Saturday, December 23

Setting the Record Straight on Paterno and Penn State

The majority of the public remains in the dark about the facts of the Sandusky (a.k.a., Penn State) Scandal because their knowledge of it is mostly based on inaccurate information provided by law enforcement officials, misleading media reports, the Freeh Report, and opinion pieces that were disguised as news

Ray Blehar

December 23, 2017. 6:10 PM EST, Updated at 10:50 PM

For the last six years, many Penn Staters have found themselves repeatedly correcting the record in discussions with friends, family, football fans, and many others about what really happened at Penn State University(PSU) regarding the Sandusky scandal. 

For the most part, here's what the public believes in a nutshell:

In 2001, Joe Paterno was told about an employee -- Jerry Sandusky -- raping a boy in the football building and did nothing about it.  Paterno, football coaches, and other high ranking PSU officials were aware of prior sex acts by Sandusky and stayed quiet about them to protect the football program.  As a result of the cover up, Sandusky was able to lure boys to campus and molest them up  until the time he was arrested in November 2011.  

The facts contradict the public's beliefs at every turn.

KNOWLEDGE OF PRIOR ACTS (or lack thereof)

1.  Two claimants, who were awarded settlements from PSU, alleged they informed Paterno of sexual acts committed by Sandusky in 1971 and 1976.  When the allegations became public in 2016, the University issued a statement that the allegations were not vetted/verified.  Had a legitimate vetting/verification process taken place, those allegations would have been determined to be without merit.

2. The 1971 allegation that (unheralded linebacker coach) Sandusky picked up a hitch-hiker, plied him with drugs and alcohol, then physically assaulted him before raping him simply does not comport with the fact that Sandusky was an acquaintance offender who befriended his victims and gradually groomed them to comply with his sexual advances.   It also belies the fact that Sandusky was a tea totaler who didn't use drugs.   The 1971 victim also alleged that his foster parents told him that PSU wouldn't do anything about it,  however they allegedly proceeded to call Paterno directly at his University office.  It is worth noting that Paterno's home phone number was listed in the local telephone directory and would have been much easier to find than his office line.  The claimant also alleged that Paterno didn't believe his story because of Sandusky's reputation for good works in the community.  This was one year prior to Sandusky founding The Second Mile (TSM) and before Sandusky had established a track record of good works.  There is no record of this report at PSU nor is there any record that this alleged rape was reported to the University, local, or state police and/or child welfare authorities.  Finally, the corroborating source of the story was recently deceased Paterno-hater, Bernie McCue who was well- known in the State College community for his erratic behavior -- including two arrests (2006 & 2012) for harassment, one for obscene language and gestures in 2016 and one for disorderly conduct (fighting) in 2017.  Despite all of these inconsistencies and a highly questionable source, CNN's Sara Ganim reported the story.  (Note: I did not to link this story because it should be retracted)

3.  The 1976 allegation that a camper at a Penn State football camp was molested by  Sandusky while in a group shower with other campers and football coaches was easily refuted on the basis that the campers showered in their dormitories -- not in the locker room showers.  The claimant also alleged he informed Paterno and other coaches as they were meeting in an office building, however, Paterno's office was in the basketball arena at that time.  This alleged incident also does not comport with Sandusky's method of operation as an acquaintance offender who gradually introduced his victims to touching.

4.  Allegations that other coaches observed Sandusky in sexual acts with children were also uncorroborated and characterized by the PA OAG as "double and triple hearsay" -- according this statement.

5.  A 1998 complaint was filed by the mother of Victim 6 when Sandusky showered with her son, who he had met through TSM, after working out in the football facilities.  The complaint was investigated by then-Detective Ronald Schreffler the University Park police and agents  Jerry Lauro from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and John Miller from Centre County Children and Youth Services.  Investigators interviewed two boys who showered with Sandusky.  When interviewed, Sandusky also admitted he had done the same with other boys.

6.   DPW investigator Lauro determined that there was not sufficient evidence that the children required protection from Sandusky.  Schreffler did not find sufficient evidence to charge Sandusky with crimes. 

7.   Then University Park Police chief Tom Harmon advised then Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz and then-Athletic Director, Timothy  Curley that there "since there was no criminal behavior established that the matter was closed as an investigation."

8.  Curley was the conduit of information from the 1998 investigation to Paterno. Curley testified that he did not know the details of the investigation.  He later informed Paterno that the investigation closed without charges.

9.  Schultz's notes confirm he was privy to many of the details of the investigation but there is no evidence that he passed the details to Paterno, Curley, and Spanier.

10.  The public's perception that Paterno and/or PSU officials were aware of prior sexual acts or dangerous behavior by Sandusky is not supported by the evidence. 


11.  At the time of the 2001 incident, Jerry Sandusky was retired from PSU for approximately three years.  PSU officials had no administrative authority over Sandusky.

12.  Then graduate assistant football coach, Mike McQueary observed Sandusky and a boy in a shower facility in the Lasch football building in February 2001.  McQueary testified that  he reported the incident to Paterno,  but he did NOT tell Paterno he had observed a rape nor did he use any explicitly sexual terms out of respect for the coach. 

13.  Paterno reported the 2001 incident to his supervisor, then Athletic Director, Timothy Curley, per University procedure.

14.  Curley testified in March 2017 (at the trial of Graham Spanier) that Paterno informed him of "horseplay" and that Paterno did not say that Sandusky and the child were naked.

15.  Curley's testimony of "horseplay" was corroborated by the testimony of former Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz, although Schultz got the impression that Sandusky and the child were naked.

16.  Curley and Schultz met with McQueary on or about February 19, 2001.  Both men testified that McQueary confirmed Paterno's version of the incident but McQueary did not explicitly describe it as "horseplay" or "horsing around."  McQueary described physical contact between Sandusky and the minor youth, but did not say the incident was sexual in nature.

17.  Schultz's testimony was more descriptive than Curley's, however it corroborated that no explicit details of sexual misconduct were provided.  It is notable that no other witness involved in the case corroborated what McQueary actually saw.

18.   Regardless of the vagueness of McQueary's report, Curley, Schultz, and then-University President Graham Spanier took his complaint seriously.  After discussion,  the incident was reported to Sandusky's employer, TSM, with the option of further reporting to DPW if the charity refused to comply with PSU's directive prohibiting Sandusky from using the showers with charity participants.

19.  As evidenced by the report to TSM (and by communicating about it openly over email), there was no effort to keep the incident a secret.

20.  In March 2017 Spanier trial, the jury found there was not sufficient evidence of a conspiracy to not report Sandusky.

21.  In summary, the public perception that Paterno and/or PSU officials failed to act on the 2001 report and covered it up is contradicted by the evidence.

POST 2001 CRIMES (or lack thereof)

22.  There is no reliable evidence that Sandusky committed a crime on campus after 2001, when he was advised not to shower with children in the football facilities.

23.  Only Victim 5 alleged he was victimized on the campus after 2001, however he gave four different years -- 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2002 - for when that crime occurred.  Given his birth year of 1998, he would have been 10 in 1998 and then 12, 13, and 14 respectively in 2000, 2001, and 2002. 

24.  Victim 5 told police in 2011 and then testified in 2012 that that Sandusky had an erection while they showered together but he was too young to understand its significance.   That seemingly would fit for a boy of 11 or 12, but not a teenage boy.  As such, it is more likely he showered with Sandusky prior to 2001.

25.  There are no other known victims or civil claimants alleging that they were victimized on campus after 2001.

26.  The public's percention that Sandusky was molesting children in the PSU football facilities after 2001 and up to the time of his arrest is not supported by the evidence.


27.  In November 2011, Sandusky was charged with forty counts of sexually abusing children.  Ten more counts were added in December 2011.   In June 2012, Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 counts, however he was acquitted of the alleged 2001 rape that was used by the media to label this case as a football scandal.

28.  In November 2011, Curley and Schultz were charged with failure to report suspected child abuse and perjury -- and were presumed guilty.  Both charges were dismissed.

29.  In November 2012, Curley and Schultz were additionally charged with 2 counts of Endangering the Welfare of  Child (EWOC) and a related conspiracy charge, 2 counts of obstruction of justice and a related conspiracy charge, and conspiracy to commit perjury.  Curley and Schultz pleaded guilty to one count of EWOC in 2017.  All other charges were dismissed. 

30. In November 2012, Spanier was charged with failure to report suspected child abuse, perjury, conspiracy to commit perjury, 2 counts of EWOC and a related conspiracy charge, and 2 counts of obstruction of justice and a related conspiracy charge.  Six of the nine counts were dismissed prior to his trial.  

31.  Spanier was tried in March 2017 and was found not guilty on one EWOC charge and related conspiracy.  He was convicted on one count of EWOC.  He is appealing the conviction.

32.  The trial judge, John Boccabella, stated that Curley, Schultz, and Spanier were "good people who made a terrible mistake."

33.  The public's perception that there was a conspiracy and that Sandusky wasn't reported in 2001 because PSU feared damage to its reputation isn't supported by the verdicts and/or the evidence.


  1. Good summary.

    The 1971 and 1976 accusers both tell fantastic tales. The 1971 accuser was not even believed by a state trooper friend who heard the story after Sandusky was arrested in Nov. 2011. The state trooper was required by law to report suspected child abuse but he never reported it to the Attorney General.

    The 1976 accuser allegedly was assaulted by Sandusky in a crowded shower room and yelled out to the other campers that Sandusky had just assaulted him. If it actually happened, then at least one of those other campers would have come forward to corroborate the story. None ever came forward.

    Also disproving the claims from 1971 and 1976 was the fact that Paterno reported to superiors about the only proven claim he received of Sandusky acting inappropriately with a boy in 2001.

    It makes zero sense that Paterno would have covered up the 1971 and 1976 incidents for up to 40 years and then suddenly risk exposing that coverup by reporting the 2001 incident. The evidence strongly indicates 2001 was the first Sandusky incident reported to Paterno.

    1. Tim,
      I'll add that if Paterno did these things in 1971 and 1976, he would have been much more interested in the 1998 allegations and would have interfered in the investigation.

      As the evidence shows, Paterno was hardly involved with the 1998 case.

  2. I strongly agree that the article about the 1971 accuser by CNN's Sara Ganim should be retracted. It did not even come close to normal journalistic standards that require publishing responses from people disparaged by an article and corroborating allegations. It just seemed like a hit piece on a dead Paterno. The article libeled or made disparaging claims about several people but Paterno was the only one named.

    Ganim did not name the following:

    1. The priest who allegedly sexually abused the teen before Sandusky allegedly raped him. Ganim made no mention if she checked church records for this priest. The Catholic Church often kept detailed records on accusations against pedophile priests.

    2. The church and church official(s) who kicked the teen out of the church when he reported being abused by a priest.

    3. The foster parents who failed to report to police that their foster son had been raped.

    4. The Penn State official, identified only as Jim in the article, who the accuser said he also reported to.

    5. The former pro football player who took the accuser to Super Bowls, who the accuser alleged humiliated him after the pro football player was told of the accuser's Sandusky story.

    If President Trump wants a prime example of CNN "fake news" he should use Sara Ganim's article on the 1971 accuser.

    1. Tim,
      Thank you for pointing out those problems with the story.

      If Sara Ganim is an investigative reporter, shouldn't we have seen a CNN report on the molestation by a priest and the cover up by the Catholic church in the State College area?

      Agree that this story was nothing more than a hit piece and should be retracted.

  3. Ray - On your item 4 about allegations that other coaches saw child abuse by Sandusky, was that all Mike McQueary's double hearsay about Schiano and Bradley or did it come from others too?

    I have never seen a news report mention it but Schiano coached at PSU the first two years that Mike McQueary played there. That raises the possibility that McQueary had some of a grudge against Schiano, which would give him motive to libel him.

  4. Tim,
    Some of the claimants in the PSU settlement process alleged that other coaches, specifically, Kevin O'Dea, witnessed Sandusky in some kind of inapppropriate conduct with kids. O'Dea denied the allegation.

  5. Ray, I'm eager to hear your take on the long article in today's Washington Post in which you played a prominent part. (Nice photo!)

    Judging from the pathetic comments left by readers ("readers") of the Post, it seems that a lot of people formed their opinions about Paterno and Penn State years ago from the initial incompetent coverage given by the news media to Fact-Free Freeh's press conference, and no one is going to change their tiny minds, the facts be damned.

  6. Jack,
    See tonight's blog.

    I avoid the comment sections for the reasons you mentioned -- most commenters still believe what was written in the grand jury presentment were facts and that the Freeh Report is gospel. Neither are true.