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Yesterday's Preliminary Hearing: What We Learned Concerning Joe Paterno (Part five of "What did Joe Paterno know ...

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Yesterday, District Judge William Wenner ruled that the charges made against Penn State's Athletic Director, Tim Curley and Penn States' Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz -- charges of perjury and failure to report sexual abuse -- will move forward to trial.

Yesterday's preliminary hearing featured nearly two hours of testimony from Mike McQueary (the "graduate assistant" in the grand jury report), as well as testimony from McQueary's father, John and the former chief of the University police, Tom Harmon. In addition, the complete grand jury testimony of Joe Paterno, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz was read into the record.

Mike McQueary's testimony today differed from that found in the grand jury report, insofar as the latter asserted that McQueary witnessed anal intercourse between former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky and a young boy, while, in today's testimony "McQueary never use the terms rape, sodomy or anal sex, "even when he sat down with ousted athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz," on 12 March 2002. [Sara Ganim, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Dec. 16, 2011]. Nevertheless, McQueary asserted: There's no question in my mind that I conveyed to them that I saw Jerry in the showers and that it was severe sexual acts and that it was wrong and over the line." [Ibid]

McQueary claims that he said nearly the same thing when he first reported his allegations to Joe Paterno on the morning of 2 March 2002. "I went to his house and sat at his kitchen table and told him I saw Jerry with a young boy in the shower. That it was way over the lines and extremely sexual in nature. The rough positioning I described but not in much detail." According to a Centre Daily Times wire report (at 11:00 AM, Dec. 16, 2011) McQueary said he did not give Paterno explicit details of what he believed he'd seen, saying he wouldn't have used terms like sodomy or anal intercourse out of respect for the longtime coach"He said Paterno told him he'd "done the right thing" by reporting what he saw. The head coach appeared shocked and saddened and slumped back in his chair, McQueary said." As Sarah Ganim has reported: Paterno also told McQueary: "I'm sorry you had to see that. It's terrible. I need to think and tell some people about what you saw and I'll let you know what we'll do next." [Ganim, Patriot-News, Dec. 16, 2011]

McQueary credited Paterno with contacting Curley and Schultz, which resulted in his meeting with them on 12 March 2002. Finally, McQueary claimed that "Paterno followed-up with him several times in the months following the incident." The Patriot-News updated 2.25 PM, 16 Dec. 2011]

When McQueary was asked why he didn't go to the police, he "referenced Schultz's position as a vice president at the university who had overseen the campus police:" "I thought I was talking to the head of the police, to be frank with you"In my mind it was like speaking to a (district attorney). It was someone who police reported to and would know what to do with it." [Centre Daily Times wire service, modified 11:00 AM, 16 Dec. 2011]

Before finishing with Mike McQueary's testimony today, it needs to be noted that, when he was cross examined by the lawyers representing Curley and Schultz, McQueary admitted that at no point did he notice that Sandusky had an erection and that the boy was not bent over when he saw him. He also stated that he didn't "know" if he used that word intercourse when he talked to his father. [Matt Miller, Harrisburg Patriot-News 16 Dec. 2011]

The testimony by Mike McQueary's father, John, was interesting because it added information not found in the grand jury report. For example, John talks about a meeting -- regarding the alleged sexual assault on 1 March 2002 -- that he and Dr. Dranov had with Gary Schultz. John told Schultz what Mike had seen, but not in graphic details. "At best something inappropriate was going on." [Tweets from Eric Veronikis and Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, live from Dauphin County courtroom, 16 Dec. 2011] John subsequently testified that, by alerting Schultz (who headed the university police department) "I felt we contacted the appropriate person deemed to take appropriate action" He concluded, "I'm now in the position to say Gary Schultz did nothing about it." [Ibid]

John McQueary also testified that Schultz "said they were never able to get something on Sandusky they could sink their teeth into"regarding other incidents." [ibid] Whether that response referred only to the investigation conducted (but not prosecuted) in 1998, or something more, remains a significant question.

Curiously, the judge refused to allow any questions concerning John McQueary's discussions with Dr. Dranov. (As I written in part four of this article -- borrowing from Sara Ganim -- allegedly "Dranov told the grand jurors that he asked McQueary three times if he saw anything sexual, and three times McQueary said no." "Because of that response " Dranov told McQueary that he should talk to his boss, head football coach Joe Paterno, rather than the police." [Ganim, Dec. 11, 2011]

Former University police chief, Tom Harmon, testified next and claimed: (1) that he notified Gary Schultz about the investigation in 1998, (2) that he was in frequent contact with Schultz concerning police matters and (3) was never notified by Schultz about the incident of 1March 2002.

After completing the live testimony of Mike McQueary, John McQueary and Tom Harmon -- and breaking for lunch -- the grand jury testimony of Paterno, Curley and Schultz was read into the record. Paterno's testimony was extremely brief and took just six minutes to read into the record.

Paterno testified that he couldn't remember what year McQueary contacted him on a Saturday morning, but he remembered that McQueary "told him he'd seen Sandusky who was "fondling a young boy" in the showers of the Lasch Building." [Sara Ganim, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Dec. 16, 2011] "It was of sexual nature. I'm not sure exactly what it was. I didn't push Mike"because he was obviously very upset." [Ibid]

"I was in a little bit of a dilemma"because Sandusky didn't work for me anymore." Paterno testified that he told McQueary he would contact the appropriate people at Penn State: "I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Mr. Curley, I thought he would handle it appropriately " I did tell Mike, you did what was right, you told me." [Ibid]

Notice that both participants testified to restraining themselves during that conversation: McQueary "wouldn't have used terms like sodomy or anal intercourse out of respect for the longtime coach," Paterno "didn't push Mike"because he was obviously very upset."

As Sara Ganim reports today: "the Attorney General's Office has said that Paterno is credible, and a source close to the case told The Patriot-News the day after charges were filed that the Attorney General believed Paterno did the right thing." [Ibid]

Next, the grand jury testimony of Tim Curley was read into the record. Based on tweets from Erick Veronikis and Sara Ganim, we have some very important information.

First, Curley asserts that Paterno called him and Schultz to meet with him, presumably on the day (Sunday) after McQueary talked to him. Thus Curley corroborates McQueary's testimony that Schultz -- the man who was in charge of the University police -- was brought into the meeting at Paterno's request. Thus, we can credit Paterno for thinking that he was notifying the police the very next day, when he requested Schultz's presence at that Sunday meeting.

Schultz also testified to meeting with Paterno on a Sunday, but he remembers the meeting taking place in his office, not Paterno's home. But he notes: "It would be an important matter if you were meeting with Joe (Paterno) on a Sunday."

Perhaps the half-witted jackals in the news media, the many untrained minds incited by them and, finally, the cowards populating Penn State's board of trustees might want to ponder that last statement by Schultz. It suggests not only an urgency by Paterno to report up the chain of command (for which he has been commended by the Attorney General), but also an urgency to get the police involved. Remember, Schultz was not in Paterno's chain of command! That fact strongly suggests that Paterno moved quickly to meet both his legal and moral obligation.

That said, there's still the problem of closure. Even if one concludes that Paterno initially met both his legal and moral obligations, what did he do when he ultimately learned that nothing was being done about McQueary's allegations?

Anyone who has read the recent book: captain's letters to Joe -- written by players possessing sufficient leadership skills to have been named captain of a Penn State football team -- knows all about the many "Joe-isms:" "Either you get better or you get worse." You're never as good as you think you are and never as bad as they say you are." My favorite is: "Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves."

But this time the big things didn't take care of themselves, even after Joe's reporting of something sexual up the chain of command and to the police. Joe's report should have resulted in a report of alleged child molestation issued by President Graham Spanier. Yet, no report of alleged sexual molestation ever reached his desk. Who decided not to report and why?

Based upon the grand jury testimony by Curley and Schultz, McQueary never told them anything that would have persuaded them that a crime was committed. That's why they didn't report sexual molestation. That's why no police investigation was initiated

Notwithstanding the judge's decision to go to trial, McQueary's testimony today differs both from his grand jury testimony and from public statements he has made. Moreover, if Dr. Dranov is to be believed, McQueary denied three times that he saw anything sexual. Thus, we cannot dismiss the statements made by Curley and Schultz out of hand.

A very prominent American novelist, screen play writer and movie director sent me an email the other day in which he provided an extremely plausible explanation of McQueary's behavior. It goes like this (with my editing):

It begins with what McQueary told his father and Dr. Dranov. I believe that McQueary, as he testified before the GJ, did indeed witness the anal rape of the boy, but that when he related what he had seen to his father and Dranov, it would have been far too humiliating for him to admit he had witnessed the rape and done nothing to stop it but, rather, "left immediately, distraught." This goes a fortiori when he related the incident to Joe Paterno, upon whose opinion of his character rested McQueary's future advancement in PSU football, if not his continued employment" I have little difficulty imagining that had McQueary confessed to him that he, a 28 year old, brawny former quarterback, had come upon a young boy being raped and simply blenched, turned around and fled the scene, even at his advanced age Joe might have thrown a punch. It simply does not compute he would dare tell Joe the truth! Some evidence corroborating this resides in his scramble to convince two friends via e-mail that he had indeed "stopped" the rape and reported it to the police, both lies. And thus it was the "R," not the "X" version that was also told to Curley and Schultz. In 2010, under oath and pressure from the prosecutor, he told the awful truth.

Still, even the "R' rated version would have required a report written by Spanier. That fact raises two questions: (1) Who prevented that from happening? and (2) How did the usually relentless Joe Paterno achieve closure?

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)

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