More on the Penn State Scandal

I just a little fixated on this story now. I think the thing that just won’t let me go of it is that so very many people had to know something was hinky, so very many people did know something was hinky, and on and on and on it went. And I do not believe for a second that the first victim we know about is the first victim. I just don’t. People don’t start molesting kids in their 50s.

But one of the other things that fascinates me is, again, that stain of evil. It’s not just the overt evil acts. It’s the corruption that comes with it.

On the second page of this story in the New York Times, it says,

According to a person with knowledge of the 2002 episode, the graduate student who made the report — first to Paterno and later to Curley and others — is Mike McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback who now serves as a senior assistant to Paterno.

Here are the questions I have now. How does McQueary have any assurance that he has his job because he was best suited for it and not because he was being rewarded for not rocking the boat too much? How does anyone in the Penn State community have that assurance? We’re supposed to believe that McQueary saw a dude raping a child, was so upset about it that he called his dad, reported it to Paterno personally, and then never mentioned it again? Never, in his position as senior assistant to Paterno said “Penn State, don’t let that evil fuck host his football caps here?” Or said to his boss, “Joe, you’ve got to keep that evil fuck away from kids.” Or anything? It never, ever came up again?

I understand completely how you, as a graduate assistant, freak the fuck out and don’t think to call the police. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, but I understand how it happens. How do you take a job with an organization you know covers for a child-raper?

How do you feel remotely okay about letting ANY young people put their safety and well-being into the hands of people you know for a fact don’t care enough about the children their colleague raped to even call the police? To try to find the children?

The callousness of it is just stunning. McQueary is one of the people who actually tried to do something right and this is how this evil bullshit taints him.

I can’t help but wonder what else is rippling through the community that we just don’t know about. Yet.

17 thoughts on “More on the Penn State Scandal

  1. It disturbs me that the people who witnessed what was going on, decided the best response was to tell someone in authority rather than taking matters into their own hands. Yeah, we are supposed to be a nation of laws and there are Proper Channels to go through, blah blah blah.

    But this is child rape.

    If you saw a ten year old child getting raped at your place of employment, do you:
    a) file a complaint with the rapist’s supervisor;
    b) continue mopping the floor and pretend like you didn’t see anything;
    c) take an active role in stopping the crime against a child being committed RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU?

  2. I’m willing to let the janitor off the hook for now based on the grand jury report, because it sounds like he may have suffered some kind of mental breakdown upon witnessing it. If your brain is just like “And now I shut off,” there’s not a lot you can do.

    But I do wonder why a young ex-quarterback didn’t try to drop a 50 year old man.

  3. Exactly. I’ll cut Jim the Janitor a break. But the rest of them? Even if you take crippling Sandusky with a baseball bat out of the equation, why would you not get in his face with “I know what you’re doing and if I see you anywhere near a kid again, you will eat through a tube for the rest of your life.”

    This whole thing reminds me of the Catholic Church scandal with JoePa as Pope.

  4. Not to go into too much detail but when I was younger I caught someone I knew molesting someone else I knew. The molester was male, much larger than me. (I was a kid.) I flew into an unholy rage of kicking and clawing and scratching and screaming and biting. I didn’t care that the rapist was someone everyone respected, someone twice my size.

    To this day I cannot understand how anyone–especially a grown person–would just walk away from such a sight.

  5. I think I am not that brave. I’d like to believe that I am and sometimes I do stuff that surprises me–like berating the dude who approached us for money outside of the Indian restaurant–but I think I’m probably a coward.

    And I guess that’s the other thing that really bothers me about this story. I think and hope I’d act if I saw it (unless i just completely broke down). But, if I really, really needed the job and I just heard about it?

    I don’t know. It really bothers me to think of where the line when my convictions and my pocket book part ways is. How sure would I have to be before it made me act?

    But I also hope that KNOWING that I’m a coward and that my first instinct would be to not act would make me compensate for that. I don’t know. It really bothers me.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I do understand how someone could just walk away from that sight and it scares me.

  6. I think, truly, it may be easier to be brave when you’re 11 and someone else is worrying about your bills.

    And, to be honest, in the workplace you can hear a lot of rumours. Not all of them are as egregious as “X is raping little kids”, but a lot of them are things that people would like to think they’d respond to. Like “Y is an alcoholic who beats his girlfriend.” But when you’ve got a job you actually like in an economy where such things are rare I can kind of get how a person would not want to stake it all on what seems at the time like it could just be malicious gossip.

  7. This may be my inner Jimmy McNulty talking, but nothing makes me happier than seeing people with power and authority taken down by water cooler talk.

  8. I think there are many more victims.

    I do think the principal at victim 8’s high school did the right thing. He banned Sandusky from the school grounds and reported the mother’s concerns to the police, which launched the investigation.

    I think there are times in life when it’s a good idea to go straight to the top/outside of the hierarchy. If I walked in on a grown man raping a child, I would stop the attack, get the child to safety, and call 911. I would not bother with reporting the event to my supervisor.

  9. I guess I live a lot closer to the edge than I thought, B. Because if I witnessed something like this, The Rage Monster would take over and there would be nothing left in my brain until the big person was on the ground, not moving anymore, and the child was wrapped in a big soft blanket, waiting with me for the police to come. Calling The Snoopervisor? Wouldn’t even be a consideration.

    That obviously would traumatize the poor child even more, though. What’s worse — being assaulted and having nobody help you, or being assaulted and have your attacker beaten to death before your eyes by some big-ass avenging angel? (I seem to recall your magnificent “The Witch’s Friend” addressing this.) I don’t quite know how to reconcile this within myself. I guess I have to hope the situation never arises, because I know how it would end.

    If I just *heard* about it, though … well, my journo training would make me push hard to get the facts to the right people and THEN push them hard to do something about it. I couldn’t let that lie, either, but I also wouldn’t let The Rage Monster take over in that situation.

    I have to wonder now how long Paterno yeah-yeahed it and how long he told folks “it’s been handled.” He *had* to have been doing that. He HAD to. You cannot tell me that McQueary reported it to him and then worked for him all this time without saying, “Wow, Coach, I’m so glad you fixed that situation with Sandusky so no more little kids are being hurt. That was bad.” And Paterno looked at McQueary with a straight face and said, “You bet, son”?

    Thank you for keeping this discussion alive. As I said before, those who protected this monster are monsters themselves, and they must be treated as such.

  10. And BTW, B, I don’t believe you’re a “coward” at all. (For many, many reasons!) You may be cautious about applying the whoop-ass to someone who insults or threatens you, but I suspect you would not hesitate to get all up in the face of someone harming or about to harm a child.

    We don’t have to have borne children to go all Momma Grizzly on those who mean them harm. I think that’s just human nature. Some, like Ms. Coble, even possessed the Mama Grizzly instinct as baby bears themselves.


  11. Grandefille, I’m sure Paterno said just those things. I’m also sure he hinted very, very strongly when McQueary first came to him that if McQueary went public (to police, press, the provost, etc.) with any of what he had seen then he, Paterno, would make sure that McQueary was never permitted to finish his degree, would never work in athletics, would never work in an academic field, and would be blackballed in whatever job he ever tried to get. And if it didn’t play out exactly that way, it’s because McQueary was aware of someone who had tried to do something about Sandusky earlier and had had just those things done to him. We are thinking about the carrot dangled in front of McQ to get him to hold his tongue, but I’m pretty sure there had to have been a big stick threatening him, as well.

  12. nm, if that turns out to be the case, I don’t care how old he is. Rage Monster may just get on a plane to Piitsburgh and put a volunteer hurtin’ on a mangy old lion.

  13. See what I mean? I’m so enraged already that I’ve lost my knowledge of U.S. geography. Maybe I can just punch him out when he comes within driving distance on the inevitable book tour: “I Knew Nothing, and Even If I Did, I’m Paterno, So Shaddap, You.” Grr.

  14. Abusers are *extremely* good at using social pressure to isolate both victims and witnesses – Paterno manipulated and created a situation where people wouldn’t act against him, and I think it’s deeply unfair to whole-heartedly blame a grad students whose entire future depends on this man. Should McQueary have acted differently? Of course he should. But he is also a victim of Paterno’s horrible system – Paterno had power over him. It’s very easy to say “I would do better” when you’re not in that situation.

    A man in my very small town went to jail last month for abusing three generations of his own female (and a few young male) relatives. Not one of them spoke out for 54 years – the one who did had moved away with her mother, who was not related to the abuser. Then it all came out, and all the victims said they thought it was just them; a few had witnessed abuse of their own kids and were persuaded it wouldn’t happen again, or to let him abuse them instead. It’s very difficult to blame them, and I suspect McQueary was in a similarly pressured situation.

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