Rarely, do I offer strictly an analysis article, but the Victim 8/Janitor incident was so striking in its brilliance that I felt I could not pass up this opportunity to write about the psychology behind the incident.
Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse incident in November 2000 , witnessed by janitor James Calhoun, was nearly the perfect crime for generating outrage and for its ability to be nearly impossible to disprove.
First, crimes against children, the elderly, and the sick/infirmed are viewed as particularly heinous by American society – and this incident had all three. The alleged incident involved an elderly janitor who witnessed Sandusky performing oral sex on a child and then became so distraught over the incident that he was shaking and trembling. Despite the fact that he was an adult who watched another adult molest a child and did nothing to stop the abuse, the visual image of an old man trembling and shaking caused the public to perceive him as a “victim” of Sandusky’s crime.
Thus, it was perceived as a crime with two victims – the young boy and the elderly janitor.
Next, and just in case that wasn’t enough, the Commonwealth used the fact that James Calhoun now suffers from Alzheimer’s to not only make him a more sympathetic character in this story, but for the reason that it made it nearly impossible (and politically incorrect) for someone to question his story.
Obviously, Mr. Calhoun’s memory is unreliable because he suffers from dementia. Moreover, if he never mentioned the crime to his family before the onset of Alzheimer’s, they would have no way to learn about the crime. So, talking to his family to verify the crime would not be a reliable method to prove or disprove the crime.
In essence, there was almost no way to disprove this crime and also little incentive to do so, considering that anyone who questioned Calhoun’s story would likely be castigated for political incorrectness.
Whoever wrote the script for this crime was truly brilliant in his or her understanding of psychology, but, unfortunately, was not focused on the details and erred when putting an obstruction in the locker room. Because if Petrosky could not see through the obstruction, neither could Calhoun.
Despite this problem with physical evidence, many were fooled, including Louis Freeh, the media, and especially Patricia Johnson, who fell hard for the story. She called Calhoun a victim, just as the OAG intended. She also called him a hero, but for the wrong reason.
"My Heart and Prayers Go Out to Jim Calhoun, a Major Victim in the Sandusky Crime SpreePosted: Monday, November 07, 2011
by Patricia Johnson
Articles and Answers.com
There has always been a special place in my heart for Veterans, partly due to being brought up to believe how extraordinary the men and woman who fight for our country are, and partly due to interactions through the years with Veterans.....
In the fall of 2000, our victim, Jim Calhoun, was working as a janitor at Penn State University. Jim, while performing his job duties, witnessed Gerald Arthur (Jerry) Sandusky, the defensive coordinator of Penn State’s Division I collegiate football program, performing oral sex on a young boy in the showers of the Lasch Building. Note: Any person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Jim immediately went to other members of the janitorial staff and explained what he had witnessed.
Employee Ronald Petrosky was also working that evening and it was his job to clean the showers which were empty due to the fact the football players were at an away game. Petrosky could not see who was in the assistant coaches’ shower room, but he heard the sound of running water and could see two pairs of feet. Coach Sandusky and a young boy, between the ages of 11-13, eventually exited the shower with their hair wet. Petrosky then observed the coach holding hands with the boy as they were walking down the long hall leading out of Lasch Building.
As he was cleaning the shower that Sandusky and the boy had used, Jim Calhoun came up to Petrosky and was noticeably upset and crying. Jim, visibly shaking, told Petrosky he “fought in the [Korean] war….seen people with their guts blowed out, arms dismembered…I just witnessed something in there I’ll never forget.” Jim went on to explain to Petrosky that he saw Sandusky (at the time, he did not know the coach’s name) holding the boy up against the wall and licking on him.
Witherite observed that Jim was “very emotionally upset” and “distraught” to the point Witherite “was afraid the man was going to have a heart attack or something the way he was acting.” while he was explaining how he had observed Jerry Sandusky performing oral sex on the young boy [that same evening Sandusky was parked in his vehicle in the parking lot and Calhoun was able to point him out to Witherite].
Witherite attempted to calm Jim and went on to explain to him who he should contact to report the incident – if he chose to report it.
No report was ever made by Jim Calhoun – We’ll rephrase that statement and say there is no report on file made by Jim Calhoun. We can’t confirm or deny whether he made a report by talking to Jim Calhoun because this poor man is considered ‘incompetent to testify’. He is currently suffering from dementia and living in a nursing home.
The identity of the young boy has never been determined.
How much of Jim Calhoun’s dementia can be attributed to the atrocity he witnessed back in the year 2000? How long can a fragile mind cope with the knowledge that a wrong has been committed by a person in power and know that nothing will be done to protect others from the same thing happening to them? From the few comments he made about his tour in Korea, it’s obvious that Jim Calhoun suffered some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He went to a foreign country to fight for freedom and 45 years later sees a child on U.S. soil being sexually abused by a powerful man. How many years of torment did Jim Calhoun go through before his mind finally snapped?
The attitude of Penn State towards the despicable acts performed on their campus is readily seen in their willingness to pay the legal fees of Athletic Director Timothy Mark Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Charles Schultz, who were both charged with perjury and failure to report. Schultz’s position includes oversight of Penn State University Police Department.
When this Veteran’s Day rolls around say a special prayer for Jim Calhoun, the one man that tried to come forward and fight for what’s right. "
James Calhoun is indeed a hero. He was a Private First Class in the U.S. Army, Light Duty Infantry, who was seriously wounded in a rocket attack during the Korean War in November 1951. He eventually returned to duty. Today, he lives in a nursing home near Lock Haven.
The records show he was not a PSU employee at the time the Commonwealth alleged the crime occurred. Therefore, the most despicable act in the Victim 8 incident is the Commonwealth's use of James Calhoun, because he suffered from dementia, as a "patsy" for witnessing a crime that didn't happen.