For Penn State, it seems, the Jerry Sandusky trial most definitely did not end with the former coach's conviction. Indeed, as various investigations continue into the scandal that has devastated the reputation of a once-proud university, it seems that the news just keeps getting worse--and more disturbing, too.
On Friday night, June 29, CNN released a stunning report that seemed to indicate that the highest levels of the Penn State administration were aware of allegations against Sandusky in February of 2011, just five months before another victim was abused by Sandusky, and yet apparently decided against taking the matter to police, or even the charity that Sandusky founded and used to cultivate his victims. The emails also hint that the three men were well aware of an earlier allegation against Sandusky--a 1998 incident that was actually investigated by police, yet resulted in no charges--yet still didn't believe that the 2001 incident was sufficient cause alarm to alert police. In the end, the men decided to keep the matter in-house--a dubious decision that allowed Sandusky to remain free and ultimately tore the university to shreds.
The emails obtained CNN include conversations between former Penn State president Graham Spainer, former vice president Gary Schlultz and former athletic director Tim Curley. They emails also reference a "Joe," presumably former Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno, who died a few months after being fired by the university in the wake of the scandal. Paterno did not write any of the emails.
In the email correspondence, the three men are apparently debating whether or not to take news of Sandusky's then-alleged transgressions to the Second Mile, the charity he founded to help at-risk youth, or the Department of Welfare. The emails are dated just over two weeks after former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary reported that he saw Sandusky doing something of a sexual nature with a young boy in a Penn State shower. While the emails indicate that the men originally decided that they would alert both the Second Mile and the Department of Welfare, an email from Curley, the athletic director, indicates that they later changed their minds. This is the email that references Paterno.
In it, Curley wrote that "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved." In a follow-up email, Curley outlines an alternate plan by which the university could go direct to Sandusky with the allegations and get him "professional help;" this course of action, Curley seemed to propose, would allow the university to skip going direct to the authorities.
Then came the most damning of the emails--a note from Spanier, the president, in which he declares himself "supportive" of Curley's plan, even as he acknowledges that the university by doing so would be failing to report the incidents to the proper authorities.
Spanier, who called the plan a "humane and a reasonable way to proceed, wrote the following: "I am supportive, The only downside for us if the message isn't heard and acted upon, and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it."
In that regard, at least, Spanier was prescient: Sandusky, quite clearly, did not hear the message, he continued to abuse helpless boys, and roughly 11 years later, the inaction of Curley, Schultz, Spanier and perhaps Paterno--whose role in this email exchange is sure to be hotly debated--was ultimately exposed when Sandusky was finally indicted on an array of abuse charges. Soon after, Paterno was fired, Curley and Schutlz were charged with perjury, and Spanier was removed from office.