With respect, there is a rather significant distinction between this instance and that of the Duke lacrosse case.
The information made available here is the result of a multi-year investigation of the PA Attorney General's office; the information available in the Duke lacrosse case was from a single accuser, and wrongfully embellished by a rogue city attorney.
Absolutely, the presumption of innocence is to remain untrammeled. But it is much more justifiable to draw preliminary opinions in this instance rather than in the Duke lacrosse imbroglio, IMO.
This isn't directly related to the case, but I appreciate how members of the board approach this. Even the most strongly worded posts are thoughtful and insightful. I've been reading a few other messageboards discussing this, and no where else (even on PSU boards), is the level of discourse this mature. Understandably, the PSU boards may have a lot more strong emotion tied to this, regardless of whether they want to lynch or defend Paterno, but reading through all the points on here requires more introspection than any of the others.
I usually just lurk here, and have always thought this about most of the discussions....but I think this particular discussion is one that can bring up the strongest emotions of any threads I've read, and the consistency and thoughtfulness of the posters is very obvious.
I agree that both Joe Pa and the GA should have been following up with their superiors, particularly with Sandusky still lurking around the facilities with his at-risk kids. That said, I don't find fault with them not calling the police right away. I can imagine both of them really fearing the impact of the situation on the University and feeling obligated to tell their superiors what they knew ... although I hope that if it were me, I'd add, "We need to call the police." At that point, I'd expect the superiors to first call the University attorney. Next call would probably be to Sandusky, because he'd been a central figure in the program for so many years. But then the third call would be to the police. I cannot imagine a University attorney saying, "We'll be OK if we just tell Second Mile."
Both Joe Pa and the GA certainly felt an obligation to protect the University and the program, but that obligation is fulfilled by getting the University attorney involved right away. In fact, I really think that any sensible person, on seeing that nothing was being done and the Sandusky was still around, would consult their own attorney to find out both what to do next and how to protect themselves from liability for the inaction of their superiors.
No soup for you!
No one here has tried to organize a lynch mob vis a vis Sandusky, who will have his day in court. This discussion has focused on Paterno, Curley, Schulz and Spanier (spellings?). I think the likely criminal charges for perjury against the AD and VP are a bit contrived, as is any charge that they "were responsible reporting officials." But I think they all are guilty of misfeasance in the performance of their duties. And both innocent children and Penn State have suffered.
It is incredible how quickly Joe Paterno's legend has been tarnished and how many folks are calling for his head RIGHT NOW. A friend told me he read a tweet that said:
I further direct you to this SI column, written both as a journalist and a father.We all wondered whether anyone could suffer as steep and quick a fall from grace as tiger woods; I think we have our answer.
-Jason "like I said earlier, I feel for the guy, his legacy, and his reputation as one of the most honorable human beings around... but he deserves a lot of the barbs he is getting today" EvansI waited several days to write this because my first thought was what I would do if someone did something like this to my child. My initial reaction -- and I'm fairly certain most parents would feel this way -- was homicidal. If someone molested my child, he would need the police to protect him from me. If I found him first, his death would be neither quick nor clean. I might spend the rest of my life in prison, though I'm not sure a right-thinking jury would convict me.
The Penn State alma mater includes this line: "May no act of ours bring shame." Someone wrote those words on a poster Monday and hung them from a statue of Paterno on Penn State's campus. If Sandusky pleads guilty or is convicted of these accusations, that statue of Paterno should be torn down.
Don't ask me why, but my mother is making me Tweet. Says it will be good for my career. So, follow my ramblings, mostly on the film industry, @TVFilmTalk
Here's an emotional clip from Matt Millen on ESPN this afternoon. I think he captures the feelings of many PSU students, alums, and fans. Every aspect of this story is so sad.
In the spirit of acknowledging Millen's thoughtful request for patience, I want to apologize to anyone I've offended with any of my postings on this subject, particular with regard to the due process that must be followed and that is surely owed. I've been notified that I have come across as celebrating the events of the past few days, and in reviewing what I've written I suppose I can understand how that might have been the impression. This is dreadful news all around; here's hoping some good can somehow come of this awful situation, and that the wheels of justice are as thoughtful and efficient as many of you have been in navigating and sharing your thoughts in the past few days.
Where I think there is substantially more gray area at this point in time lies in the rush to judgment against Paterno, Curley et al.. I would argue that while Paterno's brief statement and the information contained in the Grand Jury report shed some light on what happened, we won't really know exactly what happened (and who's morally and legally to blame) until they and the graduate assistant speak publicly or under oath. That's why I believe that these calls for Paterno's job could potentially be premature - we really haven't even heard his side of the story yet.
Edit: Once again beaten to the punch, this time by the man himself! Apparently I need to learn to type faster.
Coach Paterno is speaking to the media now from his house.
He has reportedly said, "Say a prayer for all the victims and their families."
Joe Paterno has claimed in some report that the graduate assistant in question did not give him the "details"
What exactly was he told? We have the grand jury report but we do not have the grand jury testimony transcripts. Exactly what level of inappropriateness was implied in the graduate assistant's report to Joe Paterno? Was it at the level of sexual abuse?But Paterno said specific actions alleged to have occurred in the grand jury report were not relayed to him.
"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report," Paterno said in the statement. "Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators."
Once the university officials talked to the graduate assistant, what did they tell Joe Paterno?
While things look bad, can we make judgments about this without knowing the answers to these questions? Presumably, Joe Paterno was ready to offer his own versions at the recent press conference that was cancelled by the president of Penn State.
I do not think that it is so hard to wait until Joe Paterno tells his full story. What do we actually gain by condemning now? It is not like we won't be able to condemn the appropriate parties the next week or the week after.
Details are being mixed up in this story. For example, it was said that Joe Paterno only received reports of misconduct in 2002 (again, how much he was told is still unclear). The stories also include information about the AD knowing about the 1998 report. Do we automatically assume that Joe Paterno knew about that, too? In the frenzy, everyone is being lumped together as having committed the exact same sins. They might all have sinned (or not), but, if so, we do not know whether they sinned in the same exact way.
Again, why not wait? We do not lose the option of condemning Joe Paterno in the future by reserving judgment now.
I might place high probability on the possibility that future information will confirm the need to condemn him, but that is again no justification for condemning him now when some of the key details of what he knew are unknown.
“Some players naturally have ‘the dog’, and some players need to learn ‘the dog.’” – Nate James
I have always been a huge advocate of due process, and as such, I think that Paterno should be allowed to finish the year while the facts are still being determined. There are some extraordinary circumstances in which I would agree that you can't let him coach, especially given that their last two games are on the road, followed by a bowl game. I would say that it's easier to let him go out there than most since he now coaches from the box and not on the field. It is still a tough decision, though, because letting him go out there subjects the school and the team to much more scrutiny, so I wouldn't disagree too vehemently if he doesn't coach.
I'm also a pretty upset on how much the coverage of this story has centered around Paterno, who may have dropped the ball on his moral responsibility, but he didn't commit those heinous acts. This is a front page issue about abuse that's being turned into a back page football story. On the note of the media, this case is already over in several ways. Even if due process plays out to show that this was somehow (not very likely) a big mistake, Penn State, Paterno, and the others involved can't be vindicated in such a way that there won't still be suspicion. I know many hate comparing to the Lacrosse case, but while all of the legal stuff can't be compared, public reaction can. It is widely understood that while having a stripper party isn't a great idea, absolutely nothing happened. To get that understanding, the accuser had to be completely discredited and the DA had to be disbarred and jailed for fabricating evidence. Given how far this has gone with a grand jury investigation, that type of vindication is no longer possible. The best they can hope for is to be found not guilty, which will still leave a bad taste in the mouth of many, and many will assume that they simply got off the hook instead of actually being innocent. Again, I don't know what happened, and you don't know what happened, but the perception is already set. Penn State can never have that status of being above the fray back. Their alumni can never have it back. Joe Paterno's legacy will end with this giant black mark, whether he coaches Saturday, the rest of the year, or five more years. In many ways, his exit reminds me a bit of Woody Hayes. For those who don't know, Woody Hayes was the Ohio State football coach for almost 30 years and won three national titles. In what would be his final game, the 1978 Gator Bowl, OSU threw a game clinching interception to Clemson. The Clemson player was pushed out of bounds right where Hayes was standing and Hayes proceeded to punch the player through his face mask. He was fired the next day. Now Hayes did not enjoy a reputation anywhere near that of Paterno, but its going down the same road where one day he's the longtime coach, the next, he's forced out.
Given what is happening to the Penn State community, I've started to notice that they are going through the five stages of grief right before our eyes. In fact I think that Matt Millen went through almost everything on air (he seemed to already be past denial).
Denial: The student body is certainly still in this stage. There are many still 100% behind Paterno, chanting for him when he gets confronted by the media. I can't remember if it was Tim Curley or Gary Shultz, but one of their lawyers lambasted the media in an interview. I've never seen a lawyer lose it in an interview like that
Anger: Matt Millen was certainly on fire at the beginning of that video. He raised his voice to the point where he flat out stated "I get mad!"
Bargaining: With Millen, this sort of happened simultaneously with anger as he pleaded with everyone to let the situation play out before making assumptions even though that ship has sailed. Joe's son Scott was also pleading with the media to give Paterno a chance to speak.
Depression: Millen eventually broke down crying, and became very emotional about the situation.
Acceptance: Millen ended his interview by accepting what's coming. He said that "there's a train coming down the tracks" and that they have to deal with it honestly and "step up"
I certainly feel first and foremost for the victims and their families, but also for the Penn State community who have certainly lost a lot, and the students, who have to deal with something that they didn't even know about until this weekend. I stated it before, but while the legal scenario is totally different from the Duke Lacrosse case, the public perceptions and ramifications will be similar. I was a freshman when the lacrosse incident happened. I couldn't go anywhere that summer without being asked about it. There are other things that will happen as well. I would imagine that most of their football recruiting class will go elsewhere, applications from the general public will drop significantly, and it will take time for the school to recover. In fact, even if they are completely innocent, the ramifications will likely be much worse for Penn State as opposed to Duke. Although it proved to be wrong and they paid for it later, Duke basically washed their hands of the lacrosse case from the beginning. Penn State can't do that. The administration was directly involved and is being charged with crimes, not to mention that some of the abuse took place on campus.
Penn State will go on, and the legal situation will play out with full due process, but much has already been decided and lost by everyone in that community. Because they deserve the last word, once again, while as sports fans we all focus on that aspect of this, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their family as they try to continue to cope with what happened.