By LEE ROBERTS
When Louis Freeh read his report to the media and the public, he blamed Penn State University, Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz for not stopping Jerry Sandusky. The real question is: Where were the parents, the schools, teachers, the counselors and other coaches of these children and why didn't they take action?
We know there were at least 10 children that were sexually assaulted by Sandusky and probably 100 more that we don't know. Presumably, these children had parents, teachers, counselors and other coaches and organizations that were watching out for their welfare and interest. Sandusky was dealing with these children on a daily basis in front of these people and when they observed this constant irregular behavior and the change in behavior of the children, why didn't they take action and contact the police or other authorities? Penn State, at best, had indirect contact with two of these children that they never met and one of whom remains unidentified. It is known only two parents took action: The parent of the child from the 1998 incident and the parent of a child at Central Mountain High School in Lock Haven. How could these people stand by and watch an unusual relationship between a young child and an adult male take place without questioning what was happening, where it was happening, why it was happening and how it was happening? Sandusky was able to fool not only Penn State affiliates, but all of those that were closest to each child!
If Penn State is responsible for a cover-up, so are those other people.
Freeh ignored the responsibility and obligations of these other people and placed the blame on Penn State, Paterno et al. He failed to acknowledge and emphasize in his report the incident from 1998 was reported to the State College Police and District Attorney, Ray Gricar. Gricar did a probe by placing two policemen in the house of the mother when Sandusky came to discuss the situation about her child. After these policeman listened, secretly, to the conversation between the mother and Sandusky, and after conferring with District Attorney Gricar, it was determined that there was no case that was provable or could be pursued. Freeh indicated Paterno and others knew about this 1998 incident and failed to take any action. What action should Paterno have taken? Should Paterno have ordered the District Attorney to arrest Sandusky and pursue a case the D.A. felt he could not prove? What other action could anyone have taken after the district attorney made his investigation and determined no case could be pursued? Is the DA part of the cover-up?
In 2001, Mike McQueary reported there was a sexual assault on a young boy in the football shower room at Penn State. He reported this the next day to Paterno and Paterno immediately reported it to Schultz and Curly. Apparently, they reported it to Spanier. The current governor, Tom Corbett, was the attorney general at the time and began an investigation when he learned of McQueary's comments. If the statement of McQueary was believable and truthful, Corbett had immediate probable cause to arrest Sandusky. If it was questionable, then Corbett needed to do further investigation. It took Corbett three years to seek an arrest of Sandusky. Thus, either the statements of McQueary were not as definite and believable as Freeh would have you believe or Corbett was guilty of allowing Sandusky to continue his sexual assaults for three years when he should have stopped him. If we follow the reasoning of the Freeh report, Corbett was engaged in a cover up just as much as anyone at Penn State.
As a practicing civil litigation attorney for approximately 40 years as a graduate of Penn State and University of Pittsburgh, I have become aware that there are always more sides to the story than the prosecution. There is usually a prosecution, a defense, a judge and a jury, all of which have different viewpoints and different perspectives. In the case of Penn State, Freeh has been declared the prosecutor, defense, the judge and the jury and his report has been scooped up by the media and the public as absolute evidence of negligence on the part of Penn State.
All good trial lawyers know when they want to prove a case, they hire an expert with the greatest credentials possible to advocate for their position. Freeh, being a former federal judge and the head of the FBI, has absolute credentials. The trustees knew and Freeh knew, when he was hired, the trustees had fired one the greatest football coaches and humanitarians that has ever walked the face of the earth, Paterno. They also knew they had fired the president of a major university, Graham Spanier. By blaming Paterno, Spanier, Schultz and Curly for a cover up and failing to take action, Freeh served his client well and justified the actions of the trustees in terminating these individuals. Freeh did what he was paid to do; he protected the Penn State board of trustees.
A close reading of his report shows he had no clear or definite proof of the existence of a cover up in any fashion, yet he chose to make numerous "leaps of faith" and concluded with certainty it was these four individuals and Penn State that were guilty.
In hindsight, there is no question Penn State and these four individuals could have done more, but if the media and the public wants to cast blame, place it on everyone and anyone that had daily contact with these children and stood by idly, on a daily basis, while Sandusky raped these children. A child's activities and attitudes begin and end with family, friends, school, counselors, teachers and coaches, and if these individuals were fooled by Sandusky, then it is likely Penn State was also fooled.
Remember, Paterno and Spanier have done more for the good reputation of Penn State than the Board of Trustees have ever done. Let's not hang them for the faults of Sandusky.
Roberts is a practicing civil litigation attorney in Lock Haven.