Lesson #1: Victim credibility was never a “close call”: The avalanche of guilty counts tells us alot more about the consequences of inaction and coverup by PSU’s Paterno and other higher ups over these many years: it would have been a clear cut, unambiguous result for PSU’s investigation — had anyone ever done one after McQueary’s 2001 report. What this jury has told us is that all of these abused victims were so thoroughly credible that any PSU investigators (Joe Paterno, for example) would also have been resoundingly convinced — and disgusted – by their stories. If they’d ever bothered to investigate. And now we have the “Paterno Family” issuing a post-trial statement packed with more passive, cliched and high-minded euphemisms than a low level State Department PR press release.
To put it in other words, had a not-guilty verdict been rendered last night, the PSU apologists would now insist that Paterno’s firing had been even more undeserved, because no crime was committed. Instead, we now know that many heinous crimes were committed over many years, and that the coverup and inaction by Paterno and others helped lead to the abuse suffered by these victims.
So, to oversimplify: the verdict tells us it would have been easy to investigate, and easy to be convinced that Sandusky committed bad acts — had PSU and Paterno bothered to do so.
Lesson #2: The system worked: I watched the post-verdict streamed coverage, and one local tv reporter kept insisting that this was “no cause for joy for anyone.” I disagree. That reporter appeared to have been too young to have lived through the OJ Verdict, which made our judicial system look ineffectual and easily manipulated by good lawyers. Instead, this Sandusky verdict is sweet satisfaction that our system does in fact work well — even when the jury involved here was drawn overwhelmingly from a pool composed of citizens with remarkably strong and direct connections to PSU. There’s great beauty and joy in this result.
Lesson #3: The average schoolboy knew enough to ask repeated questions, but Paterno and PSU Assistants Didn’t? There was one statement at trial, colloquially phrased, by one of the victims, which caught my eye. The boy said that his Middle School buddies kept asking him — based on the amount of time the boy had been spending with Jerry Sandusky — if the boy was Sandusky’s “butt buddy.” If young eighth grade boys could make that kind of quick, trenchant analysis based on the simple facts before them — enough to make them want to inquire, and find out more — why, then, couldn’t PSU Asst Tom Bradley, for example — who one witness says was in the Lasch Building showers when he and Sandusky were there — or every single one of the PSU Football Coach Assistants who saw Sandusky traipsing some young waif all around the football program, or all around the country at bowl games, with him — all have asked the very same question of Sandusky, or of anyone? If eighth graders asked the question, why, then, didn’t Joe Paterno ever ask — and get to the bottom of it?
This all bodes poorly for PSU. And the Freeh Report may be a second earthquake. Though everyone appears to assume that the entire, complete text of the report will be released to the public; I have my doubts. Note first of all that PSU has very assiduously worked to avoid any suggestion that legislation ought be passed to make PSU subject to “sunshine” Freedom of Information laws (as is every other public university in America.) I’m betting the Freeh report gets limited public airing, and much is hidden, at least for some time. I hope I’m wrong.