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Wednesday, November 09, 2011
New Sports Illustrated Column: Did Joe Paterno Break the law???

Joe Paterno is out as head coach of Penn State.  I have a new column for Sports Illustrated on the possibility he will face criminal charges and tort claims.  Here's an excerpt:

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These inconsistencies related to Paterno's and McQueary's statements about "Victim 2" in the grand jury's statement of facts. According to the grand jury's findings of fact, McQueary detailed how in 2002 he saw a naked Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the showers in the Penn State football locker room. McQueary also testified that he told Paterno what he saw the following day, though it isn't clear from McQueary's testimony how explicit he was in his description to Paterno.
After hearing from McQueary, Paterno alerted athletic director Tim Curley. Yet instead of relaying what McQueary claims to have told him, Paterno conveyed a milder and vaguer description. Specifically, Paterno testified under oath that McQueary had said that Sandusky was engaged in fondling or "doing something of a sexual nature" to a boy.

To be sure, the phrase "doing something of a sexual nature" technically includes forcibly subjecting a child to anal intercourse, meaning Paterno may have been more evasive than untruthful. Then again, Paterno's hazy choice of words could encompass a band of sexual acts, from raping a 10-year-old boy to inappropriately touching or patting a child, that ranges too widely in heinousness to be deemed consistent with McQueary's allegedly more specific statements. The phrase unnecessarily imports ambiguity and generality where none had existed, and dubiously invites the listener -- Curley -- to assign a lack of severity to the incident. From that lens, Paterno appears to have told Curley a different account than what McQueary had told him.
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To read the rest, click here.


Michael, thank you for your post. Regarding your article the ambiguity seems to be around the transmission of information between the witness to the shower assault in 2002, Mike McQueary and Coach Paterno.
Mike McQueary's testimony is termed "extremely credible" in the Grand Jury report (page 8, last paragraph.) Since 2002, Mike McQueary appears to have kept quite and received the professional benefits of promotion within the organization he protected. As a lay person, I find his personal failures henious and his retention disturbing. McQueary is curently listed as a Recruitng Coordinator at PSU.
Tragically, he chose not intervene in the assault he witnessed. Prior to talking with Coach Paterno about the incident he consulted with his father, ( a practicing Physician Assistant-at the time serving as an Administrative Director of a medical practice in State College, Pa.) It seems both Mike and his father each had professional obligations to report the crime. Mike's obligations may be legally limited to reporting to Coach Paterno. Seemingly, an argument seems to exist that his father may have some culpability even under the older Pennsylvania statues?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 11/10/2011 3:28 AM  

Michael, thank you for the post. Regarding your article, it seems the ambiguity resides on the transference of information between Mike McQueary and Coach Paterno.

The Grand Jury report terms then (2002) Graduate Assistant, Mike McQueary's eyewitness testimony ( rape of victim #2)as "extremely credible"( last paragraph page 8.) Yet, he chose not to intervene in the assault, nor call the police. Instead he immediately called his father a respected medical practitioner and Administrative Direcor in State College, PA
It seems Mike McQueary's legal responsibility has been assumed to have been transferred to Coach Paterno following their conversation. I consider his behavior cowardly and the fact that he kept quite and then received promotions within the organization is reprehensible. However, my question concerns his conversation with his father. Even under the former Pennsylvania Statutes it seems his father may have had some reporting responsibilities pertaining to his failure to notify?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 11/10/2011 8:39 AM  

This is so disturbing. It's just sickening.

And the response of the Penn State students to the firing is pretty pathetic as well. It shows how distorted our values have become.

When I was in college we protested about civil rights and the war in Vietnam, not the firing of a football coach, whom any impartial person would agree should have been fired.

I'm afraid this just feeds into the stereotype that our public universities are full of kids who maybe spend more time drinking and partying than using their brains. I hope some of the more enlightened students at Penn State will stage a counter protest.

In the meantime, McQueary and Curley need to go, ASAP.

Blogger Will -- 11/11/2011 12:25 AM  

First of all thanks Micheal to post such as a informative post. Keep it up.

Blogger raju ahamad -- 11/11/2011 4:42 AM  

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