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Charlie's Books
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Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

They were Penn State ...


Although I chimed in at a few blog sites over this story, I purposely avoided blogging about it until today. I have been a Joe Paterno fan for a long time. I have been a Penn State fan for a long time. I’m also, as most of yous know, a huge football fan. I sport a silly Buffalo Bills logo on one of my arms and have a casual dress wardrobe consisting of 95% Buffalo Bills attire. And, yes, even my wallet is a Buffalo Bills wallet.

And yes, it’s silly.

What happened at Penn State over the course of anywhere from 1994-1998-2002-2011 is anything but silly (if, in fact, those dates are accurate--they could well be outdated by the time I post this blog). You can read about the Sandusky/Penn State timeline here (it is ominous).

Unfortunately, this appears to have been, and I have no doubt it was, yet another corporate cover-up; men in charge of a very wealthy institution protecting a brand above the welfare of innocent kids (those we know about and those we probably never will know about).

Jerry Sandusky is what he is, a pedophile, pure and simple. How he got away with so much rape and sexual abuse was facilitated by a community of intelligent men seeking to protect their brand at all costs. Whether they thought he might stop or not is irrelevant. Whether they thought he would go away after his being caught by one of their own (the 28 year old, 6’5” former QB star at Penn State and then graduate assistant) in mid-rape of a boy who “looked to be about 10 years old” is irrelevant. What they didn’t do is what counts.

From the Grand Jury report: As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught.

What happened next: The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen. His father told the graduate assistant to leave the building and come to his home. The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to promptly report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno ("Paterno"), head football coach of Penn State. The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home, where he reported what he had seen.

Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant's report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley ("Curley"), Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno's immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.

Why the graduate assistant didn’t stop the rape, we can safely assume, had much more to do with his future than anything else. He was, after all, eventually hired as a paid assistant coach on the Penn State staff. Until today, he wasn’t even “on leave.”

The grand jury report is horrific to read. What is at least equally horrific was the handling of this pedophile by the football head coach and the university. What we can read thus far is that Jerry Sandusky retired in 1999, one year after winning an Assistant Coach of the Year award (an award that would enable him to take most head coaching jobs at other schools, or an uptick to the NFL--he coached the linebackers and Penn State is known as “Linebacker U.”) Why he left so suddenly might have a lot more to do with a charge brought to the campus police in 1998 from the mother of Victims 4-6 (in the Grand Jury report). That “retirement” appears to have been a deal unless you choose not to see it that way. If you’re Jerry Sandusky, it appears to have been a pretty good deal, since essentially nothing happened to him in any way shape or form. He was only 55, relatively young for a football coach. You can read about his abrupt retirement here.

Again from the Grand Jury report: Detective Schreffler testified that he and State College Police Department Detective Ralph Ralston, with the consent of the mother of Victim 6, eavesdropped on two conversations the mother of Victim 6 had with Sandusky on May 13, 1998, and May 19, 1998. The mother of Victim 6 confronted Sandusky about showering with her son, the effect it had on her son, whether Sandusky had sexual feelings when he hugged her naked son in the shower and where Victim 6's buttocks were when Sandusky hugged him Sandusky said he had showered with other boys and Victim 6's mother tried to make Sandusky promise never to shower with a boy again but he would not. She asked him if his "private parts" touched Victim 6 when he bear-hugged him. Sandusky replied, "I don't think so...maybe." At the conclusion of the second conversation, after Sandusky was told he could not see Victim 6 anymore, Sandusky said, "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." Detective Ralston and the mother of Victim 6 confirm these conversations.

Jerry Lauro, an investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, testified that during the 1998 investigation, Sandusky was interviewed on June 1, 1998, by Lauro and Detective Schreffler. Sandusky admitted showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that it was wrong. Detective Schreffler advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and Sandusky said that he would not.

And from Victim #4’s testimoney: Victim 4 stated that Sandusky would wrestle with him and maneuver him into a position in which Sandusky's head was at Victim 4's genitals and Victim 4's head was at Sandusky's genitals. Sandusky would kiss Victim 4's inner thighs and genitals. Victim 4 described Sandusky rubbing his genitals on Victim 4's face and inserting his erect penis in Victim 4's mouth. There were occasions when this would result in Sandusky ejaculating. He testified that Sandusky also attempted to penetrate Victim 4's anus with both a finger and his penis. There was slight penetration and Victim 4 resisted these attempts.

The Grand Jury report is available everywhere and it provides an ugly and graphic image of what pedophiles do; their Modus Operandi (which is incredibly similar between all the victims) and their inability to control themselves.

Where does Joe Paterno fit in all this? If you chose to ignore his own admission of guilt in not doing enough (“I wish I had done more”), perhaps you can excuse him for looking the other way. Joe Paterno was Penn State, but let’s make him much less than his iconic image as the most immaculate football coach of all time. Let’s just make him a head football coach ... or a graduate assistant ... or a janitor (like the one who also witnessed Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy but was too afraid of losing his job to go further than telling his co-workers and supervisor about it--that too is in the grand jury report).

It is the cumulative inaction of the graduate assistant, the head coach and the janitor (aside from university officials notified from as early as 1998) that permitted a known pedophile to continue abusing young boys, but there is no doubt it was the head coach’s responsibility to make sure Sandusky's actions were exposed the moment he was alerted.

The Graduate Assistant in a more confident moment?

Why Paterno chose to go with legal protocol over the morally right thing to do has much more to do with protecting the brand (the program, his legacy and the university) than it has to do with him being a bad man. I doubt Joe Paterno is a bad man at all, but I have no doubt that his inaction in this situation was based on his prioritization of the program/his legacy and the university above the welfare of innocent kids.

So, yes, he should’ve been fired. That should’ve happened a few minutes after this grand jury report was made public. The graduate assistant (and receivers coach, Mike McQueary) should’ve been fired a half second after Paterno. McQueary is probably the hardest person in this entire fiasco to understand--how he could leave the premises where he witnessed a boy who looked to be about 10 years old being raped to call his daddy is beyond incredulous.

I suspect there will be a lot more Penn State officials (and coaches) who should be filing for unemployment and we’ll learn about them as this investigation continues. I doubt the two pieces of shit (Tim Curley and Gary Schultz) arrested for perjury will ever do any time, but they should. Ultimately, at least by official protocol, they were most responsible to do something other than cover up the crimes of rape going on in their own backyard.

Ultimately this scandal was all about protecting the institution and its program above the welfare of innocent kids, but let’s face it, that’s usually the case when lives are counterbalanced against money. Penn State football is worth more than $50 million a year to the university. Hopefully, this scandal will cost them ten times that amount.

Penn State will be rocked hard for this one. As I understand it, a few high school star athletes have already rescinded their letters of intent to play there. Why should they attend Penn State? They won’t have Joe Pa. They won’t have much respect choosing Penn State and they won’t know how much further this scandal will grow (or whether or not the program will be suspended, etc.). All of that was avoidable had one of the many involved in the cover-up done the right thing.

The recruiting exodus from Penn State will not be so easy to undo over the coming years.

Two columns this week in the New York Times were pretty consistent with what I’ve heard so many people say in person. One, between Gail Collins and David Brooks, deals with conflicting gender responses; some women want to see the program put to sleep, at least for a while, while men want to punish those responsible, but not the kids playing the games. The other article is by Maureen Dowd and it speaks to the shame of what happened at Penn State.

Dowd’s article contains this bit of irony I didn’t know of until I read her. Prosecutors suggest that the former coach, whose memoir is ironically titled “Touched,” founded the charity as a way to ensnare boys. They have charged Sandusky, now 67, with sexually assaulting eight boys he met there.

No music today, Amici. I wasn’t even supposed to blog about this because of how backed up I am on other projects/reviews, etc.

I will be posting a review here of Ed Gorman’s book, Bad Moon Rising next week. Patti Abott’s site will post a review of mine on John McFetridge’s Let It Ride ... and then I have a few dozen others to catch up with (Road Rules, The Suburbs of Heaven, etc.) ... a play to finish writing, a novel to address, and some short stories coming out of my ears but currently not landing anywhere.

And yes, that “stories coming out of my ears” was a segue for the Doc to go wild with ... although since his party of political choice seems to be coming apart at the lips, he has gone a bit silent.