The Centre County jury did its job methodically and diligently, deliberating for over 20 hours to find ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky guilty on 45 counts of the 48 remaining charges against him. Judge Cleland revoked Sandusky’s bail, so ‘Dusky was handcuffed and taken for a ride to county jail, where he will sit and wait for his sentencing in about 90 days. The tickle monster will likely never be a free monster again.
Interestingly, the jury discredited Mike McQueary’s testimony that he had witnessed a rape taking place in the shower at the Lasch football complex by returning a not guilty verdict on the major charge, while finding Sandusky guilty of a lesser charge.
Appeals are, of course, expected. This evening, after the verdict was reached, defense counsel Joe Amendola spoke to the media dominated crowd assembled at the bucolic courthouse in Bellefonte. He lauded the jury for doing a great job, praised his opponents and the judge, but opened a couple of doors which probably reveal the basis for Amendola’s promised appeal. He said that he would certainly incorporate the notion that Judge Cleland had denied continuances that would have enabled his team to prepare an effective defense.
Sandusky (aka Forrest Gump, the Tickle Monster, and Jer), whom we admired (sometimes) as a defensive coordinator, and long ago, a Nittany Lion football player, is no longer an alleged anything. He is an abominable, convicted sexual predator who repeatedly raped several young boys over at least 15 years on and off campus.
We all wanted it to be over. It is not over, not just because of appeals, but also the potential civil suits against the University. There is an ongoing investigation being conducted by Louis Freeh. There are investigations by the Feds and the NCAA. Finally, there are the perjury trials of Curley and Schultz. The elephant in the room assumes the form of Graham Spanier.
Spanier has maintained a low profile since he was forced to resign when the scandal first broke. However, ultimately, he is the man responsible for the cover-up that permitted Sandusky to conduct his abhorrent attacks on boys for fifteen years. Recently discovered e-mails suggest that Spanier was well aware of what was going on.
How Spanier remains at large and free of indictments, I don’t know. That might change when Freeh completes his job.
I’ll reiterate my own experience with universities’ dirty laundry and how the public is systematically shielded from viewing it. Cover-ups abound, in spite of “sunshine” laws, because these institutions must compete for private and public funding (always about money), and must look squeaky clean in order to maintain a differential advantage over rivals. Any chink in the arrogant academic armor corresponds to a potential lost funding opportunity.
Having worked at a large state university here for over 13 years, I know how academe prefers to keep its dirty linen out of the public view. I personally blew the whistle on one case (a professor who was principal investigator on an NSF funded project kiting funds from the grant for his personal use), but I was told that it needed to be kept within the department. I pressed it with the dean’s office, but they tried to stonewall me. I told them that if they didn’t confront the guy and either fire him or get the money back, I would go right around the corner to the state auditor’s office and start presenting my case there. If they tried to sweep it under the rug, I’d call one of my reporter friends at the local rag. They always love a sensational scandal. In the end, the guy was given the ultimatum to either resign and keep his pension or fight it and face a couple of felony counts. He wisely chose the former. However, I knew of other scandals in which I wasn’t an interested party that were swept completely under the rug.
Of course, after doing the whistle blower thing I was a pariah around there, but I had already given six weeks notice by that time, so I didn’t care.
Given the insular, self-protective attitude at the top of the ivory tower, is it any wonder that a graduate assistant like McQueary could be intimidated into clamping his jaw once Curley (always a sycophant) and Paterno told him to? Were Curley and Schultz operating under a quietus edict by Spanier? That’s what has to come out in the Freeh investigation. That many people knowing about this sickening behavior and not a single one of them has the moral clarity to speak up? There can be only two possible reasons for that apparent irresponsibility: Spanier and/or Paterno.
Universities prefer to keep their skeletons inside well hidden closets guarded by obfuscation and denial. This should start getting interesting really soon, just when we’re all dawg tired of the whole mess.
Meanwhile, Sandusky will get a small taste of what jail is all about while he waits in the county lock-up for his sentencing. The Big House and its denizens await the arrival of the 68 year-old felon, who can be sentenced to 472 years. Obviously, unless Amendola’s appeals gain any traction, Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in a Pennsylvania state penitentiary.
Small compensation for the victims, who, as a result of Sandusky’s predatory behavior, must live their lives in their own private prison.