Thursday, December 28

Wash Post Writes Fair Story on Sandusky Scandal

Investigative reporter Will Hobson did a good job covering most of the key questions that still remain open about Penn State University's decisions in response to the Sandusky matter.  That said, there are a few missing pieces of information that add needed context.  

Ray Blehar

December 28, 2017, 9:23 PM EST

The Washington Post released a story today that covers many of the key questions that require answers in the search for the truth about the Sandusky scandal.   It was a refreshing read compared to most other columns that continue to report the now-disproved allegations of a conspiracy and cover-up.


The column points out many important facts that have been glossed over, under-appreciated, and/or unreported in the media:

- Child welfare workers were aware Sandusky was showering with children and didn't consider that to be a warning sign of child abuse (but Penn State University (PSU) officials were condemned for not recognizing those same signs);

- Dr. Jack Raykovitz, the Executive Director of Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile (TSM), advised Sandusky to wear a swim suit as his solution to PSU's report of Sandusky showering kids;

- The conflict of interest between former PSU Board of Trustees Chairman Ira Lubert and TSM and  poor optics and governance negligence of Lubert running the settlement claims process;

- Experts weighing in that PSU's settlements excluding TSM from liability to be highly unusual;

- The testimony of PSU administrators at the trial of former President Graham Spanier continued to contradict that Mike McQueary made a report of a sexual nature in 2001; and,

- The single misdemeanor criminal convictions and extremely light sentences of former PSU administrators Timothy Curley and Gary Schultz were rather hollow victories for the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG) -- that spent six years and expended tremendous resources on the case.


The Law
On the negative side, the top complaint is that Hobson's piece (and every other previous media report, for that matter) fails to clearly state that the child abuse reporting law that was in effect in 2001 did not require PSU administrators and/or Paterno to make a report to anyone.  That being the case, their report to TSM exceeded the legal mandate.

Additionally, other Pennsylvania statutes enacted after the Sandusky case that defined caretakers of children subject to background checks and child abuse clearances specifically excluded University administrators and staff who didn't interact with children.

Alternative Views
Next, Hobson's column labels alternative views to the cover-up narrative to as "conspiracy theories" even though he carefully and accurately reports the evidence that there was no cover-up.

"While new evidence has not altered the public perception of Paterno’s culpability for Sandusky’s crimes, it has become fodder for conspiracy theories that have influenced state elections and incited feuds among Penn State trustees, some of whom hold deep suspicions about colleagues who quickly agreed to measures intended to end the crisis as quickly as possible."

As this scandal played out in the courts, the outcomes proved that the Sandusky scandal was much like the Duke Lacrosse scandal in that prosecutors used trumped up evidence (i.e., witnessing of a child rape) and bogus charges (i.e., failure to report and perjury) against PSU officials Curley and Schultz to create a media firestorm.

Sandusky was acquitted of the most infamous charge of  raping a child in PSU locker rooms in 2001.  The initial charges against Curley and Schultz were dismissed also -- as were the charges of conspiracy and obstructing justice.

Those facts confirm that the OAG and Freeh's allegations of a cover-up were nothing more than a "conspiracy theory."

The public's perceptions of the case hasn't changed because the evidence disproving a cover-up has not been reported as vigorously as baseless allegations.

Proof of Collusion
Hobson also discounts the notion of a government conspiracy involving former Governor Tom Corbett by downplaying the vast legal experience of former PSU General Counsel Cynthia Baldwin, not mentioning the circumstances of Spanier's testimony at the grand jury, and by omitting evidence of her collusion with OAG prosecutors and a judge.

"When the administrators were called to testify to the grand jury investigating Sandusky, none of them hired their own lawyers. Instead, they identified Baldwin, who had no experience representing clients before grand juries, as their lawyer, and she accompanied them as they testified."

While that is accurate regarding grand jury experience, the column failed to mention Baldwin's vast experience as a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a Judge in Allegheny County, and as the top prosecutor for the PA OAG Bureau of Consumer Affairs under then AG LeRoy Zimmerman.

To be clear, Baldwin was well-versed on courtroom procedures.

Unlike the other administrators, Spanier was not interviewed by investigators or subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in January 2011.  He was only summoned after his public disagreements over the PSU budget caused the former governor's approval ratings to tank.

Spanier was led into the grand jury like a lamb to the slaughter.

That leads us to the evidence of a conspiracy/collusion that was not included in Hobson's reporting

Prosecutors Frank Fina and Jonelle Eshbach --  plus Judge Barry Feudale -- were in the grand jury room and stood idly by while Baldwin intentionally undermined the University president.  They all let him testify under the mistaken impression that she was his attorney.

It is extremely difficult to interpret this evidence as anything other than purposeful undermining of a defendant (Spanier) and denial of the his right to counsel.

While there is no direct evidence of Corbett's involvement, motivation is typically established through circumstantial evidence.  As many prosecutors will tell you, a lot of circumstantial evidence (i.e., coincidences) is not a positive thing for the accused -- and there are too many coincidences involving Corbett in this case.

Editorial reviews and word limits sometimes eliminate certain details that add required context; and some context is needed to explain theories are not just pulled out of mid-air, but based on legitimate evidence.

Here are more passages requiring added context.

McQueary's Story Changed 10 Years Later
"Blehar believes McQueary described a more ambiguous scene in 2001 and that, when he learned nine years later from detectives that Sandusky was under investigation for abusing children, he recalled something far more vivid." 

Former PSU President Rodney Erickson's notebook provided the evidence in almost those exact words that McQueary changed his story when talking to the detectives.

PSU Ties With The Second Mile
Kenneth Feinberg, a mediator Penn State hired to assist with the process, said the university structured the settlements to prevent a series of events in which a victim settled with Penn State, then sued the Second Mile, prompting the Second Mile to countersue Penn State, landing the university back in litigation.
Lord, the former alumni trustee, is skeptical of this explanation.
“That is 2,000 percent” nonsense, Lord said. “There’s only one reason [for the release], and that was to protect . . . members of the board who were involved at the Second Mile.”
The facts are that there were a number of wealthy alumni donors (who are also key University fund raisers) who were members of the charity's board of directors.  Many of these individuals also hold lucrative business contracts with the University.

Louis Freeh, hired to conduct a full and fair investigation into the Sandusky matter, completely skirted this legitimate conflict-of-interest issue in how the Board reacted to the Sandusky allegations.

Joe Paterno's Memory of the 2001 Incident
Paterno testified that McQueary reported “fondling” and something of “a sexual nature,” but Blehar thinks the coach, who was 84 at the time of his testimony, misremembered what his young assistant told him a decade before.

In addition to testifying that McQueary told him of "fondling,"  Paterno also testified that he didn't tell anyone about the incident until later that week because he didn't want to interrupt their weekends.

Neither statement is supported by the facts of the case.

It is a fact that Paterno informed Curley  and Schultz of the incident on the following day, which was a Sunday.  A weekend.

It is also a fact that McQueary testified he could not see Sandusky's hands which pretty much rules out that he made a report of "fondling" to Paterno.

But Paterno misremembered more about the incident and that weekend than those two things.

Paterno's one-day delay in reporting the incident was due to him leaving town to fly to the Dapper Dan Dinner in Pittsburgh.  Paterno had no recollection of that.

In an October 24, 2011 interview with police and OAG investigator Anthony Sassano, Paterno also had no recollection that Curley and Schultz had visited him in his home to discuss the incident.

From the interview:

SASSANO: Okay, did you tell him that over the phone or did you have a meeting in person here at your house?
J. PATERNO: No, I told him over the phone.
The interview also revealed Paterno had no recollection of any subsequent discussions with Curley which obviously is incorrect based on the email evidence and Curley's testimony at the Spanier trial.

SASSANO: And do you know what happened after that with regards to Mr. McQueary and/or Mr. Curley?
SASSANO: Did Mr. Curley get back to you at some point in time after that to advise you what actions were taken…
J. PATERNO: No, no, I didn’t, I had other things to do, we had… As I said, Jerry was not working for me.
The bottom line is that OAG officials knew Paterno's memory of the incident was poor and instead of determining he was an unreliable witness -- as they did with other witnesses, including some men who accused Sandusky of criminal acts  -- it cherry-picked the only piece of information that confirmed McQueary's story.

Success With Honor
Finally, and not inconsequentially, the column errs in stating that current head football coach James Franklin introduced the term "Unrivaled" to replace "Success With Honor."  While "Unrivaled" is trademarked by PSU for the football program, "Success With Honor" was associated with all PSU athletics and was a reference to combining athletic success and academic success.

At the February 2017 dedication of the Morgan Academic Center, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour stated:

“It’s part of Penn State’s DNA,  It’s part of our success with honor.  It’s part of who we are.  It’s always been a part of our culture and the standard here.”

It is evident by the academic success of PSU's student athletes -- which remains in the top percentage in Graduation Success Rates (GSR) as it has for decades -- that "Success With Honor" has endured the fires of the Sandusky Scandal.


  1. The article omits the FIS investigation...a MAJOR omission. It says nothing about the fraudulent presentation and the janitor hoax (the very instrument used to drag Paterno and the football program into the fiasco). There is no mention of the enhanced (and probably illegal) interrogation techniques used by the prosecutors. This story is about fraud, corruption, and prosecutorial misconduct. A competent investigative reporter would have nailed it...Will Hobson whiffed!

    1. Gregory,
      In the blogpost, I wrote that there are word limits and things subject to editorial reviews that get cut from stories.

      The FIS investigation certainly draws many of the same conclusions regarding lack of a cover up, McQueary's lack of credibility, and the notion that this was a political vendetta.

      When interviewed by Will, I didn't bring up the janitor hoax. I also didn't bring up the police interview with Victim 4. I'm not sure he knows about those things.

      BTW, I'm not so much concerned about the Victim 4 interview as I am that the prosecutors asked so many leading questions that were confusing the the witnesses. For example, when Victim 3 was asked about the timeframe of his victimization, McGettigan said "You were associating with the defendant in 1999, 2000...and into 2001? V3 responded affirmatively but later clarified that he was associating with Sandusky at the time he was an active coach -- and the period immediately following. He then was sent away to foster care. That meant he wasn't associating in 2001.

      I covered a lot of that stuff in Report 3.

  2. Ray - I think you give Cynthia Baldwin too much credit with her "vast experience as a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court."

    She wasn't on the Supreme Court very long just filling a two year term when justice Nigro became the first justice to lose a retention vote. Maybe she was in over her head on the PA Supreme Court as she appeared to be at PSU. She apparently got the PSU position because of cronyism as a former Chair of the Board of Trustees and head of the alumni association.

    Freeh was very critical of Baldwin's representation of PSU.

    Maybe Baldwin was working for the OAG and against the best interests of PSU when she "represented Curley, Schultz and Spanier at the grand jury and then testified against them. Maybe she was just inept. There is evidence for both views.

    1. Tim,
      Baldwin served as a Judge in Allegheny County for 16 years. After retiring as a judge, she went to Duane Morris and worked as a lawyer there and then got the job at PSU.

      She's experienced enough to know the Rules of Profession Conduct and that she cannot partially represent a client, as she claimed she was doing at the grand jury appearances of Tim, Gary, and Graham.

      Moreover, Baldwin was evasive in answering the court's question regarding whether or not she represented Tim and Gary. To wit:

      OAG: Judge, we're here on Notice 29. We have some witnesses to be sworn, Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz.
      Judge Feudale: Represented by?
      Ms. Baldwin: My name is Cynthia Baldwin, general counsel for Pennsylvania State University.
      Judge Feudale: Will you be providing representation for both of those identified witnesses?
      Ms. Baldwin: Gary is retired but was employed by the university and Tim is still an employee.

      That is called a non-answer and it wasn't due to incompetence.

    2. I certainly believe that Baldwin was coerced to testify against Spanier in 2012 after Frank Fina threatened Baldwin in a Dec. 2011 email. That email warned that Baldwin may face charges because of her delays in providing subpoenaed materials.

      You seem to believe Baldwin was working for the OAG in Jan. 2011 to lead Curley and Schultz into a perjury trap at the grand jury. At that point, Fina already had enough to charge Curley and Schultz with failure to report because of the testimony of McQueary and Paterno. He didn't need perjury charges to remove them as defense witnesses for Sandusky.

      If Baldwin was secretly working for the OAG in Jan. 2011, then why did she not provide subpoenaed materials promptly?

      Baldwin had no experience before a grand jury and no experience as an in-house counsel. Her biographies say first black women this and first black women that. She may have been a diversity hire her entire career. One non-answer is not much evidence.

      Judge Feudale should have pinned Baldwin down about her representation of Curley and Schultz at the grand jury. Feudale I can believe was working with Fina, although even that is uncertain. The PA Supreme Court found Feudale unqualified as a grand jury judge. He was also a flake to boot. Maybe Feudale just didn't want to grill his friend and former Supreme Court justice "Cindy" on the stand so just let her non-answer pass. After all, grand jury testimony is normally secret and Feudale decided what could be made public. Essentially, there was no one with oversight over Feudale until he started criticizing AG Kane.

      In Jan. 2011, Feudale and Baldwin may have simply been convenient pawns for Fina's misconduct.

    3. Tim,
      Frank Fina's December 2011 letter was a ruse. Baldwin was providing the materials as the AG was asking for them.

      Fina caught her off guard by writing about retirement documents that the OAG got directly from Paterno. Recall that Paterno had hired his own attorney and responded through them.

      By December 2011, the OAG still didn't have anything they could hang their hats on to get Spanier. They needed Baldwin to roll on him and blame him for obstructing the investigation. She did so to save her own back side -- and quickly announced her retirement from PSU.

      I've said all along that Ken Frazier, who was appointed to the BOT prior to the hiring of Baldwin, was the de facto legal counsel for the Sandusky matter. Frazier knew that Baldwin was going to get thrown under the bus eventually.

      Fina didn't have an FTR case regardless of the evidence. The charge was outside the SOL. That's why he added the bogus perjury charges.

    4. Tim,
      I'll add, from an extremely reliable source, that Fina was writing Fuedale's legal briefs as Feudale was facing disciplinary action from the review board.

      Those two were connected at the hip.

    5. I had heard that Fina was too chummy with Judge Feudale so it does not surprise me if Fina wrote legal briefs for Feudale. Feudale did not seem too on the ball so maybe Fina took advantage of him.

      Who do you contend threw Baldwin under the bus? It seems like she did it to herself if she knowingly agreed to lie to CSS about representing them at the grand jury to lure them into a perjury trap.

      What was Baldwin's motivation to betray PSU in Jan. 2011? If she was so well versed in the law, she would have refused to represent CSS and would have gotten them to sign an Upjohn warning for the protection of PSU.

      The SOL means nothing to a corrupt prosecutor with a judge in his pocket. It took over 5 years to get the failure to report charge dismissed because it was beyond the SOL.

    6. Tim,
      Go back and read the blog on the hiring of Cynthia Baldwin.

      To be clear, Baldwin was not betraying PSU -- she was doing exactly as the BOT wanted her to do, which was to undermine Paterno and the administrators. And if she's undermining them, she's not going to give them the Upjohn warning...she's going to let them believe she represents their interests.

      When it was clear that the administrators weren't going to flip on Spanier, then Baldwin became the source for incriminating them...for obstructing justice.

      Who was pulling the levers....Frazier...who Tom Corbett lauded for his work on the Special Investigative Counsel with (later) ghost employee Ron Tomalis.

    7. Ray,

      Even if it is true that Baldwin was working under orders of a few key trustees, what she was doing was at least unethical, if not illegal. It was also not in the best interests of PSU to have CSS charged and garner more negative publicity and liability for PSU. Baldwin's duty was to the best interests of PSU, not to do the personal bidding of a few corrupt trustees.

      Mike McQueary was put on paid administrative leave on Baldwin's watch. Did she advise PSU not to do that or McQueary might have a whistleblower lawsuit against PSU?

      Either Baldwin was naive or she knowingly worked against the best interests of PSU. Your article on the "Hiring of Cynthia Baldwin" said the majority of lawyers you polled had a low opinion of Baldwin's competence.

    8. Tim,
      After six years, the evidence is pretty overwhelming that the BOT's interests were not aligned with the University's interest but we both know who hires and fires the University President.

      It was interesting that McQueary was an afterthought. Here's a guy at the center of the scandal and no decision about him got made until right before the weekend.

      I doubt that Baldwin advised the BOT on anything because it hired Frank Guadagnino as their attorney when the scandal broke.

  3. I laughed when I read Frank Fina's comment in Hobson's article.

    Fina said "No one involved with this case ever envisioned that taking a serial pedophile out of society was going to result in years' worth of professional and personal attacks by people who are basically lunatics."

    That was pot calling the kettle black. You have to be loony if you believe you can send and receive porn emails on an OAG email account and not face any fallout.

    1. Both Fina and Corbett have gotten away with making statements like this because all they have to do to make their case is to fall back on the convictions that came out of the prosecution's cases. When asked about the "slow walk" that Jeffrey Moulton's investigation determined was "inexplicable", Corbett just points to 45/48 convictions against Sandusky. Fina can call us all lunatics because Sandusky is in prison and Curley/Schultz served jail time with Spanier appealing a conviction. Nobody ever holds their feet to the fire. Their approach is very effective.

    2. The people of Pennsylvania need to ask Tom Corbett why he did nothing about Sandusky while he was the Attorney General for two and a half terms. That adds up to about 10 years. But Tom Corbett appears to be in hiding for some reason. Maybe to avoid these questions?

      What Sandusky complaints came across Tom Corbett's desk during that decade that he was the chief law enforcement officer of Pennsylvania? Ten years is a long time to do nothing about criminal pedophile behavior suspected of the founder of a noteworthy children's charity.

    3. The voters held Corbett to account for his mishandling of the Sandusky scandal but the news media did not.

      The child endangerment pleas by Curley and Schultz were basically made in hindsight. I don't think Corbett can use that excuse for the two boys who claimed they were abused by Sandusky while Corbett was investigating. How is that not child endangerment by Corbett and his team?

    4. Truthseeker, Linda, and Tim,
      In the interviews with Fina and Corbett, what is NOT said about the investigation and The Second Mile is that:

      1. The investigation took 3 years.
      2. For two of those years, the AG absolutely refused to go to The Second Mile to look for possible victims.

      The PA media carried water for Corbett and Fina big time.

      What everyone suspected was true....children were abused as the investigation lagged. But even after that was announced, the media quickly pounced on Kane for a minor error she made in the announcement and made that the story.

      When Kane corrected the minor problem, they called it a retraction -- even though it was nothing of the sort.

      The fact is that Corbett and Fina endangered kids by slow walking the investigation.

      And it is also a fact that The Second Mile should have been charged with endangerment for its decision to let Sandusky remain a part of it after his abuse finding in 2009.

    5. Ray - You say The Second Mile could have been charged with endangerment in 2009 for keeping Sandusky around.

      Why couldn't Raykovitz have been charged with endangerment for 2001? Raykovitz received a complaint about Sandusky showering with a boy in 2001, knew it was a Second Mile boy but never identified or talked to the boy. That seems very damning because prosecutors vilified CSS for never getting the identity of the boy.

      Too, Raykovitz testified that he told Sandusky to wear a swimsuit when showering with boys, which sounds very bad. He gave his permission for Sandusky to shower with Second Mile boys and told the wrong one to wear the swimsuit.

    6. Tim,
      Had the OAG made a timely arrest, then TSM could have been charged with Endangerment and the charge would have been within the statute of limitations. Had the OAG shown conspiracy, then 2001 could have come into play.

      Spanier was wrongfully convicted of Endangerment for 2001 because it was outside the SOL of two years (because there was no conspiracy).

    7. PA prosecutors and judges often seem to ignore the SOL, as they did for CSS's failure to report charge.

      In Spanier's appeal, the judge ruled that the SOL for child endangerment was until the victim's 50th birthday same as for a victim to report child abuse.

      Given the often crazy rulings in PA, higher courts might just uphold that. That would mean Raykovitz could still be charged with child endangerment for the 2001 Sandusky shower incident until 2039 according to the Spanier judge's calculation that the victim was at most 12 in 2001.

  4. Being that I hold the Washington Post to a higher standard, I find Will Hobson's report rather sophomoric. With the large body of extant literature on this case, I am incredulous that he would be unaware of the FIS investigation of Spanier and the two year FBI investigation of the Second Mile. Did he completely ignore Ralph Cipriano and John Ziegler?

    Since the article centers on Paterno, the janitor hoax is of paramont importance. Freeh called it the most heinous crime committed at PSU. Every sports writer in the country dragged Paterno through the slime and the mud because the OAG had them testify that they did not report the sodomy of a child because of fear of Paterno and the culture of football. The NCAA never gets involved without this picture of a little boy pinned against a wall and Paterno looking the other way.

    The enhanced interrogation techniques (multiple interrogations, falsely telling them that other men reported specific sex acts, sending them to a quack therapist, and allowing them to be manipulated by civil attorneys) is illegal. Out here we call that suborning perjury and conspiracy to commit fraud. These techniques are insidious.See, for example https//

    1. Gregory,
      Thanks for your comments.

      Hobson is planning a follow-up piece. Perhaps some of the information you mentioned will make it into that one.

    2. Gregory,
      I should also mention that this piece was focused on PSU alumni pushing back, so Ralph and John were excluded as non-alums.

    3. I think that you are incredibly naive as to what happening. Will had enough data to blow the case wide open, but he cowered out. The epitome of everything about this case. Maybe the editors of the Post gave him a "Hobson's" choice or maybe he was just scared to stand up and do the right thing. This is not the Post of old. Will screwed the pooch. He could at least have summarized the lies, hoaxes, and chicanery that got us to this point to explain why we are pushing back. Don't expect anything from Will that will point fingers at the bad hombres. Don't expect him to say that this guy is a liar or this guy is a fraud. Facts are facts no matter who they come from. Don't expect Will to look into the prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. Will is gutless. He had a story that many young reporters would have sacrificed their gonads to get many years ago. But evidently, he has no balls to sacrifice.

    4. Gregory,
      I'm not naive in the least. I simply had more insights about what the story would be about. I never expected it to blow the lid off.

      Also, I never held the Washington Post in high regard. Woodward & Bernstein got the big Watergate story from a leaker - much in the same manner as Sara Ganim did in the Sandusky case.

      I've lived in the DC area since 1983 and was a Sunday only subscriber to the Post only because I liked to do the Sunday crossword puzzle.

    5. HA HA! All of my friends in the DC area get the Washington Times.
      I just thought that if you undertake a project, you should do a complete and thorough job. Will spent two years researching this. He was at the Spanier trial, interviewed Sneddon, Franco, Dottie, and several PSU people. He got Frank "the Rat' Fina to to have a conniption fit. He got all of Ziegler's information. I don't know what he got from you, but certainly had access to the factual data and time lines you developed.

      With all of that, I would expect something better than the puff piece that came out...and I don't blame Will...I hang it on the Washington Post. You have a story of corruption, lies, hoaxes, and how low people will go to get money and settle vendettas. What is the Post afraid of? Getting pelted by internet trolls and all manner of misguided activists?

    6. Gregory,
      What is the Post afraid of?

      My theory is that the Post felt the "other side" of the narrative of the scandal should get some air time -- but it made sure that it didn't commit itself on how credible the "other side" is.

  5. Speak of the devil, Tom Corbett, just gave a Jan. 8 interview where he expressed regrets about the Sandusky scandal.

    Governor Tom Corbett – The Complete Uncut Interview

    The Sandusky scandal discussion starts about the 53 minute mark.

    Corbett admitted that "a lot of mistakes occurred" and that "It was hard to fathom, even for me, that Mr. Sandusky did what he did. I'm sure it was very difficult for Mr. Paterno to fathom that too."

    Corbett refused to say whether he believed firing Paterno was the right thing to do. He also maintained that he didn't vote to fire Paterno but said he didn't expect anyone to believe that.