Back in January, on the morning of Joe Paterno’s death, I did what many others did. I packed my two young children into the car and began a trip to State College, PA, with no real explanation of why. I wanted to visit the statue to mourn with you, Nittany Nation. During that four hour (one way) trip, I encountered more anguish than I anticipated. As it turns out, my young daughter gets car-sick. Twice, to be exact. We found ourselves at a Walmart on 322, shopping for a new shirt, and coat.
When we finally arrived at Beaver Stadium, my kids’ first visit, it was extremely cold and I knew that it would be a short one. I took pictures of my kids in front of the stadium then we proceeded to the statue where dozens of fans, alumni and students stood, not sure what to do next. My son recognized the statue and asked “Daddy, is that ‘Joe-Pop?’” I stood quietly for several minutes before loading the kids back into the car and cranking up the heat, then started the four hour trip back home.
“The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.”
I want that day back. And it devastates me to say that.
I don’t want my son’s first trip to Beaver Stadium to have been in honor of a man who not only could have done more to prevent child abuse, but needed to, and didn’t. Didn’t step in or step up after knowing of multiple accusations against a man who he frequently saw on campus, accompanied by children. Why not? Honestly, it really doesn’t matter why not.
I’ve contested since November that Joe Paterno deserved the benefit of the doubt. Repeated that a man who helped so many people and did so many good things deserved the full truth before judgement, rather than speculation. Today, I believe we have enough of the full truth.
The one thing that really strikes me is that Joe Paterno was told in 1998 about the first incident with Sandusky and Victim 6. Curley said he “touched base” with Joe and later asked “Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” Also, the mother of Victim 6 told Sarah Ganim of the Patriot News that she was told Paterno OK’d not charging Sandusky in ’98. Maybe there wasn’t evidence. All the mother reported was a shower…inappropriate, but maybe not warranting charges. Not enough there to crucify anybody…
Throughout this process, I’ve argued that it is certainly feasible a man in his mid 70′s, born in the 1920′s, could have had a hard time wrapping his head around child molestation between two males, especially by a colleague of over 20 years, when he was told about it in 2001 by Mike McQuery. Now, knowing that he was in fact aware of the accusations in 1998, I must change my stance on that.
In 1999, Sandusky took Victim 4 to the Alamo Bowl, where he sexually assaulted him in the team hotel.
In 2000, Sandusky sexually assaults Victim 8 in the Lasch shower.
In 2001, McQueary witnessed Sandusky in shower with Victim 2. He reports incident to Joe Paterno.
At that time, McQueary had known Paterno for nearly a decade. He played quarterback for the coach before joining as a graduate assistant shortly after his time at Penn State. One could come to the conclusion that Joe trusted and respected Mike McQueary.
“You did what you had to do. It’s my job now to figure out what we want to do.”- JVP
This is where the excuses end.
I understand chain of command and the process taken by schools across the country when child abuse is involved. I get that and have used it as a defense over the past months. If Joe knew about the incident in 1998, and he did, then was told by a trusted colleague in 2001 of Sandusky and Victim 2, all discussions and processes go out the window. The time for “figuring out” is gone.