Smoking gun

The man who observed and reported an apparent rape by an assistant football coach at Penn State, but never went to the police, has a job as an assistant football coach at Penn State.

In 2002, Mike McQueary, a former Penn State QB and then a graduate assistant in the althletics department, reported the apparent rape of a child by a retired-but-still-active assistant coach to Joe Paterno, who reported it up the line. No one called the police, though university authorities were aware of at least two prior incidents involving the same assistant coach. The alleged perpetrator was allowed to keep on perpetrating for another nine years.

So why didn’t McQueary, who knew what he saw, say anything more? Why didn’t he go to the police?

Might it have anything to do with the fact that McQueary is now the wide receiver coach and recruiting co-ordinator for the Penn State football team?

Footnote Yes, I think big-time college football is deeply corrupt. But I don’t think this is “about” football, or about men. It’s about institutional self-defense.

Here’s a thought experiment. Nancy Pelosi is one of my political heroes. Could I be sure that she wouldn’t have tried to keep similar actions by one of her staffers, or one of her members, out of the papers, even at some risk to future victims? I don’t know her personally; maybe those who do could give a resounding “Yes.” But such reassurance doesn’t come automatically.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

21 thoughts on “Smoking gun”

  1. If, by chance, it could be proven that McCleary’s current position is a quid pro quo, then any number of people could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice or witness tampering.

    I’m prepared to wait and see what the evidence looks like before I start crucifying people. Why aren’t you?

    Remind me again about how much time Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty served.

    1. Proven? How?

      Do I think Paterno ever sat down with McQueary and said, “Keep your trap shut and I’ll give you a good job”? Hell, no. But McQueary, knowing what he knew, was willing to let Sandusky keep doing what he was doing. And McQueary has a highly desirable job from the very organization that could have been badly hurt had he gone to the cops rather than just reporting the rape of a minor up his chain of command.

      The phrase you’re looking for is “the banality of evil.”

    2. I’m not sure I understand your point, burnspbesq. The Duke lacrosse players served no time because they were guilty of nothing except bad judgment in having that lamentable party. The prosecutor, on the other hand, has been disbarred; their accuser is in jail awaiting trial for the murder of her boyfriend; and the legal fallout for Mike Nifong; Duke, the City of Durham, and several others involved continues.

      1. Never mind! Oops. Never hit send when you are pissed off. A close friend who is works in child protective services and I have been discussing this case this afternoon and I need a drink.

      2. The point is that in March and early April of 2006, public opinion was nearly unanimous in believing things that turned out not to be true.

        And not for the first time in a high-profile case involving allegations of sexual abuse. Remember McMartin?

        I’m simply suggesting that revulsion at what is alleged doesn’t justify ignoring the fact that at this early stage in the investigation, NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.

  2. In answer to the question, maybe. But it will all be for naught. Mike McQueary will lose his job along with all the other Penn State football coaches over this, and if there is only a smidgen of justice in the world he will never find another similar position. I read the grand jury report at lunch today. He saw a grown man raping a 5th-grader and basically did nothing. He was in his mid-20s at the time and a former starting quarterback in a Division I program. Coward is much too nice a word for him.

    1. I’m assuming that you understand that grand jury reports are inherently one-sided, because they are written for the purpose of documenting the basis for the handing up of indictments.

      Perhaps that’s an unwarranted assumption.

      1. Burns, thank you for playing the adult amidst silly children who don’t know how to read. You can stop now.

        McQueary’s grand-jury testimony is indeed “one-sided.” It’s his account. And it’s highly plausible, not least because it’s stunningly against his own interest. He testified that he saw an adult anally raping a 10-year-old, and that he failed to report it to the police.

        What motive could he have for inventing such a story? It’s not impossible that such a motive exists — people are strange — but it’s sufficiently unlikely that one can discount it, just as I discount the possibility that “China” is an imaginary country invented by the Jewish-Illuminati world conspiracy.

        1. This a thousand times. If someone tells me they saw a rape and did nothing, I can call that person a coward and scum. I don’t have to wait for facts, because he told me what he did. That doesn’t mean he should be found guilty of a crime. That doesn’t mean i won’t listen to extenuating circumstances should he choose to provide them. But based on his own admission his actions are repugnant. If he has more to share, the ball is in his court.

          Same with JoePa. Based on his own testimony he heard of sexually inappropriate acts between a 10 year old and his friend, colleague, and heir apparent and did nothing but pass the buck and watched for 10 years while this man continued to work with children and bring young boys to Penn State practices.

          You are right burnspbesq, we have only one-side. But in this case it is THEIR SIDE that is so damning. If they have more to share I am sure there is a free podium and some spare microphones and cameras in State College that would love to listen. I am all ears.

  3. Mark obviously has his facts wrong: McQueary could not have been a QB, let alone at Penn State where a godlike coach shows all his upstanding young men the way to virtue and selflessness, in the pursuit of a better TV contract from which they get nothing. As is well known, football builds character, and the QB is the quintessential leader of men, to whom the rest of the team look up as an example of courage. He takes big hits for waiting as long as necessary to place his passes just so on the way to victory! You might as well expect us to believe a quarterback would torture dogs, or disrespect Southern womanhood, or take bribes from gamblers or gifts from boosters. It’s completely impossible.

    You could look it up.

  4. No one looks good in this sordid mess. By the way, Coach Paterno is reportedly Roman Catholic. How long will it be until the Pope summons him to Rome?

  5. I’ve been flabbergasted today reading the defenses of Paterno that he did what he was supposed to by informing his superiors.

    His superiors? The AD is his superior on paper, yes, but Paterno rules the roost at Penn State, or certainly did so in 1998 and 2002, maybe less so today as he becomes less and less capable of discharging the duties of a head football coach.

    Bottom line — he was informed that there was (at least) some sort of untoward behavior between an adult and a child* taking place in one of the football program buildings, by one of the people within his orbit, and let it slide. Unforgivable.

    * Referring to what Paterno may have been informed of, which is still uncertain, not characterizing the behavior.

  6. What Jim Tressel did was withhold information about some Ohio State players exchanging some goodies for tattoos, for which he was canned. Which of course is worse than Paterno withholding evidence about sexual misconduct. I expect to hear from Rush Limbaugh explaining the difference.

  7. I tend to wonder whether McQueary felt himself to be in a catch-22 situation. Reports appear to indicate that Sandusky’s predatory behavior was already known, just not in graphic detail. If he had gone to the (campus?) police, would Sandusky have ended up in jail, or would McQueary?

    1. I sympathize with this and don’t kid myself that McQueary had a difficult decision. But he ultimately decided on his own self-interest over those of a child he saw sodomized. He not only failed to stop the rape, he did not report the incident to police or child services, and, and this is the worse part to me, continue to work for and help prosper an organization he KNEW was shielding a pedophile. As I said above, there may be more to his story and I am all ears. But by his own admission his actions are quite frankly repugnant.

  8. What I have a hard time understanding is that if you ask anyone how they feel about child rape, just about everyone would rank it up there with about the worst crimes that anyone could possibly commit. We see (rightly, I think) child rapists as monsters, evil, etc. Then when someone sees someone actually DOING it, they ignore it? What’s up with that? I don’t even have any kids, but I assure you that if I saw an adult anally raping a child, I’d forcibly separate them and then report the perpetrator to the police. Anything else is unthinkable. We SAY child molestation is heinous, but we BEHAVE as if it’s no big deal. Mind boggling.

Comments are closed.