Sunday, November 06, 2011

Only now he's barred from campus? (UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM JOE PATERNO)

1st UPDATE: 9:16 p.m. EST: In his first public comments since the sexual assault charges against his former assistant coach were announced, Penn State's Joe Paterno has issued a statement. The Associated Press reports that Paterno has adopted a cautious line.

"If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers," Paterno in a statement issued Sunday evening by his son, Scott.
Paterno, a Hall of Famer and the winningest coach in Division I history, is not implicated in the case.
"Joe Paterno was a witness who cooperated and testified before the grand jury," said Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office. "He's not a suspect."
Paterno referred to his grand jury testimony in which he testified that he was informed by an assistant coach in 2002 that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of the team locker room. Prosecutors have said Paterno had passed on the information to athletic director Tim Curley.
But Paterno said specific actions alleged to have occurred in the grand jury report were not relayed to him.
"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report," Paterno said in the statement. "Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators."
The New York Times notes that Paterno -- and not just because of his high-profile status -- is being scrutinized despite the aforementioned assurances that he is not under investigation.

ORIGINAL POST: I read today that Penn State is barring former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky from campus after a grand jury investigation found he sexually assaulted multiple boys.

That decision would appear to be long overdue.

Yes, Mr. Sandusky deserves the presumption of innocence as the legal case against him moves forward. However, if this marks the first time the university's leadership determined that it ought to distance itself from him, then significant questions about the way it has handled its role in the lengthy investigation needs to be fully vetted.

I mentioned yesterday that athletic director Tim Curley, facing perjury charges after being accused of lying to the grand jury, likely will not remain at Penn State if any hint of his role in a cover up is validated.

Of course, if others were involved in a cover up, then they, too, will face the likelihood of being dismissed. FOX News hints in this story that the list could be lengthy.

To read this [grand jury] report is to be sickened, but also to wonder why no one did anything to help.
And while the graduate assistant and janitor don’t get a pass, they were reacting to an emotional and horrifying scene.
Joe Paterno was not. Penn State athletic director Tim Curley was not. Penn State’s senior VP of finances and business Gary Schultz was not. Penn State president Graham Spanier was not.
They were acting, if the grand jury is right, in the most cool, calculating, self-preserving way. They still are acting that way, bureaucratically. Curley and Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report for allegedly failing to alert police when they learned of the alleged facts pertaining to Victim 2 in a meeting with the graduate assistant.
According to the report, no one even asked the name of some of these boys.
If the report is right, Paterno, leader of men for the past half century, simply called his athletic director and passed on the information of the rape his graduate assistant described to him; like telling your boss on a co-worker who is stealing staples from the supply closet.
No, Paterno, and the other school officials, did nothing to help the boys, or to help any other boys in the future.
They actually told Sandusky that he couldn’t keep bringing boys from his charity onto the Penn State campus, into the football facilities, according to the grand jury findings.
Not that they told him to stop doing to those boys what is alleged.
Just stop doing it here.
If that claim is true, Paterno needs to resign right now, though he is not charged with any crime. And yes, he reported it to his boss. But it’s fair to expect more from him.
However, what we don't know yet is whether the coach did do something more. But that hasn't stopped one newspaper to suggest the Sandusky scandal could undermine much of what Paterno has done at Penn State.

In the end, if it is determined that there were people in State College who tried to cover up, dismiss, or otherwise ignore the scandal, then, yes, they deserve to be penalized in some way. But to predict who they might be at this point is simply not fair.

One can expect there will be pressure on Sandusky to accept any kind of plea bargain that his attorneys or the prosecutor's office might put forward. The concern I would have about such a deal is that it could be a means of protecting any number of people at Penn State.

That would be unfortunate. The "scandal" will soon reach a point -- if it hasn't already -- that it will demand many people at the university to explain what they knew and when. And, yes, what they did about it.

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