By Ray Blehar
NOVEMBER 10, 2012, PITTSBURGH, PA: During the panel discussion at Franco's Town Hall, long time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter, Gene Collier, admitted that CYS and DPW failed in 1998. The discussion followed presentations by Eileen Morgan and this writer, who covered the 1998 incident from a legal and evidentiary basis and in terms of investigative quality, respectively.
"We've seen tons of convincing evidence here about the Centre County child youth services office, the Department of Public Welfare -- they're all part of the culture that doesn't want to find things out about someone like Jerry Sandusky," said Gene Collier.
Panelist Bob Dvorchak, co-author of Game Over, stated, "These are the kind of crimes that are invisible. They happen right in front of you and you don't see them. These people operate in secrecy. They project an image, a personality, whatever you call it, it's a perfect cover. They're camoflaged. Sandusky was a saint. He was the male Mother Theresa of Central Pennsylvania until we found out he wasn't." Quite an ironic statement considering Game Over was about the culture at Penn State and the alleged cover-up.
In response to John Ziegler's remark that media was promoting a false narrative, Collier stated, "You're very anxious to show the failings of DPW, CCYS....and they should be. They should be held to the fire because they failed these kids."
Panelist Rob Tribeck, a PSU graduate and attorney associated with PS4RS said, "What we're saying is the the trained professionals failed these kids - what about the people at Second Mile?"
Collier replied, "I agree with that."
Tribeck added, "The very people who are trained to investigate these kinds of people, investigated this in 1998 and let them walk out the door." He asked, "How is that not the story here?"
PSU Board of Trustee member, Anthony Lubrano, stated "we (Penn State) are the lead, and we're going to take it to a level that has never been before seen and, at some point, we are going to be very proud of that accomplishment....but we want to know what happened, how did it happen? An inflammatory grand jury presentment that we know now was untrue and borders on prosecutorial misconduct? An organization responsible for the safety of these young children -- how are they not being held responsible. Public organizations like child youth services and DPW, why aren't they being held responsible? Why is it all Penn State?
Writers Weigh In on NCAA SanctionsAs the topic turned to the NCAA sanctions, Gene Collier opined, "Regarding the NCAA sanctions, the columns I've written on this are at odds with the original columns" that called for the suspension of Penn State football. I think the NCAA sanctions are psychotic."
"They pull out this sixty million dollar figure from the air, why not a billion? Mark Emmert said that he admires the Freeh Report. They vacate wins, Joe Paterno wins, back to 1998 when I think most of us would agree that 25 percent of Joe's wins or more were achieved against schools that were cheating like hell. This is the NCAA overlooking itself and saying Penn State is dirty. I mean it's preposterous."
Bob Dvorchak, stated, in response to a question on vacating Joe's wins: "I can't speak for the NCAA. I've heard their reasons and much as you have. I think they picked '98 because that is when an investigation was first done. How can vacating the victories of a coach or the players on the field helped to relieve to resolve this issue - I'm still at a loss to explain that."
Collier later stated, "I don't think the football program gave Jerry Sandusky unfettered access to the university. I think Old Main did that. So I think it's still a Penn State scandal."
But not a Penn State football or athletics scandal.