Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More reason to withhold judgment on Paterno?

New developments in Penn State sex abuse case
To summarize my previous blog post on the Penn State abuse scandal (Joe Paterno: Scapegoat?):

In 2002, Mike McQueary, then graduate assistant at Penn State University was said in a Grand Jury Report to have witnessed Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach, raping a 10 year old boy in the campus showers. The report said McQueary first contacted his own father, and then Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno the next day. The following day, a Sunday, Paterno took the matter to the Athletic Director Tim Curley who conducted an investigation with Senior Finance VP Gary Schultz. Paterno has come under tremendous fire from various news media sources and angry combox contributers throughout the internet for not reporting the incident to on-campus police or public authorities based on McQueary's testimony. My general sentiments as of Friday, as seen in the link above, were to give pause and not incriminate Paterno based on a variety of facts, including what information Paterno was basing his decisions at the time.

Now, let's continue our thought exercise prior to formulating opinions, if we should even choose to formulate an opinion on this matter. I still think those who are harshly condemning Paterno as an accomplice to sex abuse cover-up are still making that claim in the absence of incriminating evidence.

Earlier today, an email from McQueary was leaked (which is another story altogether) to the public. The email is dated Nov. 8. In it, McQueary comments on the 2002 shower incident:
I did stop it, not physically ... but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room ... I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police .... no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds ... trust me.
As has been noted elsewhere in the media, the Grand Jury Report denies that McQueary spoke with on-campus police. It stated:
[T]he graduate assistant was never questioned by University Police and no other entity conducted an investigation until he testified in Grand Jury in December 2010.
Regarding Paterno, consider the following. If McQueary had spoken to on-campus police, and Paterno knew this fact, and yet went to the AD in addition to McQueary's interaction with on-campus police, then it would seem those who have condemned Paterno for keeping this from police officials of any kind have rushed to judgment and owe Paterno an apology.

On the other hand, let's say McQueary's email is inaccurate and the Grand Jury Report is accurate. Assume McQueary did not speak with on-campus police. Then we move onto the next statement in the email. McQueary says he also spoke "with the official at the university in charge of on-campus police." According to the New York Daily News, the on-campus police supervisor was Gary Schultz, the SVP of Finance, who looked into the matter with AD Curley according to the Grand Jury Report. If Paterno was aware that the supervisor of on-campus police was involved in the investigation, then, again, those who criticized Paterno for deliberately not involving any police officials are mistaken and owe Paterno an apology because the supervisor of on-campus police was already involved.

On first hearing about the email, I thought that skeptics might quickly say it was just Paterno or his supporters coercing McQueary to drum up evidence after the fact. However, McQueary's email is dated November 8, two days before Paterno was fired by Penn State. In the email, McQueary also states he was told by "officials to not say anything." It is unclear if that is a reference to officials at Penn State or otherwise. If this email is authentic, is it more of an indicator that Paterno was used as a scapegoat?

Meanwhile, Sandusky has claimed innocence in a television interview. And his lawyer spoke confidently that the identified victim in the 2002 case has denied being abused by Sandusky.

The matter of justice

Remember, in the last post, I cited the Catechism and the essential meaning of justice:
Justice - The cardinal moral virtue which consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and to neighbor. (CCC glossary)
I think this principle should be the driving force of a good Catholic, or anyone who seeks to formulate just opinions when they speak of others, or even interact with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. I saw a decent article over the weekend from November 11 that I think leant itself well to that principle.

Christine M. Flowers, an attorney, wrote the article Back off from Joe Paterno: It's too soon, and unfair, to rush to trash his legacy. She makes it clear that she would be ready to recognize that if it was found out that Paterno was negligent of permitting child abuse to occur, that "God would probably mete out a stiffer sentence than the good people of the Keystone State" on him. However, she does not believe there is enough evidence at this time to incriminate Paterno.

As evidence of Paterno's character, she cited a 2007 incident.
Back in 2007, a member of the Nittany Lions squad was charged with raping a Penn State coed. Austin Scott was ultimately acquitted, and, of course, nothing happened to the woman who accused him. Scott, on the other hand, was kicked off the football team by Paterno. That's because the coach has a very strict sense of what is moral and ethical, which gives us some idea about whether he would have knowingly ignored evidence of sexual molestation.
Now a person's behavior at one time does not automatically reveal what his behavior was at another time. Yet I think Flowers' point stands here. There is reason to give pause. Combox comments from when this story first broke like "[Paterno] has shown to be a failure morally and only did the legally correct thing to protect HIMSELF!!!!" seem unwarranted based on the evidence publicly known. Is it not proper to give neighbors their "due"?

EDIT 11/17/11: Attorney Anthony Collelouri on November 8 also brought up the fact that Schultz was the on-campus police supervisor, and presented a legal and ethical defense of Paterno.


  1. What do you think of the latest revelations regarding Paterno's knowledge of Sandusky's sodomy?

  2. What revelation are you referring to?
    And as I said earlier, it would appear that the supervisor of campus police, Gary Schultz, was already involved, contrary to original stories that said Paterno looked the other way and didn't even report it to campus police.