Thursday, January 30

ESPN's 30 for 30 on Richard Jewell Fits With Rush To Judgment on Paterno

The media and law enforcement rush to judgment in the Jewell's case foreshadowed what would happen at Duke and PSU.  Media convicted innocent men in all three cases.

Ray Blehar

I often refer to the Penn State/Sandusky Scandal as the Duke Lacrosse case on steroids.  My last presentation in San Diego outlined the key facts that demonstrate this parallel.  However, after watching ESPN's piece on the Richard Jewell case, similar parallels exist.

The Jewell case occurred on July 27, 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics when the security guard caught sight of a suspicious package and began clearing the area.  Before all could be evacuated, the bomb exploded, killing two and injuring over 100 people.  Had Jewell not spotted the package and taken action, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics would be remembered for an act of terrorism that killed hundreds.

Richard Jewell was lauded as a hero immediately after it was learned that he discovered the bomb and cleared that area.  That lasted three days.

Similarly, in the Sandusky case, the Patriot News wrote an article on Saturday, November 5th, 2011, stating that Joe Paterno was not a suspect in the case and had acted appropriately. That lasted three days.

By Monday morning, the entire dynamic changed when Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, who was under fire for the three year Sandusky investigation, proclaimed that Paterno had a "moral responsibility" to call police.  Noonan's comments changed the entire dynamic as the press smelled blood in the water and went on the attack, contributing to the firing of Paterno and actively inciting a riot on PSU's campus.

Bungled Law Enforcement Investigations

The FBI, at the time under the direction of Louis Freeh, leaked Richard Jewell's name as a suspect in the case -- based on a tip received from a former employer of Jewell's -- Piedmont College.  To make matters worse, the FBI arrived at the apartment shared by Jewell and his mother in the plain sight of the media -- rather than calling Jewell to a meeting at FBI headquarters.   The FBI kept Jewell under surveillance for 88 days before finally clearing him.

The Sandusky investigation could be summed up as a comedy of errors.  While all of the victims were plucked from The Second Mile charity, founded by Sandusky, the OAG investigators and police didn't get a warrant for the charity's participant records until two years into the investigation.  At the trial, the investigator and prosecutor stated that they had difficulty finding victims because Penn State was uncooperative.  The facts told an entirely different story, as the police similarly did not arrive on PSU's campus until about two years into the investigation.  But rather than clear PSU officials, who actually put a stop to Sandusky's abuse on campus in 2001, they charged them with failure to report (initially) and then child endangerment.

Media Leads Initial Attacks

In the Jewell case, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) led the reporting on the incident and was the first to proclaim Jewell was a suspect.  The headline read:  "FBI suspects 'hero' guard may have planted bomb." Because it was the olympic games, this became a world-wide story.  The bell had been rung and now couldn't be unrung.

The Harrisburg Patriot News became the lead dog for the national media in the Sandusky case, and they pulled a similar manuever when they printed a front page op-ed that first proclaimed Sandusky innocent until proven guilty, but then didn't apply the same standard to Spanier and Paterno -- neither of whom, ironically, were even facing charges.  The sentence read:  "But right now, here, today, we know what Spanier and Paterno did — and did not do."

Media Misrepresents the Facts

The AJC's reporting repeated the FBI's assessment fit the profile of a "lone bomber" and a "hero wannabe," which was damning to the security guard.  The public was led to believe that Jewell was, in fact, the bomber and not just a suspect.  Some speculated that the AJC wanted to calm the public's fears that the bomber would strike again, thus were under immense pressure to solve the case quickly.

In Harrisburg, the PN similarly took accusations from the grand jury presentment - a one-sided prosecutorial document - and presented them as facts.  A 10 year old boy was raped.  No one reported the incident.  Many boys were abused as a result of PSU's inaction.  Paterno had a moral obligation to do more.  The PN's motivation appeared to be run with the story that would sell the most newspapers -- not the story that was supported by the facts.

Innocent Men Swarmed

Throngs of media stood outside the apartment of Richard Jewell and his mother for the days following the announcement of Jewell as a suspect.  Jewell would have to wade through the mass of reporters on his way to and from work, with the only intention of doing his job as a security guard.  Richard and his mother were prisoners in their own home.

A similar situation took place outside Paterno's home on McKee Street.  The reporters set up camp there and swarmed Paterno whenever he went to and from work.  Meanwhile, across town, few if any media were outside Sandusky's home.  Sandusky came and went without media attention, working out at a local gym with his wife Dottie.

Voices From The Past Are Revived

Once the initial story died down, the AJC had to find ways to keep feeding the public's thirst for information so they dug around in his past.  They went to previous employers and coworkers who would confirm that Jewell sought the limelight, wanted to be the hero, was in the militia, and other stories that would be used to tear down Jewell's character.

Vicky Triponey
In Paterno's case, the media found a new heroine in a former PSU administrator named Vicky Triponey.  Triponey had her own ideas about how discipline at Penn State should be handled and locked horns with Paterno over the discipline of football players involved in an off-campus fight.  The faculty ended up siding with Paterno, not because he was influential at PSU, but because by most accounts, Triponey was a tyrant.  While employed at the University of Connecticut, she took steps to remove students rights and repeated the practice when she arrived at PSU.  A student run publication, Safeguard Old State, ran a series of articles called Triponey's "Timeline of Terror, outlining her anti-student policies at UConn and PSU.

A Lot of People Were Fooled - And Want to Stay Fooled.
The media created the hysteria around the Jewell case and everyone believed Jewell was the bomber.  It wasn't until 88 days later -- after Jewell had passed lie detector tests -- that the FBI had cleared him and Jewell was able to call out the media for the damage they had done.  However, despite winning several lawsuits, Jewell was unable to "unring the bell."   Jewell died in 2007 -- two years after Eric Robert Rudolph confessed to committing the bombings.  Jewell's wife said she still received phone calls from people claiming that Jewell was still the bomber.

In the Sandusky case, the media and Louis Freeh combined to create a false narrative that Paterno and PSU officials were aware of a serial pedophile in their midst for decades and failed to act.  It wasn't until former FBI-profiler, James Clemente, released his report in February 2013, that people began to realize that the statements about Paterno may not be true.  Later that summer, lead prosecutor Frank Fina would proclaim that he found no evidence of Paterno's involvement in a cover-up.  However, in Paterno's case, the media ignored this information and simply refused to correct the record.  

What's Next

The Paterno case is far from over.  There is a pending trial for PSU officials, a pending lawsuit versus the NCAA (by the family) and two ongoing investigations that may ultimately show that Paterno and PSU were wrongfully blamed for enabling Sandusky's crimes.

Unlike the Jewell case, the bell for Joe Paterno can be "un-rung."


  1. This is an important connection you are showing us Ray, this Louis Freeh/media connection as related to setting up the actual heroes in a tragedy as the villains. I'm completely perplexed as to why Louis Freeh shows a very clear pattern of defamation against innocent people. Could it be Freeh is actually just so ill that he enjoys destroying good people's lives at a whim? Is he a high functioning sociopath that gets his kicks from manipulating the public's opinion so easily by spreading misinformation to the media? And the "leaks" to the press. That's one of his classic manipulate the media ruses.

    The money Freeh makes in his defamation-for-hire racket seems to be one of the more easily identifiable motives that he now has for ruining lives. But what about the Richard Jewell days? Was it just pure sadistic whim then? And maybe quite a bit of that now? Only difference between then and now is, Freeh has found a way to earn a living off of his sadistic pleasures.

    1. Freeh was behind some of the deceptive techniques used on Jewell in this case....

      ****Thanks to Freeh’s reforms, FBI agents receive special training to give them a “deeper intellectual understanding of human rights,” as the Washington Post reported. But there are one or two loopholes. The official course material used in FBI ethics classes declares: “The harmful effects [of deception] may be counterbalanced by beneficial consequences.” The Post noted, “Subjects of FBI investigations, according to the academy’s study guide, ‘have forfeited their right to the truth,’ and as a result, agents are justified in the use of decoys, sting operations and other forms of deception when they are investigating a case.”

      On July 27, 1996, a pipe bomb went off at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, where the world’s athletes and media were gathered for the Olympic games. The FBI decided that 33-year-old security guard Richard Jewell, who had found the bomb and helped clear the area and minimize fatalities, had also planted the bomb. FBI agents lured Jewell over to their Atlanta office and asked him to help them make a training film about detecting bombs. The ruse allowed the agents to question Jewell extensively without reading him a Miranda warning – without alerting him that anything he said could be used against him. As Investor’s Business Daily noted, “Jewell was the bureau’s top suspect, a fact that was leaked to the press in time for cameras to catch agents poring over Jewell’s home.”

  2. Yet unlike the Jewell case, at PSU there were individuals who were driven to take action to protect their own interests in the wake of the spotlight now shining on them. This came at the expense of Joe Paterno and others, the others in this case constituting the entire Pennsylvania State University, represented by her President and two senior administrators. Before the media was done every part of the university community was a victim. Perhaps the damage was so much more pervasive in the Sandusky case because Louis Freeh had cut his teeth in 1996, and knew just what to do when the corporate titans who control Penn State's trustees came calling.

  3. No! This was the perfect storm that everybody who held a grudge or wanted to hide something had the opportunity. Corbett's befuddled and muddled investigation of Sandusky. Surma's perceived payback to Paterno. The other board members distancing themselves from the Second Mile-along with Freeh, and a trajectory into to orbit with clean hands!!

  4. So, If Penn State did not know that Sandusky was abusing boys on campus, then how did they know to put a stop to his abusing boys on campus? If they knew enough to stop him, then they knew enough to report him...but the President and other administrators covered it up. Also, does that mean in Penn State's eyes it was fine for Sandusky to abuse boys, perhaps at his house-just not on campus?

    1. By banning him from bringing Second Mile kids on campus, they effectively stopped his abuse on campus. They only had knowledge - a complaint - that he was seen showering and horsing around with a teenager. They took action to end that activity.

      It was no different than if they had received a report of a female professor who was nude sunbathing with her female students in a courtyard. Inappropriate, but not illegal. Tell her to stop nude sunbathing with students.

      PSU had no idea Sandusky was abusing boys on campus or elsewhere. There is no evidence of that.

    2. steve kidding, are you kidding? One thing Ray didn't point out to you was, PA government/law enforcement had complaints at least as early as Corbett's first term as Attorney General, 1995. So anything occurring after that with Sandusky is Corbett's abandonment of duty to protect children and PSU from a known pedophile. PSU, the children, Paterno, Curley and Schultz are all VICTIMS! They are all victims of PA government corruption and collusion with the wealthy to allow Second Mile founder Sandusky to remain untouched by law enforcement for a decade. And Louis Freeh is a party to obstruction of justice.

    3. Ray .... Why in the hell would Curley, Schultz and Spanier decide to threaten a charge to be filed with the state if JS did not admit he had a problem and seek "professional help"?

      Female sunbather ... as you would say, tell her to stop. You do not threaten a state investigation and direct her to professional help. We all know what Curley meant by "professional help."

      PSU took action? Heh. Yeah, they came up with a policy that they admitted could never be enforced. Taking action the PSU way.

    4. JJ,
      You have an uncanny ability to develop strawman arguments.

      1. Curley & Schultz never "threatened" Sandusky with "a charge to be filed." However, reporting Sandusky to DPW if he chose not to cooperate with PSU's directive was an OPTION.

      2. Yes, a female sunbather may in fact, be told to get professional help. Nude sunbathing on campus would certainly be outside the norm and cause PSU to question the person's mental state.

      3. The trial verdicts proved that the ban on Sandusky bringing kids on campus stopped the assaults there.


    5. Thanks for publishing.

      Curley wrote that they would go to Sandusky, tell him he had a problem, and tell him that if he didn't get professional help, Curley would then go to the state. He further wrote that after speaking with "Coach" the day before, he was "uncomfortable" going to anyone except those involved, i.e. Sandusky and TSM.

      If he was concerned enough to initially go to the state, wouldn't he actually ask JS and the boy what happened? There was no investigation, but there was a decision to not report it to the state. The TSM CEO stated that Curley told him that PSU had investigated the matter. He also stated that Curley was concerned about the publicity if Sandusky's conduct became known to the general public.

      To be clear, I do not believe Paterno was involved in a cover-up. He did not direct anybody to hide the allegations, nor did he tell MM to not speak with anyone. Paterno's testimony was consisted throughout this matter. He also wished in hindsight he wish he had done more. I can't believe
      Scott Paterno, or any other lawyer, would want JP to admit to anything. Based on JP's history, my guess is he insisted that the language be included in the statement. And he deserves credit for this; it was a gutsy call.

      What is sad is that Curley, Spanier and Schultz botched this matter so completely. That does not mean PSU people were/are bad. They kept this matter to themselves for reasons stated in the email exchanges that were later uncovered.

      My take on all this .... I think you might be better served by acknowledging what these guys did. They didn't tell anyone else about this, such as other PSU's administrators or the BOT. The actions of these three do not represent PSU, students, alumni, or fans. They made a horrible choice which is not defensible. I believe Curley/Schultz lived exemplary lives, with the notable exception of this episode.

      One other thing .... I do not believe Curley met with JP the day before he made the decision to not tell the state if JS admitted he had a problem and sought professional help. Again, Jp's testimony was always consistent. Curley lied. I cannot believe he would not have remembered the 1998 incident. The emails show he was very aware of the 1998 incident. I cannot believe he would not remember a state investigation of the DC in which a 95 page police report was created. I have mentioned the other lies I believe they told, but will not repeat it here.

      One question ..... what was the 1984 incident involving JS? It has been brought up, but I have not seen any description of what occured or who was involved.

    6. JJ - In one of the documents released during the recent hearing on Baldwin's testimony, Asst. Attorney General Fina mentioned that they had found a 1984 report of abuse by Sandusky, "contact with minor," but couldn't find any police paperwork associated with it.

      The crazy system in PA is that CYS and DPW keep a record of child abuse complaints they receive but destroy their files on any child abuse investigations if the complaint is later concluded to be unfounded. Police do not usually destroy their files.

      Fina apparently can't even tell if the 1984 complaint was ever investigated at all by CYS or DPW or if it was investigated and determined to be unfounded.

  5. Then why did Wendell Courtney bill PSU in 2-11-2001 for a "Conference with G Schultz re reporting of suspected child abuse...."??? How about the Feb 28 2001 email from Gary Schultz to Spanier and Curley- "more humane way to handle this" They continue to discuss "being aware of the first situation" (i.e. 1998). Are people to suppose these 3 men were so dumb that they did not realize what Sandusky was doing? Why did they need to "humanely" handle these actions if they didn't mean anything? Spanier, Curley and Schultz were grown men that made conscious decisions not to report a person they SUSPECTED of child abuse. They ARE NOT VICTIMS!!!! Of course your reply will be 1) the emails were faked... 2) it was all Corbett's fault (even though by statue the AG has to be asked to take over a case that the DA has legal jurisdiction of i.e. what DA Madiera did) & even wasn't even AG in 2001...or the other rallying cry 3) They didn't know t was sexual. Coach Paterno testified that he knew that the event was of "a sexual nature" . So who is lying? Coach Paterno? Or Spanier, Schultz and Curley?

    1. Scientific research has proved that eyewitness testimony is often unreliable so McQueary's testimony should be naturally suspect.

      Add in that it's a ten year old memory based on a 1 or 2 second glance and it becomes more doubtful.

      Add in that trooper Rossman, who took McQueary's first statement, was present when fellow officer Leiter was leading victim 4, and it is even more doubtful.

      Scientific research has proven that it very easy to implant false memories, even unintentionally, just with the choice of words used in questioning.

      Doesn't it seem odd that McQueary said he told other friends and relatives about the 2001 incident over the years yet he can't remember exactly who he told and none have come forward to corroborate his story?

    2. Nice summary, Tim.

      The whole case that PSU covered up or failed to report is predicated on McQueary's story from 2010/2011 being the story that he told in 2001.

      The case also rests on the concept that McQueary told the same story to every person. Well, we know that is not true because Dr. Dranov testified that Mike never told him what he saw. Curley and Schultz also say that McQueary never told them the details of what he saw. Even Mike's father has never testified to what Mike saw.

      Amazingly, Paterno never testfied the McQueary told him about slapping sounds. Yet no one brings that up. Paterno also told the police he didn't remember meeting with Curley and Schultz to discuss the incident. Paterno also said he never talked with Curley at all after he told him what happened over the phone. So, Curley's email about talking to Joe in late February is either a fake or Paterno was wrong and forgot he talked with Curley.

      The BOTTOM LINE here is Pateno didn't remember anything about this incident. Whatever he said at the grand jury was a result of his memory being refreshed -- probably by the police interview just prior to him testifying.

  6. Steve K,
    My reply is much so simpler than you could ever imagine.

    PSU REPORTED the incident to the authorities.

    Neither you or anyone else has provided one iota of evidence that disproves it.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking with Sandusky about the alleged incident before you talk to his charity about it. That is a humane way to handle it....rather than doing the opposite and going directly to his EMPLOYER.

    Paterno recanted his grand jury testimony on November 6th, stating that McQueary never used those terms with him.

    McQueary didn't see anything and that's what he told everyone in 2001. In 2010, his story changed. In 2011, his story changed again. And in 2013 his story changed again.

    1. You are so right. Mcquerry testimony changed numerous times. And what about Corbetts beef with joe. Joe pa wouldn't support him politically so when Corbett he'd the opening, it became payback time

    2. You are so right. Mcquerry testimony changed numerous times. And what about Corbetts beef with joe. Joe pa wouldn't support him politically so when Corbett he'd the opening, it became payback time

  7. NOTICE: Comments are moderated for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the high number of (paid) trolls who attempt to recycle old arguments about allegations in the case that have been thoroughly discredited and/or debunked.

    You are more than welcome to spam PennLive or on other sites who tolerate your nonsense.

    Your comments will be appropriately flagged as Spam on this site.

    1. I suppose this is directed at me. I am not a paid troll, and find it offensive that those who purport to want this matter reviewed only want it done so on their terms. Insulting those that disagree is exactly what you are offended by when others do it to you. If you are talking about Coach Paterno's statement "related to me the very specific actions" then he may be discerning between rape and "sexual nature"-two very different things. If he was untruthful to the grand jury and recanted, then he was guilty of perjury. I never met the Coach, but everything about the man says he would never commit perjury. He was advised by his son, a lawyer, so he must have understood the necessity of being truthful and forthcoming with the grand jury.

      Much of your blog is devoted to the role of the Second Mile in this whole situation, yet you think it was ok for Spanier, Curley and Schultz to go to Sandusky and not directly to the Second Mile. Your position is illogical. Why be concerned for treating the pedophile humanely? Shouldn't your first concern be for the victim? Or were they concerned for the University?

      You will most likely moderate this comment-i.e. delete it. It is your blog, but I do notice that you do not like anyone that disagrees with YOUR INTERPRETATION of the facts, yet you consistently call for the arrest of people and defame the character of all those involved that did not interpret the events as you see them now. Perhaps you should follow in the words of the great coach "with the benefit of hindsight" o

    2. Steve,
      It is absolutely, 100% preposterous for the public to believe that Joe Paterno actually recalls, with specificity, a ten minute conversation from 10 years prior. Any memory expert will tell you that your mind does not recall exactly what was said or what happens but recreates the situation. That recreation is subject to suggestion and other information that is accessible to the brain at the time. For example, Victim 2 said that he recalled the incident in the shower happening in March 2002 -- that part of his memory of the events was drawn from news reports about the incident that were purported to be true at the time. Similarly, Paterno is invovled in a sex abuse investigation. Before he goes before the grand jury, the police conducted an interview with him to tell him why he was called as a witness. Research indicates that learning that Sandusky was accused of sex abuse had likely made an impression on Paterno that impression was added to his memory of the situation.

      That's the reality of the situation. No one in this case remembers exactly what was said in 2001 and everyone's memory is subject to impressions from events that transpired since then.

      AGAIN - PSU reported the incident to the proper authorities AND Second Mile. Two PSU officials recall that the decision was made to contact CYS and that someone followed through. The Commonwealth has provided NO EVIDENCE nor any testimony from a CYS and/or DPW official that refutes PSU's claim of a reprot.

      The idea that there was a victim or that Sandusky was a pedophile was not even on the radar of anyone at PSU. All they knew as an employee was upset because he BELIEVED something inappropriate took place in a shower between Sandusky and a boy. The reporter (McQ) told everyone he didn't SEE anything because it happened out of sight.

      This 2001 incident is completely overblown and a diversion away from the real cover-up of Sandusky's crimes. Amazing how many people have fallen for this ruse.

      As I've said 1,000 times. NO CRIMES OCCURRED ON PSU's CAMPUS AFTER 2001. There was no cover-up by PSU officials because they had no idea Sandusky was committing crimes.

    3. steve kidding: why do you not see that PSU was unknowingly dealing with a serious threat to themselves and to Sandusky's Second Mile kids because the PA Attorney General, Corbett, throughout 3 terms, would not arrest a pedophile? Your logic is like trying to blame Jeffery Dahmer's victims for the crimes committed against them. Or even going a step further in irrationality, it's like to trying to blame Jeffery Dahmer's former employer for Dahmer's actions. Because that's what PSU was to Sandusky, a former employer by 14 years!

      It's strictly a law enforcement issue to enforce the law and put known criminal individuals away. Especially when the law has complaints, as Corbett did in 1995. Corbett let it go for a decade until it broke public, and he was forced to do something. Not only did he finally, belatedly do something, but he also framed innocent people in his place.

      Ray has encyclopedic knowledge as to why Corbett and DPW swept it under the carpet. So direct your questions as to why Sandusky was allowed to inflict harm for so long to Ray B.

  8. SK - I have read all of the reports from every possible newspaper, computer story etc. and I still do not understand where you are coming from. You make up stories and results as poor as PennLive and the Freeh Report. Do you stay up at night trying to bring down PSU, Joe Paterno or the Admin or just the BOT? I had the privilege of playing for JoePa and so did my son. If I had thought he was anything but the best person to put my son with it would never happen. I know JoePa as well as anyone because I also used him ti help my coaching career.

  9. Ray, This is Steve Kilpatrick, not the other SK. My question now is: how limited in scope will the C/S/S trial be. Certainly the judge will not allow pre 2001 evidence that is not directly linked and as I have said before I have no faith in the PA courts in this matter. "Americans will do the right thing after all other possibilities are exhausted" Winston Churchill

    1. We'll have to see what charges, if any, make it through Judge Hoover's review. I suspect FTR and EWOC will be tossed. Obstruction of justice will probably make it through, unless the Judge decides Baldwin's testimony is not allowed. That would leave perjury charges, some of which are based on 1998 information.

  10. JJ,
    I'm about to step out the door so I'll be brief.

    The big fallacy here is that PSU failed to report the incident to authorities. The notes and e-mails are circumstantial evidence at best.

    In time, I will reveal the nexus between Second Mile and the DPW. Those two organizations combined to cover up Jerry's crimes for over two decades.

    Finally, my analysis reveals that Joe Paterno's testimony at the grand jury is worthless. He didn't remember anything about 2001 and what he did recall at the grand jury was suggested to him.