The Other Black Shoe Drops
July 12, 2016 7:36 AM   Subscribe

After being forced to pay out millions in settlements to the victims of former coach and child molester Jerry Sandusky, Penn State University attempted to recover the money through their insurance coverage. But in a twist, their insurer, PMA, instead fought back in court, with a disturbing argument - Penn State officials, including Joe Paterno, had known since 1976 of Sandusky's abuses. Today, their risk assessment was unsealed by the court, including information from past sealed settlements.

The major reveals were of four cases previously publicly unknown:

A 1976 incident where one alleged victim made a report to Joe Paterno.
A 1987 instance of improper sexual contact between Sandusky and a minor that was witnessed by then-assistant coach Joe Sarra.
A 1988 instance of improper sexual contact between Sandusky and a child that was witnessed by then-assistant coach Kevin O’Dea.
A 1988 incident, the report of which was referred to then-athletic director Jim Tarman.
posted by NoxAeternum (132 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's been a long time since any Carthaginian molested a child.
posted by ocschwar at 7:40 AM on July 12, 2016 [78 favorites]


Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.

“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’” the man’s lawyer asked him in 2014.

“Specifically. Yes . . . I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted. . . I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”

Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.
I don't um what holy crap
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2016 [16 favorites]


Welp. I didnt think I'd ever cheer for a miserly insurance company but here we are.

You can stop now, 2016. I think you've made your point.
posted by an animate objects at 7:42 AM on July 12, 2016 [108 favorites]


Ordinarily, I wouldn't necessarily side with insurance companies just out of principle, but in this case, I think they are absolutely right. Furthermore, it sends a message that sweeping this stuff under the rug doesn't preserve a school's reputation, it only exacerbates the perception that the university cares more about its image than the community it serves.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2016 [40 favorites]


Hitting a University in the wallet is like hitting a person in the feels.
It's where it really hurts. And serves, we have to hope, as an object lesson to any other institution that's hiding evil secrets.
posted by chavenet at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


Where the hell are the alum and students on this?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:48 AM on July 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


(Emphasis mine)

The victim, who was identified in court records as John Doe 150

Jesus wept.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2016 [63 favorites]


It's been a long time since any Carthaginian molested a child.

I feel like this isn't getting enough favorites.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Holy shit.
posted by rtha at 7:53 AM on July 12, 2016


Hitting a University in the wallet is like hitting a person in the feels.
It's where it really hurts. And serves, we have to hope, as an object lesson to any other institution that's hiding evil secrets.


The gallows humor "funny" part is that PSU had managed to cover this all up, and win the PR war. All they had to do was just eat the settlements.

But even that was too much for them. And now, it all comes crumbling down.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:56 AM on July 12, 2016 [83 favorites]


Where the hell are the alum and students on this?

They are lobbying for the return of Paterno's statue.
posted by palindromic at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


It's like The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas except instead of a perfect society, they just wanted their goddamned football team to win. And instead of one child... good lord.
posted by gwint at 8:02 AM on July 12, 2016 [38 favorites]


Penn State Administrators:. We cover up sexual abuse - and - we're cheap to the point of stupidity.
posted by benzenedream at 8:02 AM on July 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’”

Jesus. This kind of shit is why I stopped even being able to care about football anymore. People sell each other out over that game like it was nothing.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on July 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


I initially felt Paterno (and the university as a whole) were being taken to task for an individual's crimes, but I have long since changed my mind, and this just makes it clearer how much guilt there is to go around.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:03 AM on July 12, 2016 [13 favorites]



Where the hell are the alum and students on this?

Anecdata: A friend who is an alum & formerly a big fan is disgusted, disillusioned, dejected, and totally DONE with his alma mater's sports teams, maybe the whole school. I think he thinks he's in the minority which sucks even worse.
posted by pointystick at 8:03 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's been a long time since any Carthaginian molested a child.

I feel like this isn't getting enough favorites.


somebody please explain
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:04 AM on July 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Cathaginians can't molest kids because Carthage doesn't exist anymore. At Cato's urging (among others) Rome utterly destroyed the city at the end of the Third Punic War, then they salted the earth so nothing could grow, and sent away the survivors with the condition that they never attempt to rebuild it.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:06 AM on July 12, 2016 [47 favorites]


somebody please explain:

The Romans destroyed Carthage completely, not leaving one stone atop another.

Another way to say what I am suggesting would be "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
posted by ocschwar at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2016 [27 favorites]


Where the hell are the alum and students on this?

They are lobbying for the return of Paterno's statue.


Not all of us.

I wish I had a degree from anywhere else at this point. Purge that place.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2016 [20 favorites]


Well, that open letter asking that the statue be put back certainly turned out to be poorly-timed, but I'm sure all the Joe Pa Truthers out there will find a way to minimize or outright dismiss all of this. There is virtually nothing people won't rationalize away in the name of college football.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Interestingly there's pretty strong evidence that Carthaginians engaged in child sacrifice, so it's an even more apt reference.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


WE SUPPORT COACH MOLOCH
posted by thelonius at 8:13 AM on July 12, 2016 [51 favorites]


Ok, this is going to be angry:

They knew the guy was a rapist and they let him coach, which he used to groom kids.

They knew the guy was a rapist and they let him continue to coach.

They knew the guy was raping kids in the team showers, so they took away his keys. But they gave him tickets which he used to groom kids and they let him coach kids on satellite campuses.

I said before in an earlier discussion. If they just wanted to cover it up, they could have said, "Thanks Jerry. Here's your letter of resignation. Sign it, turn in your keys, and security will walk you to your car."

The cover-up isn't that Jerry Sandusky raped kids. It's that Penn State and administration were criminal accomplices.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:13 AM on July 12, 2016 [182 favorites]


I love how Dennis Hastert explained why as a wrestling coach he sat in an easy chair in front of the showers “to keep the boys from fighting.”
posted by robbyrobs at 8:16 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Like with police forces there seems to be a weird acceptance that covering things up is just what you do. Though people going to jail would be better, I hope financial consequences do a little to disrupt that culture.
posted by Artw at 8:16 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I initially felt Paterno (and the university as a whole) were being taken to task for an individual's crimes, but I have long since changed my mind, and this just makes it clearer how much guilt there is to go around.

Been reading some of the old threads today! A simpler time.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:17 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


God I hate things like this. Just makes me wonder about all the other dark places this shit is happening with no lights shining. Then it makes me think about all the shades of grey of coverup in all those places. I have to think for every one serial child molester there is at least one of every other kind of terrible perpetrator being covered up by their (almost always male) peers.
posted by avalonian at 8:19 AM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately for a considerable number of people the human cost of enabling and protecting a predator was worth it because it apparently enabled athletic success.

When institutions are built on human suffering do they really deserve to exist?
posted by vuron at 8:19 AM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


This alumni has been disgusted and horrified both by the situation and by the reactions of his old classmates who are still supporting "Saint Joe". I have a number of old friends who are super lefty but who inexplicably are still supporting Penn State football. I can't understand it and it just makes me sad.
posted by octothorpe at 8:19 AM on July 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


The University just sent out alumni email:

Statement from Penn State President Eric Barron related to anticipated unsealing of court documents

"Today, information is being released by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas related to a lawsuit between Penn State and its insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. For its part, the University does not plan to provide additional comment on these matters, as this information has largely already been covered by media.

Penn State's overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky. While individuals hold different opinions, and may draw different inferences from the testimony about former Penn State employees, speculation by Penn State is not useful. We must be sensitive to all individuals involved, and especially to those who may be victims of child sexual abuse. It also makes it much more difficult for Penn State to create an environment where victims of sexual abuse feel comfortable coming forward and where students, faculty and staff feel protected in reporting wrongdoing.

Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves.

Speculation also serves to drive a wedge within the Penn State community. I would ask that we remember our University's primary mission is to focus on research, education and service. Let's be respectful of other viewpoints and focus on our mission. The University is committed to ensuring our campuses are safe for children, and to ongoing prevention and education programs and research that contribute to a better society.

I want to thank our Penn State community for caring so deeply about not only our university during these difficult times, but also for the victims of child abuse."

Eric J. Barron
Penn State President

---

Full of equivocation same as all the other emails regarding the institutional child sex abuse at Penn State.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2016 [17 favorites]


I feel like if ever there was a use for the shame! nun from Game of Thrones, this is it. Just have someone walk the campus yelling "Shame. Shame. Shame!" all day long.
posted by TwoStride at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2016 [29 favorites]


God I hate things like this. Just makes me wonder about all the other dark places this shit is happening with no lights shining.

Unfortunately that's a fairly safe guess
posted by iffthen at 8:24 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like if ever there was a use for the shame! nun from Game of Thrones, this is it. Just have someone walk the campus yelling "Shame. Shame. Shame!" all day long.

Or, you know, just show up to all the Big Ten games.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:25 AM on July 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


"Other viewpoints" is such a copout and is just as wrong as "teaching the controversy" about evolution.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:25 AM on July 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


I am unclear about the relationship between "millions in settlements" and "criminal behavior." Did one get traction over the other?

Maybe our democracy is in play after all: you vote by purchasing a ticket to the big game, and attending the tailgate parties.
posted by mule98J at 8:28 AM on July 12, 2016


Death penalty for the program. It's the only appropriate solution. Disband the football apparatus, redistribute the funds elsewhere to programs that DON'T have a half-century history of child rape. And it shouldn't come from the NCAA. The administration and Penn State community should recognize that this is a stain that can't be expunged short of shutting it all down.

But of course they won't.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:29 AM on July 12, 2016 [64 favorites]


Wow weasel word extreme from the PSU President.

The preponderance of evidence points to the allegation that Saint Joe being completely willing to ignore abuse reports because he valued athletic success and his reputation over doing the right thing. If PSU isn't willing to lance the boil then the statement that the primary mission is to focus on research, education and service is pretty much a lie. Sometimes you need to remove the cancer in order to protect the rest of the organism and it seems like PSU has decided that it can't live without trying to protect Paterno's legacy.
posted by vuron at 8:29 AM on July 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


All of the people at Penn State who knew of Sandusky as a pedophile who raped children also stood by while he started his charity organization, the Second Mile, which he also used to groom children. Disgraceful.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:36 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Academic here. Because of this, I will never step foot on Penn State's campus. I wonder if more did the same anything would change.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:38 AM on July 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


This alumni has been disgusted and horrified both by the situation and by the reactions of his old classmates who are still supporting "Saint Joe".

Cosigned.

I don't think I have any hardcore dead-enders in my circle of friends / acquaintances / other alums that I stay in touch with, but I do know some who prior to these revelations (initial reports of which came out a few months ago) thought that Paterno himself was merely clueless rather than an active participant in the cover-up. At this point, anyone who still holds that opinion is delusional.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:39 AM on July 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Other viewpoints" is such a copout and is just as wrong as "teaching the controversy" about evolution.

"Some people say child rape is bad. Other people say football is good. Tonight we'll hear from both sides of this issue..."
posted by Sangermaine at 8:44 AM on July 12, 2016 [56 favorites]


I went there, drank the kool-aid, and rooted for that team back in the day. Tear it down. A monster like Sandusky can appear anywhere, but only in certain environments does it thrive. PSU prides itself on academics and sports: engineering, meteorology, volleyball... all this can stand on its own, and continue independently of football, right?
posted by kurumi at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


If your football program includes child rape in addition to CTE, you're doing it wrong.
posted by mikelieman at 8:46 AM on July 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


I took my wife to a game at Beaver Stadium about a decade ago and I didn't quite realize how scary and bizarre the whole thing seemed to an outsider until I saw her reaction when the whole 110,000 person stadium erupted into the "WE ARE ... PENN STATE" chant. She said it felt like a fascist rally more than a sporting event.
posted by octothorpe at 8:51 AM on July 12, 2016 [31 favorites]


And let's not forget that Penn State students rioted in defense of Joe Paterno, a man who looked the other way while children were being raped.

Football is, to some sick, sad people, more important than child abuse.

Disgusting.
posted by SansPoint at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Death penalty for the program.

This is so far beyond the football program that killing the football is not a solution at all.

The University itself functioned as a de facto child sex ring given its knowledge and subsequent behaviors.
posted by srboisvert at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Especially to those who may be victims of child sexual abuse." May be? Fucking may be? The university president needs a better ghost writer or a bigger spine. That language is insulting to the victims both directly and indirectly, by defending those "unable to defend themselves" meaning not the child victims but adults complicit in child abuse. WTF?
posted by Bella Donna at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


"PSU prides itself on academics and sports: engineering, meteorology, volleyball... all this can stand on its own, and continue independently of football, right?"

Probably not, in the case of the latter. I don't know about PSU specifically, but for most D-I athletic departments, the non-revenue sports are funded almost exclusively by football and men's basketball. And PSU's men's basketball program is not a cash cow. If PSU is to have any athletic department*, they'll need massive revenue from football.

*I don't care to get into the discussion of whether they should have an athletic department. We're assuming for the purposes of argument that they want to.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:59 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh good. I have another example for my assertion that it's always worse than you know. People defend men because "they didn't know" or "it was just one time." But they knew. And if you're hearing about it? The chances are astronomically low that it was only one time, or that you're hearing from all the victims.

The people who cover for these things make me sick.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2016 [18 favorites]


We should really have a federal law that states that, in the event that a university is found to be covering up major violent or sexual crimes to in any way assist the sports programs, the university must end all varsity sports programs or permanently lose all federal funding. Also, if possible, the accreditation is pulled.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:05 AM on July 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: "Where the hell are the alum and students on this?"

Quite upset, thanks.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:09 AM on July 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


The salt-the-earth side of me says that this is beyond NCAA. It's Title 9 and federal government sanctions time. It's Middle States Commission on Higher Education sanctions time. My mean streak wants to make it clear that treating PR as more important than your legal and ethical duties will threaten your government funding and will threaten your prestigious accreditation as an educational institution. Reporting felonies against students and minors needs to be as important as auditing the finances and compliance with student privacy laws. And while Penn State is possibly the worst case of an Enormous State University getting away with "too big to fail," there are many others that need to be slapped hard.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:16 AM on July 12, 2016 [32 favorites]


I'm kind of shocked that this still exists.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:27 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


My question is, did any of the boosters/supporters of the athletic department know of these crimes at any point? Nothing happens in an athletic department without political and financial support from members of the community.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:29 AM on July 12, 2016


roomthreeseventeen: "Where the hell are the alum and students on this?"

Quite upset, thanks.


yeah from what i can see there is 01) a quietly weeping majority who are disgusted and horrified and like, really fucking emotionally distraught at the vile things that happened to god knows how many kids, and 02) an incredibly loud disgusting minority who are O U T R A G E D that something might adversely affect their precious football and openly do not care at all that hundreds of children were harmed repeatedly with institutional knowledge and complicity for many, many years.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


You could almost understand a cover-up, if the administration had found out about Sandusky, fired him and covered up his crimes. It would be plenty despicable, but I can at least imagine the thought process that might lead someone to think 'you know, we're a good institution that does many fine things and we would be severely damaged if this came out, so lets just cover it up and forget it ever happened' or 'shit, we are all going to get fired for this, we better cover it up.'

This, on the other hand. This is not covering up a crime that happened. This is covering up a crime that was happening. This is enabling that crime to continue to happen. This is deciding that it is more important that you have a good assistant football coach than that you not have a child rapist raping children in your facilities and absolutely using his position in your organization to do it.

I can't even imagine what kind of sub-human thought process lets a group of people decide that a little ongoing child rape is something that could totally be tolerated. My brain can't even get there from here.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:44 AM on July 12, 2016 [48 favorites]


This story is like an infomercial for awful. By the time you think it's over, there's a voice saying but wait, THERE'S MORE. And I don't think this will be end of this, either. Ugh.

And yeah. I don't think this should stop at NCAA sanctions, or even pass through. Those are public employees using public facilities for heinous crimes, facilitating them, covering them up and so on. It isn't a mere sports conduct violation like paying players for recruitment or a PED program.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:46 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Penn State should have had its charter revoked and assets destroyed after the Sandusky failure. There should only be a salted field where the campus currently stands. Not only does Penn State still exist, it also is in possession of robust nuclear materials.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 9:48 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


This alumni has been disgusted and horrified both by the situation and by the reactions of his old classmates who are still supporting "Saint Joe".

Cosigned.


And me. I am sad, ashamed, and horrified. I haven't seen anyone talking about this anywhere else though--I assume my more pro-Paterno friends are ignoring this?
posted by leesh at 9:48 AM on July 12, 2016


The documentary Happy Valley is available from Netflix & other sources.

Watch it, especially the reactions of the loyalists.

<RIGHT_HAND_RAISED>Nuke it from orbit</RIGHT_HAND_RAISED>
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:50 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm honestly surprised that Sandusky wasn't found beaten to death in a dumpster somewhere back in the 1980s.

I don't understand how it might be possible to be a parent and also offer any sort of support for PSU football at this point. I guess I'm just constitutionally destined to be bewildered by human nature again and again.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Many years ago, Penn State was my "safety" school during the college admissions process. I've always been a little bit proud I didn't go there because it means I realized one small teenage ambition, and now I'm glad I didn't go there because srsly?
posted by Alterscape at 10:02 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Where the hell are the alum and students on this?

In deep denial and hanging their heads in shame, respectively.
posted by Hellblazer at 10:07 AM on July 12, 2016


Jacquilynne says it better than I could:

"This is not covering up a crime that happened. This is covering up a crime that was happening. This is enabling that crime to continue to happen. This is deciding that it is more important that you have a good assistant football coach than that you not have a child rapist raping children in your facilities and absolutely using his position in your organization to do it. "

I'm an alum. Penn State is dead to me.

Penn State Athletics should be summarily shut down.
posted by sutt at 10:14 AM on July 12, 2016 [20 favorites]


I can't even imagine what kind of sub-human thought process lets a group of people decide that a little ongoing child rape is something that could totally be tolerated. My brain can't even get there from here.

I find it much too easy to understand. I think it is an obscene and evil collection of systems of power. Most of us have encountered at least one or a few of them, but they were all working in concert for a long time.

First part— I wasn’t alive in the 70s, but as I grew up and consumed a variety of 70s media, one thing that always upset me was how often the idea of grown men having sex with children was treated as 1) hilarious, and 2) probably the kid’s fault, and 3) fairly normal. Polanski, a million “comedies” with jokes about 12 year old girls being raped, educational shorts warning girls that it would be their fault if they talked to strangers and something happened, the Airplane! cockpit scene (1980, but still), Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, every major rock star having a story about having sex with a 13 year old groupie (and the cultural beliefs that those groupies were the voracious aggressors), and on and on. From the perspective of someone who came later, the idea that adults would have sex with children was bizarrely normalized during that period. (The same period when Sandusky was first caught, and excused.) The idea that it was a serious, criminal violation just seemed…not to exist? Not to have traction? To be considered political correctness? I don’t know. But the idea that you should take these allegations seriously seems oddly absent from a lot of the cultural beliefs of that era.

So that’s first. It had always been a problem, but at that particular time it was practically celebrated.

Second part—there was a post on MF awhile back about institutional deviance— kind of an operational version of the Missing Stair theory. The “we’ve always done it this way” mentality, over time, leads to people doing unbelievably dangerous and broken things over and over. So you probably once in awhile had one person at Penn State take the allegations seriously, but that person tried to report it and found an entire University full of Missing Stair excuses (“oh, you know how Sandusky is, but he’s an amazing coach!”) and institutional deviance practices embedded into the culture (“oh, Sandusky? I’ve heard that one before, but you don’t need to worry about it” or "are you going to believe what some poor kid tells you? he's just trying to get money"). Sandusky was incredibly strategic in how he targeted boys who would not have the power or influence to contradict him, nor the allies to speak up on their behalf.

Third part—in rape culture, any amount of doubt confidently cast on a victim makes a witness or advocate less likely to succeed. We have question after question on AskMe where a person says “this person sexually assaulted my friend, but when I tried to ask for him not to be invited to an upcoming party, everyone told me I was overreacting— what should I do?” Imagine that hesitancy to continue speaking the truth, except in the face of a well-oiled and well-funded machine dedicated to keeping the truth unexposed.

I mean, football is about having a playbook, right? What is horrifying and yet unsurprising about every new revelation from Penn State is that they had a child molestation playbook too. If you report to Paterno, he responds with his own set of moves (pretending not to hear or understand, or I only care about football, or don’t bother me with this). If you ask Sandusky about it, he lies, and he’s a convincing liar so you get persuaded you didn’t see what you saw. If a child comes forward, the child’s family/future are threatened. If you go to the administration, they bury you in bureaucracy and equivocations and implied threats to end your career.

And it worked. It worked for a long, long time. If anything, I’m more shocked that it finally came out than shocked at how effective they were at keeping it under wraps.

And that’s also why I’m ultimately not surprised at how much worse they’ve made things here— they doubled down on the old playbook, not realizing that it would no longer work now that people were paying attention.

(Not surprised, I should note, but horrified, sickened, exhausted, heartbroken.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:16 AM on July 12, 2016 [52 favorites]


And that’s also why I’m ultimately not surprised at how much worse they’ve made things here— they doubled down on the old playbook, not realizing that it would no longer work now that people were paying attention.

But that's the thing - people weren't really paying attention. At least, not to the degree that ferretting this out would have taken.

No, what happened was a single act of hubris - that, even knowing that PMA knew where the bodies were buried as part of the underwriting process, the school management thought that they could have PMA pick up the tab for their arrogance.

And then they were stunned when PMA said "no, we told you that this was a bad idea from the start, and there's no way we're paying on a liability we told you about decades ago."

But, then again, I'm not surprised at what happened, either. PSU had won the PR fight, made the NCAA back off, and had successfully played the victim. Why shouldn't they have thought they could have pressured PMA as well?
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:34 AM on July 12, 2016


Right, but I'm saying the hubris itself is the playbook. The belief that no one will hold them accountable is the assumption that they keep defaulting back to, despite more recent events.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2016


I guess that I'm glad now that I dropped out just short of my degree and finished up at Pitt. My resume only shows Pitt and CMU with no mention of PSU.
posted by octothorpe at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Penn State did not know children were being raped. Penn State did not basically sell children to be raped in exchange for the income from football.

Penn State is a pile of bricks.

Paterno, and the rest of the employees knew and allowed it. Paterno was making millions - his wife made more millions.

Suing the school, Chavenet, will not teach an "object lesson to any other institution that's hiding evil secrets." It can't because the institution can't hide secrets.

The administration is free to hide the secrets, rake in the money, and if they get caught the school or taxpayers or company pays the price. The people who sold the children get to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

Suing the employer, especially when the employer is the taxpayer, will never reduce wrong-doings. It won't stop a college from covering up crimes. It won't stop the police from stepping over a line.

The people involved with the crime, the employee, perhaps the union should pay. Only when the parties who commit the crime are forced to pay will something improve.
posted by 2manyusernames at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2016


They are lobbying for the return of Paterno's statue.

I said it then, I'll say it again. Put the statue exactly where it used to stand, only upside down with the shoulders touching the ground.
posted by delfin at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


It reminds me of the film Spotlight, based on the work of the Boston Globe reporters who revealed "a widespread pattern of sexual abuse by priests that was covered up by the Archdiocese of Boston". In the sense that some individuals at Penn knew about the abuse but believed a cover up was somehow in service of the greater good. Not that any part of me understands how that is possible, but we've seen this pattern over and over and over again, in churches, in government (Watergate, anyone?), at universities, in police departments ... So yeah, not surprised, totally sickened, and grateful that university officials were stupid enough to fight the insurance company and, thus, make it possible for the public to know more about these cases.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


It reminds me of the film Spotlight

Yup.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:45 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


From the official email, pasted in above:
"Penn State's overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky."
I'd just like to meditate on that phrase for a minute.
posted by doctornemo at 10:48 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


"one thing that always upset me was how often the idea of grown men having sex with children was treated as 1) hilarious, and 2) probably the kid’s fault, and 3) fairly normal."

This is a derail, but I've always wondered about this. I mean, the dude from the Mamas and the Papas had sex with his own 19 year old daughter. WTF happened in the 70s?
posted by kevinbelt at 10:50 AM on July 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Penn State is a pile of bricks.

Nonsense. Penn State is a pile of bricks and a faculty and a student body and an administrtion and an employer and a governmental agency and an institution, etc. etc. etc. And in many of those guises, it absolutely should have the institutional memory to say, "Hey, we should check more thoroughly into this allegation, and we should make it crystal clear to everyone who draws a paycheck that if they don't follow the rules and common decency, they will suffer loss of that paycheck and very public dismissal and the stain of having 'ABETTED A CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY' on their image."

What's more, that will tell all of the other piles of bricks slash institutions that they need to have the same attitude. You think that the University of Michigan and the University of Oklahoma and Stanford University and the University of Miami aren't worried as shit about that precedent?
posted by Etrigan at 10:51 AM on July 12, 2016 [36 favorites]


WTF happened in the 70s?

Based on my very foggy recollection, drugs. Lots of drugs. Drugs and horny men storming the ramparts in the "Sexual Revolution."
posted by Floydd at 10:58 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Penn State is a pile of bricks.

No. Penn State is a not-for-profit educational institution. Educational institutions get benefits on the condition of meeting certain administrational and educational standards. Here are three examples:

* I work in distance education, and earlier this year we had to change the language across hundreds of courses so that we could certify that students met minimum weekly participation requirements for Federal Student Financial Aid.

* A few years ago, I had to request and submit updated copies of my college transcripts to certify that I had the educational credentials I claimed when I was hired.

* Even though I stare at a screen 8 hours a day and meet face to face with students about 20 hours a year, I take mandatory reporting training to cover those 20 hours a year.

Accreditation is dependent on operating by the standards according to our accreditation body. Receipt of government funds is dependent on compliance with Department of Education standards and federal law including Title 9. Either can be denied if the institution fails to meet those standards.

Also, corporate and institutional liability is a principle within the U.S. court system. If multiple people are failing to report a crime all the way to top levels of management and discouraging each other from reporting, that's an institutional problem. Individuals can always pass the buck and say, "I told my supervisor," "I told security," "I told my supervisor," "we had a talk and it didn't seem a real problem," and then you get to the VP level and it's "I got it third-hand, and didn't think those complaints were credible."
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:11 AM on July 12, 2016 [39 favorites]


Just noticed something: Paterno's wife.... they started dating when she was an 18-year-old freshman at Penn and he was a 32-year-old assistant coach. But but but! They didn't get married until she graduated in 1962, how sweet.

I'd say the man had questionable ethics long before Sandusky came on the scene.
posted by easily confused at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


Why. Why is a stupid game so important to people that they care more than about this. I don't mean the school or the perpetrators; they had money at stake, and careers (not that that is an excuse). I mean the fans. How can you look at yourself in the mirror after saying "Well some kids got sexually abused, but it was worth it because my favorite team won a lot of games!"
posted by emjaybee at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2016


How can you look at yourself in the mirror after saying "Well some kids got sexually abused, but it was worth it because my favorite team won a lot of games!"

I am not sure that the viewpoint you're articulating exists to any appreciable degree, but to the extent that it does, I think this mentality falls into the proverbial category of "can't reason someone out of something they didn't reason themselves into."
posted by tonycpsu at 12:06 PM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


There was always an excuse, emjaybee. Even now, there are excuses. The worst one I've heard so far - PMA payed the victim off to lie so that they wouldn't have to pay out.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:08 PM on July 12, 2016


The preponderance of evidence points to the allegation that Saint Joe being completely willing to ignore abuse reports because he valued athletic success and his reputation over doing the right thing.

Just to highlight this point: in internal investigations such as one that PSU might carry out or have carried out against Paterno or Sandusky, the standard used is a "preponderance of evidence" standard. So acting like these new revelations are simply allegations, without also admitting that it is easily within the power of PSU to make a finding on those allegations, is a lie by omission. Disgusting.
posted by OmieWise at 12:18 PM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


First part— I wasn’t alive in the 70s, but as I grew up and consumed a variety of 70s media, one thing that always upset me was how often the idea of grown men having sex with children was treated as 1) hilarious, and 2) probably the kid’s fault, and 3) fairly normal. Polanski, a million “comedies” with jokes about 12 year old girls being raped, educational shorts warning girls that it would be their fault if they talked to strangers and something happened, the Airplane! cockpit scene (1980, but still), Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, every major rock star having a story about having sex with a 13 year old groupie (and the cultural beliefs that those groupies were the voracious aggressors), and on and on. From the perspective of someone who came later, the idea that adults would have sex with children was bizarrely normalized during that period. (The same period when Sandusky was first caught, and excused.) The idea that it was a serious, criminal violation just seemed…not to exist? Not to have traction? To be considered political correctness? I don’t know. But the idea that you should take these allegations seriously seems oddly absent from a lot of the cultural beliefs of that era.

Earlier this year I read Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet by Phillip Jenkins. It's a dated book, and quite pessimistic about containing child porn. But one of the things that really surprised me was the brief history of "legal" child porn, which was available in many places in printed magazines during the 1970s. I hadn't known that. It was only after some incidents started to turn the tide of laissez-faire policing that police started to crack down on the availability of the magazines. Apparently many of the images still in circulation are scans from that time.
posted by OmieWise at 12:22 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


It had always been a problem, but at that particular time it was practically celebrated.

So I need to invent a time machine and nuke that time from orbit got it.
posted by corb at 12:24 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am, sadly, completely unsurprised by these latest findings because I have been expecting to hear such findings from the moment that the Sandusky saga broke. I am convinced that many other high-profile basketball and football programs house similar horrors, but get special schadenfreude from Penn State because they trumpeted for decades how they were the Grand Experiment, the Squeaky Clean Program, the Ones Who Win Without Bending The Rules, the Shining Program On A Hill when they were covering up this unforgivable series of shames the whole time.

Central Pennsylvania has been described famously as "Alabama" and that's not far from the truth. It is one of many parts of the country that tend to follow the Highway Rule: the distance you are from a major numbered/interstate highway directly correlates to your probability of being in a Shit Hole. If you are in a rural part of America, organized sports are very likely to be in your bloodstream, and in Pennsylvania that means football. You're far enough from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the middle of the state that Happy Valley is a viable alternative, and frankly, they're more likely to win something than the Eagles are in any given year.

So, we had what we had, which was rallies to support JoePa's Integrity[tm] and outright denials of abuse and harassment of the abused and their families by unabashed fans of Penn State Football. We had howling from the rafters until some of the football sanctions were relaxed, and to many that was Far Too Harsh Punishment In The First Place and now everything was Washed Clean and Saint Joe could rest easy (though Those Bastards Hounded Him Into His Grave) and PSU could get back to the business of Professional College Football.

The people currently running the university and its football program are not the ones who were in charge back in Sandusky's prime. The fan base, the alumni, the boosters, the people with 409 stickers on their cars, the denialists? They're the same. And they need a reminder that none of this is the least bit acceptable.

Close the football program down. Permanently. Ban brown egg-shaped objects within State College city limits unless they come directly from a hen. Salt the earth. Force State College to become the new Hadleyburg campus of PSU -- one that acknowledges just how badly they fucked up and dares anyone to catch them wanting ever again.

Then start the microscopes around the rest of college basketball and football and find everyone else whose closets are bursting with skeletons.
posted by delfin at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Fiendish Thingy and OmieWise: I was born at the leading edge of GenX, or else that nebulous generation between the Boomers and GenX, depending on how you define generations, so I was alive during the 70's, though I was pretty young. And, recalling, it was a time when - for lack of a better description - creepy pedo behavior was practically mainstream. Brooke Shields was twelve when Pretty Baby was filmed! And she was a Playboy centerfold at 14 or 15! Rock stars had sex with groupies who were in their early teens. And nobody went to jail for this. If anything, it was all the fault of the slutty temptress girls.

Like many tween perfume-a-holics, Love's Baby Soft was my "gateway" scent - I still remember the pink bottle with its domed cap, and the baby-powder smell of the cologne. But google "creepy Love's Baby Soft commercial" and you'll get at least two doozies. I actually remember seeing, in Seventeen magazine, one of the creepy ads (safe for work, but I'll slap a content warning on it anyway - link to The Society Pages).

I don't know why the 70's was a high-water mark for creepy underage pervy stuff. And I don't think that it's an excuse for the Sandusky cover-up, but it's an insight into the mindset of those who thought that and other cover-ups like the Catholic Church abuse scandal was "no big deal."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:36 PM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Penn State's overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky."

I'd just like to meditate on that phrase for a minute.


Nicely done there. Won't someone think of the poor university at risk of paying millions of dollars?
posted by sobell at 12:38 PM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Imagine all those ed loan dollars, being paid out, for this.
I'm sure the administrators benefits and retirement are still safe and solid though.
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:15 PM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Where the hell are the alum and students on this?

Their petitioning to have Paterno's statue put back.
posted by prepmonkey at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2016


I'm sure the administrators benefits and retirement are still safe and solid though.

Oh, yeah. And you know nobody who was complicit in perpetuating the apparatus of abuse is ever going to see any real reputation or financial damage from all this.
posted by sobell at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


What are they saying, those people who want Paterno's statue returned?
From palindromic's link:
“We have been told during the last four-plus years that the board and administration are waiting for the appropriate time to repair the damage they created,” wrote former Nittany Lions tight end and punter Brian Masella, who penned the letter. “Now is the appropriate time. Enough is enough!
...
"Our program has always been one of integrity, honesty, and respect. Under Coach Paterno, we strove for academic excellence and made an ongoing commitment to becoming better men. We deserve to have that respect reciprocated by Penn State and its leadership."
...
“We remain saddened that the Penn State Administration and the Board of Trustees thrust our program and coach into an undeserved negative media frenzy in 2011,” the letter states. “Nearly five years after the firestorm, they still have not defended us or corrected the false narrative. Our legacy and our university deserve better.”

posted by doctornemo at 2:09 PM on July 12, 2016


1970s had a number of people and budding organizations who advocated for pedophlia and incest, including Warren Farrell of MRA fame.

It had Ted Nugent singing Jailbait on repeat on my creepy neighbor's stereo.

It had Loves Baby Soft perfume ads and innumerable ads featuring lipsticks and lollipops about to be fellated by models.

It had the entire fashion world obsessed with the "exotic" because many of the male designers liked to party with young boys in Morocco.

It legitimatized and normalized porn and rapey cartoons by mixing them in print with "important" interviews and really good fiction.

It was kind of gross.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:43 PM on July 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


Seen on Facebook:

We should put the Paterno statue in front of the library to remind people to be quiet.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:01 PM on July 12, 2016 [24 favorites]


Former PSU AD Tim Curley demonstrates the versatility of the Fifth Amendment by responding with it for every question in a deposition.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:02 PM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


A few people referenced Spotlight above and having just seen it for the first time yesterday I can tell you that reading this right after is a hell of a thing.
posted by kassila at 6:20 PM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Was Sandusky actually that good at his job that a normal person would overlook these crimes? Was he like the Michael Jackson of coaches? If not, what motivated the cover up? I just don't get it.
posted by great_radio at 8:54 PM on July 12, 2016


Former PSU AD Tim Curley demonstrates the versatility of the Fifth Amendment by responding with it for every question in a deposition.

He's got a trial forthcoming. I sure as hell would plead the 5th in a deposition. The prosecutor would be watching it like a hawk and any little slip up would be an instant additional perjury charge.
posted by Talez at 10:03 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Was Sandusky actually that good at his job that a normal person would overlook these crimes?

Sandusky was very good at his job. I wouldn't think a normal person would overlook his crimes for any reason whatsoever much less because he was a good football coach. Sadly, evidence from virtually any institution where such a scandal has occurred suggests otherwise.
posted by Justinian at 10:25 PM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I hope JoPa is burning in hell. And I swear to the gods, if they put his fucking statue back, I'll piss on his grave and the bloody statue.
posted by james33 at 3:16 AM on July 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sandusky was very good at his job

In case anyone needs more outrage, he was actually good enough at his job that he was offered the Head Coach position at Division 1 schools at least three times. (Thats a big deal, it's the position Paterno had at Penn State). He turned it down every time, citing his important work with The Second Mile Charity. This was seen as commitment to helping underprivileged youth at the expense of his own career.

We now know he didn't want to leave the Second Mile charity because it was how he found little kids to rape.
posted by Justinian at 4:02 AM on July 13, 2016 [22 favorites]


Was Sandusky actually that good at his job that a normal person would overlook these crimes? Was he like the Michael Jackson of coaches? If not, what motivated the cover up? I just don't get it.

It wasn't so much about protecting Sandusky personally as it was about protecting The Program.
posted by delfin at 5:38 AM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


1970s had a number of people and budding organizations who advocated for pedophlia and incest, including Warren Farrell of MRA fame.

Jesus, the stuff Farrell said is some fucked up shit!
posted by OmieWise at 6:01 AM on July 13, 2016


(this is a graphic comment)

In relation to that teaching the controversy comment in this thread, I was reading about this yesterday, and I was completely shocked by this narration of what happened when the grad assistant told Paterno about what he had seen (from wiki)

"I told him and I want to make sure I'm clear. I made sure he knew it was sexual and wrong. There was no doubt.") [...] At the Preliminary Hearing, McQueary also testified that he "believed" Sandusky was having "some type of intercourse" with the boy. He said that this was based on "the positioning" of Sandusky and the boy, but that he never saw "insertion" or "penetration" and is not "100 percent sure" that intercourse was occurring."

Long story short, Paterno did not call the police. He had an eye witness who affirmed that Sandusky was naked with a child in the shower, MAKING SEXUAL NOISES and in a sexual position, and the conclusion was that because they weren't 100% sure there was actual penetration they would not call the police.

Like I mean even if half of these events had occurred, they should still have called the police! Where the hell did they get the idea that they need to be 100% sure there was penetration for them to call the police? The same place they got the idea that football is more important than child safety, that's where. It's the same type of dishonest reasoning that has given people justification to convince themselves that Paterno was framed. I am sure Paterno knew that the police has rape kits, and that it was not his place to conduct an investigation on what actually happened. He just decided to cover it all up because sports.
posted by ADent at 6:44 AM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because in 1976, Paterno was all raaaaagh I don't have time for this shit raaaaaagh Michigan in three weeks raaaaaaaaagh your word against his raaaaaaagh go away kid ya bother me.

And then when the second incident came to light, they circled the wagons and went "welp, it would look TERRIBLE for The Program and the university if it went public that we heard of boyrape and did nothing. Let's sweep it under the carpet."

And then when the third incident came to light, they circled the wagons and went "welp, it would look TERRIBLE for The Program and the university if it went public that we heard of boyrape twice and did nothing. Let's sweep it under the carpet."

It's an easy subroutine to update -- just increment the numbers.
posted by delfin at 6:50 AM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Burn it all down.
posted by Artw at 6:54 AM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Does anyone feel like this happens less now? Have we evolved? Are people getting it? I read this stuff and I am floored even as I have seen myself the forces and inclinations that collude to cover up, deny, to pretend it didn't happen. It's heartening to hear that it was reported. Those people who reported surely felt traumatized to have their concerns swept away. Are we better now?
posted by amanda at 7:05 AM on July 13, 2016


Are we better now?

No.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:09 AM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't want to be a downer, but I've seen no evidence that things are getting better in re abuse and reporting.
posted by OmieWise at 8:02 AM on July 13, 2016


"Does anyone feel like this happens less now?"

I don't know. Some of the stories about the 70s upthread sure sound like they couldn't happen today. But the internet enables a lot of pervy shit. And NBC had a whole show dedicated to catching child predators. So it's still happening quite a bit, I imagine.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:09 AM on July 13, 2016


delfin has it right about Central PA.

Joe Paterno was an idol. He was roundly seen as a great man, one who cared deeply for his students, who had high morals and passed those on to his team. He had names removed from their jerseys because it was about the team, not the individual. He did a lot of charity work.

Sandusky was seen in a very similar light.

People there just can't wrap their heads around the fact that JoePa, a messianic figure to many, would not have reported this. They are willing to believe Sandusky did these things, but not JoePa. And not in the name of protecting the football program.

I went to PSU bc I wanted a brand name on my degree. I had started at York College of PA but realized the Nike of college degrees would get me further and it certainly did.

I lost my diploma in my move from there to Prague and I don't care. I'd burn that shit if I found it.

I was so proud of my diploma but it's signed by Graham Spanier who handled all of this in such an awful way that I don't even want to look at my degree again.

I was the first person in my family to go to and graduate from college.

Paterno and his fucking inhumane attitude that dwelled behind his public persona ruined the pride I once took in my stupid piece of paper.

JoePa is not the god we thought he was. It is so hard for people to understand that.

You know how Friday Night Lights is such a big thing? High school and college football is like that in PA. PSU was HUGE for people.

Huge.

I couldn't really care about football, but I do know that I felt I went to a good school. All the while, the administration sacrificed children to their god of football and the god's chief priest.

It's a fucking cult.
posted by sio42 at 9:17 AM on July 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


He had names removed from their jerseys because it was about the team, not the individual.

Thank you for the reminder of one of Paterno's lesser known dick moves, especially considering the whole issue with players not being allowed to get compensation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is that accurate? Did the jerseys have names on the back prior to Paterno? I thought they'd never been on at all.

Not that this matters at all, just curious.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2016


No, there were no names on Penn State jerseys before 2012.
posted by Etrigan at 9:33 AM on July 13, 2016


Of course Penn State is not literally just a pile of bricks.

What I was trying to say is

Lawsuits against the company, especially lawsuits against the taxpayer will not reduce such criminal actions.

It won't stop molestation. It won't stop abuse of power. It won't stop much of anything. At least not to a large degree.

The problem is the school, police force, the taxpayer, etc are not the people committing the wrongs.

It won't stop people like Paterno and others because Paterno and others not only do not suffer for their actions but usually benefit.

While "the University of Michigan and the University of Oklahoma and Stanford University and the University of Miami" may very well be concerned about what is happening the people working for the universities know they don't have to worry. They won't have to pay. Often times they won't get fired.

I am simply saying let Penn State and the other employers face their fines. However make the individuals involved pay fines as well. Make the employee unions have to pay out fines.

Punish the person who committed the wrong deed.

Paterno knew what was happening and didn't suffer one bit. His wife was given millions. All the other people who knew and looked the other way are perfectly fine. They got paid.

An employee violates your rights. You can sue and collect a big check. The employee is protected. Where is the incentive for that employee not violate your rights?

Sure you can say the employer is supposed to stop it but that isn't always so easy. You don't always have a case like this one that went on for so long with so many people knowing about it.
posted by 2manyusernames at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


All the other people who knew and looked the other way are perfectly fine.

Penn State President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Timothy Curley, and Vice President Gary Schultz are currently awaiting trial for perjury and child endangerment.
posted by Etrigan at 10:54 AM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Punish the person who committed the wrong deed.

First of all, Paterno is dead, as (I'm assuming) are several of the other men who were involved in keeping them under wraps.

Second of all, you are missing the point that institutional power/collusion/groupthink are part of why individuals who would consider this behavior reprehensible in the abstract are so easily swayed into supporting it when their responsibility is diffused throughout a network of “no one told me” and “well, the damage is already done, no need for the players to suffer because of it” and “it was for the good of the school” and “no one will believe me anyway”. Punishments for the institution are aimed at people who perform atrocities in the names of institutions. Punishments for this institution have an impact on people working for other institutions.

Paterno wouldn’t have colluded in this nightmare for the local Dairy Queen. He was willing to abdicate his responsibilities for Penn State because it was PENN STATE. The more that the cachet and influence of that institution is dismantled and discredited, the fewer people who will be willing to look the other way when a different kind of ethical nightmare happens.

Punishing individuals for collective and communal crimes is insufficient. The collective they served so blindly also has to be broken down.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:58 AM on July 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Personal liability vs. corporate liability is not an either/or, we can have both. Corporate accountability is an important part of the picture because the institution can always find a scapegoat (willing or not) when it comes to systematic negligence or criminal behavior.

Pennsylvania has had mandatory reporting laws since 1963. There's no excuse here for punting those complaints from administrator to administrator rather than going directly to the police.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:12 AM on July 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I do think it's worth distinguishing between the athletic program and the university as a whole. I'm not saying there wasn't collusion from the university leadership here - Spanier at bare minimum, likely several other people, too. Those people should be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. Whatever penalties the NCAA sees fit to apply to the football program, as well - at minimum, a 10 year "death penalty." If you wanted to extend that to athletics in general, I could buy that.

But there have been statements upthread to the effect that we should blow up the entire university. That seems to be punishing the innocent. Penn State is a public institution that provides a good education to a large student body at semi-affordable rates. The students attending in 2016 aren't responsible for the actions of a university employee that mostly happened before they were born.

Pursue the guilty - yes. Punish the athletic program - yes. But taking away a good education from some 18 year old is not going to help.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:53 AM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


No, it's not just an NCAA issue. Key laws and policies regarding sexual harassment and assault apply to the entire institution. Many institutions have an office at the campus and/or university level to handle these issues, and any question or report about whether those laws and policies have been violated must go through that office. If the institution does not investigate and/or act on reports of sexual harassment or assault, it is liable as an institution under both state and federal law.

Yes, Penn State is a public institution, and as such it has a number of specific obligations to faculty, staff, students, and the public at large. It is not a "good education" if the university turns a blind eye to sexual harassment, assault, or discrimination by its faculty or staff.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:42 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, taking those complaints out of the department is pretty important. "Tell your supervisor," doesn't work when the harassment is coming from your supervisor. Most departments are not equipped to handle mediation or potentially complex issues of legal liability. And as we saw with Sandusky, people often have a vested interest in covering up for their co-workers.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:51 PM on July 13, 2016


Well, as I clearly stated, I'm all for anyone involved being prosecuted or sued, as appropriate. And yes, I would expect whatever appropriate penalties attach to the institution for failure to report, etc. to be pursued as well.

I still fail to see how "salting the earth" or "blowing it all up" as mentioned upthread is in anyone's interest. I graduated from Penn State in 1995. I am deeply upset and ashamed about what happened before, during, and after my time there. And they'll certainly never get another dollar from me. But I didn't know about what was going on. And I *did* receive a good education in my field. And I think some thought needs to be given to to the 90,000 some students that attend the school in some fashion.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:54 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yesterday afternoon on WSCR 670 The Score in Chicago, Dan Bernstein and Barry Rozner interviewed Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano, who's been the unofficial leader of the Joe Paterno apologists. It's amazing radio and quite the must-listen. I am impressed they were able to do the interview without vomiting repeatedly.

Quad City Pat, who is a child protective services investigator for the state of Illinois (I've linked to him previously in the Josh Duggar thread) also posted about the latest revelations (and the Lubrano interview) yesterday.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:28 PM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


And I think some thought needs to be given to to the 90,000 some students that attend the school in some fashion.

Like, "how do we protect 90,000 students from exploitation."

I thought I was pretty clear in my "salt-the-earth" post that I was responding in anger to new evidence of profound institutional indifference. I don't know if Penn State should be dissolved as an institution or not. I called for additional investigation and possibly sanctions by the U.S. government and Penn State's accreditation authority. The willingness to report crimes against minors either is a condition of funding and accreditation or it's not. If it is, then there should be consequences.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:34 PM on July 13, 2016


Yes, Penn State is a public institution

Well, yes and no. "State-related" schools like Penn State, Pitt, and Temple operate with much less oversight than schools like IUP, West Chester, and Lock Haven that are part of the state's higher education system. There is nominally some measure of accountability -- the governor gets a seat on the board, etc. -- but one could argue that Pennsylvania needs Penn State more than Penn State needs Pennsylvania's funding and public status. The state's leverage as far as I can tell is a rather small amount of funding (~7% of the school's budget) the threat of a loss of whatever privileges PSU gets from being officially connected with the state, and I guess any public relations downside of transitioning to becoming a private school, which was IIRC broached openly as a possibility by University higher-ups at one point.

How much all of that adds up to in terms of bottom line effect on the university is pretty murky to me, and maybe this murkiness is part of what led to the cascading failures that allowed Sandusky to operate with impunity for as long as he did.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:53 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would feel bad if some Penn State field hockey player, or gymnast, or cross country runner, or fencer, or participant in a similar sport who plays in front of 317 people instead of six figures were to lose their teams (or even scholarships) because all of PSU's athletics got squashed.

Take out the cancer -- the football program and its fan base -- not the healthier organs around it.

There are still good people in Happy Valley, though I wonder aloud why many of them haven't transferred elsewhere.
posted by delfin at 2:54 PM on July 13, 2016


for most D-I athletic departments, the non-revenue sports are funded almost exclusively by football and men's basketball.

"The truth is that diminishing research budgets, the administrative erosion of the tenure system, the economic efficiency of adjunct labor, and rising tuition costs all subsidize the American college football system."

- Is College Football Profitable for Universities? (2014)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:54 PM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


tonycpsu: The obligation for colleges to deal with sexual assault on campus is a federal law. The obligation for educators to report suspected childhood abuse is a state law. Neither depend on who names the board of trustees. And neither is particularly ambiguous about what should have happened regarding Jerry Sandusky.

I also think it's a bit funny that we're talking about whether Penn State can be sanctioned in the context of a court case named "Pennsylvania State University v. Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance." If Penn State can be a plaintiff in this matter, it can be a suspect or defendant.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2016


CBrachyrhynchos, I think you misread my comment. My point was that its quasi-public status may have allowed it to skirt oversight for so long, not that its status in state law would somehow exempt it from status relating to mandatory reporting or a responsibility to keep students safe.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:33 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


delfin: I would feel bad if some Penn State field hockey player, or gymnast, or cross country runner, or fencer, or participant in a similar sport who plays in front of 317 people instead of six figures were to lose their teams (or even scholarships) because all of PSU's athletics got squashed.

Take out the cancer -- the football program and its fan base -- not the healthier organs around it.


Don't forget that all of this is completely tangential to PSU's mission. Sports were all just supposed to enrich the students' lives while they learned. Now, varsity sports in general have been corrupted to something that participants mostly focus on completely to the exclusion of all real study while providing some very expensive circuses for the public.

When it gets this corrupted, it needs to all go away. Club sports accomplish the original purpose of college sports far better than varsity ones do these days (for one thing, a hell of a lot more people can participate), they don't cost the college a fortune, and they don't completely divert people away from the actual purpose of the university.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:15 PM on July 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


"'The truth is that diminishing research budgets, the administrative erosion of the tenure system, the economic efficiency of adjunct labor, and rising tuition costs all subsidize the American college football system.'"

True for most schools, but PSU is among the very small number (15-20) of schools where the athletic department actually turns a profit and contributes back to the university. At PSU, revenue from football alone covers something like 2/3 of the athletics budget.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, my understanding is that college football (and to a lesser extent, men's basketball) is definitely the 1% and everybody else.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:00 AM on July 14, 2016


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