Sandusky’s Many Accomplices

As his victims sobbed on the stand, Jerry Sandusky leaned forward and smiled, according to several journalists.

One reporter said he looked adoringly at one of his victims, a look that never crossed his face when looking at his wife or family. A juror spoke of this adoring look too, saying that was a factor in the verdict.

These descriptions are spine-chilling, leaving the impression he was happily reliving the sexual violence he inflicted even as he was faced with life in prison for the crimes. Did their pain on the stand give him an erection in the same manner inflicting the pain of rape provided his sexual excitement? Was the memory of his dominance, power and control over mere boys exhilarating?

If Sandusky could not resist such an obvious look in court, then how did all the people who saw him with boys over the decades not see it? Was their acceptance of that look the reason he thought he could be so brazen while on trial?

There is no doubt he was showered with sympathy when his crimes were reported to Penn State officials. In a memo between upper management of Penn State University, where Sandusky toiled as a coach in their legendary football program, the word “humane” was used, not in deciding to protect his victims but in the decision to protect him:

“…an email exchange between top university officials in which they discussed whether or not to report to outside authorities that Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant for Penn State’s football team, had allegedly witnessed Mr. Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a locker room shower. The exchange — between former President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the former Senior Vice President for Finance and Business — reportedly included information about legal research the university had done. One of the men concluded it would be ‘humane’ to Mr. Sandusky to not report the matter.”

McQueary didn‘t do much either. He didn‘t even rescue the victim he saw being raped. He testified the boy was naked and had his hands on the wall, that Sandusky was behind him, slowing moving his hips and there was no doubt he was witnessing anal sex. “Very much skin-on-skin smacking sound. I immediately became alert and was kind of embarrassed that I was walking in on something.” It was “more than my brain could handle.” So he just walked away, went upstairs to think about what to do, then called his father. The boy was left to fend for himself with a huge man who obviously had control of his victims.

The late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno ignored the reports too. When McQueary reported he’d seen Sandusky raping a boy in the showers, Paterno did tell his superiors, but then did nothing. Before he died, he said he wished he’d done more, an admission he could have been more effective.

Other former Penn State coaches testified on his behalf, stating that showering with boys, playing games in the showers, soaping up with boys was all perfectly normal. One even said he did the same with his granddaughter. The claim of so many coaches “playing games” with boys in the college’s showers is alarming. That claim of “normalcy” was also used by Sandusky. If what these coaches claim is true, it is no wonder why Sandusky used the showers. It begs the question: were these other coaches also raping little boys in the showers?

But beyond that, the coach who claimed he showered with his granddaughter in those same showers is….mind-boggling. What man would shower with his granddaughter, even in private? Why wouldn’t he take her home to shower? But more important: what grandfather would strip his granddaughter in a men’s locker room and have her shower with strange men and boys? That exposure is sexual abuse all by itself. Why aren’t these coaches being investigated?

Several professional NFL coaches and players appeared on news shows denying the claim of “normalcy” and pointing out coaches showers are separate from the showers of players, children don’t play football for Penn State and Penn State is a state of the art facility that provides a lot of privacy. So why would these Penn State coaches confess on the stand to doing the same as Sandusky if the climate at Penn State and the surrounding community wasn’t one that accepts men “playing games” with boys in the shower — and one that accepts grandfathers exposing their naked granddaughters to strangers?

But Penn State management weren’t the only people who looked the other way. The police were notified in 1998 about Sandusky’s inappropriate showering with her child. In a sting operation at her home, Sandusky told her (with officers in hiding hearing him) about others he’d showered with and admitted he was wrong. “I wish I could ask forgiveness. I know I can’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”

They knew the name of another victim, and yet the district attorney declined to prosecute. Penn State officials did nothing. Sandusky “retired” the next year. However, he still had full use of the college facilities and still brought boys there. After another report was filed in 2002, Penn State “banned” him from bringing kids to the campus, but the “ban” was never enforced. He continued as before, including using the college grounds for events sponsored by his The Second Mile foundation..

Victims testified they met Sandusky at the nonprofit The Second Mile. It’s obvious he founded the organization for ready access to victims. It was obvious as early as 1998 when the first report was made to the police. It should have been obvious even before that. The people there were well aware he took a “special interest” in some boys. They too must have seen that “adoring” look that was so clearly sexual to the reporter and the juror.

Sandusky’s wife also had to see that look. What wife could misinterpret it? Well, a wife who ignored him being naked in a hotel bathroom with a naked boy, I suppose.

“His testimony also described how Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, once walked in on them during sex. He was sharing a hotel room with Sandusky and his wife on a trip to an away football game in which Sandusky tried to force him to have oral sex in the bathroom.

‘He came in and started to push down on me to motion me to go down there. I resisted but didn’t say anything but was hesitant, and he said, ‘You don’t want to go back to Snow Shoe do you?’ Victim 4 said, referring to the town where he was living at the time. ‘He was trying to get me to give him oral sex and threatening me if not.’

“‘What happened then is literally 10 seconds later, the bathroom door is not shut completely… and the other door is open, and I heard Dottie say ‘Jerry’ and he ran out. And she said, ‘What are you doing in there?’ Victim 4 testified.”

Another boy — victim #9 — testified Dottie Sandusky was in their home when he was being raped. He screamed for her help, but she did not respond. Dottie testified on her husband’s behalf, claiming she never saw her husband’s actions toward the boys as “inappropriate.” She was forced to admit their basement was not soundproofed and still denied she heard the boy’s shrieks for help.

Victim #1 tried to avoid Sandusky. Sandusky became irate when the boy refused to be around him in favor of other interests. When Sandusky argued with his mother, “I got extremely, extremely sacred.” Victim #1 told the court. When he confided in a school guidance counselor about the hell Sandusky was inflicting on his life, the counselor did not support him. “They said we needed to think about it, and he has a heart of gold, and he wouldn’t do something like that. So they didn’t believe me”

When the school finally reported the boy’s claims to a social worker (as they were required to do immediately by law), Sandusky denied sexually assaulting this victim, saying he “he viewed [victim #1] as an extended family member, kind of like a son” — the exact words Dottie used when she testified. Per Dottie, The Second Mile boys became like family, and she was fond of them, even as she blamed them for accusing Jerry. The Sanduskys adopted six children and fostered many more. One of the boys testified she avoided him. He was under the impression she didn’t like him. (Maybe she didn’t like looking at her husband’s victims?) One of their adopted sons, Matt Sandusky, told prosecutors he too was a victim of her husband’s sexual abuse. Just as the Sandusky apologists claimed the boys were all lying because of their various dysfunctional backgrounds, they also claimed Matt was lying because of his psychological troubles. If Matt’s claims are true, and there’s no reason not to believe him, then the other boys truly were treated like “one of the family.”

Family friends also conspired in keeping the secret; whether they did so consciously only they can say, but the denial is definite.

“Kathy Sulkowski, 55, of State College, a friend of the Sanduskys who attended the trial to support them, was crushed by the verdict.

‘I honestly didn’t think it would come to this,’ she said, trembling. ‘(Jurors) should have looked further. A lot of us who were in court every day saw things that weren’t brought out in the reports. My fear is in the future anyone who wanted to be mean could say things and you could go to jail on hearsay. There was no physical evidence in this case.’”

Victim #9’s mother testified she forced her 12-year-old son to go with Sandusky when he pleaded with her to stay home. “I thought that was great. He was Jerry Sandusky. He was a very important person.”

But she confessed to having concerns. “I always wondered why he never had any underwear in the laundry,. He always said he had an accident in them and threw it out. That was odd to me…His stomach always hurt him and he couldn’t use the bathroom right. I just can’t imagine what happened to him.”

Victim #9 said he bled each time he was raped, so he “took care of” his bloody underwear, but his mother said she never pressed him why he was throwing them away. Even when he began having trouble at school, even though he exhibited health problems, and even when she’d learned he’d been raped by Sandusky, she didn’t bother listening to him. “I didn’t really want to hear what happened. It’s not that I didn’t want to hear. I just knew it would be tough for him to tell me.”

It wasn’t until she had to go pick him up in the middle of the night due to a panicked phone call from her child that she quit forcing him to meet with his rapist on a regular basis. He’d just endured another rape when he called. “He was waiting for me outside and he didn’t have any shoes on and I remember him getting in the car. This was about 11 at night. He said he was just sick and wanted to go home and go to bed and I never asked him questions about it after that.”

Sandusky’s attorney wailed in his opening statement that he should be let off because there were “so many accusers.” Amy Davidson, in the New Yorker, deplored this argument:

“’There are so many accusers,’ Joseph Amendola told the jury in his opening statement, for the defense, in the child-sexual-abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team. He said it as if making a bid for sympathy—as if it were somehow unfair that eight different alleged victims had agreed to testify against his client in open court, where their real names would be used instead of aliases, and where the most intimate and painful parts of their lives would be exposed. Amendola came close to suggesting that the sheer number of accusations was, in a convoluted way, exculpatory—Sandusky had been denying this sort of thing since 1998, hadn’t he?”

His attorney presented an expert to alibi why he spent so much time with the boys, without admitting it was to rape them, and more psychologists flooded the airwaves with excuses too. One that was repeated often was that child rapists believe they are pleasuring the boys and offering them something positive. That’s hard to believe considering their patterns always include secrecy, deception, force and threats. Nothing in the pattern indicates pleasure except the pleasure the rapist gets from raping. Child rapists are able to read, just like the rest of us. They are able to comprehend the cruelty and destruction they inflict on their victims, the fact their innocence is murdered and their right to sexual self-determination is eternally devastated.

After the jury convicted Sandusky on 45 out of 48 counts relating to his sexual assault of children, Terri Pfaff was one of the throng that gathered outside the courthouse to hear the verdicts. “What a shame that one man could bring an entire university and community down like he has.”

One man didn’t, Ms. Pfaff. It took a village full of accomplices who decided to look the other way rather than confront one of their legendary football “heroes.” They chose to pretend no monster lived in their midst. They chose to sacrifice the boys who trusted them. They chose to protect the criminal, the university, and the football program rather than the helpless children he destroyed.

 

* * * * *

 

(Update: After Sandusky’s arrest, Paterno claimed he reported the 2001 allegation and “that was the last time the matter was brought to my attention until this investigation, and I assumed that the men I referred it to handled the matter appropriately.” Newly discovered memos indicate that statement was a lie, that he actively objected to Penn State management reporting the incident to The Second Mile and the Department of Public Welfare.

The CNN report cites an email from Schultz to Curley on Feb. 26, 2001, 16 days after graduate assistant Mike McQueary told veteran coach Joe Paterno about the shower assault. Schultz suggests bringing the allegation to the attention of Sandusky, Sandusky’s charity and the Department of Welfare, which investigates suspected child abuse, according to the report.

But the next night, Curley sent an email to Spanier, saying that after thinking about it more and talking to Paterno, he was “uncomfortable” with that plan and wanted to work with Sandusky before contacting authorities, the report said.

If Sandusky is cooperative, Curley’s email said, “we would work with him.…. If not, we do not have a choice and will inform the two groups,” according to the report.

Spanier wrote back and agreed with that approach, calling it “humane and a reasonable way to proceed,” according to the report. But he also worried about the consequences.
“The only downside for us is if message isn’t `heard’ and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it, but that can be assessed down the road,”

Gov. Tom Corbett began the 2009 investigation when he was attorney general. He spoke of the “the need for a solid case before charging Sandusky.” Attorneys for Curley and Schultz used this statement to try to exonerate their clients. “For Curley, Schultz, Spanier and Paterno, the responsible and `humane’ thing to do was, like Governor Corbett, to carefully and responsibly assess the best way to handle vague, but troubling allegations. Faced with tough situations, good people try to do their best to make the right decisions.”

How did McQueary’s “skin on skin” anal rape of a child report become a “vague but troubling allegation”? Who minimized it? And exactly what did they mean by “working with” Sandusky? Wasn’t that the same excuse used by the Catholic church for hiding the crimes of their predator priests?
The emails said they could “play it by ear” in reporting to the Department of Public Welfare. Just how did they arrive at that conclusion when the Pennsylvania Code 42.42 specifically states they “shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse…Oral reports of suspected child abuse shall be made immediately by telephone to ChildLine, (800) 932-0313. Written reports shall be made within 48 hours after the oral report is made by telephone.”?

4 Comments to “Sandusky’s Many Accomplices”

  1. Thank you for this- though it was very difficult to read.

    • It was difficult to write, but I felt I must. How else would people see the collusion that went on throughout that town and university?

      The mother who pressured her son to go was a single mother. Single mothers are made to feel so guilty there isn’t a man in the home, especially when their child is male. The hounding for a “good male role model” is constant. Since it is well known pedophiles prey on the children of single mothers for this very reason, mothers need to be out from under this pressure and be educated as to how pedophiles operate. She should have paid more attention. In part, she didn’t because she thought she was complying to cultural demands that pretend her boy is better off with a strange man than with his own mother.

  2. Boys are the most privileged and protected group of children. They have more privilege than girls or even women, however even they are at a disadvantage when up against adult men and such “prestigious” things as college football, as this history of Sandusky’s abuses shows. So now a jury has convicted this rapist of boys on 45 counts and he will probably get life in prison. Now let’s see them do the same to the rapists of girls.
    Anyway, these abuses, Sandusky’s behavior and all the enabling are appalling. Here’s hoping the victims will be able to heal and get on with their lives

    • Well said. I hope this disgusting case brings new awareness to the public about how pedophiles operate. I’m afraid that won’t happen. Trial’s over. No more titillating details. Let’s get on with our lives.

      One of the victims testified he didn’t discuss this with his friends at school because he was already being teased about being “Jerry’s butt buddy” even though he’d never said a word to any of them. This says Sandusky’s raping of boys was well-known among the kids. Why weren’t the adults paying attention?

      Our society likes to pretend rape does not occur. They like to blame the victim rather than the rapist. They like to use soft words like “molest” when it comes to children. Makes it sound nicer somehow — and less in need of action.

      Sandusky’s attorney thought he could play on those cultural prejudices against the victims. I’m grateful the jury didn’t buy into that hatred. We can only hope future cases will have parents, police, guidance counselors and all the other people who are in a position to be proactive will avoid the disgrace that should be showered down on every person who ignored these children’s plea for help.

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