Monday, July 8

Mark Dent's Hatchet Job

The e-mail exchange I had with Mark Dent proves that the piece Dent wrote was an intentional hatchet job and it was illogical to boot.

Ray Blehar

My brother sent me a text message yesterday, while I was traveling back from Mississippi, that I had made the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  I returned the text with a question "About Franco?"

I then pulled up the story to read the highly inaccurate account of the information I relayed to Mark Dent around Memorial Day of this year.  It read as follows:

In State College, Mr. Blehar attempted to discredit the testimony of some of Sandusky's victims, saying they exaggerated how small and young they were when they were sexually violated by Sandusky. In a later email exchange, Mr. Blehar wrote, "[prosecutor Joe] McGettigan coached many of the witnesses into changing their stories." He said his purpose of dissecting their testimony was to draw attention to Pennsylvania's child protective services.

There are numerous inaccuracies in these three sentences - a feat in itself.  

First, and I made this very clear to Mark Dent, I was focusing on the prosecution's manipulation of witness testimony.  Note, that I said witness testimony and not victim testimony.  My presentation in State College also addressed the likely manipulation of the testimony of witnesses Anthony Sassano and Ronald Petrosky. My upcoming report will address manipulation of defense witness testimony as well.

Second, the focus was clearly on the prosecutor's actions, not those of the victims.  Manipulation is commonly done in trials and is more commonly referred to as "leading the witness" or "asking leading questions."  Judge Cleland noted that McGettigan got away with this quite frequently at the trial.

Finally, it does not make sense for a person to discredit victim testimony if their intention is "to draw attention to Pennsylvania's child protection services."

I would like to say I'm surprised that this passage made it by an editor - but I'm not.  This type of journalism and worse has been typical in the reporting on the Sandusky Scandal.

E-mails were quite clear

The following is the e-mail exchange with Mark Dent.  It is clear that Dent, who stated he understood the concept of anchoring, intentionally ignored the entire theme of my State College presentation.

Mark Dent <>
May 23
to rayblehar
Ray,This is Mark Dent of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I'm working on a story about Franco Harris and as part
 of it I'm discussing the Upon Further Review panels that he hosts. I went to the one he had in State College
 last month, and you spoke there. I wanted to ask you something about part of your presentation: At one
 point, you were talking about Victim 4 and discussing his testimony and how the height that he said he
 was was likely inaccurate. You also pointed out that McGettigan called the victims little kids and then you
 showed that the victims were between ages 13-16 for the most part when the abuse took place. Why did
 you choose to dissect these matters? Is there a particular point you are trying to make by pointing this out?
 I didn't quite understand when you were discussing it there.


Ray Blehar 
May 23
to Mark
From the publishing of the grand jury presentment and through the trial, the OAG's communications
were such to "anchor" a narrative in the minds of the public that "little children" were being abused
 on Penn State's campus.  This is a false narrative.

In the first part of the presentation, I showed that based on the trial verdicts over half (24) the crimes
 occurred off campus.  Only 15 counts were specific to PSU's campus.  6 counts (Victim 4) were on
 and off campus.  So, the characterization of these crimes were tied to Sandusky's access to PSU
 facilities - as Louis Freeh claimed - isn't supported by the verdicts.

Near the end, I pointed out how Prosecutor McGettigan coached witnesses into saying they were
 "little kids" and how small and weak they were.   Victim 4 was nearly 14 years old the first time he
 showered with Sandusky - he was not a little kid.  Nor was he four feet tall when he was 14!   Victim 7,
 who was 10 or 11 at the time he met Sandusky, said Sandusky was 3 or 4 times larger than he was.
  Photographs show that not to be the case.  McGettigan suggested to the janitor that the "young boy"
 he saw was waist or chest high.  The janitor corrected him and said the person he saw was shoulder 
height -- a teenager.   If you believe that Victim 2 is the person filing the lawsuit as Victim 2, then he was
 14.5 years old at the time McQueary witnessed the incident in the shower.  Again, Victim 2 was
 characterized as a 10 year old or a pre-pubescent boy.  

Juror Joshua Harper was swayed by McGettigan's tactics at the trial.  Harper said, "It is so offensive to
 corrupt a little boy."  However, as my chart showed, the youngest victims had only one interaction 
with Sandusky (and except for Victim 10, whose story has problems), there were no charges 
of indecent assault in those cases.

McGettigan coached many of the witnesses into changing their stories.  I will cover all of those instances
 in an upcoming report.  And he didn't just coach the victims, but he coached the cop (Sassano) and
 the caseworker (Dershem).

I've enclosed the presentation for your review.


Ray Blehar <r
May 23
to Mark
One other thing -- in our society, crimes against children and the elderly are considered particularly heinous.
  The emphasis on the crimes against Victim 2 and Victim 8 were characterized as such.  The OAG's icing
 on the cake was to include an elderly man, who know suffers from dimentia, as the witness to the V8 crime.   

The Victim 8 crime is rather implausible as testified to by Petrosky.  Petrosky's trial testimony was so
 questionable that I suspect that's why Freeh used the much more believable story from the grand jury
 presentment in his report.

Mark Dent <>
May 24
to me
Ray, I understand what you said about the "anchoring." I was just curious as to why you believe this is
 relevant and what cause you believe this may further?


Ray Blehar <
May 24
to Mark
Its relevant because it deflects attention away from the people who really enabled Sandusky's abuse.
 DPW. CYS, and the Second Mile were at fault, not PSU.  PSU reported the 2001 incident and the report
 was ignored.

Ray Blehar 
May 24
to Mark
The goal is to get the Child Protective Services fixed in the state of Pennsylvania. After the DPW or CYS
 are contacted abuse continues to occur in 50 percent of the cases.

Ray Blehar 
May 24
to Mark
That is based on a 2008 Health and Human Services report of a review of the Department of Public Welfare

The exchange clearly shows that Dent understood many details behind the presentation and had the presentation at his disposal, yet chose to write something that was not only taking the presentation out of context -- but never even mentioned the context, which was "anchoring" nor did he bother to cite any of the facts about Pennsylvania's failing child protection system.

Grace period?

Dent later goes on to state:

But as Penn State continues to move on from the Sandusky scandal and Mr. Harris and his "team" veer further toward personal vendettas and the questioning of Sandusky victims, how long can the grace period endure?

This particular passage was used in transition to the lone voice among former players, Chuck Franzetta, who seems to get a lot of press attention for his support of the Board's decisions on Paterno and the Sandusky scandal.  Apparently, Chuck's questioning of Franco's motives are, according to Mark Dent, a signal that the "grace period" for speaking out against the rush to injustice against Penn State and Paterno is on the horizon.

Dent has that wrong too.

It is only a matter of time before the truth of the scandal is revealed.  

And it will be proven those who are questioning the actions of not only the PSU BOT, but everything and everyone else involved with this scandal are doing so in the best interest of Pennsylvania's children.


  1. Ray, Excellant as usual. Chuck Franzetta really? Never played! Was injured. With all the possible people to interview... Chuck Franzetta? I continue to be amazed by the lack of involvement of the BoT. It seams that they think, over time, this will be over. By the number of people who signed the petition I think it maybe just beginning. I wish I could be more involved but a family situation is taking up most of my summer. Please continue to investigate and infor all of us who believe in Penn State and Joe Paterno and what they have done for all of us.

    1. Bob,
      I'm surprised the relatively unknown Chuck Franzetta has become the "voice of reason" for those who want the truth to be buried!

      And the BOT has no idea that we are in this until the truth is revealed. As Franco said, "We will never give up."

    2. Ray, He was also the one who had his name removed from the list of players who signed in support. I personally feel that everyone thought this would run its course and then be over. Especially non-PSU grads and players. Again thanks for all you guys are doing.

    3. Chuck owns and operates Franzetta & Associates, a supply chain management company located in Boalsburg. List of clients is here
      I wonder if Franzetta has a vested, monetary interest in opposing Franco's efforts and, if so, why Dent would not be quick to point out that conlfict.

  2. I just read the entire Dent article and all the comments to date. Three thoughts: 1) Glad to read you're still gainfully employed, Ray! 2) Remarkable that anyone would ever make claims as to what an entire, very large group thinks about anything. As a true outsider who actually DID NOT know who Joe Paterno was prior to Nov 2011, I questioned everything about this case because it simply made no sense. 3) Please persevere. This is a fascinating story on so many levels. And you are keeping in public view the issue of child victimization, and most important, how we can identify and then stop the abusers.

    1. Becky,
      Thanks for your comments. How anyone with a functioning brain could believe that PSU covered up Sandusky's crimes is fascinating, but unfortunately, all too common.

      I've also heard that some people believe that the relationships between PSU, The Second Mile, and Sandusky were fully investigated and that the investigation didn't find anything.

      Amazing what people have been led to believe.

  3. Dent might claim to know about anchoring, but he's pretty far off on understanding other common cognitive biases.

    Such as: cherry-picking data and sampling bias. If 1000 former players back the Paterno-led suit against the NCAA, and 1 of them (Chuck Franzetta) does not, then by focusing on the single outlier, people like Dent make it seem like a 50-50 split rather than the <<1% that it actually is.

    Part of the entire "equal time" fallacy that journalists blindly follow because they have to appear objective. This is the same logic that would allow the Flat Earth Society equal time to present their findings at an Geological Society meeting. You know - "teach the controversy" rather than focus on the facts.

    1. Excellent points, Jeff.

      Clearly Franzetta's voice is being given more credence than it should be.

      Too bad Dent couldn't locate the former player who donated $100 to Sandusky's defense fund...

  4. How a writer can favorably quote Franzetta but criticize Franco is another incomprehensible piece of the mob action of Freeh and so many, many others. Repeating a post I made yesterday:

    "Mr. Franzetta points out that four of the 32 board members in November 2011 were former football players who respected Mr. Paterno. Three of them, Dave Joyner, Paul Suhey and Steve Garban, were captains."

    You don't fire someone you respect via a late night phone call. You don't cruelly say you didn't fire that respected man but just retired him three weeks early. Typical of the Board's terrible decisions and even worse implementations.

    A pox on them all. Hooray for Franco.

  5. Ray,
    First, Thanks for all of the effort you have put into this cause. We're lucky to have you on our side.
    Was curious when we should expect your next reports. I remember you posting a while back that one would come out July 12th for the anniversary of the Freeh fiction.

    1. My report will be out later this month.

      I think John Ziegler is planning to release something on the anniversary of the Freeh Report, so I'll delay in order to give people the opportuntity to put their full attention on John's work.

  6. Great job Ray. Keep up the good fight!