Lots of people are jumping on Mike McQueary’s case about witnessing a sordid scene in the shower next to the locker room but not doing anything about it, either at the time or at some point during the following nine years. After having read a variety of opinions, I have mixed feelings myself. McQueary’s stock has been devalued by this Turkey, but not as much as it has by some others.
First of all, put yourself in McQuery’s position when he went to the locker room with a pair of new sneakers. He was thinking that he would drop off the shoes and pick up some recruiting videos to review at home. He heard rhythmic slapping sounds coming from the shower. He stuck his head in there and witnessed a child rape in progress. What would you do? Would you be petrified by the scene in front of you? Would you yell Banzai and attack Sandusky? Would you be capable of thinking? If so, and you were seeking a job at Penn State, would you not find yourself in a very complicated position? Would you risk your job and reveal yourself to Sandusky, who was still a powerful man at Penn State? Would you run in and kick the shit out of him? Have you ever fought with a naked man? I couldn’t conceive of it. McQueary was between a rock and a hard place (no pun intended). If he got involved, Sandusky could claim that McQueary was part of it. Who knows what a crazed sex fiend would do? If you are going to fight a crazy man, you’re going to have to be prepared to fight to the death. Crazy people know no bounds, and they don’t cry “uncle”. McQueary decided to take the high road by reporting the incident to his superiors (which means Paterno), after consulting with his dad. His “fight or flight” mechanism told him to flee. For that, some are branding him as a coward. Even after this scandal fades into obscurity, McQueary will have to live with himself, second guessing whether he did the right thing.
I say, give him the benefit of the doubt on the instantaneous reaction. You just don’t know how you would react until you’re in that situation yourself. I’m hearing from all kinds of people saying they would have jumped in there and beat the shit out of Sandusky, but again, until they’re actually in McQueary’s situation, it’s just talk. There are plenty of other things to be concerned with beyond the satisfaction of vigilante justice. The victim would be even more traumatized watching two guys, one naked, beating the shit out of each other.
Once the shock wore off, though, I think McQueary should have yelled “STOP!” and he should have told Sandusky to let the kid go. He could have taken the kid to the police. If Sandusky wanted to stop him, then that’s the time for fighting, but words could have obviated the need for that. After all, McQueary had seen what he had seen, and the boy could bear witness. The jig should have been up for Sandusky, if only McQueary had gone to the cops that night, with or without the kid. Instead, he called his father, who advised him to tell Paterno. McQueary should have been his own man and listened to his heart. To hell with the job he was seeking.
The next morning, he visited Paterno at home. Just how much of the scene he related to Paterno is controversial. Paterno has since said that he wasn’t aware of the very specific details in McQueary’s testimony to the grand jury. No doubt, Paterno was also taken aback and had to take some time to think about it before he called Tim Curley, asking him to come to his house on Sunday morning to discuss an urgent matter. Meanwhile, he sent McQueary on his way and, presumably, that was the end of McQueary’s involvement.
What we don’t know is whether Joe told McQueary to keep his mouth shut. Apparently, McQueary did keep his mouth shut, so let’s assume that it did come from Paterno. In McQueary’s position, what do you do? Remember, he’s a student with no experience in real life situations. (Academe is not real life, but he didn’t know that, either.) If your coach, teacher, and mentor tells you to shut up, you shut the hell up. Joe and Dad were the two authority figures who had McQueary’s unconditional respect; if Dad said let Joe handle it his way, McQueary would have done that. If Joe said to shut up about it, he would have done that. And in the back of his mind, he still wanted that job. Listen to the voices of authority and you can’t go wrong, his inexperienced, naive brain must have been telling him.
When a week and a half transpired before Curley saw McQueary in his office, he should have been getting antsy about the whole thing. He would have known it if anyone from the administration had contacted the police, as he was the only eyewitness. There was nothing but silence. If I were McQueary, I would not have sat back and waited patiently for someone to do something. The moment it became clear that this thing was being pushed to the back burner, as universities tend to do with bad image material, I would have contacted someone. I’m not sure whom. It would have been whoever I thought could bring about closure the quickest.
At that point, McQueary was like John Dean in the Watergate scandal 37 years ago. Do you speak up, get fired like Dean, and then write a book to gain closure for yourself, or do you do what you’re told by the president, like the rest of the president’s men?
It had to become clear to McQueary that this incident was in the process of being covered up at the highest levels, particularly after he met with Curley. That had to leave him with the personal dilemma of disobeying direct orders and destroying his future with Penn State or considering the alleged victim and potentially hundreds of other victims in the future. Not such an easy decision when your coach, mentor, and teacher, along with the Athletic Director and Vice President of Finance and Business Affairs, presumably operating under the authority of the University President, enjoins you from talking outside the ivy covered walls. Any way you slice it, McQueary was going to be put in the middle, a very uncomfortable position for a 25 year-old attempting to build the foundation of a career. He couldn’t anonymously go to the police without losing his job, because he was the eyewitness. Have any of you ever been part of something illegal by association with an employer and were specifically forbidden to talk about it? Being a whistle blower yields almost no rewards, but one hell of a lot of grief.
After enough time passed and the lump under the rug was trampled down, McQueary went on with life as usual. It was really too late to suddenly report the matter to the police without being nailed for being part of the cover-up conspiracy. He was an assistant coach on the payroll, and his bosses had an even stronger stranglehold over him.
Should McQueary have gone to the police? Morally, he absolutely should have when he saw that no one else would. Unfortunately, he trusted dishonest men to do the honest and moral thing. He’ll be paying for his indecision and for allowing himself to be talked out of reporting the incident for the rest of his life, every time he looks in the mirror. The scars will run deep. Unfortunately, for the alleged victims, the scars are deeper and festering, but there is nothing McQueary can do now to assuage that. In fact, McQueary’s fate is entirely in the hands of others at this time. If they want to make him the fall guy, they will. One way or another, this will haunt him, and that is enough for me.
Well thought out, and well said
The Nittany Turkey says
You, sir, are apparently the only one who has the courage to tell me that. For that, I sincerely thank you.
I’m really disappointed in you Turkey. Maybe he was scared, shocked, frozen . . . for a moment. But he had time to reflect and time to sneak to the office to call his dad. His dad is a physician who took an oath to do no harm, and a friend/neighbor of Sandusky. He’s also a prominent booster. If I had called my dad–I wouldn’t have by the way, I would have done something to stop it–my dad would have yelled at me and said “what kind of ‘man’ did I raise you to be? Get back in there and bust that creep and help the kid!” But I grew up in a simple blue collar household where it the differene between right and wrong was clear. This cowardly maggot grew up in a privileged home where the father instantly knew to take a institutionalized approach to protect careers and fortunes.
McQueary walked out of the locker room still hearing the soudns a kid being raped by a monster. he is the lowest form of life on the planet. As low as Sandusky.
What would McQueary have done if it was his son being raped? Called Dad? Left to go to Dad’s house to talk strategy?
What would he have done if he walked in on his wife being raped? Called Dad?
To anyone at PSU who cheers while this worthless cowardly maggot stands on the sideline instead of behind bars, shame on you. Cheering for PSU while someone liek that continues to profit for walking away from a boy being raped is disgusting.
Think again Turkey. There’s no gray area on this one.
I totally concur with everything the author wrote, also.
And I think the rejection McQuery gets from jobs, people who know of this and people in his current life will make him regret his COWARDICE for the rest of his life.
And what about Paterno? He had more than a hint of something really bad going on from McQuery and this supposed leader of men did nothing much at all to stop it–AND the University had a dossier on Sandusky for years before this all happened, so Paterno already had a clue.
Blame Paterno also for his COWARDICE–but more for his SELFISHNESS than anything.
Are you kidding me? How could you defend this guy? I couldn’t even read your whole article because the thought of defending this coward is rediculous! Who cares if it costs you your job?!? Who cares what might happend to yourself?!? How selfish can one be to allow that to happen to a 10 YEAR OLD…10!!!?!
You as an adult do whatever it takes to defend the child in that position! No matter what consequences might come to yourself! You belong in jail right beside this coward!
He is a coward!! Even if it was a fight to the death…so what?!? You risk your life to save a 10 year old child being raped! That child needed someone to risk everything to save him and sadly all he got was a coward.
Sadly all the children after that shower incedent that got raped, was because this coward failed to act!
I’m not the normal troll, but defending this guy is beyond reason! How much of a homer can you be to defend this guy?!?
Would you really put your job or life ahead of a defenseless 10 year old child? You don’t deserve to be a human if you would even take a second to think about the answer!
i’ve had this reporter fromt he NYT asking me questions about mcqueary for 3 days now. all because i posted something about him 3 years ago.
this is the extent the dredging has taken.
The Nittany Turkey says
Yeah, they are all salivating for some juicy tidbits. I haven’t been contacted by anyone yet, but neither of my readers has any friends in the media. LOL
Here’s something that our PSU Alumni Association local chapter president sent out today:
Just to let you know, the local media has latched on to contacting Penn State Chapters for comment or interview (yes, I’ve gotten several) and even showing up at events. I am putting the [watch party venue] on notice that they just may show up Saturday – nothing surprises me with the media at this point.
It is not our policy (nor the main alumni association’s) to prohibit you as an alum from doing any interviews or voicing your opinion to any media outlet. I can tell you that I personally have ignored the phone calls and emails (not even responding with a “no comment” or “i’m not interested”). But, if you’re contacted, this is totally up to you. I wanted to make sure you were aware of the views of the Alumni Association.
(I took exception to the bit about “to prohibit you as an alum from doing any interviews or voicing your opinion”, but I’m sure that our president, who is in the legal profession, wrote that hastily and without thinking that in some circumstances it might be OK for an alumni association to prohibit its members from talking to the press. I can assure you that she feels as strongly about the First Amendment as the rest of us do. But I digress.)
The media frenzy is probably with us for a while. I’m pretty well shielded by my relative obscurity, but ya nevah know!
The Nittany Turkey says
And the Tampa TV station called her after 11 pm to ask for a statement. Jesus!
“The victim would be even more traumatized watching two guys, one naked, beating the shit out of each other.”
Have you ever been molested or raped? You think it’s MORE traumatic to see 2 guys fighting each other THAN being raped. You’re a pathetic, sorry , cowardly apologist. He was a 28 year old MAN, not a little teenager. I have stopped lesser crimes than rape, and yes, anyone who has morals and empathy should have jumped in and yelled Banzai. McQueery and boys like you are a sad reflection of modern times, where boys aren’t taught how to act like men with dignity. You, McQueery and boys like him need to MAN UP.
I can’t do it. I can’t come up with one single defense of McQueary’s inaction and subsequent silence. Not one. An eyewitness to child rape is so traumatized that he can’t think of any response other than to call his father? Who has no better advice than to leave? And he does? A pox on them both.
He could have taken the child out of the situation. He could have called the police. He could have– at a bare, bare minimum– called on Sandusky to stop. Frankly, any of these would have been no more than basic, decent responses, not heroic. Just what any human being should do and what any human being would know to do.
Since it’s plainly obvious that McQueary knew that nothing was done– if for no other reason than he saw Sandusky around the building– then he has transformed from craven coward to co-conspirator.
McQueary should have smashed Sandusky’s head on the shower floor right then and there, any REAL MAN would have. Hopefully he gets beaned in the head on the sidelines next game by a rock or battery. If he had any bit of manhood remaining at all he would go out and slit his own wrists.
Time for a Lynch Mob at Penn State, drag Sandusky, McQueary, Curley and the others who did nothing, hang them by the balls on campus and beat them like piniatas, then burn their hanging bodies…it’s a start at least.
It seems for some that violence begets violence.
ugh…go hug a tree! Crimes like this against children certainly calls for violence in return.
What a pathetic article. Sounds like you too would have run the other way when faced with a child’s rape. Are you a father? Wonder how you’d feel if it was your ten-year-old up against the wall. This guy (McQueary) should be doing jail time as an accessory to child rape. You are pathetic.
The Nittany Turkey says
My intent was not to defend McQueary, but to attempt to understand his actions by putting myself in his position. However, I seem to have failed in getting that point across to my good readers.
What I would have done in that situation is hypothetical, and in spite of all the bravado expressed heretofore in this comment thread, what anyone else would have done is also hypothetical. You and I weren’t there. We know what our visceral reaction is now, but when confronted with the actual situation and a brain full of adrenaline, all bets are off. The fact remains that we weren’t there.
As for what McQueary should have done that’s a little easier to answer and I think we all agree that he should have done something, although we might differ on exactly what, to save the child first and worry about collateral damage — including loss of his potential job — last. McQueary acted like a coward, but instead of sitting here pounding my chest and writing what everyone judging him is writing, I tried to comprehend why he fled instead of fighting. Go ahead and call me Nancy for that.
Shoulda-woulda-coulda don’t really matter now. He didn’t do anything at the time, and he didn’t do anything between the time of that horrifying scene and his grand jury testimony, in which he exposed himself as a coward who ran to his dad. Again, he “shoulda” had second thoughts about his initial cowardice and his subsequent kowtowing to authority in keeping the incident under wraps; he “shoulda” gone to the police. But he didn’t. The “why” is what I wanted to try to understand.
I would like to believe that most good people, even if they were cowardly enough to have fled the crime scene as it was occurring would have conscience pangs later on, and would eventually vindicate them by reporting it to the police, no matter what their employer told them about keeping it quiet. McQueary was once again a coward for being a good boy and doing what Poppa Joe and G$pan told him to do. There must have been some pretty strong threats, because the janitor in 1998 never said another word after reporting a similar incident to his supervisor. The university administration suborning inaction is not an excuse for committing that crime of neglect. Two wrongs do not make a right.
But again, we’re second guessing an event that actually occurred by stating what McQuery should have or could have done. He did what he did (or didn’t what he didn’t, as it were). We cannot change that. We can only try to understand it. That’s what I attempted to do, not to condone it.
Nothing we do or say here will save the boys involved in these heinous crimes from their suffering, their permanent scars, and their damaged psyches. No punishment of McQueary will do anything but satisfy the vindictive impulses of those of us who yearn for vigilante justice. The damage is done.
As Lizzie wrote above, for some, violence begets violence. I would say that chances are pretty good that as long as McQueary lives in State College, he’ll be a pariah, and some night, a couple of assholes will decide to find him and kick the shit out of him. String him up in public. Whatever. What will that accomplish? If those assholes hadn’t found an excuse to kick McQueary’s ass, they’d be going after someone else, just to satisfy their need for violent revenge. We don’t need that. It won’t change anything. It won’t turn the clock back and save the alleged victims.
McQueary cannot be tried and convicted of being a coward in a court of law. He complied with the law in reporting the incident to his superior. The moral court he will be judged in does not impose jail sentences. He will have to bear the title of coward and he will have to live with the consequences of his inaction for the rest of his life and, if you believe in it, the afterlife.
Is it enough? No, but the time when anything else that could have been done has passed. We’ll all have to be content to know that McQueary will be haunted by this forever. Oh, and as for that job he was trying to protect? Looks like he’s lost it, anyway.
You don’t have to be a white knight or engage in a battle. What about yelling stop it or I’ll call the police? What about pulling a fire alarm? What about asking Dad, not what do I do to promote my career, but what do I do to stop this? Maybe an honorable dad would have had some ideas. He looked into the eyes of a 10 year old boy kid being raped and walked away. Then walked out the door still listening to the sound of Sansusky’s fat sloppy thighs slapping against the boys buttocks as his penis penetrated the boy’s anus–probably bleeding by this point–over and over again and just shut the door to go see his wealthy well-connected Dad. You don’t have to be a hero. You just have to be a human being. McQueary was subhuman.
If PSU keeps him, then the entire University is a disgrace. You can support the school, but nobody with an ounce of human dignity ever would.
The Nittany Turkey says
He’s on “administrative leave” now. That’s the same treatment Curley and Schultz got. In the latter two cases, they’re defending themselves, but in McQueary’s case, he’s a material witness who would best be kept in the system until at least December 7, when Sundusky’s hearing is scheduled. I’m not taking this position myself. I’m trying to think in terms of how the administration would want it.
You really didn’t have to post that gratuitously graphic description, did you? It leads me to assume that you’re taking this opportunity to vent, not engage in intelligent debate. You just joined those closed-minded dolts who are primarily interested in hearing themselves talk.
I don’t understand how the lot of you assume that I’m defending this schmuck when I’m merely presenting facts, what ifs, and food for thought as to what might have motivated him. We all know he’s a coward, an asshole, and so forth, and I’m not disagreeing. I’m disappointed that every commenter thus far took the “me too” approach, condemning McQueary over and over again (as if we don’t know what he did) and adding their macho posturing to boot. It doesn’t require much intelligence to express your visceral response and hop on everyone else’s bandwagon. Doesn’t anyone want to dig deeper into the “why?”.
Go ahead and kick the shit out of McQueary and call me puerile names, people, but I still want to know what went on there beyond what everybody already knows from McQueary’s grand jury testimony, not just with Red, but with Paterno, Curley, Spanier, and the rest. There’s a lot of intrigue there.
You’re talking about a witnessing a 60 year old man raping a 10 year old boy. You call the police. Instead, not only did McQueary kick the can down the road, he continued to watch as Sandusky paraded additional victims before his very eyes. For another 7 or eight years, this monster brought young children he was grooming for abuse to athletic events and games. Everyone who knew about the 2002 incident and subsequently saw this guy with other children is complicit in their abuse as well. You know what words I can’t get out my head? “Rhythmic slapping”. A rape of a child, savage enough to be heard in the locker room. And according to the grand jury report, McQueary made eye contact with both the victim and the assailant, and walked away. That’s your hero: the guy whose shoes we should walk in. No thanks.
The Nittany Turkey says
My hero? Hardly. When did I say we should take pleasure in walking in his shoes? I merely used that as a device for critically analyzing his thinking. If you could take a step back from your understandably visceral response to the incident, you’d want to know what makes a gutless wonder like McQueary tick. That’s all I wanted to do. You and I are in accord otherwise.
I’m with you on that CDL, the description paints a horrific image, unthinkable. I only came across this page because I googled ‘McQueary coward’. I have no idea who owns this nittany turkey page, but apparently , he’s made of the same cloth as all the sheeple who were at Penn state last name protesting the firing of “JoePa”. I am waiting to find out when this McQueary coward is going to be fired as well. Anyone who wants to give this coward the slightest bit of benefit of the doubt is either a heartless a-hole who has NO compassion for the TRUE victims in this horrendous story, OR is a pedophile, hiding behind his computer running around on message boards and blogs defending all the cowardly characters of this story and that MONSTER Sandusky.
The Nittany Turkey says
“Sheeple” reminds me of political blogs. It’s that type of nonsensically cutesy characterizations that caused me to give up my political affiliation and become an independent. I sure as hell don’t want to be part of that herd you travel with, Lara or Chris or whoever you are. But I digress.
I could have torn McQueary to shreds and some jerks still wouldn’t be satisfied. However, I apparently overestimated certain elements of my audience when I attempted to walk through what motivates a guy like McQueary to do (or not do) what he did. You can disagree with my conclusions about McQueary all you want, but instead of intelligently arguing your case, you chose to assassinate my character.
My author page is readily available on this site, as is my e-mail address. I am not hiding from anyone. I am well known in my local community and easily found in any number of places on-line. So don’t give me your cowardly hit and run crap.
In summation, if you actually were in possession of a brain, you would understand what critical analysis, straw men, devil’s advocacy, etc., were all about and you would know that I’m not defending McQueary. Apparently, I need to use Dr. Seuss constructs to get through to readers like you.
And how many times do I have to express sympathy, revulsion, and solidarity with the victims and their families before people like you who are bent only on getting their point across understand that I am on their side? Those who would lean on their own hypocritical moral rectitude to make me look bad are the ones who are really denigrating the victims.
So, kindly take your “me too” comments and shove them up your ass. In doing so, you might finally locate your brains there.
Not only was McQueary’s (in)action reprehensible, but so was his father’s . what kind of father tells his son to not report a crime? what kind of father doesn’t call the police himself? they are both cowards and should live in infamy for their (in)action.
The Nittany Turkey says
And they will.
He took the high road?????? Are you f33king kidding me? Lets say he was in shock,he called his dad! Did his dad say call the police ASAP? Did he call the police ASAP?????? Lets say he was in shock when he regrouped enough he could have said to Sandusky “GET the F##K off of that little boy ,I’m calling the police” thats if he was afraid of physically intervening. What did he and his dad do to protect that little boy. Our society is pretty sad if this is the case
” If so, and you were seeking a job at Penn State, would you not find yourself in a very complicated position? ”
No I wouldn’t find myself in a complicated position regarding any job,please tell me you aren’t serious? Lets suppose that McQueary was totally revolted and shocked-how about his father? I have 3 sons each with a different personality lets suppose they called me on the phone and told me what was happening I would call 911 at the least. Is this being missed or glossed over ?
The Nittany Turkey says
Nelms? You related to Chuck?
I’ve covered all this six ways to Sunday. I’m not defending anyone; I’m just seeking intelligent discourse.
I get it. If any of you who have all the answers were in that position, you would have acted perfectly, you wouldn’t have been a coward, you would have protected the kid. Would have, would have, would have, ad nauseum. It doesn’t really matter what you would have done. What McQueary actually did is the only issue here. I’m trying to get to the “why?”. Understand?
Where do you get off publishing my last name? If you were seeking intelligent discourse you wold discuss the salient points raised by some of the posters instead of pontificating. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ?
What did McQuery get for his silence? Did his career enter the fast track after 2002? I don’t remember when he started to prowl the sidelines as a coach.
The Nittany Turkey says
That’s a relevant question that I appreciate you asking. His official Penn State bio says that this is his eighth year coaching, which would mean that he started with the 2004 season, but it also says ” He spent the 2003 season as an administrative assistant with the football program and from 2000-02 was a graduate assistant coach.” So, the timing of his transition from graduate assistant to full-time employee was indeed coincidentally timed.
I’ve heard from several people that the job was a payoff for silence about Sandusky, but obviously we have only circumstantial evidence of that. If true, one would have to assume that Paterno is in this cover-up much deeper than we thought.
I finished reading the 23 page indictment and was disgusted and horrified. I think that I understand what you are trying to do. Understanding human behavior is not an exact or perfect science. I agree that there is no way to truly understand how we might behave in a similar situation. Fortunately, I’ve never witnessed a man raping a child. McQueary was clearly scared, confused and incapable of dealing with this traumatic event. I can somewhat understand the initial reaction….then my mind returns to the visual of a grown man raping a boy….NO WAY will that image ever leave my mind. It’s that image that FORCES me to contact the police. It’s that image that won’t allow me to see the rapist on the grounds of the school with other children. It’s that image that won’t let me sell my soul to the devil for a…job? a lousy job. A innocent child is brutally raped and I’m given a job to keep my mouth shut. No way is that happening. McQueary has clearly lived with that image in his head for many years. McQueary could live with that because money, prestige, and a job were more important to him than protecting a child. At best, he is a weak excuse of a person. At worst….can we even begin to imagine how many more children were brutalized after the shower scene McQueary witnessed? Personally, I would not be able to live with myself after that. However, I believe McQueary is a very different kind of person. A person who cares more about power, money and influence. This has little to do with how we are raised (rich, poor, etc.) I believe it has everything to do with character and decency. McQueary has neither.
The Nittany Turkey says
Thanks, Annette. That’s what I was seeking when I wrote the piece. It is easy to hop on the bandwagon in castigating McQueary, but it is much more difficult to try to glean his motivation, be it money, cowardice, fear of authority, or whatever. We all agree that he screwed up in the worst way, abandoning a helpless child in distress.
It is great to see the Penn State alums embracing the cause of abused children. A few bad apples and an ill conceived cover-up will not spoil the Penn State Barrel. We are (still)… PENN STATE!
I agree with you, TNT. Consider the Milgram experiment.
What I’ve yet to hear from any news agency or commenter is how vital the football program is to a big university. I’ve read scores of comments about how dumb football is and how wrong the focus of the universities is, but the plain fact is, football pays for lots of academics.
The Nittany Turkey says
Fifty million dollars a year is a lot of money, and football revenue was only a part of what Paterno brought in for the university; the power he wielded for so many years was commensurate with the megabuck infusions to the university directly and indirectly attributable to him. He never had to say a word or make a threat. The administrations during his tenure were kept in line by Damocles’ sword.
Powerful coaches in the modern era tend to employ any means possible, sometimes skirting legal and moral strictures, to hang onto that power. So many coaching “legends” have been brought down by scandals after serving long tenures; they’re just the ones who get caught.
The Milgram Experiment is relevant in McQueary’s case. Two men whose authority over him seemed unquestioned were his dad and Paterno. If Dad said, “Go see Joe. He’ll know what to do” and Joe subsequently said, “Keep this quiet, Son. You did the right thing by coming to me. I’ll take care of it”, McQuery’s obedience to authority could have kept him quiet all those years, even though moral voices inside were conflicting him daily. When he finally broke before the grand jury, he was being held accountable by yet another authority figure and told that he must answer all questions completely under penalty of perjury, he was being obedient yet again, and in this case he could expunge his inner moral conflict. So, he spilled the beans in great detail, portraying himself as a coward and no doubt pissing Paterno off royally in the process and bringing us to where we are today.
McQueary was wrong to not intervene — at the very least to yell STOP. And then to call the police, or better yet grab the kid and head down to the police station then and there. Altercation or not, getting the police involved immediately would have been best.
On the other hand, I can understand why a guy like McQueary might not intervene. Nor in all honesty can I say with certainty what I would have done in the extreme shock of the moment. I know I would be blown away, embarrassed, traumatized, perhaps paralyzed, by what I saw. A range of emotions, all exacerbated because of Sandusky’s lofty and respected position in the community relative to mine. Job security would NOT have come to mind. Just shock and trauma and embarrassment! Even debilitating fear!
I find the visual “image” disgusting and weird, but it might not have looked like “rape” in the fleeting shock of the moment. For all I know, it could have looked (I said “looked”) consensual. Considerations like Sandusky’s “position of power” relative to the kid’s would not come to mind immediately.
Would I be “saving the kid” by physically intervening and playing the hero? Not necessarily. It could make it worse. Assuming it appeared (I repeat, “appeared”) consensual, that means it was an ongoing thing. The much more important thing would be to stop the ongoing abuse, not this one incident.
I have a feeling that many of the macho men who say they would “beat the shit out of Sandusky” can’t really be sure what they would do in the shock of the moment. Talk is cheap. Some, when confronted with the trauma and embarrassment of a situation they’ve never been in before — and given Sandusky’s elevated status in the community — might act exactly as McQueary did and not intervene. Some would, some wouldn’t.
Remember the Kitty Genovese case in New York many years ago when 38 neighbors heard her cries for help and did nothing because they “didn’t want to get involved.”
I think we should give McQueary at least some tidbit of credit for at least “getting involved”, by reporting what he saw to Paterno himself, which should have been enough. (Less courageous witnesses might have kept silent). But I give him zero credit for not following up when he continued to see Sandusky around the campus, sometimes with young boys.
We can fault McQueary for lacking courage “in the moment” — and indeed he did — but I blame Paterno himself (a self-described “devout Catholic) and the college president, even more. Their failing was not “in the moment.” Their moral failing was calculated and carefully considered.
The Nittany Turkey says
I agree with much of what you’ve said, and I find some of your ideas that hadn’t been discussed before particularly compelling. I’m glad that you were able to rise above the useless noise of macho posturing to provide some welcome analysis.
Anyone who says he knows exactly what he would do when confronted by that scene is either lying or is trained for such situations.
The point you brought up about the act possibly appearing to be consensual is interesting. No one has brought that up before. (Yes, I know that sex between a 58 year-old man and a 10 year-old boy can never be truly consensual.) If it was an ongoing thing, Sandusky would have gained the boy’s trust and would have been a mentor in his eyes. “Taking him out” in front of the kid would have further traumatized him. Just a theory, of course, but a plausible one.
I am indeed old enough to remember contemporaneous reportage of the Kitty Genovese tragedy in New York. Those 38 presumably decent, middle class people watched a 30 year-old woman being brutally stabbed on the street from their apartment windows but not only chose not to intervene. In fact, Artificially Sweetened (this tom Turkey’s hen) brought up that incident in connection with McQueary, but I think the conclusion psychologists arrived at suggests its inapplicability in this case: the more witnesses there are, the less likelihood that anyone will do anything about the crime being witnessed. McQueary was alone.
I, too, believe that Paterno deserves the Lion’s share of the blame (pun intended). Spanier shares it, regardless of how much he knew. If Paterno was more powerful that the president, which is widely acknowledged and demonstrated by the 2004 firing incident, then it was up to the president to corral Paterno. By letting this power continue to accrue to Paterno, Spanier did himself in. Paterno put Curley where he was, so he could be a figurehead, titularly athletic director, but powerless without Paterno’s concurrence, useful at a time like this as a sacrificial lamb. Once the “people” turned against Joe, the power began to erode, yet that was not apparent to Joe, who continued to act like a dictator, even up to his final day on the job. I think Paterno was the guy who ordered the quietus put on this sordid affair. I think his action was representative of the money, power, and secrecy culture in modern universities. (Note that I said “action”, not inaction. I think Joe actively implemented a cover-up.)
This is not to say that McQueary was right in keeping his mouth shut for years; I am merely saying he was being obedient. (c.f. previous discussion of the Milgram Experiment). Eventually, when the grand jury called him, he could remain silent no more. At least he didn’t commit perjury.
There is big distinction between witnessing an infraction versus witnessing a crime. If it was two grown men having sex, I am not sure if I would report that. But, seeing a child being raped, and then running to your father for guidance. That is a sure sign of cowardice. McQueary and Paterno both are practioners of malicious compliance. The kind that enables a vile creature like Sandusky to ply his trade as a molestor of children for 9 additional years. I k now exactly what I would have done, whether I was 18 or my age now of 57. I would be meeting with Joe Paterno to give him a copy of the police report…case closed. If it meant my career was over at PSU…so be it.
The Nittany Turkey says
What would you do if Paterno thanked you and told you that the police would know how to handle it, so keep your mouth shut because we like to keep these things quiet. Then you walked away feeling that you had done what you could, and maybe six months later, you hadn’t seen anything else done. Would you go back to Paterno and ask what is happening? What do you think would have been his response?
Remember that back in 1998, the police had full knowledge of the similar incident reported by the janitor (who is now suffering from dementia, so is useless in testifying). The police even listened in on phone calls between Sandusky and the mother (with her permission) and heard Sandusky all but admit inappropriate touching, saying that he couldn’t expect forgiveness from the mother and that he wanted to die. What happened with that case? Nothing. It was closed by the police. Interestingly enough, the Centre County district attorney disappeared right around that time. I’m throwing out facts that might or might not be related. If you have a flair for the dramatic, you could write a screen play about that 1998 episode alone, including the strange case of the disappearing DA. Nevertheless, please admit the possibility that at that time the police department and the prosecutor’s office were pressured into dropping the case by the university, or by Paterno. Both are kind of powerful in that county.
The 1998 report must still exist, don’t you think? Or does it?
The fact that Sandusky and the boy saw McQueary is the key to understanding McQueary’s actions.
He could not ignore the fact that the boy might report the rape to the police or his parents, stating that a witness was present. I don’t think there are too many 6 foot, 4 inch guys, with bright red hair running around the campus. So, he would be drawn into this mess very quickly. In reality, he really isn’t a coward. He is a callous man, acting strictly for his own best interest. McQueary never even considered the idea of helping the boy.
After discussing this with his dad, they both agreed that he needed to report something, but not what he actually saw, as that would have called into question why he did not rescue the child. Also, he probably feared that failure to report a crime, was in itself a crime. Without question, he reported what Joe has said he had reported. Now McQueary lies merely to save himself, and push the blame to Joe and the Administration. If I can see clearly into his motivation, I am sure those involved in the case have their opinion of McQueary as well, and it is not a favorable one.
The Nittany Turkey says
Thanks for your interesting comments regarding McQueary’s possible motivation.
Either Paterno is lying about what McQueary told him, or McQueary is lying about what he told Paterno. Both the notion that what McQueary saw could be considered “horsing around” and the representation that rest of the administration aside from McQueary accepted that the conduct was just that are ludicrous.
Another thought has entered my mind. Suppose that McQueary knew about the earlier, 1998 incident (which actually reached the State Police) but was told to keep his mouth shut about it. That could explain his quandary about what to do when the new situation presented itself.
The loathsome Barry Switzer stated that football organizations are tight, so nothing winds up being kept secret within the organization. He believes that lots more people could have known about Sandusky than those who have stepped forward.
Someday, we might really know who did what to whom with respect to a cover-up in 1998. I’m more concerned about that one than 2002 because of all the dubious coincidences surrounding it: cops drop investigation, Sandusky retires soon afterward, DA disappears, police investigation records fail to surface ever again, etc. I might be guilty of letting my imagination run wild, but I can’t let go of 1998 quite yet.
I agree, well said. I don’t think any one of us can accurately predict what we would do in a situation that is easily the most shocking and horrible thing we could ever imagine. An act being comitted by someone we were brought up to idolize, someone who was a high-school classmate’s father, someone who was a potential employer and current mentor. I would like to think I would physically stop the act. I also consider the possibility that I would be incapable of logical thought at that moment due to complete and utter horrified shock.
The Nittany Turkey says
We’re definitely on the same wavelength about the complexity and unpredictability of human behavior in any situation as shocking and confusing as what McQueary happened into. I hope what McQueary said in a recently discovered email about stopping it and contacting the cops was true, but today both the University police and the State College police denied having had any record of contact with McQueary. It doesn’t look good for McQueary — he either lied to the grand jury or lied to his former teammates.
This isn’t about “complexity of human behavior” . Get off of it. It’s about a test. The test will always come when you aren’t expecting it and on one hand will be everything you want and on the other will be the right thing. If you bite the “fruit” you lose everything. There is no complexity about it. Right is right and wrong is wrong every single time. Mike wasn’t so afraid that he froze. He slammed the locker in a deliberate action in order to give the rapist notice. He had time to think. It’s just that he sold his soul along time ago and this was the time it was revealed to him. Hope everyone else is willing to give up everything for Christ. For he will come again (just like that) to judge the living and the dead. Maybe that little boy was Christ??? And Mike’s condition of his soul has been revealed to him. The question isn’t “what if the victim were someone else like a 10 year old girl or your wife?” The question is “What if the rapist were someone else, an insignificant person like the janitor or a college student? What would Mike’s response have been then?” You do not know at what hour I am coming so be prepared is what the Lord said!!
The Nittany Turkey says
Well, it takes all kinds, I suppose.
I just read your article and granted it is extremely well written. However, if in our society we put ourselves before the safety and well being of young children, then there is a problem and a big problem.
If Mike had gone to the police instead of his daddy and Joe, he would not have been branded a coward and rightly so. I read another article that stated he was scared. Damn, what must have the poor child have been feeling. Don’t we think that the child was scared and what’s more, knowing that an adult and quite a big adult at that couldn’t and didn’t save him, imagine his fear. He knew right then that he was all alone. He had to live with that for many years. Should we feel sorry for Mike? Hell no, as a woman, I KNOW I wouldn’t have run home to my mommy. Never, that is a fact. So I have no pity for Mike. Now that he is actually suing, I have less pity for Mike. How dare he sue. Why should he get any money? He seemed to live well all these years. Gee, he even bought a new house. Should we pay off his mortgage too now and pat him on the back? How disgusted we should all be and shame on Mike for many years to come!
The Nittany Turkey says
Thanks for your belated response, Anna. I appreciate your opinion, to which you have every right. You make some good points.
However, moral relativism laced with vitriol and sarcasm isn’t going to get you anywhere here. First of all, no one but McQueary even knows what he saw, and the so-called facts get cloudier with each passing month. In fact, McQueary himself doesn’t seem to know what he saw or when he saw it, based on the changes in his testimony.
Blaming McQueary for the plight of “the victims” is ridiculous. If he had said nothing at all, you could level that charge, but he did report it to his superiors. Who is to say that if he reported it to the cops — and remember, it was Schultz’s campus cops who he would have reported it to — they would have taken him seriously and done anything at all? The earlier incident in which a victim’s mother went to the cops with the eventual result being a dead end suggests that would be the case — and those weren’t even the captive university police.
You’ll note that I did not exonerate McQueary, but I empathized with a couple of the dilemmas he faced with respect to his conduct on that evening. For doing so, I’ve been accused of everything up to aiding and abetting a child molester for trying to comprehend McQueary’s side of the story, but that sort of crap, as well as your moralizing, doesn’t serve any purpose.
McQueary, by being the whistle blower, has made himself a pariah in college football coaching circles. It is what he trained for as a vocation. Yes, he deserves compensation from the University, especially if it was the senior administrators (Curley, Schultz, and Spanier) who bungled it and then threw him under the bus.
We all talk big when sitting behind a computer screen, and you might well do the same if you came face-to-face with McQueary, but you still can’t say for certain what you would have done if you were in his shoes. Nevertheless, if your vindictiveness makes you feel better, cool.
As far as I’m concerned, Sandusky is serving the time for his actions, and Penn State will compensate victims (some will say too much and some will say too little). Additional energy should be devoted to investigating The Second Mile and particular, its tie-ins with some high-level politicians in the Commonwealth, not in keeping McQueary (a convenient alternative scapegoat, now that Paterno has passed away) tied to the whipping post.