “blocked” my account (nothing consistent with something to hide in those actions from a “journalist,” right?!).
But even more important than the journalistic fraud that Ganim clearly perpetrated is the fact that she, and therefore her source inside the attorney general’s office (Jonelle Eshbach?), felt that the case was in grave jeopardy if they couldn’t find more evidence.
Remember, all they really had at this point was the “unfounded” Victim 6 case from 1998 and the unreliable Aaron Fisher’s dramatic but ever-changing story from the late 2000s. This shows just how weak the case against Sandusky was for most of that three year grand jury investigation and how desperate investigators really were to squeeze everything they could (by any means necessary) out of all their potential witnesses, especially Mike McQueary.
As for Ganim herself, to me her biggest “crime” in the case was writing that narrative- creating article two days before Paterno was fired where she completely manipulated the stories of the moms of Victims 1 and 6 to concoct the idea that they were credibly blaming Penn State and Joe Paterno for not stopping Sandusky. It is now obvious that Ganim’s relationship with both mothers was far too cozy and that she was not remotely objective (and may have even been openly serving their financial interests) in her reporting of them.
Ganim’s treatment of the mom of Victim 6 (whose name I know but refrain from using, even though her last name is different from her son’s and she has no logical right to anonymity, because the craziest elements of the victim’s rights movement would object) is the most egregious in my view. It can not be stated strongly enough just how clearly illegitimate that mother’s claim against Penn State and Paterno really is. And yet Ganim took advantage of the ignorance of everyone in those first few days to create a totally false impression which had a huge impact on how the story went down nationwide.
As for my personal interaction with Ganim, I have found her to be both remarkably dumb and dishonest.
When the Sandusky interview came out, I suggested to CNN that Ganim and I debate in studio together after Piers Morgan and I had a one-on-one segment to discuss my findings. At first we were told by them that this sounded like a great idea and that they thought it could work. Then the morning of the show we were informed by a CNN producer that they thought that Ganim had chickened out. I tweeted Ganim and asked her why she backed out of the show. Remarkably, she responded that afternoon by saying that she hadn’t pulled out because she had never even considered doing the program (presumably because going on with me would be beneath a Pulitzer Prize winner or something).
That tweet is apparently is still in her account from March 25th and it was a blatant lie (actually a double lie). Not only did she originally wimp out, but once CNN agreed (without telling me until I got to the studio) to have her on after me so she wouldn’t have to debate me, she showed up on the program via satellite. So much for her having “never considered” coming on the program with me (I have zero doubt that she was terrified that I would confront her about information regarding the mom of Victim 6 which she had to know Sandusky would have been eager to speak to me about). Realizing that I had been “set up” and in a no win situation, I pretty much did a kamikaze attack on the segment.
Ganim’s Twitter account also reveals at least two other issues related to me which further expose her lack of integrity. Before even knowing anything about the interview I did with him, she wrote that it was interesting that I was “teaming up” with Sandusky and that doing so destroyed my credibility. Not only is that an utterly absurd thing for a “journalist” to say, but I am quite certain that had she been given the opportunity to interview Sandusky that she would have jumped faster than whenever she got a text from the mom of Victim 6 during the grand jury investigation.
Ganim also laughably tried to claim that my Victim 2 revelations were old news because she had supposedly already written about them. This is particularly ridiculous on numerous levels. First of all, her article on the subject was so convoluted that it took me several reads before I even understood it (and I knew more about the subject than almost anyone). Secondly, her article simply raised questions which I now had the answers to because I had the identity of (and therefore the extensive background of) the “boy in the shower.” Thirdly, the whole point was that I had the never before seen statement that Victim 2 had given strongly saying in detail that nothing sexual happened in the shower that night.
Frankly, it was pretty obvious that Ganim was more than a little jealous and probably even more worried that the house of cards upon which her new-found fame and CNN job were built might eventually come crumbling to the ground.
The bottom line on Sara Ganim is that she did very little, if any, great reporting in this case. She put herself in a position to be used by a prosecution who needed her to put out what was essentially an ad in the local paper asking for victims to come forward (thus the article in March 2011 which first leaked details regarding the existence of a grand jury investigation of Sandusky). She then made it all work for her and her career, but not for the truth or justice.
I am a notoriously pessimistic person, but I am actually rather optimistic that Sara Ganim will eventually be revealed for what she is. She is completely in over her head at CNN and unless lightning strikes twice and the prosecution in some high profile case decides they need a stooge to leak to and for some reason chooses her, her career there will not last long. I even think that there is a good chance that, since she knows she is a fraud, that she will get desperate and do something particularly stupid which will end up exposing her career as being based on a deception.
It is clear that for many Paterno supporters that Governor Tom Corbett is one of, if not the largest, villains in this saga. It is quite possible that this is indeed the case. However, personally I have never been able to get a good handle on him and haven’t felt as much anger in his direction as most others on my side of this story do.
I fully realize that, having been the attorney general when the case started and then governor when it exploded, Corbett has had the means, motive and opportunity to manipulate nearly every aspect of this story. Based on the evidence of his highly unusual/late booking of rooms at the Nittany Lion Inn (which kicked Anthony Lubrano out of his reservations and prevented Lydell Mitchell from getting them) for the days before the Nebraska game, there is also no doubt that he played a huge role in the critical timing of when the grand jury presentment was leaked and how Joe Paterno was fired. Corbett clearly has lots of blood on his hands, but my gut tells me that it was at least partly by accident.
The primary reason I feel that way is that there are two things I am sure of about him: he is not particularly smart, and he will do anything he thinks is in his political interest to do. I just don’t see him as this evil, manipulative puppet master who is capable of orchestrating what was essentially a massive conspiracy. Just because he may have been happy, at first, with how things went down, doesn’t mean that he directly caused them to happen that way, or even foresaw that they would.
It appears to me that the “Corbett wanted to get Paterno” theory doesn’t make a lot of sense because on the first day of the story the attorney general’s office praised Paterno and because there was no way for Corbett to know that the media was going to turn so hard on him at that point. Going after Paterno was still extremely risky and held very little reward, especially since he was actually a very important witness for the prosecution.
It may sound naïve to some, but I really think that Corbett looked around on that Tuesday/Wednesday and realized that Paterno was now an easy fall guy, saw him standing dazed on the side of a cliff, and decided to push him off. After he realized it would look good politically (at least in the short run) for him, he took the credit. I could be wrong, but his role just didn’t feel like it was as the leader of this grand evil plan (though I do acknowledge that he had a vendetta against Graham Spanier who told me he thinks that he was the real target here and that Anthony Lubrano may be right about John Surma having communicated extensively with Corbett about all of this before it happened).
For me there are two “smoking guns” that Corbett didn’t create a grand plan here. First, there is his bizarre citing of the “ten-year-old boy” at his November 10th 2011 press conference as the reason for Paterno’s firing and then his delusional claim on camera two months later that he never said that (he obviously got “new” information about Victim 2 which he should have had prior to that). Secondly, there is his All-World flip-flop on the NCAA sanctions which led to his desperate “Hail Mary” lawsuit which failed to even get standing.
There is no doubt that Corbett deserves a lot of blame here, but I see him as too much of a moron and a selfish politician to be running a plot as complex and unpredictable as this one would have been. The main reason I am confident that there was no grand conspiracy here is that there is just no way that government workers could possibly be smart/proficient enough to make sure it worked out as perfectly as this one did (other than the fact that it will likely result in Corbett being a one-term governor). Something this amazingly effective could only happen mostly by chance.
I see Freeh as little more than a hired gun who is more than willing to use his credentials as a former director of the FBI to make lots of money by telling his clients exactly what they want to hear. I think that he is a whore, but probably one that is so good at self delusion that he convinces himself that he is on the side of “right” (which just happens to be the side paying him lots of money) and then rationalizes the known evidence to conform to whatever conclusion he has already come to.
All you really need to know about the credibility of Freeh’s Sandusky investigation (which, ironically, placed very little of the guilt on Sandusky himself) is that he held a press conference less than an hour after releasing a 267-page report and then, despite promise to do so, never did another interview about it. Not even when asked to do so by Bob Costas, the most respected sportscaster in the country and someone who originally strongly supported his findings. When the Paterno Report came out he released an error-filled full page statement less than an hour after it was available to be read.
By any measure, that’s game, set, and match for Freeh’s credibility.
Like a lot of people with whom I have come in contact during this saga, I was amazed at how lacking in basic information and intelligence Emmert is. To me, Emmert simply went with the wind and didn’t even bother to question what the actual facts of the situation were (though, it should be pointed out that the Paterno family attorney has recently indicated that there is evidence of significant communication between the NCAA and the Freeh group).
He is a busy guy who obviously thinks he is very important. Everyone was telling him that Penn State covered up serious crimes against children and was urging him to do something about it, so he did. I am convinced that his threat to give Penn State the “death penalty” was an obvious bluff. Had it been remotely real (because of the legalities and impossible logistics of the situation it could not have been) it would have been conveyed very differently in the press than it was.
In the end, I think Emmert felt very comfortable/confident about the sanctions not because he understood the facts of the case (or even the sanctions themselves) but because Penn State’s president so eagerly signed off on them. In his mind he just could not understand why Penn State would be so willingly to accept such harsh penalties if they weren’t clearly guilty as charged. Obviously, he had no understanding of the political realities at Penn State and how it is that the university had a perverse disincentive to fight the allegations, no matter how false the presumptions on which they were justified may have been.
His ridiculous answers to Franco Harris before literally running away from him out the back the door told me everything I needed to know about Mark Emmert. Emmert, like so many prominent people in this story, is incompetent, dishonest and cowardly.
I am sure that Erickson is a good person. He obviously was put in an extremely difficult set of circumstances not of his own making. I have a good friend who is close to Erickson who swears he is a very intelligent man. With that said, the most generous interpretation of how he handled this situation is that he panicked and let down his entire university.
While based on my “meeting” with him he does not yet realize this, there was simply no reason for Erickson to sign the consent decree. Even if the NCAA was delusional enough to somehow not be bluffing about the “death penalty,” there was still no reason for him to sign off on the sanctions, especially without even getting the approval of the full Board of Trustees.
Getting the “death penalty” would have been the greatest thing that could have happened to Penn State at that time. It would have given 12 other schools (Penn State’s opponents that year) a profound financial self interest to object to the penalty and would have provided political cover for any judge to issue an instant injunction preventing the decree from taking effect. This would have bought time for the truth to come out and the NCAA would have been forced to justify their case in court where they would have been humiliated both on the law and the facts (I am convinced even the NCAA would not be dumb enough to put the fate of their highly theoretical “nuclear weapon” on a case which was as uniquely weak as this one, and that is one of the reasons why the threat was an obvious bluff).
Even if Erickson really was somehow totally convinced that the “death penalty” was coming if he did not sign the consent decree (his comment to me that “you presume that I had any choice in the matter,” left me and others who heard it convinced that something else was going on here), he was effectively pleading guilty on behalf of other people in a case where he fully acknowledged to me that guilt has not yet been proven. Unless you have a literal gun to your head (one that you know to be actually loaded), there should never be any legitimate justification for such a cowardly act.
At least when it came to handling this difficult case, Rodney Erickson proved himself to be: not very smart, lacking in courage, and in way over his head.
The News Media:
Obviously, I have made my disdain for the news media very clear over the past year and a half since this story broke nationally. I am also “saving” many of my many amazing interactions with media members on this story for a possible future project on a different subject.
But to be clear, while I have seen up close some of the worst cases of media malpractice (even doing a prominent documentary with that phrase as the title) in modern history, there is absolutely no doubt that this one has been the most awful by far in nearly every way. To me, one of the many remarkable lessons of this case is that the modern news media no longer even remotely cares about facts, logic, or even the appearance of fairness/due process. This revelation was truly shocking even to an ultimate media cynic like me (it also gave me great confidence that I was right about the conventional wisdom being wrong, because I have yet to run across a media member who is strongly on the other side of this story and who I consider to be even remotely credible and knowledgeable).
The modern news media has simply left the gravitational pull of anything resembling journalistic ethics. Job protection/advancement is all that matters to them and thanks to overnight TV ratings and instantaneous Internet traffic reports it has never been easier for them to know exactly what to do (and not to do) in order to promote those goals. Truth or justice honestly doesn’t even factor into the equation anymore.
I think that the sports media (which in my personal experience is made up of some of the laziest, dumbest, narcissistic, and most cowardly people on the planet) is pretty much split between those who actually are so cocky that they think there is no way all of them could have been wrong here, and those who deep down know that they may have screwed this up and therefore are very eager to make sure that the story is considered to be “old/settled news,” and never to be reconsidered.
I want to make special mention of how profoundly disappointed I am in two specific elements of the media of which I was once a fairly significant player.
First, the Philadelphia (where I grew up and worked in both radio and television) media has probably been worse than even the national media in their coverage of this story. I am honestly not sure why this is the case, but perhaps it is because Philadelphia is close enough to State College where they think they are “local,” but far enough away where very few of the personalities there have ever even been to a Penn State game or know the full details of this case. However, the more I think about it the more I conclude it is simply because the Philadelphia “talk” market is just filled with a lot of truly awful people who simply don’t care at all about the truth.
Angelo Cataldi, Howard Eskin, Michael Smerconish, Dom Giordano, and “Buzz” Bissinger are all people whom I personally know. They are also all key personalities in the Philadelphia market. They are all very bad people. They all care far more about their own careers than about the truth. And all of them, along with the dirtbags at Philadelphia Magazine were exceedingly unfair to Joe Paterno and Penn State (in fact, I have such a low level of respect for any of them that had they somehow been Paterno supporters it would have made me worry that I must be wrong). The “exception who proves the rule” is another major talk host in the market whom I know, Mike Missanelli, who is a Penn State graduate and lawyer. Mike is a smart and thoughtful guy, but he is also a capitalist. I am convinced has pretended to be far harder on Paterno/Penn State than his true opinions would dictate, all because he is afraid of being accused of being a delusional “homer” and losing audience share/branding.
I am completely baffled as to why there has not been an organized boycott by Penn Staters of the Philadelphia media, especially WIP sports radio (were, rather ironically, I was briefly once a talk host who was unfairly criticizing Joe Paterno for his handling of the Rashard Casey situation). This is where I blame the lack of fight/organization among Penn State alumni. The percentage of Penn State grads in Philadelphia is more than high enough to make a significant impact on any media outlet, but no one had the guts to battle back against the outrageous insults against their university. That is why they have and will continue.
My former friends in the conservative media also deserve a lot of blame. They should have never bought into this sham to begin with and should have been willing to take up the cause of fighting this obvious injustice. They know not to trust the media when they run with a story which fits their agenda just too perfectly, and Joe Paterno was a conservative icon both politically as well as in how he lived his extraordinary life.
Unfortunately, the conservative media is just as concerned with career preservation (if not more so) than any other element of the media. No one had the courage to stand up because no one thought that they had a personal incentive to do so. Amazingly, the conservative media did rise to the defense of George Zimmerman (who admittedly shot Trayvon Martin, apparently in self defense) who was the victim of a strikingly similar media rush to judgment, only, unlike Paterno, he actually killed someone and never did anything particularly positive for society before that act which made him infamous.
The most demoralizing example of the conservative media wimping out on this story (for fear of being seen as protecting a pedophile protector) involves a friend of mine whose job it is to document media bias/inaccuracy. He happens to be a huge Joe Paterno fan and is convinced he got a raw deal. He did one story on my efforts and got so much blowback from his management and readership that he never touched the story again despite promising to do so. How I didn’t give up completely after that, I do not know.
The Sandusky scandal has illustrated for us a lot of problems in our society. None is greater than the fact that our news media is very badly broken and is highly unlikely to ever be fixed.
Now that I have pretty much given up on doing a larger, full-length documentary on this story, there are only three major movie projects about this saga of which I am aware. I have had significant contact with all of them.
There is a Happy Valley documentary which is planned to eventually be broadcast on the A&E television network, the Happy Valley feature movie which is set to star Al Pacino as Joe Paterno, and the 365 Days documentary abut how State College has handled the last year.
I actually “interviewed” to be the director for the Happy Valley documentary and had two extensive/extraordinary meetings with the executive producer of the project. This was one of the most frustrating developments of my career because this person and I shared close professional contacts as well as a mutual respect, and he was a lifelong fan of Joe Paterno. Unfortunately he was also once a Second Mile kid and that clearly clouded both his view of what happened here as well as greatly curtailed any ability for him to have the political cover to take on the incredibly daunting task of fighting the conventional wisdom in this case.
It was no surprise to me when they went in another direction for their director (I have good reason to believe that, if not for my strong pro-Paterno/anti-media perspective on the case, I would have been hired) of the documentary. It was obvious that they were far too focused on the “self flagellation” aspect of the case to ever strongly question the media’s narrative.
I remained in constant contact with them with the hope of at least having an influence on the content of the film. I was told that I would be interviewed for the movie itself, but very suspiciously that never happened. I even went out of my way to let them know that I had interviewed Sandusky and they practically begged for the content. Oddly, after my TV interviews I gave them the full transcript and I basically never heard from them again. I have zero confidence that the substance of their final product will be consistent with the truth of this matter and it seems possible that they are so confused as to what their version of the story may be that it will never actually air.
The feature movie Happy Valley will likely get made and it will probably be horrendous. I say this first of all because Hollywood in general couldn’t care less about the historical truth of any story they tell and because no highly commercial endeavor is ever going to take anything but the popularly held perspective on a situation this controversial. Secondly, I have personally reached out multiple times to several of the key decision makers on this movie (via good contact info) and I have never even gotten a response. This is particularly amazing considering that Sandusky’s attorney told me that the producers had specifically requested interviewing Sandusky as background for the film.
This movie will, at best, make it clear that Paterno was complicit in Sandusky’s crimes. It was reportedly based on Joe Posnanski’s Paterno book, but it seems to me that was simply for legal purposes and may be a further indication of the extraordinary degree to which Posnanski has sold out his subject and the truth here. If Scott Paterno somehow really thinks that this movie will help the cause of his client, I believe he is mistaken.
Finally, the documentary 365 Days is well-intentioned and done by some thoughtful and competent people who are well aware that Joe Paterno is not guilty as “charged” in this matter. Unfortunately, their focus seems much more to be on navel gazing than on trying to change the narrative of the story. I am as supportive of highbrow navel gazing as anyone, but not when there is a massive injustice to be rectified first. I have been interviewed for the film (as has at least one of my most corrupt critics, Ryan Beckler) because I wanted to try and inject some testosterone into what seems to be a rather a flaccid effort.
In short, it appears to me that the movies on this subject will get no closer to the truth of this matter than the mainstream news media has. I also think they are in for a rude awakening when it comes to the size of their audience as the only people who still care enough about this story to watch/pay to see a movie about it are those who will mostly disagree with their content.
I feel compelled to write something about this significant character in the story whose full role I didn’t get to touch on in the heart of this “book.” Bruce Heim is apparently one of the wealthiest people in State College and was a long time board member of the Second Mile charity. He was also a big supporter of Jerry Sandusky, even after the initial report of the grand jury investigation surfaced in early 2011 (but quickly dropped him like everyone else did after his arrest).
One of the most startling facts I uncovered in my Sandusky interview was that just a couple of months before his arrest, Heim hosted Sanduky, future Penn State board member Ryan McCombie, and the man who would soon be known (but who in the prosecution’s eyes didn’t even exist) as Victim 2, for a round of golf at the Toftrees resort in State College.
Think about that for a moment. It is so bizarre as to be emblematic of this entire case which continually produces a script which no Hollywood screenwriter could ever produce while sober. If you were the “boy in the shower” in the McQueary episode and you had been sexually assaulted by Jerry Sandusky, would you be playing golf with him ten years later, as a married former Marine, after it was publicly known that Sandusky was the subject of a grand jury because of alleged sexual abuse? Seriously?!
Heim told me that he did not know at the time that the man he added to the foursome because his military background gave him something in common with McCumbie was the kid from the 2001 incident. However, he did know that there was such an “episode” because he was told by the head of the Second Mile Jack Raykovitz that Penn State had informed him about it. Raykovitz told Heim at the time that he had spoken to Sandusky regarding what he had learned from Tim Curley, but did not mention the identity of the boy. Heim insisted to me that this meant that Sandusky never told Raykovitz who it was, but that makes no sense given that Sandusky was very confident the boy would back him up and was well aware that the Raykovitz was extremely familiar with the boy because he was very prominent within the Second Mile. It would have been exceedingly odd and against his own self interest for Sandusky not to have done exactly what he told me he was positive that he indeed had.
I believe Heim when he says that Raykovitz didn’t give him the name (this issue is important, for among other reasons, because Raykovitz has testified that he didn’t know who it was, as well as other key facts which Sandusky told me he informed him of), but I think he is giving Raykovitz way too much credit when he concludes that this means Sandusky didn’t tell him. Both Jerry and Dottie are very insistent that Jerry told Raykovitz who the boy was and Raykovitz clearly has an incentive to lie about that now (while the timing doesn’t work out quite right, it seems possible that Raykovitz may have been doing the prosecution a “favor” by saying he didn’t know who Sandusky cited as the boy). As for why Raykovitz didn’t tell Heim at the time, it could have either been a simple oversight, or because of a confidentiality concern (when I proposed that second possibility to Heim he could not rule it out).
I had never heard of Heim (other than Sandusky’s brief mention of him) until he contacted me out of the blue after he had heard through the State College grapevine that I had interviewed Sandusky. It was immediately obvious to me that he was very concerned about what Jerry may have said, specifically about Raykovitz, about whom he was very protective. Heim came on so strong that it immediately raised my suspicions that he had reason to be very concerned about something (for context, I had heard rumors, which I do not currently believe, that Heim had given cars to the families of Sandusky victims as a way to keep them quiet).
It was also very obvious to me that Heim was personally very odd and remarkably inappropriate. He told me that he was still convinced that there was no “sex” in the McQueary episode because Mike had admitted that he saw no erection on Sandusky and that he knew from personal experience in his own sex life that, even at an advanced age, that it was impossible to get rid of an erection that quickly. If that wasn’t a strange enough piece of information for him to tell someone he had never met in their second phone conversation, Bruce then apparently put me, briefly, on his personal e-mail chain where the first item he sent out was a series of bare-chested women from Marti Gras.
But that was nothing compared to my final phone conversation with Heim. It must have become clear to him that I was not buying what he was trying way too hard to sell me and that I wasn’t remotely intimidated by him or his money. He called me and told me that he had really struggled with how he had treated Jerry and Dottie. He wondered whether he had abandoned his friends too easily and whether at least some of the charges against him were somehow false.
This conflict resonated with me because I was struggling with a similar dilemma regarding how I was going to handle my still to come national television interviews and the inevitable questions about Sandusky’s guilt. However, what he told me next would end up ranking right at the top of a very long list of things I have heard in the last year which I will never forget.
Heim said that he no longer worried about having potentially been disloyal to Sandusky because he had spoken to a “very reliable source” a couple of days before who had told him that they had seen a videotape of Jerry Sandusky having sex with a boy.
I am pretty sure that Heim was being serious, but I don’t know what he expected my reaction to be (he was clearly hoping that I would now buy totally into the Sandusky as complete “monster” narrative so that I wouldn’t believe a word he said). I am pretty sure he was rather surprised by what I did do.
I laughed at him. Loudly.
I found it utterly hilarious that a man of Heim’s stature could either delude himself (which is what I think happened) that it would be possible for such a tape to exist without it ever surfacing all because he wanted to get rid of some lingering guilt, or that he would actually think that I would be so gullible as to believe such a story without any real evidence. I then asked him a few basic questions about his “source,” which he refused to answer. Then I told him that, while I would love to believe the story (because it would make my task far less complex), I was sure that it was false. He seemed rather stunned at my frankness and the conversation pretty much ended after that. I never heard from him again.
I was fascinated by Heim’s story from several perspectives. Ironically, the contrarian in me actually saw the existence of a wild rumor that there was a “Sandusky sex tape” as further “evidence” that Sandusky might be less guilty than we think. After all, if someone like Heim is willing to believe something that absurd (it’s ridiculous not just because there would be no way in this era to keep something like that completely quiet, but because it is entirely inconsistent with the total lack of pornography in the case) all because he wants to absolve a guilty conscience, then deep down he must really have very serious doubts about Sandusky’s guilt.
While I will never forget the “sex tape” story, my primary take away from Heim was that those who suspect that Jack Raykovitz has something to hide and probably perjured himself are definitely on to something.
Curley, Schultz & Spanier:
It is probable that I have spoken more to Graham Spanier than any other person close to this case. I have found him to be a very kind and thoughtful person who has been extremely open with me. I don’t think there was ever even one question he refused to answer, or one time when he ducked corresponding with me (remarkably, even on the night he was indicted). After I was brutalized by the press over the Sandusky interview, Spanier showed far more concern for my personal wellbeing than just about any other person. He is either an even greater con-artist than Sandusky, or he had no idea that he was a pedophile and certainly did not take part in an overt cover-up.
My extreme confidence that Spanier had nothing to do with a cover-up has very little to do with my personal interaction with him. It is because, quite simply, there is no remotely plausible scenario where he could possibly have been involved. It really only requires high school level logic to figure why that is the case, but unfortunately such advanced thinking was apparently beyond the grasp of both the attorney general’s office and the news media.
Here is why it is impossible for Spanier to part of an explicit cover-up: Since Curley and Schultz knew about the McQueary report before Spanier (Spanier, like Sandusky, insists that he never even knew McQueary was the witness) for a cover-up involving him to have happened it almost certainly would have had to have originated with them going to their boss and floating the idea of a cover-up, which is obviously completely insane. No one would ever risk their career by saying to their high-profile, highly respected boss, “Hey, why don’t we cover up these crimes against children by this ex-employee who no one likes?”
Therefore, the only even theoretically possible way for Spanier to be part of a cover-up is if Curley and Schultz came to him with the “problem” and Spanier for some reason (despite being an abuse victim himself) decided to tell them, “Guys, I think we need to cover this, up, but let’s make sure that the Second Mile knows about it and let’s not give Mike McQueary the job that just opened up.” While such a scenario is only slightly less nuts than the first cover-up possibility, it would have been exposed the moment that Curley and Schultz were indicted and Spanier was fired because obviously Curley and Schultz would have ratted on Spanier faster than an infant changes moods (this very well may have been what the prosecution expected when they indicted Curley and Schultz because they misjudged what had really happened here).
Therefore, the only even remotely conceivable cover-up scenario must start and end with Curley and Schultz deciding to do this alone and together, with each having some sort of mysterious leverage over the other; otherwise they would have flipped on each other long ago. (As an aside, Deadspin’s “Sandusky Reporter” Dom Cosentino once breathlessly called me late at night wrongly convinced by a legal filing that Schultz had flipped on Curley. Since Dom, with whom I have exchanged literally hundreds of emails, was wrongly certain of their guilt, he had been incorrectly anticipating such a development. Oddly, he has never written about the significance that, tellingly, no one has yet flipped in this “cover up.”)
As for the possibility that Curley and Schultz decided on their own to keep this thing quiet, at least that theory is in keeping with the basic laws of the universe. However, there are still significant problems with this concept. First, why has neither ratted out the other for a plea bargain? Second, what would their possible motive have been to take on such a morally corrupt and risky endeavor (they didn’t need to worry about the 1998 investigation being used against them if they turned Sandusky in because multiple state agencies had looked into that and declared it “unfounded”)? Third, how could they have had any confidence in such a dangerous cover-up without somehow involving Mike McQueary? Finally, if they were in cahoots, why don’t the testimonies of Curley and Schultz remotely match up on some very key points?
Unless and until at least those four questions can be reasonably answered, then you just can not credibly claim that Curley and Schultz ran a cover-up to protect Jerry Sandusky, an unpopular ex-employee (while I am confident that none of those questions can be answered, I am somewhat less certain that Gary Schultz didn’t run a one-man, passive, “let’s close our eyes and hope for the best,” “cover up,” which may not have been definitively criminal, but was clearly not the right thing to do).
As for their trial, I am still convinced that the issue of Penn State counsel Cynthia Baldwin being inappropriately in the grand jury room will eventually gut most of the prosecution’s case. While I might be giving them too much credit, I actually think that the attorney general’s office may welcome that development so as to give them a face-saving way out of taking the case to trial, which, since the media will happily spin this in their direction, would effectively be a “win” for them.
Regardless, long ago I offered $10,000 to the charity of choice of the first major media member who would accept the challenge if Curley, Schultz and Spanier are convicted on the perjury charges. That offer still stands tellingly untaken and ready to be finally accepted.
That is never going to happen.
Like a lot of people, I have gone back and forth about what to make of Mike McQueary. I still see him as a bit of an enigma and think that there are several rational (though highly divergent) theories of what motivated his actions and inactions during all of this. At this point, I am currently in the camp of McQueary being mostly well intentioned, but too dumb and weak to ever fully do the “right thing.”
It almost seems as if McQueary is continually digging himself out from the hole he created when he didn’t more completely (or perhaps not at all) investigate what he actually saw/heard that night in the shower. Had he reacted another way in that critical moment, this entire story would likely turned out in a vastly different fashion. Almost everything he has done since then has actually made the original hole even deeper.
My theory, which I strongly believe is the simplest and most sensible that the factual record suggests is plausible, is that McQueary basically changed his mind about what he saw on two different occasions, nine years apart.
I think it is clear McQueary initially thought he might have seen a sex act and it understandably disturbed him. But when, after a couple of weeks, no parent or child came forward with an allegation and Tim Curley looked into it and thought that nothing criminal had occurred, he decided that he must have been mistaken. This was why he was able to, among other things, attend multiple Second Mile golf tournaments, publicly joke around with Sandusky at a charity football game, and, quite tellingly, forget the month and year in which the episode happened. It is also why the two of them maintained a perfectly cordial relationship for nine years after the event before, according the Sandusky (who, again, did not know that McQueary was the witness in the 2001 episode), that suddenly changed.
Then, when investigators came to him and told him that they had victims and really needed a witness to come forward to help obtain justice, McQueary naturally thought back to that episode and changed his mind again, now realizing that his initial instincts were correct (even though a full reading of the current evidence strongly suggest they were not). This scenario seems quite rational to me and does not require McQueary to have done anything evil or against his own self interest. It is even consistent with his rationalized insistence to those around him that he was sure he did the “right thing.”
However, even this scenario, which gives him nearly every benefit of the doubt, doesn’t relieve McQueary of significant blame for how this all turned out. He may not have had ill intent at any particular moment, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t make these significant mistakes with incredibly devastating consequences:
Not “breaking up” whatever he saw and identifying the boy, and not being much clearer with his father, Dr. Dranov, Paterno, Curley and Schultz about what he thought happened.
Never confronting Sandusky about the episode and allowing prosecutors to manipulate what he originally claimed to have seen from a “one alarm fire” into a “five alarm fire.”
Not realizing the incredibly destructive impact that changing his mind nine years later would have on how the past actions of others would now be interpreted.
Selfishly not coming out publicly and immediately fixing the misperceptions which would end up taking hold and eventually cause so much injustice.
All of these are actions/inactions for which Mike McQueary must be held accountable.
Hopefully, when McQueary inevitably writes his book, which it seems to me Scott Paterno is banking on being a very belated semi-vindication of his client, more of this will be made clear and he will finally be asked at least some of the most important questions about his integral role in this tragedy.
If there was one person alive with whom I wish I could speak about this case, it would be Victim 2, the “boy in the shower” from the McQueary episode. After I learned his identity through clues from my interview with Sandusky, I tried to call him several times but he never returned my messages and the number I had is now disconnected.
I have already gone into great detail about why the facts of his situation cause me to believe that Victim 2 was not overtly sexual assaulted (that is to say, there was no “sex” and he did not think of himself at that time of having been “assaulted”) in that incident. However, I just want to add a few words about what I think has caused him to do the things that he has (for the record, I strongly disagree that Victim 2, having already publicly made himself a significant part of this case in his own name, has any legitimate claim to anonymity, but after the nuttiest elements of the victim’s right movement freaked out and hit our website with a DOS attack after his name was accidentally somewhat revealed for a few hours, I have decided to wave the white flag on this issue).
To me, the fact that three times in 2011 (as a married, adult, Marine) he proactively and strongly declared that he was never abused by Jerry Sandusky is extremely powerful evidence. Since the beginning of this case, it has always been my suspicion that this was the truth, mostly because I found it to be incredibly odd that his identity was allegedly “unknown” and that he had never testified.
When I heard Governor Corbett try to retract his citing of Victim 2, and that McQueary had got the year of the episode wrong, my BS detector started sending a very strong signal. When I heard the Sandusky voicemail messages to him telling him to “come forward” even though he had never testified, I was very sure that there was far more to the story than we had been told. And when I read the statement Victim 2 had given on the day Paterno was fired, I knew that my controversial viewpoint had been completely vindicated.
Interestingly, as I tried to explain on the Today Show, finally reading that statement (which can be found in this article) also helped me understand why Victim 2 is now claiming to be a Sandusky victim. It seems pretty clear to me that, much like McQueary, he had his mind changed long after the key events when he got more information about who Sandusky really was (and was enticed by a shady lawyer for whom his mother just happened to work).
I do not believe that Victim 2 was lying in any of the previous statements that he has given. His extremely close relationship with Jerry, the proactive nature and strength of the statements themselves, and the fact that he was a Marine, all make it extremely nonsensical that he was completely lying simply because he didn’t want to admit he was a victim (which is Jim Clemente’s stock theory to explain why victims change their story after denying abuse). When his lawyers released a statement before my Today Show appearance, which for a second time failed to even claim abuse in the shower incident, I knew for sure that I could not be fully wrong about what didn’t happen on February 9th, 2001.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some things which confuse me about Victim 2. For instance, why did he save the voicemail messages from Sandusky that he got in September of 2011 telling him to “come forward” until at least November when he flipped and became a “victim”? Since, according to Dottie, Victim 2 was at least somewhat of a Penn State football fan, why would he allow all that happened to Penn State to occur without speaking out about the real truth (the exact timing of when his attorney Andrew Shubin got him to “flip” would be key here because unless it was November 10th, there would have been plenty of opportunity for him to come forward and correct the record, though it would have taken every bit of courage a Marine is supposed to have to have actually done so in that hostile media environment).
For those who say that the person claiming to be Victim 2 isn’t really the kid from the McQueary episode (as the prosecution has conveniently implied), a close reading of the details here make that scenario virtually impossible. First, because neither he nor Sandusky knew McQueary was the witness until November 7, 2011, that would have left barely 24 hours for a frazzled Sandusky to somehow get together with Victim 2 and concoct a complex cover story before Victim 2 came, unannounced, into Joe Amendola’s office for the first time the very next day.
Not only didn’t they have any time to do this, the story they created isn’t even the one they would have been most likely to fake. Even if they had somehow done that, by now Victim 2’s lawyers would have surely gone public with the potentially lucrative claim of Sandusky forcing their client into a cover story to protect Penn State. Finally, there is also the matter of them somehow knowing that the real Victim 2 was going to sit completely on the sidelines and let someone else claim to be him, not testify at trial, and then try to make money from the fraud.
While there are some minor problems with his account of the episode ten years later, the kid Jerry Sandusky named as Victim 2 is indeed the right person. I can assure you that had he claimed to have been assaulted in the McQueary episode at any point before the trial was over (which was when he conveniently became publicly known as a “victim”), the prosecution would have no longer been at all bothered by his apparent inability to draw a perfect diagram of the scene in the shower eleven years later.
I am fairly confident that we will eventually find out what Victim 2’s current version of events really is, though I am worried that Penn State is about to pay him off in a way which could cause the truth to be lost forever. His story is just too compelling and important for him never give an interview or do a book of some kind (I actually think, for better or worse, that my efforts have increased his options should he indeed decide to tell his tale). As I have said previously, if he can compellingly claim that he was indeed assaulted that night and explain the evidence that indicates he was not, then I will be the first person to admit that I am wrong and that the foundation of my theory for this entire case will have fallen apart.
I am quite convinced that I will never have to do that.
Since the beginning of this story I have honestly tried extremely hard to cut Scott Paterno as much slack as I possibly could. At the very start of it all, he found himself in an exceedingly difficult set of circumstances that he did not create. He and his family have suffered a horrendous loss of nearly every conceivable variety and I am convinced that they have done nothing morally wrong to deserve it. As Scott told me in our memorable last phone call, it is his last name which has been besmirched here and I have given great respect to his right to pursue justice in whatever way his family thinks is best. I also want to make it clear that, thanks largely to the unprecedentedly unfair media coverage of this case; crisis management has been exceedingly difficult because all of the normal rules have essentially been suspended
However, none of this gives him the right to not have the truth told about him and his efforts, especially when Joe Paterno made it essentially his dying wish that the full truth of this matter be found. There is just no getting around the obvious fact that Scott Paterno has played a critical and continual role in how and why this situation turned out the way that it has. That reality is not even disputable.
It is my view that, much like McQueary, Scott is forever trying to dig himself out from the hole which was created when he seemingly didn’t fully comprehend, prepare for, or properly handle the blowback which was inevitably coming over the Sandusky matter. Scott had almost a full year to get ready for this and yet when Sandusky was arrested it appeared as if the Paternos had only just heard of the allegations and had no cogent response set to go (the proof of that was that their lackluster PR person Dan McGinn was hired on the day Joe Paterno was fired).
Obviously Joe Paterno must take some responsibility for all of that, but it was Scott who was in the by far the best position to see the light in the tunnel as an oncoming train (which is one of the reasons he likes Joe Posnanski’s public take on this story far more than anyone named Paterno really should). I have already outlined the many mistakes that Scott has made under difficult conditions, so I will focus here mostly on why I think Scott has acted in the way he has.
I am sure that it must have been simultaneously both extremely difficult and far too easy to be the son of Joe Paterno. It is my personal belief that this dichotomy allowed Scott to grow into a person who is both deeply insecure as well as overly cocky. This is why there seems to be, based on my interactions with him as well has his public persona, a massive chasm between how smart Scott thinks he is and how intelligent he actually is (this is hardly just my opinion, I honestly have not run into even one person who knows him who wouldn’t describe him very similarly, and usually far more harshly).
To be clear, Scott is not a dumb guy. However, he thinks of himself as a political/legal/media genius (which is interesting for a person who once rode the then pristine Paterno name to a crushing defeat in a Republican congressional primary). I believe that this over confidence has led him into making several of his errors and then compounding them because he is unwilling to accept that he has been wrong about anything.
I think that all of this has caused Scott to have an almost primal need to be the primary person who salvages this situation (partly because he knows he allowed/caused it to happen). It is almost as if Scott would rather not have something positive happen for this cause if he is not in some way behind the effort (I am totally convinced that this desire, exacerbated by his hatred/jealousy/misinterpretation of me and my work, is the primary reason why he went so far out of his way to sabotage my Sandusky interview). Another important factor here is that the scandal also had the highly perverse impact of suddenly making Scott far more “important” than he has ever been before, which is rather ironic given his obvious role in how things went down.
Jay Paterno has told me a couple of times that he was raised primarily by his father while Scott was reared mostly by his mother and that this is why they are about as different in every way as any two brothers could be (all of which makes the fact that Scott’s politics are far more in line with Joe’s rather peculiar). It would seem to me that this reality has had a profound impact on how Scott views his “client” which may have manifest itself during this story in ways that I am not remotely qualified to fully understand.
As far as the case itself is concerned, Scott’s fundamental mistake is not realizing that, like it or not, fair or not, his father’s fate was, and always will be, directly tied to the perception of Sandusky. Unfortunately, Scott has now decided that he is going to make sure that the family fully embraces the “Sandusky as Monster” narrative and try to rely on the perfectly rational notion that Joe Paterno was simply totally ignorant of all the horror that was happening with regard to Sandusky and young boys.
The first problem with that strategy is that it is far too late for that to have any real impact on public perception. If that was going to be the tactic, then the Paternos needed to be laying the groundwork for that defense long before November of 2011. The notion that every single member of the press was not made fully aware, the moment Sara Ganim’s first article hit, of the utter disdain that Paterno and Sandusky had for each other as well as how little interaction Sandusky had with the entire football program over the previous ten years, is proof that they were not initially ready to go in this direction.
In the public’s mind, if Sandusky is a “monster,” then Paterno had to know what was going on and therefore Paterno is significantly responsible for all of the horrendous damage that he wrought (even most members of the media still can’t get past the now completely debunked “McQueary saw a rape, told Paterno about it, and Paterno did nothing” narrative). The case is just too complicated and people’s attention spans are just too short to get them to see the more nuanced view of this highly disturbing story, especially now that it is “old news.”
The second major issue with Scott’s strategy is that is indeed a tactic and not a pursuit of the truth. One of the most startling aspects (of many) of my final phone call with him was that the “truth” was never even remotely factored into his thinking. He even implied that I was right about Victim 2, but insisted that it didn’t matter (think about that, Scott Paterno thinks it doesn’t matter if the critical incident his father was told about really happened or not). He may or may not be correct in evaluating the best political course to take to get to wherever he wants to eventually to go with this, but he is most certainly not even pretending to pursue what his father said he wanted, which was the real truth.
One of the most frustrating aspects (of many) of this case is that there is a very significant and growing body of evidence that the real truth of this story is not just some sort of noble theoretical concept. It turns out that the truth may very well also do the best job of actually exonerating Joe Paterno.
I am quite confident that there was no overt assault in the only Sandusky episode we know Joe Paterno was informed of, and I am inclined to believe that Sandusky may not have been the hideous “monster” that almost everyone thinks of him as being (I want to make is very clear, as if this should even be in question, that I am not justifying Sandusky engaging in “grooming” and “fantasy/faux sex” acts with boys, only that there is huge difference between the moral depravity of the worst acts he was convicted of, and a man who might have actually been fighting an illness the best that he could).
The bottom line on Scott Paterno is that had he been up to the immense challenge before him, Joe Paterno would not have been fired, his legacy would not have been destroyed, and Penn State’s reputation and football program would not be in tatters. I think deep down he knows this is true and this knowledge has adversely affected many of the decisions he has either made or approved of from that point forward.
Personally, I used to have extreme contempt for Scott Paterno, not just because what he did to sabotage my efforts, but because I view him as perhaps the one person, other than Sandusky and McQueary, who is most responsible for not stopping the injustice which happened to his father (I even used to “joke” with people that had Joe Paterno’s statue been taken down because of having produced Scott Paterno, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it).
However, I no longer despise Scott Paterno. I mostly just feel sorry for him. He was not prepared to handle what happened here and should never have been put in this position to begin with. Tellingly, had Joe Paterno been truly “guilty” of anything horrible and truely thought he was in real trouble, Scott would never have been given so much power over the decision making when it came to dealing with the crisis.
When I started getting deeply involved with this story, the person I was most confused by was Scott Paterno. Since then, unfortunately, I think I have pretty much figured him out. Now the person about whom I am most baffled is Jay Paterno.
I really like Jay. He is extremely intelligent (especially for a liberal!) and, by all accounts, very honest. He has handled a ridiculously challenging and painful situation with far more class and dignity than I could possibly ever imagine summoning under the same circumstances. However, I am extremely confused by how some of his public statements fit with things that he has told me directly.
Based on a couple of very long/in depth conversations, both in person and on the phone (as well as before and after my rift with his brother Scott), I am convinced that Jay’s view of what really happened here is very close to mine. In fact, at one point, I actually viewed Jay’s position on this as being even more “radical” than the one I held. I honestly do not recall him ever expressing any disagreement with anything that I have said about the facts/reality of this case.
And yet, when the “Paterno” report came out, Jay voiced a view (spectacularly well I might add) that was significantly different than what I thought was his perspective of events. Obviously, we all (as I have already admitted doing to some extent) “clean up” the rough edges of our real views when doing high profile interviews because of the fear of political correctness and being misunderstood or taken out of context. However, the view which Jay expressed at that time was much more than just “airbrushed.” In some ways it had undergone radical surgery.
Most of this alteration manifested itself in tone rather than a direct changing of the facts (though there is no doubt he expressed a view of the nature of Sandusky’s crimes which was vastly different than he has to me both before and after the Paterno Report came out). However, one specific example illustrates what I am talking about.
When I met with him for several hours in his den at the start of the 2012 football season, Jay seemed very convinced that at least some, if not most, of what dictated how Mike McQueary handled what he saw/heard in the shower was an effort (orchestrated by Mike’s father) to obtain Kenny Jackson’s open coaching job, the same one he would end up getting three years later.
However, when the Paterno Report came out I was fascinated to hear Jay deftly turn that theory 180 degrees on its head and render it politically correct while also still using it to make a valid point. I heard Jay on ESPN radio express confusion as to why Joe Paterno hadn’t hired Mike McQueary to fill Kenny Jackson’s open job if, in fact, he was somehow leading some sort of cover-up, which presumably would have required Mike being given some sort of incentive/reward to keep quiet.
That is obviously a valid and important point, but the problem is that it completely accepts the notion that McQueary really did see an actual sexual assault of some sort and told Joe Paterno that he did. For the vast majority of the public and the media, there is nothing else they need to hear because Paterno is then at least partially “guilty” for what transpired. The most unfortunate part of this crafty shift in messaging is that it allows something that is fundamentally both fatal and false to go unchallenged. I also strongly believe that Jay agrees with me that there was no overt sexual assault in the shower that night, but he would probably never even consider saying that publicly now.
I do not think that Jay Paterno lied in any of this. I think he was convinced to very selectively and radically edit his true beliefs to conform to what was a well intentioned but ultimately misguided political strategy which was mostly designed by Scott Paterno and Dan McGinn. This tactic was based almost entirely on Jim Clemente’s self-serving and incomplete analysis of what happened here. I think that Jay has gone along with this strategy reluctantly, but he deserves very high marks for somehow executing his role with remarkable discipline.
Why has Jay gone along with this approach? On that I can only speculate because I have not directly asked him. I do know that he told me that he objected to the decision to put out a statement condemning my interview with Sandusky and that he has refused on at least one occasion to give a speech that he thought went too far on what I would call the “self flagellation” spectrum.
My guess is that Jay may think that perhaps this path of political correctness is the best way to go to achieve whatever the family’s goals are. Or, perhaps he has simply ceded control over to Scott who has a much more forceful personality and undoubtedly is being driven by far more guilt about his own role in what happened (the liberal/conservative dichotomy between them may also play a role here as Scott is far more the “warrior” than Jay is). Or maybe Jay realizes that his best career course going forward would be as a TV broadcaster and he understands that he can’t say anything that the media would consider to be “crazy” or too politically incorrect if he ever wants to get hired, especially by ESPN (Scott has told people that Jay would like to work there). I even think that it is possible that Jay may have come to the conclusion that only a very few people are ever going to fully understand that his father did nothing wrong here and that, since he and his family already have the peace of mind which comes from being in that group, he doesn’t see fighting this battle as all that critically important (this is a view with which even I have come to sympathize).
It may sound like I am condemning Jay for all of this, but I am not. I can’t even begin to understand what he has endured and, especially since he has a family, he certainly has every right to do what he thinks is in their long-term interests. I am also sure the larger Paterno family dynamic is incredibly complex and that Jay may realize that certain fights with Scott are just simply are not worth it (it is a shame that Jay has seemingly allowed most of the decision making to be made by Scott because Jay is in a far better position, on numerous levels, to be the person calling the shots).
Regardless, here is the most important point about Jay Paterno: Jay was as close to this story as anyone, knows what really happened here, and he is quite confident that neither he nor his father has anything about which to be ashamed when it comes to the crimes of Jerry Sandusky.
Just like the other seven billion human beings who have roamed the planet earth, Joe Paterno was not a perfect person. In my view, had he retired when he should have, none of this would have happened the way that it did (it is striking to realize the rather obvious reality that, even if the rest of the factual record was exactly the same, if Paterno was not still the head football coach at Penn State when Sandusky was arrested, then it is difficult to argue that this story, at least on a national level, doesn’t go away in about two days with almost no consequences for Penn State and none for Paterno). However, he was still a great man whose reputation was unfairly destroyed in perhaps the worst celebrity injustice that I have ever witnessed (only O.J. Simpson’s acquittal may surpass it, depending on how this all turns out in the end).
One of the many great tragedies of this entire is saga is that, unfortunately, we are literally never going to see another Joe Paterno. It is as if he was the very last of a special species and we needlessly decided to not just kill him off, but to also erase almost every record of his existence. College football and the world in general are in desperate need of more Joe Paternos and we allowed the last one we had to be virtually crucified without even a hint of a proper trial.
One of the many things which have kept me from giving up this arduous quest for some semblance of justice is that what Joe Paterno accomplished at Penn State, both on and off the field, while hardly perfect, was rather exceptional and truly unique. The remarkable success of the football program (without breaking the rules and while graduating his players) was rightly a source of incredible pride for an awful lot of good people who marveled that their favorite state school in the middle of nowhere was able to pull off this “Grand Experiment” and excel not just on the field, but in life as well. Joe Paterno was a “throwback” not just because of his advanced age, but because of the ideals he believed in and because of the values he instilled in others, principles which sadly are quickly fading from our rapidly changing/eroding cultural fabric.
It was vitally important that all of this be cherished, honored, and passed down to future generations. Instead it was excruciatingly erased in a cowardly, selfish and stupid manner by people who should have known better. It is important to me that those who still care deeply about this issue fully understand that what they thought they knew to be true about Joe Paterno was indeed real. It was not a myth. It may never be easy to brag about him publicly anymore, but that doesn’t change the reality. You need to know that, as much as any famous human can be, Joe Paterno was who you thought he was. Nothing we currently know about the Sandusky scandal alters that. In fact, a proper reading of the facts might even enhance his real legacy.
Franco Harris, a far more optimistic man than me (if you had been the key part of the “Immaculate Reception” in your rookie year in the NFL and won four Super Bowls you probably would be as well), has told Bob Costas that he thinks that in the end Joe Paterno’s legacy will be greater than ever because of all of this. When I asked him what he meant by that exactly, he said that all of this is another “test” of who Joe Paterno was, and if he can pass even this most difficult examination, then his legacy will grow. I can certainly see his point.
In a bizarre way, the Sandusky scandal and the unfair treatment that Paterno received because of it, has forced those most devoted to him and what he represented to fight hard to salvage how he will be remembered. Had none of this happened and he simply retired at the end of 2011 as planned, he would obviously be far more widely revered today than he currently is, but there is no doubt that his supporters would not have spent nearly the time and the energy thinking about him as they have because of all that transpired.
If how much something is loved is best determined by the intensity of the struggle others will put up to protect it, then among his core, grassroots supporters, the past year has proven that Joe Paterno evoked a greater depth of devotion than any other coach of which I am aware (and no, they are not, as one particularly clueless local columnist called them, “Joebots”).
However, the realist in me also requires that I give these same supporters a fair warning. If your goal is to make sure that future generations know who the real Joe Paterno was, then you need to educate your children and grandchildren yourself and instill in them a desire to see this crusade to the end. Otherwise, I fear the cause will die out before the environment has changed sufficiently (in other words, enough Penn State board members have been removed and media commentators have retired) so that the truth can find enough oxygen to survive.
As for the case itself, I honestly have a more difficult time finding real fault in how Joe Paterno handled himself than just about any other key figure in this story. Based on what we currently know for sure happened, here is a quick review of his actions:
Paterno told his superior immediately about Mike McQueary’s story, made no effort to conceal it or get McQueary to do so, caused numerous others to be brought into the loop, and followed up with Mike on multiple occasions to make sure he was fine with how it was handled.
Paterno properly stayed out of an investigation where his involvement would have been totally inappropriate both legally and politically, especially considering the fact that Sandusky was no longer his employee (the media notion that Paterno should have personally gone to police after speaking to McQueary is simply one of the dumbest theories in this entire case).
Paterno testified truthfully (when I highly doubt that any other big time college football coach would have) and against his own self interest in both his grand jury testimony and his final police interview. If anything, his testimony was actually critical to making sure Sandusky was indicted, which was one of the reasons investigators interviewed Paterno again right before the arrest was made.
Paterno was the first (and still only person) to take any real responsibility/accountability for what happened and offered to resign his position so that the school to focus on what he considered to be more important issues.
After he was fired in the most humiliating and unjust fashion possible, Paterno went outside, smiled, waved, showed no anger, said nothing remotely regretful, and probably prevented a real riot by telling the students demonstrating on his behalf to go home and study. It is possible that, given the extraordinary circumstances and his poor health, that this final public appearance may have been, in some ways, Joe Paterno’s finest moment.
Paterno instructed his sons to not attack Mike McQueary (even though it may have saved his reputation/legacy if they had done so effectively) because he thought that Mike had already suffered enough.
Are these really the actions of someone who deserved to have their entire life’s work destroyed because of how they handled this situation? Seriously?!
It is my very strong opinion that the two people (other than Sandusky) who have gotten the worst media coverage in all of this, Joe Paterno and Franco Harris, are actually the two figures who deserve the most praise for how they handled these extraordinary circumstances. Given the sad state of our news media, I do not believe that this upside down reality to be remotely coincidental.
As for those who nebulously claim that Joe Paterno should have done “more” (as they inevitably inaccurately assert that he himself “admitted”), I say they are living in an unrealistic/cowardly world of 20/20 hindsight. At worst, Joe Paterno knew that a witness THOUGHT (it is not, as the media likes to pretend, as if McQueary brought Paterno a videotape of what he saw) he saw/heard Sandusky doing something sexual with a boy. If Paterno was, as he himself later said, “Omniscient,” then clearly he could have done more. Obviously the Sandusky case proved that Paterno did not have God-like powers. Based on the current evidence, revealing himself to be a mere mortal seems to have been his greatest sin.
I do think that it is important to make clear that the real reason this all happened to Joe Paterno is because seeing him exposed as “human” made many of us (especially those in the media who tend to be horrible people and who could profit from the downfall which came because of this “revelation”) feel better about ourselves. For if even the morally superior Joe Paterno was really a just a fraud who did something far worse than the average person could ever imagine doing, then we all got elevated in some perverse way.
The reality is that Joe Paterno did not “know” that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile and he did absolutely nothing to “protect” him from being stopped. Even when the scandal unfairly hit him at a time when he was clearly not physically well, circumstances which would have brought out the very worst in almost anyone actually revealed even more class and character in him. Joe Paterno was hardly perfect, but he was better than anyone else who ever engaged in his profession at the highest levels and he lived a life that should be revered and emulated.
To me, that is how Joe Paterno should be remembered. I still hope, against all odds, someday that will happen.
As for me personally, this entire experience has been the most painful professional endeavor of my career (and I have had many of those). Perhaps the worst part is that it should have been the most rewarding venture of my life because I truly believe that, while I have made many mistakes, in general I have done my best and most important work ever on this case. In that fictitious rational world I have often referred to in this book, I would have made an enormous positive impact on behalf of truth and justice.
Instead, I feel as if, other than for the historical record and a few thousand hardy souls who really value the truth of this matter, my enormous efforts, and the incredible anguish I have endured, have been largely been wasted.
There have been many misconceptions about me during this story. Some of them have just been hilarious (everything from I am “trying to make money from this tragedy” and I am “a Joe Paterno apologist,” to I am a “conspiracy theorist” who is “in favor of child rape”). I have also had my “tactics” roundly criticized as proof that I was simply seeking attention (what my critics failed to realize is that was given almost no weapons in this war and that I was actually willing to sacrifice myself to create the pressure needed to try and cause a break in the status quo).
But the most depressing element of this effort to find the “real” reason why I would devote my life to fixing an injustice with which I was not directly involved, is that it now seems that we are so cynical that it is virtually impossible for someone to take any dramatic action mostly because they think it is the “right” thing to do.
While I am as cynical as anyone, it is important that we at least leave open the possibility that there are people who want to act for the greater good or else the good people will be perceived the same (or perhaps even worse) than the bad ones. I was taught as a kid that there was value in standing up for what you thought was right, even if you were the only one who was doing so. But it now seems as if you are taking a position that is highly unpopular that everyone (especially in the media where they are completely unfamiliar with the concept of doing something because it is “right”) is immediately convinced that there must be a hidden “angle.”
I will fully admit that I thoroughly enjoy proving the corrupt media to be wrong and exposing them as the frauds that they are. However, the primary reason I did all of this was because it was clear to me that it needed to be done and that no one else was in a position to make it happen. As I have said on numerous occasions, if someone else I trusted to do it right (preferably a real celebrity) had stepped forward and taken on this cause, I would have been sincerely thrilled to step aside.
I certainly haven’t done this for money. Despite what Scott Paterno has told strangers on Twitter, I have not made any sort of profit on this effort (depending on how you define it I may have even lost money). Even worse, thanks to the DOS attack our website suffered after the Sandusky interview was made public, the cost of even just maintaining www.FramingPaterno.com and this book you are reading for the historical record may be prohibitive in the long run.
There is also absolutely no doubt that this entire situation has destroyed and probably ended my career as a documentary filmmaker and media commentator. There is just no way for me to get hired to do anything when the first names which come up when you “Google” me are Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno (especially when my career has already been so controversial). For the same reasons I also seriously doubt that I will even be able to ever coach high school sports again, which I have done many times previously in my life.
So I am now left with the maddening situation that work which should have been the crowning achievement of my career has instead effectively ended it and made the circumstances of my life far more difficult than they were before I started. Somehow, while incredibly frustrating, I see that sad reality as being in perfect harmony with the rest of the insanity in this case.
To be clear, I am not giving up. For better or worse, that is probably not in my DNA. I am just being realistic. At this point about the only benefit I see in this story for me going forward is that I will eventually be vindicated (even if only a handful of people will even remember me when that inevitably happens).
So, do me a favor. Please don’t let all of this work be completely in vain. Please do everything you can to share this free book with all those who you know who might be interested in the subject, even if they may not naturally agree with my conclusions. This is likely the only way that the real truth of this matter will ever be heard.
I know that none of this will get the public hearing it deserves, but you can at least make sure that the truth is heard by those who matter most.
Finally, for some kicks and context, here are my current odds of some of the most important assertions in this case being true:
Chances Joe Paterno knew Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile and proactively led a cover-up to protect him: 0%
Chances Joe Paterno thought Jerry Sandusky might have been a pedophile and purposely did nothing to stop him because he feared bad publicity: 5%
Chances Joe Paterno thought that the Jerry Sandusky issue had been investigated and taken care of by others better suited to do so and got extremely unlucky: 80%
Chances that Mike McQueary actually saw the “anal rape” of a child in the shower: 5%
Chances that Mike McQueary thought, in the years after the incident, that he had seen the “anal rape” of a child: 10%
Chances that Mike McQueary changed his mind about what he saw/heard nine years later when approached by investigators: 70%
Chances that an overt sexual assault occurred the night of the McQueary incident: 15%
Chances that Jerry Sandusky ever “anally raped” a child: 20%
Chances that Jerry Sandusky ever forced boys into overt sex acts: 40%
Chances that Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile who acted in a criminal manner with boys: 99%
Chances that Jerry Sandusky went around “raping” boys as frequently as the perception created by the media: 10%
Chances that Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, or Graham Spanier will ever be convicted of perjury: 2%
Chances that the case against Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Graham Spanier ever actually goes to trial: 40%
Chances that Gary Schultz did a one-man “hide and hope” soft “cover up”: 35%
Chances that the NCAA sanctions are, in some way, reversed/amended before they are over: 50%
Chances that the Paterno statue is returned in the next 20 years: 20%
Chances that Joe Paterno’s record of 409 wins is restored in the next 20 years: 60%
Chances that the news media ever fully admits the injustice they have created here: 0%