Friday, July 13, 2012

The Freeh Report and What It Leaves Out

The media and public are lapping up The Freeh report as if it is the final word on the Penn State scandal. The report is full of debatable conclusions, characterizations and assumptions. But the most stunning thing about it to me is how it leaves out any criticism of Mike McQueary, the man who claims to have witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy, did nothing to stop it, and later reported it in in the most ambiguous of ways. 

Having allegedly seen this criminal act performed with his own two eyes, McQueary admittedly left out the sort of details that would have guaranteed an immediate and thorough police investigation. His lack of specificity allowed Joe Paterno and the others to wonder if a crime had even occurred. If McQueary had told Paterno, Curley and Schultz what he told the grand jury does anyone doubt Sandusky would have been arrested within days, if not hours?

It is apparent that Paterno didn't push McQueary for greater detail about the incident when he should have. But there is no guarantee that McQueary would have provided them, given what he withheld from  his own father and Dr. Jonathan Dranov an hour after witnessing the crime.

It was McQueary's testimony and behavior during and after the incident that caused the jury in Sandusky's criminal trial reasonable doubt that a crime occurred. It was one of the few charges against Sandusky that didn't stick.

The Freeh Report blames Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier in the most damning of terms. But there is not a scintilla of blame apportioned to the man who, by his own admission, withheld critical details and information from his superiors that would have ensured Sandusky would have been stopped then and there. 

There is no evidence that anyone at Penn State told McQueary to remain silent about what he saw. But for years he did. He could have gone to the police to child welfare or any other investigative body. He didn't. And HE - not Paterno, not Curley, not Schultz nor Spanier - was the eye-witness to this crime. Perhaps it was his own behavior at the time that kept him silent. Leaving the scene of the crime and a naked 10-year-old boy in a shower with his adult rapist is not something any responsible adult would do or want others to know.

It is just as reasonable to believe that McQueary didn't want Paterno, a man he revered, to know how horribly and gutlessly he behaved at the scene of the crime. It would certainly explain the lack of detail in his account to his coach.

But the Freeh Report makes no mention of any of that. Freeh concludes that Paterno, Curley Schultz and Spanier actively concealed evidence with "shocking" disregard for the child victims of Sandusky. Isn't McQueary's behavior and silence for 10 years just as shocking? Besides the children, no one had more direct knowledge of Sandusky's criminality than McQueary. Yet he escapes any criticism in the report.  

In response to Freeh's conclusions, the Paterno family issued a statement that included this paragraph:
One great risk in this situation is a replaying of events from the last 15 years or so in a way that makes it look obvious what everyone must have known and should have done.  The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept.  The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn’t fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events. Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone – law enforcement, his family, coaches, players, neighbors, University officials, and everyone at Second Mile.
There are two competing narratives here. Louie Freeh's says, Paterno and the other knew all about Jerry Sandusky, that he was a dangerous pedophile and that they knowingly let him harm more children out of fear of "bad publicity."

The other narrative is these men didn't actually believe Sandusky was a sexual predator. That they misjudged, underestimated, and misinterpreted. They made mistakes, they should have done more to investigate but they didn't intentionally, recklessly or with a care in the world, put more kids at risk to "protect the brand." 

Based on all the facts in the Freeh report the second is just as reasonable a conclusion to come to as the first.

Though it is obviously not as popular.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, my print column is up.


Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Why do you think this is? Is it intentional? What's the reason for going easy on McQueary?

July 14, 2012 at 9:36 AM 
Blogger CharlieSix said...

Heartfelt thanks for your post, Gil... It says what I have have believed, that McQueary did not tell Coach Paterno that he had seen a child being raped, and that the events which unfolded subsequently could well have been abated had he done so. For anyone to think that Joe Paterno would not have acted in a different way had he been told the details of what McQueary saw is a fool. You also raise a very intresting point regarding the Freeh Report not commenting on McQueary's lack of accurate reporting to anyone at Penn State. But another thing which I don't remember seeing in the Freeh Report is any criticism of then-Attorney General Corbett for the ineffective investigation by his office. The mass media has been agressive in their criticism of the "Gang of Four". What they have sadly missed is where the responsibility for their decisions should be placed: McQueary. Again, thanks...

July 14, 2012 at 7:21 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Charlie - Regardless of the exact words used by McQueary, it doesn't excuse Paterno's actions that persuaded others not to go to the authorities. Anyone who believes Paterno didn't know that Sandusky was a pedophile is a fool. Read the story on page 10 of today's Times. I agree that McQueary is getting off easy. I also agree that Corbett's role in this should be investigated. I also believe that Paterno lied when he claimed not to know about the first incident.

July 14, 2012 at 8:34 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Charles - Read this from todays Times "Legal experts said emails and other evidence in the Penn State investigative report released Thursday suggest that Paterno may have misled a grand jury when asked when he first heard about Jerry Sandusky's misconduct, and show that Paterno and other university officials put boys in danger with their failure to report sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago." Do you honestly believe that Paterno didn't know Sandusky was a pedophile? C'mon. Get real.

July 14, 2012 at 10:16 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paterno knew of the alleged '98 episode. When he was told about the 2001 episode he should have put 2 and 2 together. And not understanding rape between a man and a child, as a Catholic, had he never heard of the pedophile scandal that was rocking the Catholic Church all through the decade??? At some point he and the other three players... and I don't mean football players...KNEW and DID NOTHING. Not even call Sandusky about bringing his "guests" to the stadium was enforced. The Freeh report is damning because of the omissions of the people in power. McQuery should have done more and so should have the janitors. However, it is during trying times that those in power must lead. Instead, in this situation, those in power were cowards and lacked leadership and chose the easy way out through obfuscation.

July 15, 2012 at 9:57 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow what a bunch of sponges. i cant believe most of you are soaking up this bs from the freeh report. this WAS an agenda to cover for the BOT. joe, spanier, curly, and shultz are not innocent, but this report is by no means the end all be all. It is a hypothesis. there is no credible evidence on most of the theories but most people are drinking it up. Look at the facts of the report. the facts. most of you have already past judgement before even reading it which im sure most have not.

July 15, 2012 at 2:04 PM 
Blogger jake said...

Thank God for Gil, a lonely voice of reason in the babble of journalistic insanity.

Unlike the majority of commentators, I am reading the $5 million revisionist fable known as the Freeh report. It was commissioned by the Trustees to cover their asses, and has as little connection to the truth as your typical Obama campaign speech.

JoePa is mentioned only twice in terms of actual evidence; two hearsay emails. How do you rationalize a lifetime of honorable service and leadership with two out-of-context emails, authored by a perjury defendant? Apparently, Louis Freeh thinks they justify the wholesale conclusions he was paid to report.

How do you rationalize the District Attorney of Centre County declining to press charges against Sandusky in 1998? Was the football coach supposed to overrule the DA? Apparently, Louis Freeh wants you to think so.

How do you rationalize child welfare services approving Sandusky to adopt children? Was the football coach supposed to overrule the child welfare authorities? Apparently, Louis Freeh wants you to believe that as well.

How do you rationalize the General Counsel of Penn State advising against action on Sandusky? Was the football coach suppose to overrule the General Counsel? Once again, Freeh would have you believe he should have.

This report only makes sense in the context of an expensive, one-sided Trustee stratagem. What a terrible waste of dollars and trust.

July 15, 2012 at 8:21 PM 
Blogger CharlieSix said...

Jake: A very well reasoned post. Yes, I agree that the Freeh Report was intended by the author and by the Board which engaged him to put the blame elsewhere. As Spencerblog has posted, there has been nothing discovered that would make it certain that Joe Paterno had factual knowledge of Sandusky being a pedophile. Bob: Your post makes it clear you want to believe what you believe: "Legal experts said emails and other evidence in the Penn State investigative report released Thursday suggest that Paterno may have misled a grand jury..." May? You hang your hat on that, Bob? 'nuff said...

July 15, 2012 at 10:59 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Charlie & Jake - I get it. If either of you were to see, or were told by someone you trust, that a grown man was in a locker room shower having "horseplay" with a 10year old, you would both look the other way. I wouldn't. Believe what you want. I think you're betting on a lame horse.

July 17, 2012 at 8:45 AM 
Blogger jake said...

Don't hurt your arm patting yourself on the back.
McQueary's weak effort is pretty well recognized, but it doesn't justify a similiarly weak effort from Freeh.

July 17, 2012 at 9:53 AM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Or an even weaker effort from Paterno.

July 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Question for Jake and Charles. If it is determined beyond a reasonable doubt that Paterno persuaded the others not to go to the authorities, will you still defend his actions?

July 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM 
Blogger jake said...

Question for Bob:
Aren't you ashamed of your fascination with crazy conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated speculation?
Do you think the public and the victims are better served by destructive gossip rather than judicial due process?

July 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Jake - Thanks. You've answered my question.

July 17, 2012 at 1:06 PM 
Blogger jake said...

And your non-response tells us all we need to know.

July 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Jake - To answer your question, no I'm not ashamed to have figured out Paterno's role in this long before you.

July 17, 2012 at 6:16 PM 
Blogger jake said...

Based on what?

July 17, 2012 at 6:39 PM 
Blogger CharlieSix said...

I'm surprised, Bob, that you would stoop that low. You ask if Jake or me: "were to see, or were told by someone you trust, that a grown man was in a locker room shower having "horseplay" with a 10year old, you would both look the other way." As if to imply that Coach Paterno looked the other way. Or that we would. You then go on to self-agrandize that you would not. But neither did Mr. Paterno. Let me put it in the most basic crayon that I can: (a) McQueary did not, and it is well documented he did not, tell Mr. Paterno that he witnessed the child being raped, and (b) Mr. Paterno reported what McQueary had told him to Curley. But your next question was: "If it is determined beyond a reasonable doubt that Paterno persuaded the others not to go to the authorities, will you still defend his actions?" I can't speak for Jake but my answer is no. Then again there has been absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that the question is valid. Take a deep breath, my friend...

July 17, 2012 at 9:06 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Chuck - I have to stoop low if I want to be level with you and Jake. If Paterno convinced Curley and Schultz not to go to the authorities, that's looking the other way. And it's pretty obvious from the emails that that's what happened. Unless of course the authors of the emails predicted an investigation and decided to write misleading emails to implicate Paterno and throw off the investigators. But then that would be a conspiracy theory that you and Jake could live with, wouldn't it?

July 17, 2012 at 11:53 PM 
Blogger jake said...

Hearsay emails by perjury defendants -- you have such high standards for due process, Bob.

July 18, 2012 at 6:46 AM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Jake - LOL. And you accuse me of being fascinated with crazy conspiracy theories? The smart money says Paterno knew for years, kept quiet and persuaded Curley and Schultz not to go to the authorities. Do you believe Paterno will be vindicated? I'll take that bet if you're interested in a wager.

July 18, 2012 at 7:59 AM 
Blogger jake said...

JoePa has pretty much been convicted in the court of public opinion. It's unlikely he will ever be "vindicated".
That doesn't make the Freeh report a reponsible document. And it doesn't mean we should allow emotion and speculation to take precedence over facts.

July 18, 2012 at 10:04 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i believe that i heard reported from the trial that a friend of McQueary testified to that fact that he was told by McQueary that he heard sounds coming from the shower and then seen Sandusky coming out of the shower with the boy. and didnt see anything that was going on in the shower. Would that explain why Mcqueary never went to the police and demanded an arrest. playing the situation over in my head and actually walking into the shower and seeing a boy being raped would cause me to try to knock out Sandusky and grab the boy and take him to saftey. i would think that a person who sees a boy being raped(if McQueary actrually seen it) would be way more culpable. another thing im trying to sort out is that according to the report that Sandusky was acutally questioned by police. also, the D.A had the mother called Sandusky and listened in on the conversation and decided that there wasnt enough evidence to prosecute. So im kinda thinking that if the D.A, the police, decided not to investigate more, and the boys mother(that ive heard of) not dmeand to the police and arrest be made, but yet it was others that are to be blamed for not doing enough? just some things to think about. i think Sandusky used who he was, A well respected individual who was founder of a chairty to help boys. i mean if most people from the PSU Community before all this were told that Sandusky was a pedophile, they would have told you no way in hell.

July 19, 2012 at 4:17 PM 

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