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Penn State Scandal: 10 Unanswered Questions

Johnie Freatman |
November 21, 2011 | 4:57 p.m. PST

Associate Sports Editor

Many questions remain about the Jerry Sandusky allegations. (Creative Commons)
Many questions remain about the Jerry Sandusky allegations. (Creative Commons)
In the wake of the most horrific sports scandal in recent memory, the public outrage toward Penn State has been matched perhaps only by a desire to know more.

Though many of the key players in the scandal have obtained lawyers, the following questions beg to be answered:

1. Did Joe Paterno confront Jerry Sandusky after being made aware of what Mike McQueary allegedly saw in 2002?

From the outset, Paterno has said he wishes he "did more" to stop the abuse. If he indeed never directly discussed the incident with Sandusky, as the accused has claimed, Paterno's quote is an appalling understatement. Especially considering there are indications he knew past abuse may have occurred, failing to discuss the issue with Sandusky and not attempting to further gather facts lends credence to those who not only believe Pateno could have done more, but tried to "cover it up."

2. What level of knowledge did Paterno and the rest of the athletic department have of the police report filed against Sandusky in 1998?

Details of the first known accusation against Sandusky are contained in a 1998 police report, one that includes some very critical details. In wiretapped conversations between Sandusky and the alleged victim's mother, he admitted to showering with the 11-year-old boy and when pressed, didn't deny that he may have touched the boy inappropriately. He went on to tell the mother: "I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."

Though charges weren't ultimately filed, if Paterno and the rest of the athletic department knew about this report and the details within it, it would make their inaction against Sandusky in 2002 even more reprehensible.

3. Why weren't charges filed against Sandusky after this seemingly damning report?

Unfortunately, this question may never be answered. Ray Gricar, the Pennsylvania district attorney who decided not to file charges, was declared dead in July after having gone missing in 2005 amid some bizarre circumstances. Authorities believe Gricar's death is not connected to the Sandusky case, however.

4. Is it a mere coincidence that the man considered the heir apparent to Joe Paterno retired shortly after the 1998 police report... at the age of 53?

There are many reasons, some circumstantial, to believe Jerry Sandusky was forced out by Penn State. It has been reported that Sandusky decided to retire after being told by Paterno that he wouldn't be his successor.

However, there are a couple problems with this theory, especially the timing. Sandusky had long been considered the heir apparent to Paterno and was coming off a season in which his defense allowed a mere 15.3 points per game while the Nittany Lions went 9-3. Why would Paterno all of a sudden decide he wasn't the right guy, especially when determining a successor is ultimately the job of the athletic director?

In fact, "Victim 4" remembers Sandusky being very upset and telling him not to share the substance of this particular meeting between Sandusky and Paterno. Another oddity is that Sandusky had long shown interest in becoming a head coach; the fact he suddenly gave up on those dreams is curious, especially given his age.

5. What exactly did Mike McQueary do to "stop" the attack?

Mike McQueary (PennLive/Creative Commons)
Mike McQueary (PennLive/Creative Commons)
Over the last few days, the circumstances surrounding this detail have come increasingly under fire. In an email leaked to the media, McQueary indicated to a friend that he "did have discussions with police" in the wake of the attack. The problem with this account is it is disputed by State College police, who say they have no record of McQueary reporting the incident.

If it turns out McQueary fabricated this story, it could severely undermine his credibility as a witness, not to mention darken the black eye of the Penn State athletic administration.

6. Why was Sandusky allowed seemingly unquestioned access to Penn State following the 2002 allegations?

Sandusky maintained an office at the university and was reportedly seen there as recently as the week before the release of the grand jury report.

Whether directly permitted or not, this access extended to the football program as well, with the grand jury report mentioning that "Victim 1" was taken to football practices in 2007, a direct violation of Penn State's stipulation that Sandusky not bring children on campus.

7. How much did Paterno and others with knowledge of the situation communicate to the rest of Paterno's staff?

As of right now, there are three people from the athletic department known to have been privy to the alleged 2002 assault: McQueary, Paterno, and former athletic director Tim Curley.

If they told other coaches about the situation, perhaps there would have been a more watchful eye on Sandusky and any suspicious incidents, like the attendance of "Victim 1" attendance at practice, could have been stopped.

If Penn State ultimately considers cleaning house, coaches like Tom Bradley could cite lack of knowledge as a factor that should be mitigating.

Joe Paterno coached at Penn State from 1966 to 2011. (PSUpix/Creative Commons)
Joe Paterno coached at Penn State from 1966 to 2011. (PSUpix/Creative Commons)

8. Is it a mere coincidence that Joe Paterno transferred his house to his wife's name mere months before the grand jury report?

If not, this shows that Paterno was likely aware the report was pending and may have been trying to protect his assets with the anticipation that he would be subject to civil lawsuits.

9. What level of scrutiny did Sandusky receive from Second Mile?

According to the grand jury report, Second Mile was made aware of Sandusky's alleged improprieties as early as 1998, shortly after the initial police report. Furthermore, though Curley didn't inform authorities of the information he received from McQueary, he notified Second Mile not only of the alleged incident but of the administration's directive that Sandusky not use Penn State's athletic facilities with children.

It is unclear whether Second Mile took any action on this information, which is especially curious given the charity's mission of working with children and Sandusky's known history of trying to "mentor" young people.

10. How did McQueary describe the alleged assault to Paterno?

After witnessing the alleged assault and consulting his father, the first person McQueary notified was Paterno, who says "(McQueary) at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report." However, this begs the question of just what McQueary conveyed, especially given the fact that the grand jury report alleges McQueary included the graphic details when he met with Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz.

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