The Freeh Report and What It Leaves Out
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.