A little more than a month ago, I declared that Mike McQueary, the prosecution's star witness in the Jerry Sandusky case, was "the worst witness ever." I had based my assessment on inconsistencies in statements McQueary is said to have made, both privately and under oath, since the release of the Sandusky grand jury report last November. But this afternoon, McQueary took the stand at Sandusky's trial and actually acquitted himself rather well.
Let's examine McQueary's testimony from today and compare it to his previous statements:
1. A month ago, it sounded like McQueary had given investigators the wrong year in his description of when he supposedly saw Sandusky abusing a boy in a Penn State football building shower. McQueary was a Penn State graduate assistant at the time of the incident, which occurred March 1, 2002, according to the grand jury summary. But additional evidence eventually placed Feb. 9, 2001, as the date. Today, under cross examination, defense attorney Karl Rominger asked McQueary about that discrepancy. The answer? Here's how Sara Ganim of the Patriot-News of Harrisburg (Pa.) described it:
McQueary answered that it is consistent with what he'd said all along. His written statement says "2002 or 2001."
McQueary said today in court that he told grand jurors he was only 90 percent sure it was 2002. He also testified today that he repeatedly told investigators to make sure it was the right year because he wasn't sure.
2. Last November, shortly after the scandal broke, McQueary sent an email to friends saying he "made sure it was stopped" when he saw Sandusky abusing the boy. That seemed to contradict the written statement McQueary gave police as part of the grand jury's investigation, which makes no mention that he had stopped anything. Today, McQueary said he was referring to how he had slammed a locker room door to make it known someone else was there at the time. After that, McQueary said he looked directly into the shower, where Sandusky and the boy were turned and facing him, which is consistent with his earlier remarks.
3. Right after the incident, McQueary went to his father's home to tell him about the shower incident. McQueary also talked to a family friend, Dr. Jonathan Dranov, and back in November, the Patriot-News had spoken to a source familiar with Dranov's grand jury testimony. That source said Dranov had told the grand jury that he had "asked McQueary three times if he saw anything sexual, and three times McQueary said no." Dranov did say, however, that McQueary told him he had heard "sex sounds." Today, this was how McQueary explained himself, according to Ganim:
McQueary responded by saying that he toned down his story when he spoke to certain people, partly out of embarrassment.
4. According to the grand jury report, McQueary described in graphic detail how he had heard "rhythmic slapping" that sounded like a sex act on the night of the shower incident. But at a preliminary hearing in December for the two Penn State administrators charged with perjury and failure to report abuse, McQueary said he never saw penetration and that he had not seen whether Sandusky had an erection. McQueary had also said in his written statement to investigators that he never saw insertion. So how did he reconcile all that today? More Ganim:
The story: That he was returning to the coaches' locker room late one Friday night, first heard "skin on skin" slapping noises, and then saw—through a mirror—Sandusky in the showers with a young boy, standing behind him in a way that McQueary believed was sexual.
"To me there's no way in that position his genitals weren't against his rear," he said during cross-examination. "They were extremely, extremely close. As close as can be."
5. Neither the State College PD nor Penn State's campus police said McQueary went to them to file a report after the incident. In previous testimony, McQueary said he viewed Gary Schultz, one of the administrators charged with perjury, as a police representative, since Schultz's oversight did include the campus police. McQueary more or less repeated that today, according to Ben Jones of StateCollege.com.
6. What about Joe Paterno? McQueary spoke to Paterno at the late coach's home on the morning after the shower incident. McQueary had said at that preliminary hearing in December that he told Paterno what he saw without providing "very much detail," and that "out of respect" for Paterno he even stopped short of calling it "anal intercourse." Today? According to a Pittsburgh television reporter, "McQueary says he did not go into extensive detail, but told Paterno it was 'sexual' and it was 'wrong.'" Paterno's own grand jury testimony, which was read into the record at the preliminary hearing, indicates that McQueary had told him the situation was of "a sexual nature."
Photo via AP.