Emails obtained during Penn State’s investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child rape case show that officials at Penn State University, including school president Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno, were aware of Sandusky’s conduct and helped to cover it up. The emails, the content of which were made available to CNN, show that Penn State’s leadership knew that Sandusky had abused a child in 2001, and that the school was aware of allegations made against him in 1998.
The emails show that school vice president Gary Schultz had planned to discuss the matter with Sandusky; contact the chair of The Second Mile, the charitable organization founded by Sandusky; and report the incident to the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare for investigation.
Athletic Director Tim Curley, however, recommended that the school only discuss the matter with Sandusky. He sent an email on February 27, 2001, recommending that the school confront Sandusky only.
“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps,” Curley wrote in an email to Spanier and Schultz. “I am having trouble with going to everyone but the person involved. I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation.”
The “first situation” appears to refer to allegations against Sandusky that were investigated in 1998. No charges were brought in the original case, but Sandusky stepped down as defensive coordinator for Penn State shortly after.
The email shows that Paterno was involved in the decision-making process with regard to Sandusky. It also hints that Paterno may have been a driving force behind the decision. While Curley was nominally Paterno’s supervisor, it was generally acknowledged that Paterno, a legendary figure at Penn State, had hand-picked Curley for the job, and that Curley effectively served at Paterno’s pleasure.
Ultimately, Curley’s email swung the opinion of Schultz and Spanier.
Spanier acknowledged that the decision to confront Sandusky only could cause problems for the school.
“The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it,” Spanier wrote. “But that can be assessed down the down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”
Schultz agreed. In an email, he said that telling Sandusky he was bad, rather than reporting the incident to authorities, was ”a more humane and upfront way to handle this.” From Sandusky’s standpoint, that was true. His victims feel differently.
“It was not only not humane to give Sandusky a pass, but inhumane towards young men who fell prey to him,” said Tom Kline, an attorney for one of the children Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting.
Schultz did indicate in the email that he thought The Second Mile should be contacted, but ultimately, nobody clued in the organization. Sandusky continued to abuse children until at least 2008, when a grand jury was convened to investigate Sandusky’s abuse of a child at Central Mountain High School in Clinton County, Pennsylvania.
The series of emails represent a serious blow to the credibility of Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier. All of them have stated that they did not have a full understanding of the gravity of the act witnessed by Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant with the team, and later an assistant coach. McQueary had reported, and later testified that he had witnessed Sandusky raping a child in the showers of the Penn State football locker room. Paterno, who died earlier this year, had stated that he reported the incident, but had not been involved in deliberations after that.
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