Two of the officials who willfully allowed Jerry Sandusky to continue to rape children have been indicted. Joe Paterno hasn’t been charged with a crime — properly so, unless he lied to the authorities — but clearly acted immorally and with callous disregard for Sandusky’s past and future victims, and he’s therefore being widely criticized and his legacy will be permanently tarnished. But one official who also bears substantial responsibility for Sandusky being allowed to continue to molest children after his crimes were known has received less attention: PSU president Graham Spanier. Let’s review what happened after Sandusky was seen raping a child:
Curley told the grand jury he was merely told that Sandusky was “horsing around” with the boy. The grand jury did not find that credible in part because Schultz said he had gotten the impression “Sandusky might have inappropriately grabbed the young boys’ genitals while wrestling around.” Both Curley and Schultz are charged with perjury for claiming the grad assistant didn’t inform them of “sexual activity.”
Curley later met with Sandusky and told him he was no longer allowed to bring children onto the Penn State campus. He forwarded the report on to university president Graham Spanier, who approved of Sandusky’s ban from bringing children onto campus and himself never reported the incident to police.
It should be obvious that Curley’s “solution” was completely unacceptable on its face. If Curley didn’t believe the allegations against Sandusky, that might be a a sincere if catastrophic misjudgement. But he clearly did think that the allegations were credible — rather unavoidable, since Sandusky was caught in mid-rape by someone who knew him well — or why would he have been barred from bringing children onto campus? Not to put too fine a point on it, but Curley’s remedy was to tell Sandusky that it would be better if his future molestations of children took place off campus. And yet Spanier approved of this without further investigation, even though (as with Paterno) it strains credulity past the breaking point to think that he wasn’t aware of the previous investigation that caused the most lauded defensive coordinator in the country to suddenly “resign” at age 55. (And as for Curley’s “horsing around” defense, leaving aside the fact that I find this as credible as the grand jury did there’s no “inappropriate” behavior Sandusky could have been involved in with a 10-year-old boy in an empty locker room that didn’t merit immediately contacting legal authorities.) Spanier was in a position to have stopped Sandusky and even in the most charitable interpretation had the necessary information, but declined to do anything.
And not only were his past actions indefensible, his conduct after the indictments were announced was abominable: he decided to vouch for the integrity and character of men who willfully (and illegally) let a known sex predator continue to ruin the lives of innocent children and then probably committed more felonies to cover it up. Of course, in doing so Spanier was implicitly praising his own integrity and character, since he went along with Curley and Schultz although he knew or should have known the implications of doing so. “Disgrace” seems too weak a word, and it’s amazing that he still retains his position as of this writing.