In a story today, the Legal Intelligencer points out the loophole through which Tim Curley and Gary Schultz—Penn State's athletic director and former vice president of business and finance, respectively—will likely try and escape prosecution on charges they failed to report allegations that Jerry Sandusky raped a boy in a university shower.
It seems that Pennsylvania's statute for reporting child abuse was far more narrow in 2002, when Sandusky was allegedly seen by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary having anal sex with an as-yet-unidentified pre-teen boy. McQueary reported the incident to Curley and Schultz. And at that point, according to the grand jury presentment, "an oral report should have been made to Centre County Children and Youth Services." None was made. (In his grand jury testimony, Curley denied that McQueary mentioned anything of a sexual nature; Schultz equivocated on the definition of "sexual," but conceded that McQueary had reported "inappropriate sexual conduct" on Sandusky's part. He added that McQueary's allegations were "not that serious.") That's the basis for the failure-to-report charge, which is just a misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law. But the Legal Intelligencer writes:
In 2002, when the alleged incident occurred, a prior version of the statute required an abused child to come directly into contact with a person "in their professional or official capacity" in order for them to be a mandated reporter.
In other words, Curley and Schultz, because they had no direct contact with the child, were not "mandated" reporters. They weren't required by law to do anything. The statute was broadened in 2007, according to the Legal Intelligencer, to include people who receive secondhand information.
Now, Curley and Schultz face more serious (and separate) counts of perjury as part of the alleged cover-up. But the failure-to-report charge is important, if only because it comes closest among all the indictments to expressing people's revulsion at a seemingly indifferent and at best negligent Penn State administration. And now, according to the paper, we might very well see the two administrators wriggle free from that count on a technicality.
[Legal Intelligencer, photo via UPI]