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A Patriot-News Special Report: Who knew what about Jerry Sandusky? There were many missed chances to investigate as early as 1995
Published: Friday, November 11, 2011, 12:19 AM Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011, 8:02 AM
By SARA GANIM, The Patriot-News
What did they know and when did they know it?
The Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case has already cost the jobs of football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier. State and federal investigators continue to unravel the case and might bring additional charges.
More than one tip has already come into the tipline that police have set up for potential victims.
But in the end, it’s going to come down to credibility. Stories contradict each other. Grand jury testimony clashes.
Who was telling the truth? Who was trying to keep the truth silent?
And what part did that silence play in the fact that Sandusky is alleged to have sexually assaulted young boys for 10 years after the first boy stepped forward?
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In early 2010, before The Patriot-News broke the story of the Sandusky investigation, the newspaper confronted Spanier and asked him if he was aware of a grand jury investigation into Sandusky. His answer was no.
By his own testimony before the grand jury, Spanier knew as early as 2002 that Sandusky and a young boy had been witnessed “horsing around” by a staff member in the locker room of the football building.
It’s not clear if Spanier also knew about a six-week investigation by his university’s police force that centered around similar touching in a shower in 1998 that never led to charges.
However, now-resigned Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the campus police in 1998 and in 2002, did know about both reports, and in his grand jury testimony, he acknowledged that they were similar — they both involved young boys and allegations of sexual misconduct in a shower at the football building.
Right now, the case against Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley — both charged with perjury and failure to report a crime — hinges mainly on the word of that eyewitness, then-graduate student Mike McQueary. McQueary is now a Penn State assistant football coach.
McQueary is a guy who once stepped in and broke up a player-related knife fight in a campus dining hall — a fight police admit could have been very ugly. But this week, he is getting blasted by the public for doing too little.
That same public sentiment led to an abrupt exit for legendary coach Paterno and Spanier.
But if gossip, rumor and speculation have been rampant this week about Spanier, Paterno and McQueary, the facts are more complicated — and much more disturbing
The earliest documented report of possible abuse at the hands of Sandusky is in 1995, when his now-legally adopted son was still a teenage foster child in his home.
The adoption file for Matt Sandusky, who had a different name at the time, contains letters of concern from his mother to children and youth officials and to a Centre County judge.
Matt’s biological mother, Debra Long, testified before the grand jury.
Matt, 33, is not one of the victims in the grand jury presentment, but he did testify before the grand jury.
Sandusky’s attorney, Joe Amendola, said Long is upset with Sandusky for helping her son and her allegations are not based in fact. Matt went to live with the Sandusky family after he was caught setting fire to a barn in 1995.
Children and Youth Services placed him with the Sandusky family at Jerry Sandusky’s request. He knew Matt through The Second Mile.
In his book, “Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story” several pages are devoted to Matt.
“He became an instant challenge for me,” Sandusky writes.
Debra Long was allowed to visit her son only one-half day per month after he went to live with the Sanduskys.
About four months after he went to live with Jerry, Matt attempted suicide with a girl who was also staying at Sandusky’s house.
“The probation department has some serious concerns about the juvenile’s safety and his current progress in placement with the Sandusky family,” wrote Terry L. Trude, a school-based probation officer, days after the suicide attempt.
The letter, addressed to Centre County Judge David Grine, also said Long was concerned about Matt’s safety and mental condition, and asked that Matt go to a different foster family.
Trude finally recommended that Matt’s placement in the Sandusky house be reviewed within two months.
The night of the suicide attempt, Matt wrote a letter to the probation officer dealing with his case.
It read, in part: “I would like to be placed back with the Sanduskys. I feel that they have supported me even when I have messed up. They are a loving caring group of people. I love both my biological family and the Sandusky family.”
The day Jerry Sandusky was arrested, Matt brought his kids over to Jerry’s house. The mother of Matt’s children almost immediately went to court to prevent future visits. A judge’s order now prevents Sandusky from having unsupervised contact or overnight visits with his grandchildren.
THE FIRST VICTIM TO ASK FOR HELP
The travesty and tragedy of botched attempts to investigate Jerry Sandusky began in 1998.
Though the grand jury indictment includes four previous victims, an 11-year old boy in 1998 was the first to come forward. He is called Victim Six in the grand jury presentment.
The boy told police that Sandusky had showered naked with him. A second boy was in the showers at the time, but did not testify before the grand jury.
Then-Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar set up a sting in the mother’s home. Sandusky had requested to meet with the mom, and Gricar had officers hide in another room and listen to their conversation.
One of those officers was Detective Ron Schreffler, the lead investigator in the case.
According to the presentment, Sandusky asked the mom for forgiveness.
“I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness from you. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead,” Sandusky said.
Gricar knew the results of the sting before he made his decision not to prosecute.
The Centre County Office of Children and Youth Services also was investigating that case.
Investigator Jerry Lauro said this week he didn’t feel there was enough evidence for abuse charges solely based on interviews with the boys.
“At that time, the information that we had wasn’t sufficient enough to substantiate a case,” Lauro said. “I don’t want [the mother)] to think we didn’t believe their kid back then. We did, but we didn’t have enough.”
Lauro said Schreffler never told him the details of Sandusky’s confession at the victim’s house.
“I remember my last conversation with him concerning him hiding in that room,” Lauro said. “He didn’t tell me details. All he said was, ‘There’s nothing to it — we’re going to close our case.’ And I said, ‘That’s fine, I’m going to close my case, too.”
They never had another call regarding Sandusky, Lauro said.
Gricar disappeared suddenly in 2005. He remained missing and was declared dead earlier this year. Tony Gricar, family spokesman, said his uncle had developed a “bitter taste” for the football program and Paterno.
“So, I wouldn’t imagine he’d give favorable treatment to anyone associated with the team for any reason,” he said.
Schreffler has repeatedly declined to comment on the case.
According to the presentment, Lauro testified that he and Schreffler interviewed Sandusky. Sandusky admitted hugging the boy in the shower and admitted it was wrong, Lauro testified.
WHAT JANITORS SAY THEY SAW
Another golden opportunity to report and investigate Sandusky for child sexual abuse came just two years later, in 2000.
A group of janitors were cleaning the locker rooms late at night in the Penn State football building.
One of them, Jim Calhoun, witnessed Sandusky in a shower performing a sex act on a young boy who was pinned up against a wall, according to the grand jury report.
A second janitor, Ronald Petrosky, witnessed a boy leaving hand in hand with Sandusky after Petrosky heard the shower running.
The grand jury presentment calls them Victim Two and Victim Eight.
Calhoun approached Petrosky, crying and very upset. He told Petrosky what he’d seen and said it was something he would never forget.
All of the employees working that night were relatively new, and decided to tell Calhoun how he could report the incident, according to the grand jury presentment. There is no record that he or any of the others did that.
Twice that night, Petrosky testified that he saw Sandusky slowly drive through the parking lot of the football building. The first time was two or three hours after it happened, and the second was very early in the morning, between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.
Calhoun was a temporary employee who left the job after about eight months.
He has dementia and won’t be able to testify. Attorney General Linda Kelly said that should not hurt the investigation because they have other witnesses.
However, Sandusky’s attorney says he’ll try to stop the prosecution of both cases because the alleged victims themselves have never been identified.
WHAT DID McQUEARY SAY
Two years later, there was yet another missed opportunity.
And this is the incident that, according to testimony, eventually involved Paterno and Spanier.
This is the second case, in which the victim hasn’t been identified.
It was about 9:30 at night on a Friday before spring break. McQueary testified that he came to the football building in order to drop off a pair of new sneakers and pick up recruiting tapes. Instead, he testified that he walked in on Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy, estimated to be about 10 years old, in the shower.
McQueary testified that the boy was pinned with his hands against the shower wall — just like Jim Calhoun had seen two years earlier — as Sandusky stood behind him.
McQueary was shocked. Both Sandusky and the boy — who remains unidentified — saw him, he testified.
Instead of taking action to stop what he was watching, McQueary testified that he left immediately and told his father. The next morning, McQueary said, they went to see Paterno.
And what did McQueary say?
We don’t know. The grand jury presentment that has been given to the public, simply says that McQueary “reported what he had seen.”
According to Paterno’s testimony, McQueary told the coach he had witnessed Sandusky “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature” to the boy.
Two days after the report was released, Paterno issued a statement saying he wanted to correct the impression left by the presentment.
Even though Paterno himself had told the grand jury that McQueary saw “something of a sexual nature,” Paterno said this week that he had stopped the conversation before it got too graphic. Instead, he told McQueary he would need to speak with his superior, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and with Schultz.
That meeting did not happen for 10 days.
What was said at that meeting is in dispute.
McQueary testified he told the men in specific detail exactly what he’d seen, and what he testified to before the grand jury.
Curley and Schultz say nothing criminal was described. Instead, Curley says, it was characterized as “inappropriate conduct” or “horsing around.
Schultz said it seemed like “not that serious.”
But Schultz also admitted to the grand jury that McQueary had reported seeing “inappropriate sexual conduct” between the older man and the young boy, and possibly Sandusky “inappropriately grabbing the young boy’s genitals.”
Neither man called the police. Instead, they decided to tell former President Graham Spanier.
Spanier testified that he was only told there was “horsing around” in the shower — between Sandusky and a boy. And that had made a member of Curley’s staff “uncomfortable.” Spanier told the grand jury he didn’t hear that the incident was sexual.
Spanier never asked to speak with McQueary.
Spanier signed off on their decision to ban Sandusky from bringing children from his charity, The Second Mile, into the Penn State football building.
The ban, Curley admitted, was unenforceable.
And in fact, Sandusky attended Second Mile football camps with kids on other Penn State campuses as recently as 2008.
What about The Second Mile itself? Second Mile President Jack Raykovitz was told about the incident and the ban in 2002, the report says.
Raykovitz, too, never contacted the police.
When Raykovitz testified before the grand jury, he said Curley had merely told him an employee was “uncomfortable” about seeing Sandusky in the locker room shower with a boy, but that an internal investigation revealed no wrongdoing.
“At no time was The Second Mile made aware of the very serious allegations contained in the grand jury report,” Raykovitz said in a statement after the indictments. Raykovitz’s statement said the new details “bring shock, sadness and concern,” but said they had no indication any of the alleged abuse happened within charity programs and events.
According to the grand jury, then, here is how McQueary’s eyewitness account became watered down at each stage:
McQueary: anal rape.
Paterno: something of a sexual nature.
Schultz: inappropriately grabbing of the young boy’s genitals.
Curley: inappropriate conduct or horsing around.
Spanier: conduct that made someone uncomfortable.
Raykovitz: a ban on bringing kids to the locker room.
When The Patriot-News first reported details of the investigation in March, Raykovitz said he was assured by prosecutors that The Second Mile and its programs were not targets of the investigation.
Kelly will only say that the investigation is ongoing. However, Gov. Tom Corbett — who as attorney general began the Sandusky investigation — said Thursday night that the new attorney general will look into what The Second Mile knew.
Sandusky retired from the charity in August 2010. Raykovitz has said recently that Sandusky had no contact with children in the program after November 2008, when Sandusky notified them that he was under investigation.
A MOTHER'S SUSPICIONS
The alleged victim who finally kicked off a full-scale investigation — the one that led to Sandusky’s indictment — came forward in late 2008. He was a freshman at Central Mountain High School, where Sandusky was a volunteer football coach.
In an interview with The Patriot-News, the boy’s mother said that she began to suspect something was wrong when her son asked about a database for “sex weirdos” and when Sandusky began demanding to discipline her child.
She called school administrators, and voiced concern about Sandusky taking the boy out of class without permission.
The principal decided to ask her son if anything was wrong.
The boy broke down, confessing that Sandusky was abusing him, the mother said.
But there were earlier signs.
When a grand jury convened in 2009, two school officials testified that they had witnessed strange behavior from Sandusky while he was spending time at the school.
First, the football coach, Steve Turchetta, characterized Sandusky as being very controlling with Second Mile students, and often was alone with them. That included the alleged victim in this case.
Turchetta also testified that Sandusky could be “clingy” and “needy” when a boy would try to distance himself.
And the wrestling coach, Joe Miller, said he walked in on Sandusky lying face to face in physical contact with a boy on a wrestling mat one night in 2007 or 2008.
Miller also testified that Sandusky jumped up and said, “Hey, Coach, we’re just working on wrestling moves.”
Miller also noticed that Sandusky and the boy frequently hung out and often used the wrestling room.
Sandusky was barred from the school as soon as this victim made allegations against him, and Kelly praised the school district for acting appropriately.
The mother has told The Patriot-News she was upset to hear the district being commended.
“They told me to go home and think about what I wanted to do, and I was not happy,” she said. “They said I needed to think about how that would impact my son if I said something like that. I went home and got [my son] and we came to [Children and Youth Services] immediately.”
SO MANY CHANCES MISSED
These dates spanning 13 years share two common threads that run through the entire grand jury presentment. At each stage, boys voiced concern or pain or alarm at the conduct of Jerry Sandusky — or adults witnessed behavior they found troubling or alarming.
And at each stage, other adults dismissed, minimized or failed to act upon those concerns.
It remains to be seen whether any of these actions, or the statements behind them, are a matter for the courts. For now, only two things are certain:
Many of the accounts in this tragic and tangled history conflict with one another.
And everyone cannot be telling the truth.
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Posted by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg at 11/11/2011
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg