Monday, November 07, 2011

Sex Assault Scandal Threatens To Take Down Penn State Sports Program

This is a story that broke over the weekend, but actually began more than a decade ago. A former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, for Joe Paterno's storied Penn State Nittany Lions football team was arrested for sexually abusing 8 boys over a 15 year period from 1994 to 2009, including some incidents that are believed to have occurred in a Penn State athletic building. Sandusky faces 40 abuse charges, including 21 felonies. He was released on $100,000 bail. Sandusky retired from Paterno's staff in 1999.

Sandusky apparently encountered the children through a charity he founded and operated called The Second Mile.

The allegations are bad enough, but the university's actions are reprehensible:
According to a grand-jury report, a Penn State graduate assistant claimed that on the night of March 1, 2002, he entered the football locker room and was surprised to hear the showers running and sexual sounds coming from that area. The young coach said he witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a boy he estimated to be 10 years old, that both the well-known former coach and the boy saw him, and that he raced to his office and called his father, who advised him to leave the building.

The graduate assistant went to Paterno’s home the next day to explain what he had seen. A day later, Paterno called athletic director Tim Curley to his home to relay the message.

More than a week passed before Curley and Gary Schultz, Penn State’s senior vice president for finance and business, called upon the graduate assistant for his direct version of events.

Curley and Schultz never reported the accusation to authorities, even though the grand-jury report indicated that Schultz testified he was aware of a 1998 investigation into shower incidents involving Sandusky and children in the football building. Sandusky retired in 1999, after 21 consecutive years as a Paterno assistant.

Curley and Schultz face charges of perjury to a grand jury and failure to report suspicion of child molestation.

Penn State’s president, Graham Spanier, expressed support for Curley and Schultz. The prosecutor didn’t. Neither Curley nor Schultz, after their lengthy delay in calling upon the graduate assistant, told university police about the allegation. They face perjury charges for claiming that the graduate assistant never informed them that sexual activity was involved.

Curley did ban Sandusky from bringing children on campus again, however, and Spanier approved the ban. The university president also never informed any police authorities, but was not charged.

So, at best, the AD and a university V-P were told about a possible child molestation in a football locker room; they waited a week-and-a-half to question the witness; they took action banning the alleged perpetrator -- a longtime former trusted employee -- from bringing children on campus; and the university president approved the ban, either knowing why he approved it, or not knowing why he approved it, which would be almost equally preposterous.
The arrest shook the campus to its core, and raises questions over who knew and when. It appears that at least several people knew about the sexual abuse, but did not alert the authorities. Two officials have resigned, and are facing charges themselves for obstruction of justice and perjury:
Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and a university administrator, Gary Schultz, will step down amid a sexual abuse scandal involving a former football assistant, the university announced early Monday morning.

Curley will take an administrative leave to defend himself against perjury charges, and Schultz will retire. The decision came during an executive session Sunday night involving Graham B. Spanier, the president of the university, and members of the university’s board of trustees.

The possibility of the resignations of Coach Joe Paterno and Spanier was reportedly not discussed at the meeting.

Curley and Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business, were charged Saturday with perjury and failure to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations involving the former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, who was charged with 40 counts related to sexual abuse of boys.

Curley and Schultz deny any wrongdoing.

Mark Sherburne, the senior associate athletic director, will serve as interim athletic director.

“The board, along with the entire Penn State family, is shocked and saddened by the allegations involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky,” Steve Garban, the chairman of the board of trustees, said in a statement. “Under no circumstances does the university tolerate behavior that would put children at risk, and we are deeply troubled.”

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