Sunday, July 20, 2014

Penn State president still in limbo

I mentioned the Penn State witch-hunt several times, and now the NY Times has a long article on it:
The case against Spanier is at best problematic, at worst fatally flawed. More than 20 months after the state branded him a criminal, he still awaits a trial. He continues to live in State College but in limbo. ...

The trustees commissioned Louis Freeh, the former director of the F.B.I., to investigate how Sandusky, who was still awaiting trial, had been able to exploit children, some of them on campus, for more than a decade. The mission Freeh was given seemed to presuppose that Sandusky’s crimes were not his alone and that people who had reason to suspect him had looked away. ...

On July 12, 2012, Freeh issued his 267-page account of what occurred at Penn State. Some of the writing was of the type meant to impress, or perhaps overwhelm, a reader with the firepower that his team brought to the job. The report states that investigators conducted 430 interviews of “key university personnel and other knowledgeable individuals” and that “over 3.5 million pieces of pertinent electronic data and documents” were analyzed. (This would have required examining an average of 15,000 items a day over the course of the investigation, which lasted nearly eight months. It seems likely that many of the documents were merely scanned electronically for keywords.)

The Freeh Report was blistering in its tone and stunning in its reach. ...

Spanier is still incredulous that he has been charged criminally. “What does this have to do with me?” he said at one point. “I never saw anything. I never spoke to a kid, a witness, a parent, Sandusky, McQueary, Paterno.” ...

The university has already paid a steep financial price: Including Freeh’s fee, it has spent nearly $37 million on various public-relations firms, lawyers and crisis managers to guide it through Sandusky-related issues. It has agreed to pay $60 million in compensation to Sandusky’s victims. The university is paying most of the legal fees of Spanier, Schultz, Curley and a range of others who were indemnified as employees — about $8.6 million so far. ...

It’s fair to say the legal proceedings involving Spanier have been tangled, inexplicably delayed and bizarre. His lawyers have filed motions to have the criminal charges dismissed, beginning in March 2013, and those motions have been sitting in the docket for a year and a half without a ruling.
The case against Spanier seems to rest on a very peculiar CPS doctrine. If he was a mandated reporter (and I don't see why he would be), and the law requires him to report suspicions, and if he was ever in a meeting where the possibility of a report was discussed, the CPS types would say that proves he had suspicions and should have reported them.

But Spanier was not a witness and had nothing to report. The obligation to report falls on the witness who is also a teacher or coach. I don't see how anyone can expect Spanier to have done more than he did.

If there is a villain here, it is coach Mike McQueary:
It relates to the best-known chapter in the Sandusky affair, involving a Penn State assistant coach, Mike McQueary, who reported witnessing Sandusky in a shower with a young boy. McQueary has given differing accounts about what he saw and what he told others in the days that followed. But he has been consistent in saying that he did not stay long enough to look more closely, and did not try to intervene, because he was too upset after hearing a “a skin-on-skin smacking sound.” Seeing Sandusky behind the boy and “slowly moving his hips,” McQueary testified at Sandusky’s trial in 2012, “was more than my brain could handle. I was making decisions on the fly. I picked up the phone and called my father to get advice from the person I trusted most in my life, because I just saw something ridiculous.”

McQueary went to Paterno’s house the next day to report what he saw. Soon after, Paterno talked to Schultz and Curley. Spanier said he never spoke to McQueary, but the two administrators informed him about what they were told. The key question, if Spanier and his co-defendants come to trial, is likely to be not what McQueary witnessed, but how he later described what he witnessed.
So McQueary claimed in 2012 that he saw an anal rape of a minor back in 2003 or so, but there is no record that he told anyone earlier. If he really saw what he now claims, and I doubt it, he should have intervened, called the cops, or reported it to CPS. He did none of those things until many years later when he was suing Penn State for millions of dollars. He should be the one prosecuted, if anyone.

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