For those still genuflecting at the altar of Paterno, this is bad. According to CNN, Penn State officials were discussing a plan of action to handle the Sandusky mess in 2001 that involved contacting child welfare services. One official spoke with Joe Paterno and the next day, that was no longer the plan.
Earlier this month, as the Sandusky trial was just getting underway, we learned that emails existed between Penn State officials that indicated their blind-eye approach to this whole mess was the "humane" way of handling it. CNN is now reporting that while they do not have possession of the actual emails, they have been been informed of the contents of a string of messages between former Penn State President President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley. It is, as you might expect, not good.
Aside from silly precautions never to refer to Sandusky by name—he was "the subject" or "the person" and his victims were "guests," the emails further show the "cover your ass" mentality permeating State College. The exchange begins, according to CNN, 16 days after Mike McQueary reported the shower incident in 2001. The biggest question the officials seek to answer in these reported email exchanges is how do we make this easy for everyone? That is excepting the victims, of course.
In an alleged e-mail dated February 26, 2001, Schultz writes to Curley that he assumes Curley's "got the ball" about a three-part plan to "talk with the subject asap regarding the future appropriate use of the University facility," ... "contacting the chair of the charitable organization" and "contacting the Department of Welfare," according to a source with knowledge of the case.
Maybe they should get an "E" for effort, they at least had considered reporting the allegations to the proper authorities, though it came in third behind reaching out to Second Mile and talking to Sandusky about how he could continue to use the athletic facilities, with the important caveat that it be for "appropriate use."
Curley, Schultz, Spanier and Paterno had always maintained they acted appropriately, alerted the proper officials and did what they were supposed to do. One day after the three-pronged approach to Sandusky was discussed, Tim Curley emailed the group indicating a desire to change course. It was a decision he made after speaking with Joe Paterno.
Curley indicates he no longer wants to contact child welfare authorities just yet. He refers to a conversation the day before with Paterno. It's not known what Paterno may have said to Curley.
Curley writes: "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps."
The athletic director apparently preferred to keep the situation an internal affair and talk things over with Sandusky instead of notifying the state's child welfare agency to investigate Sandusky's suspicious activity.
"I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved," Curley allegedly continues.
It's true, it is not known what Joe Paterno might have said to Curley. But, we can probably hazard a guess, can't we? These emails should put to rest any lingering questions people may have about Joe Paterno's role at Penn State. High ranking officials were in the middle of investigating a serious and disgusting set of allegations against a former employee, and devising a plan of action therefor. In walks Joe Paterno, who says something (granted, we don't know what) and that plan morphs from alerting child welfare officials to handling the matter in-house. Joe Paterno says "jump," university officials say "how high?"
That doesn't excuse anything; it does not appear that the president or vice president of the school needed much convincing to not alert authorities of the disgusting acts going on under their noses. Paterno likely said exactly what they wanted to hear as they looked from shoulder to shoulder for guidance. Curley also appears to have had no problem changing course and keeping it an internal investigation. It appears, through the emails, that he was aware of another shower incident in 1998—an incident he apparently lied to prosecutors about during his grand jury testimony.
This new approach became what was previously referred to as the "humane" way of dealing with Sandusky—officials would "play by ear" whether or not they would report the allegations to child welfare services.
Penn State continues to investigate this mess. An attorney for one of the victims has said he wants to wait for the investigation to conclude before filing his client's lawsuit.
Image via Getty