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Penn State scandal: it’s about to get much worse than the distraction about Paterno

What about the children?

From the start this has been a stomach-churning, disgusting display of adults behaving badly, the excuse-making, circle-the-wagons-mentality that goes on in universities addicted to the money that their large sports programs bring in.

Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere without a TV or access to the internet, here are the general details of the charges that have been report against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. He has been accused of sexually molesting eight young boys over a period of nearly 15 years, using his charity for troubled boys, The Second Mile, as a sexual hunting ground.

The Grand Jury report contains sickening, graphic details of Sandusky’s predatory behavior, leaving no doubt as to what happened. This isn’t a he said-little he said; a lot of people knew that the coach was showering with very young boys and inappropriate things were going on. Sandusky — who is married and has kids by the way — admitted it:

During the 1998 investigation, Sandusky was interviewed on June 1, 1998 by Jerry Lauro, an investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, and with Detective Schreffler.

“Sandusky admitted showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that that was wrong. Detective Shreffler advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and Sandusky said that he would not.”

The showers did not stop, and it wasn’t just “hugging” that went on later.

March 1, 2002, a 28-year-old Penn State graduate assistant reportedly caught Sandusky in a locker room shower on the campus with this victim, about 10 years old, with his hands up against the wall. “[The victim was] being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky,” the document noted. “The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught.”

That grad assistant was Mike McQueary, who told Head Coach Joe Paterno. The coaching legend then called Tim Curley, Penn State AD, and Paterno’s immediate supervisor. After that, McQueary was called in to tell his observations to Senior VP for Finance and Business Gary Schultz and Curley. And then the story was buried — it wasn’t reported to the university police (good luck with that) or local law enforcement.

The media has spent an inordinate amount of time looking at what Joe Paterno’s legal and moral responsibilities are in this case, but honestly, it’s a diversion from something far, far worse, as Mark Madden, a reporter for the Beaver County Times, is hearing from his sources. (Video here).

On Thursday morning, just hours after legendary head coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were fired by the school’s board of trustees, Madden was asked on WEEI’s The Dennis and Callahan Show what he believes the next piece of news will be.

What he said was twice as shocking as anything that’s been released thus far.

“I can give you a rumor and I can give you something I think might happen,” Madden told John Dennis and Gerry Callahan. “I hear there’s a rumor that there will be a more shocking development from the Second Mile Foundation — and hold on to your stomachs, boys, this is gross, I will use the only language I can — that Jerry Sandusky and Second Mile were pimping out young boys to rich donors. That was being investigated by two prominent columnists even as I speak.”

While I hope there are journalists tired of the Paterno sideshow and ready to dig into these heinous allegations, another story, quite relevant to all of this and resembles a case on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” in many ways, is even more bone-chilling — and documented. Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar was actually ready to charge Sandusky back in 2005, but didn’t have a chance to do so. The report by NBC Philadelphia.

This district attorney who had “a bitter taste in his mouth for the [Penn State] program, and its coach,” according to his nephew, and yet never prosecuted Sandusky, disappeared on April 15, 2005, after telling his girlfriend that he was going on a drive.

Ray Gricar’s car was found the next day in a Lewisburg parking lot and his laptop, sans hard drive, was found in the Susquehanna River, according to the Patriot-News.

Ray Gricar’s friend, Montour County District Attorney Robert Buehner Jr., told the New York Times that if the ardent district attorney had committed suicide, he would have wanted his body found. But in the case of possible foul play, no suspects have emerged from investigations.

When it comes to the Sandusky case, friends and former co-workers are all of the opinion that Ray Gricar would never back down from a righteous prosecution.

Reporter Madden asserts (using good old common sense), that many, many people high in the food chain at Penn State knew more about Sandusky’s “problem,” and at this point, it’s only a matter of time before the full underbelly of sordid behavior by powerful people is going to see daylight.

Allegations of improper conduct with an underage male first surfaced in 1998, while Sandusky was still employed by Penn State. That incident allegedly occurred in a shower at Penn State’s on-campus football facility. No charges were filed.

Sandusky retired the next year, in 1999. He was 55, prime age for a coach. Odd, to say the least – especially with Joe Paterno thought even then to be ready to quit and Sandusky a likely, openly-discussed successor.

Worst-case scenario: Sandusky is charged. Then it seems reasonable to wonder: Did Penn State not make an issue of Sandusky’s alleged behavior in 1998 in exchange for him walking away from the program at an age premature for most coaches? Did Penn State’s considerable influence help get Sandusky off the hook?

…If Paterno and Penn State knew, but didn’t act, instead facilitating Sandusky’s untroubled retirement – are Paterno and Penn State responsible for untoward acts since committed by Sandusky?

This is far from an outrageous hypothesis, especially given the convenient timeline.

Not to mention, why didn’t other teams snatch up Sandusky in 1999? Despite his success and rep as a coach, no teams pursued him. He never coached again. Was there information in the grapevine about him?

What about the children?

If the sex ring story is confirmed, then there may be other reasons why the lid was kept on this horror for so long. Perhaps Sandusky himself has a card yet to play, with first-hand knowledge of other people in powerful positions who may have engaged in criminal activity involving Second Mile.

In the meantime, the university board of trustees fired the 84-year-old Paterno this week, and that led to riots by university students. Coaches have told friends and family to show support for Paterno by wearing white to Saturday’s game. And Mike McQueary, now Penn State’s receivers coach? He will not be at Saturday’s game against Nebraska.

“Due to multiple threats made against assistant coach Mike McQueary, the university has decided it would be in the best interest of all for assistant coach McQueary not to be in attendance at Saturday’s Nebraska game.” The school did not specify the nature of the threats.

Yes, what about the children.

We’re talking about Penn State right now, but do you really think a situation like this would be handled much differently at other universities, given the money and prestige at stake in Big Sports?

Also see: Alvin’s piece, “Scapegoating gay men for the Penn State tragedy

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding