I've used the term "elephant in the room" quite a bit in this scandal. However, for the Sandusky scandal it is more like the herd of elephants in the room.
In November 2011, many people who read the grand jury presentment immediately saw the elephant -- if not two or three -- in the room. The media apparently wasn't as astute or were influenced not to look, because the following were pretty obvious:
Elephant #2: The illogical situation that Penn State was accused of covering up for a retired football coach, who had nothing to do with the football program, but somehow TSM wasn't accused of covering up for its founder, face, and top fundraiser.
Elephant #3: That irrational argument that giant Penn State University (PSU) couldn't weather the storm of bad publicity surrounding a Sandusky abuse investigation and somehow the same scenario didn't apply the charity.
Shockingly, throughout this almost four year ordeal, no one in the media has made the case that TSM had more incentive to cover up than PSU did -- but history, and money, tells the story.
Financial IncentiveTSM's financial records from 2008 to 2012 go a long way in explaining why Bruce Heim may have advised Raykovitz to not report the 2001 incident to the full board of TSM and why neither man reported the incident to child protective services.
They both knew the importance of Sandusky to the charity and if word got out about his penchant for showering with boys, the charity would have gone under -- or maybe worse.
Board of Director$ Not ToldAccording to a former Board member, the charity had a goal of 100% director financial support for each event. Thus if Board members didn't share Heim's view that an adult showering with boys was "normal" behavior, they might abandon the charity.
And who would want to be associated with a charity that approved of its founder showering with kids?
In addition, the Directors were very influential in getting other well-to-do individuals to donate money. So if they walked, the charity stood to lose a lot of money.
In 2009, after the charity learned of Sandusky's abuse finding, 16 directors left its board.
Key Losses: All of the attorneys (6) who were on the Board in 2008, including Centre County Judge, Bradley Lunsford, called it quits after they learned Sandusky was under investigation. A couple other notable departures were PSU BOT member Ira Lubert, who vacated his position on the Board of the Southeast Region, Drew Garban, the son of PSU BOT member Steve Garban, and Drue Anne Schreyer, daughter of former PSU BOT chairman, William Schreyer.
Gains: TSM tried to compensate in 2009 by recruiting new directors, including Senator Jake Corman, recent PSU BOT member Cliff Benson, businessman Louis Sheetz, and former PSU and NFL football player turned ESPN broadcaster, Matt Millen. Sheetz noted that Sandusky resigned at the very first board meeting he attended, so it's rather obvious that he didn't know what he was getting into.
But things would just go downhill from 2009 forward.
Child Protective Services and Sandusky
|Sandusky missed the 2009 TSM golf tournament.|
Pictured R. McCombie, B. Gelzheiser, and Heim
Sandusky's absence at children's events would have raised questions -- just as his absence from the 2009 TSM (golf) Classic did.
As the records show, as Sandusky circled the drain and eventually went down, so did the charity's revenues. To wit:
2007 (year ending 8/31/2008): $3,219,219
Abuse finding January 2009. Sandusky misses 2009 golf tournament. 16 Board members left.
2008 (Year ending 8/31/2009): $2,272,084
Sandusky resignation (internally communicated) due to abuse finding, September 2009.
2009 (Year ending 8/31/2010): $1,227,178
Sandusky's public "retirement." September 2010.
2010 (Year ending 8/31/2011): $1,012,015
Public announcement of Sandusky arrest, November 2011.
2011 (Year ending 8/31/2012): $330,588
TSM announces intent to close its doors.
2012 (Year ending 8/31/2013): $87,121
The Money Tells The StoryThe original internal announcement of Sandusky's abuse finding, followed by his resignation - neither of which was reported to the public - resulted in over a $1 million dollar per year decline in direct donations.
Those results indicate the Director's influence regarding direct donations and fundraising, which is a much more plausible explanation of Heim's advice against sharing the 2001 incident with the full board.
However, the decision by TSM not to report Sandusky to child protective services was likely a "no brainer." A child abuse investigation was a risk to the charity's reputation and financial well-being.
Instead, the choice in 2001 put children at risk and many were harmed as a result.
And that's the biggest elephant in the room.
Next: Bruce Heim's Op-Ed Provides Another Teachable Moment