"Perfect Sense": The Full "Conventional Wisdom" Narrative of the PSU "Scandal" (Part 1 of 3)
Of the many very frustrating aspects of spending three years trying to tell the real story about what did and did NOT happen at Penn State with regard to Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky, the most aggravating is that the “other” side has never even articulated their full version of what they think/pretend happened.
I have continuously said that I can tell a perfectly rational narrative about what really occurred, while the other side can’t even come close. In fact, no one from the other side has ever even tried. They didn’t even do so at Sandusky’s trial (the prosecution’s closing was a hot mess), in the Freeh Report, or in “hero reporter” Sara Ganim’s book, which, very oddly, never even materialized.
Since the evidence is supposedly so overwhelmingly on their side and the “conventional wisdom” is widely accepted, you would think this would be incredibly easy to do, but apparently it is not. So instead of waiting for someone from the other side to finally tell a remotely full story, I have decided to simply do it for them.
What follows is as straight a telling (with some occasional sarcasm thrown in, only when absolutely necessary) as I can muster of what the prosecution/media must believe actually happened here for their version of this whole story to have a full and complete narrative. For the record, I don’t think anyone from the other side really believes this is what happened, mostly because I don’t sense they have ever even thought it through, or have remotely enough knowledge to do so, even if they had the inclination.
So, according to what we have been told by people who think you are a “lunatic” (as I have been, among other many things, called) if you don’t accept their version of events, here is the story of the “Penn State Scandal”….
Jerry Sandusky, who was never abused as a child in any way, had a great relationship with his father, and never showed any signs of being a homosexual, is a criminal pedophile who sexually molested, exclusively, older boys for most, if not all, of his adult life.
He is able to coach big-time college football for Joe Paterno, the man most associated with moral character in the profession, for 28 years while engaging in this horrific behavior (including abusing his adopted son in a very crowded/small home) without anyone having any idea, whatsoever. Finally, in 1998, Jerry, at the age of 54, slips up and determines he just can’t control himself anymore. He decides to let his demons come out in a Penn State shower in the middle of the day while many others had easy access to where he was.
Jerry picks up a boy in the shower and “bear hugs” him while allegedly lifting him up to wash some shampoo from his hair. We now know that, while there was not direct sexual contact or signs of arousal, this was clearly an act of “grooming,” which was nipped in the bud by a mother who became immediately suspicious (which had absolutely nothing to do with her being, coincidentally, desperate for money).
For the first time in 28 years at Penn State, Jerry Sandusky has finally picked the wrong boy to “groom.”
Because of the complaining mother, the police then put Jerry under surveillance. It is later reported that, while he did not admit to anything remotely criminal (he must have known he was under surveillance and he is clearly a very smooth talker who would never make an accidentally incriminating remark), he allegedly says something to the effect that he wishes he were dead for having caused trouble for the boy (who he was incorrectly told had cancer) or his family. The fact that there is no legitimate record of this statement is irrelevant because proving these types of cases is really hard.
The police investigation continues with an impromptu interview with Jerry while he is working out. Clearly intimidated by the stature of the legendary defensive coordinator who had helped Penn State win a national title twelve years before and who had already discussed his retirement with Joe Paterno, the police tell Jerry that the allegation is no big deal in comparison to those they normally scrutinize and that they expect the investigation to be wrapped up shortly.
This is obviously because the authorities care more about protecting a semi-famous football coach than they do children. They also tell him not to shower with boys anymore, though it is doubtful they gave him an age definition of “boy” (also, it should be pointed out that highly successful people are never so arrogant as to disregard such advice when then know they have done nothing wrong).
Ray Gricar, a district attorney known for being tough on Penn State, decides not to press charges and Jerry receives a notice that the allegation was “unfounded” (Gricar will go missing seven years later, which makes it totally illogical for that event to be at all related, but it still somehow shows just how nefarious this whole scandal really was). We know this was the wrong call because a doctor who never spoke to Sandusky wrote a report saying she thought this was quite possibly the act of a pedophile, while another analyst wrote one saying that it was not.
According to Jerry, Joe Paterno never even mentions the episode to him, which he is convinced would be highly unusual for Joe if the hands-on head coach thought that there is any sort of a problem, or had even remote knowledge of the matter. Clearly Joe must have had no need to speak to Jerry because it was clear Sandusky was a pedophile and that a cover-up must immediately commence to protect the football program from negative publicity.
Jerry then maintains a 13-year incident-free relationship with the boy (later known as Victim 6), evidently because he is trying to make sure that he covers his tracks for the grooming episode that the DA thought wasn’t even worthy of a charge.
It turns out that Jerry is extremely good at covering his tracks with Victim 6. The very next year, when on the way to his last home game in 1999, the mother flags Jerry down in a parking lot and begs him to get her son into Beaver Stadium. Jerry was out of tickets but finagles a deal to get him on the sideline. The sexual tension/frustration Jerry must feel that day with Victim 6 so close to him has to have been very distracting and obviously helps lead to a loss to Michigan.
Twelve years later, Victim 6 is still sending Jerry very loving text messages on Father’s Day and Thanksgiving, but this is obviously because of “victim compliance” and the remarkable power of the “pixie dust” which Jerry sprinkled on him during that ten-second noncriminal episode in the shower back in 1998.
After the 1998 incident, Penn State now, according to Louis Freeh and the NCAA, knows that Jerry is a pedophile (even though the authorities do not). Graham Spanier is overseas while he is cc’d on two very innocuous emails (in the pre-smart phone era) regarding the conclusion of that investigation. He never responds to these emails, but he is now obviously aware that Jerry is a pedophile.
Despite this, Spanier does nothing, though he later meets with Sandusky, for the first and only time, to discuss, and decline, starting a football program on one of PSU’s satellite campuses (Spanier clearly took the meeting because of all the leverage the pedophile had over him).
Even though Joe Paterno has made written notes prior to the Victim 6 episode indicating that Jerry’s retirement is in the works, Paterno is so unmoved by the seemingly startling revelation that Jerry is a pedophile that he has him coach the 1998 season. Not only does he let him coach that season, he then has him coach again during the 1999 season, after which Jerry finally retires after somehow negotiating a sweet retirement package (signed by the same person who would sign the NCAA consent decree). Sandusky pulls this off even though his employers know he is a pedophile and therefore hold all the cards. His retirement is greeted with much acclaim and praise in the completely duped news media.
During Jerry’s last two years at Penn State, obviously because he just can’t control himself any more (despite his advanced age and medically low testosterone levels), he begins to suddenly get extremely reckless in his pedophilic behaviors.
Completely undeterred by the reality he was recently almost charged, Jerry all of a sudden decides to miss dozens of practices (according to the 2012 testimony of the boy later known as Victim 4, the first accuser to take the stand against Sandusky at trial) which, somehow, not one person in the Penn State football program notices or remembers ever having happened, even after the “cover-up” is blown. At the same time, Jerry finally concludes, after all of these years, that bowl trips are a great opportunity to molest kids.
After all, only everyone in the program knows that the kid is on a bowl trip and staying with Jerry and Dottie. As for Dottie, her presence with them in the same room (and, according to Victim 4, her witnessing of his molestation) is no big deal. Obviously she is in on all of this because: she hates children (thus the many adopted and foster children she takes into her home), the life of the wife of an assistant football coach is too glamorous to jeopardize, and, even though her nickname is “Sarge,” she is obviously so intimidated by Jerry that she lets him get away with raping boys.
The boy in this case never says anything about this for twelve years and doesn’t claim “sex” until after, according to an accidental recording, his lawyer conspires with investigators to lie to him. This hesitation to tell the “truth” was clearly because of “victim compliance,” a force so strong that over a decade after suffering horrendous abuse at the hands of Jerry (and with Dottie having witnessed it) he brought his now former girlfriend and son to Jerry’s house for a dinner so friendly that an non-family observer thought Victim 4 wanted Jerry to be the grandfather for his child.
Clearly emboldened by having been able to rape a boy on a bowl trip with his wife in the room, and now with lots of free time because of his retirement, in late November of 2000 (actual dates are so inconvenient for the prosecution to have to come up with as these types of cases are so hard to prove!) Jerry then takes a still unidentified boy into the Penn State lockers and molests him. He is witnessed doing this by a janitor.
The fact that no one reports this contemporaneously (because obviously they were fearful of the horrible Penn State football culture protecting a former coach by firing whistleblowers, even though nothing like that had never previously happened), the witness never testifies due to dementia, and the victim somehow never comes forward to testify or to collect his money, should all be considered irrelevant details obsessed over only by football-crazed “JoeBots” who don’t care about children.
Just a month after this incredibly reckless and horrific act, Jerry receives a contract to be the head coach at the University of Virginia at the very end of 2000. The job offer is never technically rescinded, but just one day after Jerry’s highly publicized second interview, Virginia suddenly hires UVA Alum and current New York Jets head coach Al Groh.
Obviously Jerry was ditched at the last moment because there were rumors about him being a pedophile. Jay Paterno was a former UVA graduate assistant who married a UVA Alum. So either (very strangely) Jay really had it out for UVA by not telling them of this impending disaster which they mysteriously avoided on their own (perhaps the PSU janitors warned them after seeing the story of his job offer in the paper so soon after what they "witnessed," but just never mentioned that), or he was somehow the source of this “information.” This of course would mean that the son of Joe Paterno is both truly evil and a pathological liar with a death wish, which, given what we now know about his father, seems totally reasonable.
However it happened, it surely couldn’t just be that Groh lost his last three games of the NFL season to barely miss the playoffs and suddenly got a keen interest in coaching his alma mater because he knew he was going to get fired from the Jets. That is just way too simple (though the fact that Jets quarterback Vinnie Testeverde gets sweet revenge for Sandusky's defense intercepting him five times in the 1986 national championship game is rather ironic)!
The fact that Sandusky comes within a whisker of getting the biggest job of his career at the end of 2000 is made even stranger by the reality that, just days later, Jerry’s autobiography “Touched” is released. According to an interview given to CBS by the prosecutors, they clearly believe that the book is Jerry’s subconscious (or maybe even conscious) attempt to confess to his crimes. After all, the title is a dead give away, as is the now notorious photo in it of Jerry with four of the six “known” accusers mentioned in the grand jury presentment.
This is so obvious, right?! Surely he will officially confess to his crimes once he is convicted and the ruse is up. The fact that the co-author of this book is still completely convinced Jerry is innocent is simply a testament to Sandusky’s incredible powers of brainwashing (which were simply mysteriously absent during his infamous Bob Costas phone interview).
So Jerry, the brilliant criminal mastermind who has been able to cover his tracks for at least 30 years, simultaneously decides to publicly “confess” to his crimes while still pursuing very high-profile jobs, all at the exact moment that he has retired from Penn State and no longer has the full protection of the program or any leverage over the media. Damn, this guy is good! Clearly Paterno family hired-gun Jim Clemente underestimated him when he put him in the top 1% of all pedophiles!
But Jerry Sandusky was just getting started!
Then, just six weeks later, Jerry decides to take nearly 14-year old Allan Myers (later know as Victim 2) into the Penn State showers on a Friday night, scene infamously witnessed by Mike McQueary. Of course, according to the prosecution, it may not have been Allan Myers. They would never call him to testify but also voiced no objection to him identifying himself as Victim 2 for the purposes of getting millions of dollars from Penn State.
Presumably, Jerry and Dottie Sandusky conspire to lie about who was in the shower that night and would much later coerce Myers into coming forward with a story which makes absolutely no sense if it were concocted. Remarkably, the Sanduskys and Myers (a Marine at the time) will apparently be so positive that the “real” Victim 2 won’t ever come forward that they all feel confident they can pull this scam off despite the massive risk involved (perhaps the real "Victim 2" was murdered along with Ray Gricar?).
Remember, Jim Clemente tells us that Sandusky is an “All-Pro” pedophile.
Of course this is all very reasonable. After all, it’s not like the McQueary episode got a lot of publicity or that there was enough money to entice the “real” victim to come forward. Clearly the “real” Victim 2 either didn’t hear about the McQueary incident or just decided to let Jerry get away with having raped him and Allan with taking his multi-million dollar payday.
You can clearly see how this all makes perfect sense, right?
Regardless, Jerry, the criminal mastermind, decides to “rape,” “assault,” “molest,” “fondle” (depending on what is most convenient for proving the case at any given moment; these cases are hard to prove, remember) Myers in a semi-public place and chooses to do so in the only portion of the large shower which would be immediately visible to anyone who might come into the locker room unannounced.
As fate would have it, Mike McQueary, apparently “inspired” by watching the first 30-45 minutes of the movie “Rudy” on television, comes into the locker-room area and, after hearing sounds which he associates with “sex” (hearing something is always more reliable than actually seeing it, especially when it takes almost ten years for you to testify about it) he peeks for "two or three seconds" into the very narrow opening into the shower through a reflection in a mirror. He then sees what he thinks is Jerry raping Myers. Or, maybe he was just fondling him. He’s just not sure.
Whatever it was, it was so horrible for Mike that, in the words of lead prosecutor Frank Fina, it “shatters his universe to its core” (which is apparently a life-changing event so powerful that it makes you forget the date, month and year in which it occurred).
This is why the young, tall, muscular McQueary panics and decides to: 1) not punch the lights out of the naked and defenseless, aging, pedophile 2) not remove Myers from the situation 3) not identify Myers (or even get his age remotely correct) 4) not speak to Sandusky 5) most amazingly (according to both Sandusky and Myers), not even make his presence fully known to either of them.
Now if McQueary really was so panic-prone you may wonder how he ever played quarterback in front of 90,000 people and a national television audience. What you don’t understand is that witnessing a sexual assault is SO much more difficult than that. It has a magical effect on people (much like a pedophile has on victims he has never actually sexually abused, like “Victim 6”). It can even cause you to continue to needlessly interact with a pedophile for many years (like at charity golf tournaments and football games). This phenomenon should probably have a name like, “witness compliance.”
McQueary then, instead of contacting the police to report a crime, calls his father. He then meets with his father and his dad’s boss, a doctor. Neither one of them tells him to go to the police and neither one of them reports the episode to any authority. All of the three misremember the date/month/year of the event when finally asked about it ten years later. However, if you think any of this is inconsistent with someone just having seen a boy being raped then you just don’t understand the nature of child sex abuse, you are likely part of a “football culture” problem, and you probably hate children.
So, with no apparent thought of going to the police, McQueary calls Joe Paterno the next day and asks to see him. Paterno allegedly tells the then graduate assistant that “if this is about a job, don’t bother coming over, I don’t have one for you” (though Sue Paterno, who was there that day, insisted to me that this “never happened,” probably because she just didn’t know her husband that well). The fact that two days earlier the Penn State wide receiver coaching position (which Mike would end up getting several seasons later) had just opened up is purely a coincidence and in no way should be used to suggest that it may have played a role in why Mike’s father had the lowly graduate assistant go get valuable face-time with Joe Paterno to play the good "boy scout" and nark on a former coach the head coach didn’t particularly like.
During Mike’s short discussion with Paterno, he is very bashful about telling the elderly legend exactly what he witnessed (which seems particularly odd because Joe somehow remembers, ten years later, a version of the conversation which is stronger than what anyone else recalls Mike telling them). While Paterno thanks him for the information and makes no effort whatsoever to keep him quiet or offer him the exact open job he would give him years later, the wheels of a cover-up are already clearly in motion in Paterno’s mind (Though, weirdly, McQueary, when he sues Penn State over a decade later, makes no mention of being forced to be part of a cover-up, costing him millions of dollars and loads of positive media coverage. Meanwhile, just as strangely, Frank Fina, the lead prosecutor in the Sandusky case, later says Paterno wasn’t involved in a cover-up).
Even though it may initially appear that Paterno responded in exactly the way that he was supposed to, Joe was required to live up to a much higher standard than the “minimum requirement.” He clearly should have, as he would sort of (not really) famously say almost eleven years later, “done more.” What that actually means is apparently not for any of his critics to say or even suggest because Joe Paterno, being a God of morality, should have been able to magically figure that one out on his own, even if no else can seem to do so many years later.
What Paterno does do is immediately (sooner than even his self deprecating recollection ten years later suggests) inform his superior, athletic director Tim Curley, and this causes Gary Schultz, who oversees the campus police, to get involved. The Penn State counsel and president Spanier are also brought into the process almost right away. This was done not because they were all making sure they were following proper procedure, but obviously because bringing in, on the record, as many powerful people with public reputations to protect as possible is obviously the very best way to orchestrate a cover-up.
It takes almost two weeks for McQueary to meet with Curley and Schultz. This is clearly because Penn State didn’t care at all about the allegation or the victim and not in any way an indication that maybe the initial report was so benign that it didn’t require a massive amount of urgency. After all, thanks to the 1998 episode they (except, according to Fina, Joe Paterno) already knew that Jerry was a pedophile who needed to be protected, so what difference was a couple of more weeks going to matter?
One of the more interesting elements of this meeting is that McQueary later testifies that he thought of going to Schultz as if he was going to the police. He bases this on what he witnessed when he saw Schultz “in charge” during a “riot” on campus. Weirdly, that riot occurs well AFTER his meeting with Schultz. However, this should not been seen as an indication that McQueary’s memory is lacking in credibility.
After the meeting with McQueary, it is obvious that Curley goes into cover-up mode with the only witness. Not only does he not make any mention to McQueary of him perhaps getting a full-time job, but just days later Curley signs off on a press release which needlessly uses Mike as the only person (other than Paterno) in the football program quoted about a retiring equipment manager. This is clearly done so that Mike might be as accessible as possible to the press just as the cover-up begins, and thus throws the media off the scent. This is quite brilliant, really.
After the meeting with McQueary, Curley asks Jerry Sandusky to come into the office without telling him what it is about. He asks Jerry about what was happening in the shower a few weeks before when a “male or female witness” saw him there with a boy (since Tim already knows Jerry to be a pedophile, this very formalized “by the book” questioning must have been particularly odd on several levels).
At first, Jerry does not know to what Curley is referring (clearly because he is trying to lie about having raped a boy in the shower and not because the episode wasn’t remotely memorable to him, especially since he didn’t even know McQueary was there). Later, Jerry does recall what happened (probably because he suddenly decided that an outright lie was better than an “I don’t remember,” even though Penn State already knows he is a pedophile) and offers for Curley to call the boy to prove that nothing horrible happened.
However, since Penn State already knows he is a pedophile, this may seem odd. Especially when Jerry needlessly tells Dottie that Curley has asked him about a shower episode with Allan Myers, which only makes sense if Dottie already knows Jerry is a pedophile and he is just bragging about it to her (and therefore has nothing to be embarrassed about).
Curley, obviously because it’s common knowledge that Sandusky is a pedophile (and not because he is convinced by Jerry’s story and the benign nature of Mike’s report that taking further action isn’t needed), decides not to bother calling Allan Myers. After all, that could increase his liability for when he decides to sweep the whole thing under the rug in order to avoid bad publicity. However, Curley, who has a son about Allan’s age, is strangely unbothered by Sandusky being able to roam free, probably because he hates kids, including his own (at least he loves football more than his own son, though it’s unclear how turning in a former coach at this point would even impact football, but thus is the “ football culture” at Penn State).
The process of covering this episode up is, like all good cover-ups, conducted almost entirely via emails on a state-owned server. These are emails which Schultz himself would both help preserve and find many years later, which, of course, makes total sense within the context of a cover-up.
As these emails later released over a decade later in the Freeh Report would clearly prove, in the middle of this investigative process there is a change in the original tentative plan to report Sandusky to state agencies. However, Curley “after speaking with Joe” decides that is not the best course of action. Obviously, we can read Curley’s mind in this one sentence written in 2001 and determine, with moral certainty, that Paterno must have told him that this whole, clearly criminal, situation needed to be kept quiet as to not risk bad publicity.
Curley is clearly suggesting to the president of the university, via state-owned email, that they need to engage in a cover-up of an overt crime against a child. He obviously feels confident doing this because he has simply vaguely implied that Joe Paterno, the God of State College, agrees with him. There is therefore no chance that Spanier will strongly object and decide to fire Curley for merely suggesting such a thing. It is clear what is really going on. They fear bad publicity for their football program. There is simply no other rational explanation (except maybe that Mike didn't tell them about at sexual act because none happened, but only lunatics believe that).
As proven by the Rashard Casey episode the previous year (where Paterno was lambasted for sticking by his starting quarterback who was charged with assaulting a police officer and later exonerated), Paterno cared so very deeply about avoiding bad publicity. Also, as the Syracuse basketball Bernie Fine scandal would show, only a coach of Jim Boeheim’s stature could possibly survive the revelation that a long-time assistant coach might be a pedophile.
Similarly, when Graham Spanier writes that not reporting to the state would be the “humane” thing to do but would also leave them “vulnerable for not having reported it if the message isn't heard,” the former child abuse victim is clearly meaning that he couldn’t care less about a child being raped (and not that he is concerned about inevitable public relations ramifications on Sandusky’s reputation and The Second Mile charity for an episode which didn’t seem like a big deal, or that this decision couldn't be misinterpreted in hindsight, which of course we all know now could never happen).
Oddly, the Penn State cover up takes a seemingly bizarre turn when they also decide that they will report this episode to Jerry’s boss, The Second Mile charity. This meant they were putting The Second Mile under a profound obligation to report Jerry, or at least get rid of him, if the allegations were criminal. This is unless of course The Second Mile was in on the cover-up, something no one involved has alleged and for which, despite a massive investigation and huge publicity surrounding the case, there is not even one shred of direct evidence supporting that conclusion.
However, it's perfectly fine if you still want to publicly blame The Second Mile because no one has a vested interest in defending them publicly any more. Though, if they were in on the cover-up they have to be the first organization in the history of man, to engage in what would have to be a massive conspiracy, be disbanded, and, despite a huge media thirst to make a hero out of anyone who might be the whistleblower, still have every single person keep totally silent. This should be called, "Co-conspirator Compliance."
Perhaps Penn State lies to The Second Mile about what McQueary had reported. After all, something like that could never get back to them in a small town like State College and since The Second Mile already knows Allan Myers very well, there is no chance that they might find out what really occurred and then turn it back on Penn State (but wouldn’t Curley have at least bothered to call Allan Myers if he was at all concerned about going this route? Hmmmm).
Regardless, how Penn State thought this path would help with the cover-up is still more than a bit confusing, but it is one of many areas of this story which the news media seem to have cordoned off with a “Do Not Enter” sign. How there is a cover-up at Penn State but not at the closely connected The Second Mile is a bit perplexing, but I am sure they know best and would never purposely ignore an important fact just because it contradicted their entire narrative.
We should trust them. After all, many of them are famous-ish.
Now clearly having dodged a second bullet from Penn State, Sandusky plays it very safe for the next several years (wait, didn’t his book indicate he wanted to get caught?!) with no more incidents being brought to anyone’s immediate attention.
Allan Myers for some reason asks Jerry to stand in as his father for his senior football game and to speak at his high school graduation which, obviously because he is afraid of Myers reporting him, Sandusky indeed does. Allan even ends up living with the Sanduskys for three months while attending Penn State and drives over ten hours to attend the funeral of Jerry’s mother. He even invites Jerry and Dottie to his wedding (bizarrely, the picture of Jerry and Allan together from that event is used in the internet version of Sandusky’s retirement letter from The Second Mile, which must have been more of Jerry just trying to finally get caught).
“Victim compliance” is apparently the most powerful force in the universe and is obviously not to be questioned by non “experts.”
After the McQueary episode the only apparent “incident” for the next several years will involve a boy later known as Victim #5. This happens later in 2001 (or maybe 2002), but does not involve a “sex” act. The fact that this person originally testified that it occurred in 1998 and at trial still didn’t seem to have a clue when it actually occurred, and that the prosecution (as well as his lawyer) had a huge incentive for it to have happened after McQueary, are all irrelevant coincidences. Jerry and Dottie Sandusky are both just lying when they say they are positive that Jerry never took another boy into the Penn State lockers after Tim Curley spoke with him in 2001.
In 2005, Ray Gricar, the district attorney who decided not to press charges against Sandusky in 1998, goes missing and is presumed dead. Even though 1998 was a non issue, there are times when it is convenient to imply that Gricar’s death somehow had something to do with Sandusky (after all, it gives the whole cover-up theory a lot more bite). However, actually making a remotely logically or evidence-based connection to anything related to Penn State or Sandusky just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort and neither the OAG nor Louis Freeh even try, presumably because this possibility wasn’t salacious enough.
Finally, after either quite a lull in his sexual abuse activities or a ratcheting up of the efforts of both Penn State and The Second Mile to keep Sandusky’s crimes under wraps (while there isn’t even one allegation of any sort of a payoff, except for possibly Penn State football tickets during a time period when they weren’t very good, there was, of course, the murdering of the district attorney), an accuser starts to come forward against Sandusky in 2008.
At the age of 64, for first time in his life, someone is claiming that Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted them.