Thursday, August 1

If 2001 was 2013, Joe Paterno should have done LESS

While many commentators state Paterno did the minimum or that he should have done more, PSU's revised policy on child abuse reporting would have required Paterno to do less.

Ray Blehar

"In hindsight, I wish I would have done more."

Those words sealed legendary coach Joe Paterno's fate in the eyes of the PSU Board of Trustees, the media, and the general public.

Of course, most who condemned him for that statement, only used the last part of the quote, because the beginning words, "in hindsight" provided the needed context.  In other words, knowing what I know about Sandusky now.

It was a statement that Joe Paterno should have never made.

It seems obvious that he made the statement before anyone critically analyzed the grand jury presentment.  Had his legal team or advisors put the presentment in chronological order, they would have seen that PSU's intervention in 2001 stopped Sandusky's abuse for a period of years.  And they would have realized that there was much more to this story than an alleged "administrative failure" at PSU.

What Joe Couldn't Do

However, those who still condemn Paterno for inaction or that call him "negligent," are undoubtedly unaware of not only the facts of the case, but how Paterno would be limited in what he could do under Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law, the Public Welfare Code, and his authority at PSU.

-- He was not allowed to know or learn the name of the potential victim.
-- He could not follow up with the child welfare agencies to check on the status of the case.
-- He had no control over Sandusky, who didn't work for him at the time.
-- He could not trump the decisions of his superiors (regardless of the public's misperceptions of his power).
-- He could not ban Jerry from the facilities (due to Sandusky's retirement agreement).
-- Calling the police only would have referred the matter back to the child welfare agencies (who weren't the least bit interested in investigating Jerry Sandusky - see 1998 case).

What Joe Should Have Done (i.e., What McQueary Should Have Done)

If we fast forward 2001 to 2013 and we examine PSU's new policy on child abuse reporting, the bottom line is Joe Paterno should have done LESS, not more.


How to make a report of suspected child abuse:
  1. If you suspect child abuse, immediately contact ChildLine, which is operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare at 1-800-932-0313. This hotline is staffed at all times of day and night. If the call is not answered, then immediately contact the county child welfare agency in the county in which the incident occurred. If you do not reach an individual either through ChildLine or through the local county child welfare office, the reporter must continue calling until they reach an individual to complete the reporting process. For the avoidance of doubt, regardless of the current age of the victim of suspected or reported abuse, a report should be made to ChildLine if abuse occurred.
  2. If a child is in immediate danger, the employee should contact police at 911 to obtain immediate protection for the child.
  3. Finally, if you are considered to be an Authorized Adult as defined in policy AD39, follow the reporting procedure as described in AD39.

When McQueary arrived at Joe's house to inform the coach of what he had seen, Paterno simply would have referred to the new policy and said, "Mike, here's the number you need to call."

The policy is quite clear and it is absolute folly to believe that an octogenarian (then septuagenarian) football coach should be calling in an uncertain, second-hand report of child abuse on behalf of a perfectly capable 38 year-old (then 26 year-old) man -- who allegedly was an eyewitness to the event.

If you see it, you report it.  It's that simple.  It's not a complex case at all.

The media is now in a frenzy over McQueary's newest revelations that he told Paterno about "molestations" and that they talked about it every few years.  However, what the media really should be focused on is one of the few honest things Mike McQueary said on Monday....

… I'll point the finger at myself before anybody else."

And he would be absolutely correct under PSU's new policy.


  1. Ray, your are missing one important thing, because he was Joe Paterno, he should always do more. Especially in cases where he has was not a witness nor directly involved in the situation outside of being told of the incident. I am sure you just forgot to include that addendum to the policy....The hell with the laws, he should have injected his influence any way he could. He should always assume that police, high level admins, govt agencies cant and wont do their jobs without him following up and injecting his influence. He was after all the all powerful Joe Paterno....

    1. Funny that the most powerful man at PSU - and as some say, the state of Pennsylvania, got fired by a guy who is running US Steel into the ground....

  2. As a mandatory reporter when I was CEO of a Child Care Agency, I was once criticized by my Board President for "not doing more" when a situation was reported to ChildLine. After a meeting with a ChildLine case worker, she informed me that had I done more, I would have tainted the investigation. You are not permitted to interview the alleged abuser, nor have contact with the victim. And you are not privy to information about the investigation. All I was ever told was whether the abuse was substantiated or not. Thanks for posting this--I wish more people were aware of the laws and protocol.

    1. Thank you, Tina.

      Every knowledgeable person I've talked to (police, teachers, caseworkers) about what is proper protocol in child abuse investigations are in agreement.

      Once a report of abuse is made by a mandated reporter, the only information that can be provided back is the final disposition of the case.

      Spread the word. We have a lot of educating to do.

  3. Seriously, for those who can't grasp it, my post is tongue in cheek.....

  4. Ray, what's your opinion on the fact that Joe never followed up with Curley concerning the incident. I work in a corporate environment and if one of the people who I manage reported something of this nature to me the day after the incident, I would have done exactly what Joe did, got my boss and HR involved. The only difference is that I would have followed up with my boss. As you've pointed out, if my boss knew the law, he would have told me he couldn't tell me anything and that I didn't have a need to know. But regardless of what my employee told me, I would have followed up probably to the point my boss would need to tell me to stop pestering him about it.

    To me, this is the only thing Joe didn't do that I think he should have done and I would love to find out during the trial that Joe did followup with Curley and Curley followed the law and told Joe he couldn't tell him anything about it.

    1. However, Paterno DID follow up with McQueary - after arranging meetings between McQueary and Curley/Schultz.

      I don't see a lot of difference between Paterno asking Curley if "is looking into things" or asking McQueary if Curley was looking into things. If McQueary told Paterno that he felt comfortable with how things are proceeding, wouldn't it be logical to assume that if Paterno asked Curley that he'd get a similar answer?

      Remember - Paterno would NOT have been legally allowed to press for further details. A football coach may be all-powerful, but (in this state at least) he isn't above the law.

    2. I think the world assumes that this was some momentous report that Joe sat around thinking about all day, when the fact was that he was an active football coach at a major college program, who just came off a 5-7 season had a player paralyzed who was in a rehab hospital. Paterno had just finished up the recruiting process, then had Kenny Jackson tell him he was leaving for the Steelers.

      In other words, Joe had a full plate, Sandusky didn't work for him and it was something he felt he could hand off for Curley to handle (and that Tim was perfectly capable of handing it without his involvement).

    3. According to the one email, Curley did discuss the 2001 incident with Paterno on at least one occasion although we have no idea who initiated the contact. It may be that Paterno asked Curley what happened with Sandusky, and simply Curley used that opportunity to discuss what he wanted to do about telling Sandusky more details.

      The case is mostly reasonable doubt.

    4. Jeff Williams,
      At this point, I'm not willing to believe that Joe followed up with Mike on the incident.

      Joe stated he left it with Curley and that was it. Posnanski's book makes no mention of Joe following up with Mike. Joe's police interview with Sassano makes no mention of following up with Mike.

      I'm not buying anything McQueary is saying about this. The prosecution objected when the defense asked Mike about who else he told. They knew darned well that if he answered honestly, he would have perjured his grand jury testimony.

    5. I think we would need to hear from Tim Curley regarding the veracity of the e-mail statement. Tim may have interjected that line just to buttress his decision on how to proceed -- or it could have been interjected by the Freeh group to implicate Paterno. We'll just have to wait and see.

  5. WHEN are we going to hear from Drs. Dranov and Raykovitz??? Especially Dranov. The harsh lights should have been on HIM from the beginning. He was the first professional, non-family-member to whom McQueary reported. How is it that he's not one of the guilty-til-proven-otherwise? In fact, the burden of guilt could have landed fully on him! Everything downstream was after the fact.

    1. Dranov is the last person the prosecution want to hear from....someone wrote yesterday that the prosecution's best hope is that the case gets dismissed on a technicality. Their evidence is awfully slim and the witnesses they had testify at the PH were really weak.

    2. I think the prosecutors are protecting Dranov and John McQueary because they are close to Mike McQueary. If they charged Dranov and his father, Mike could easily change his testimony even more to get them off the hook.

      I think it is obvious that Mike just makes things up to make himself look better like the locker door slam and third glance, thinking Schultz was the police, the hearsay about Paterno slamming Old Main, etc.

    3. Dranov should be THE star witness for the defense of PSU. So if this never goes to trial, and the PSU defense can never have him testify in public, how does the truth in all this ever come out?? Kathleen Kane's investigation?

      I disagree with Judge Wenner. I believe NOT going to trial would be the tragedy for PSU.

    4. The problem with this is Dr. Dranov already testified in public at the Sandusky hearing and was a big part of the reason Sandusky was acquitted on that sexual assualt charge.

      Unfortunately, you didn't hear the media really mention that because it goes against the narrative they already sold long ago and the last thing the media want to do in all this is show themselves to be wrong. Also, don't underestimate Corbett's influence on what gets out into the media.

    5. Said it before and say it again: I believe Pennsylvania law says both Dranov and Raykovitz were mandated reporters. I sure can't find anything that says Paterno was. He could not have done more.
      The Pennsylania Code:
      § 42.42. Suspected child abuse—mandated reporting requirements.

      (a) General rule. Under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6311 (relating to persons required to report suspected child abuse), licensees who, in the course of the employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.

      (b) Staff members of public or private agencies, institutions and facilities. Licensees who are staff members of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, and who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse. UPON NOTIFICATION BY THE LICENSEE, THE PERSON IN CHARGE OR THE DESIGNATED AGENT SHALL ASSUME THE RESPONSIBILITY AND HAVE THE LEGAL OBLIGATION TO REPORT OR CAUSE A REPORT TO BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTIONS (a), (c), AND (d).

  6. This is where it becomes difficult for me. I get what you're saying, I understand that the authorities have a system in place to deal with things like this. The authorities were part of the problem here, and no one would stand up and be counted. Does that mean that it was Mr Paterno's job to do that? No, it wasn't anybody's job, and no one did.

    1. Or perhaps there was no evidence of an actionable crime involving PSU and Sandusky in 1998 or 2001.

    2. Re stand up and be counted, like follow the money, follow the flow of disclosure(MCQ to Dr D and MCQ Sr, to Joe P,to Curley/ Schultz/ Spanier, and then to 2M and from then???) and see where it stops. That's what the focus needs to be on. Joe P did what he had to do and what was prudent to do. When Joe P told Mcq he did the right thing in bringing it to his intention, he wasn't doing an impersonation of Tony Soprano; he was praising MCQ for his gutz in stepping fowarda nd shining the light. Joe did not bury it, he did what he thought was the appropariate thing to do in moving it foward(after all neither Mcq, DR D or Mcq Sr called the police and Joe had no ist hand knowledge).

  7. I'm well beyond the "perhaps" part of things. I certainly don't blame Mr Paterno. Like I said, this is the difficult part.

  8. And to think that all this took place without one BoT member knowing anything about what was going on. State College, a big matropolis that no one knows whats happening. How does this all revolve around JoePa? I will always blame a certain number of BoT for actions that they should have been removed from the B as not representing Penn State, Alumni, Past Players and the future.

    1. Also hard to believe that a (now former) member of the BOT who runs a large multi-national corporation based in PA, that also had a brother that lived in Sandusky's basement while playing for PSU in the early 70s and a nephew that played for PSU as a wide receiver, with Mike McQueary as his position coach, never heard a peep or comment about the 2001 incident.

      Even harder to believe when you consider the same (now former) BOT member's business directly benefits from a major economic policy (expansion of gas drilling) of the now Governor of PA, who was also the head of the Sandusky investigation. I'm sure those two never talked and it was never mentioned that Sandusky was being investigated and that employees of that Board's school were being asked to testify.

      How could this (now former) BOT member ever know about this?

  9. Ray my wife is also a mandated reporter and has reported a case to ChildLine as well. She never ever heard another word about the case from them.

  10. Hi Ray,

    I have brought this up a few times before to different folks, and it still baffles me. In light of the Costas - Leno piece, I revisit it.....So.....McQueary witnesses something....he tells his dad...he then tells Coach Paterno....Joe doesn't just report it to his superiors, but he also, either creates a means for McQueary to report what he witnessed to Schultz and Curley....McQueary had direct dialog with the people in the organization who could legitimately do something about....they weren't relying on Joe's version of what Mike told them....they heard it directly....Most of the media narrative makes it sound like Mike told Joe, Joe told Schultz and Curley...and it ended there....No one, as far as I can discern, seems to be focusing on the conversation McQueary had with Schultz and Curley. Isn't that the real conversation, the one that can be either refuted or substantiated? All the focus has been on Coach Paterno, but it would seem, at least to me, that the critical discussion and subsequent actions are tied to McQueary's dialog with Gary Schultz and Tim Curley. At the most, Joe served as a go-between to get the guy who saw "it" (whatever 'it' was) talking with the people in the chain of command who were in a position to take further action.

    1. Agree. Paterno did what he was supposed to do. Bob Costas and others continue to believe that Paterno and PSU officials should have been suspicious of Sandusky's behavior -- it's as if the Clemente report doesn't exist.

  11. Ray, what PSU policy did Joe follow back in 2001 that forced him to not send Mike to the police?