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“I Have a Season to Worry About”



Joe Paterno, moral giant of our age:

A newly unsealed report from a risk-management expert found six different instances where sexual abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky were either witnessed by other coaches or reported to university officials, including a 1976 allegation where one alleged victim made a report directly to head coach Joe Paterno.

The documents are part of a court battle in which Penn State is trying to recoup from its insurance provider millions of dollars paid out in settlements to Sandusky’s victims. That insurance provider’s defense is that Penn State officials kept the allegations secret, and in doing so failed to prevent future instances of abuse.

From the unsealed documents:

The victim, who was identified in court records as John Doe 150, said that while he was attending a football camp at Penn State, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Sandusky’s finger penetrated the boy’s rectum, Doe testified in court in 2014, and the victim asked to speak with Paterno about it. Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.

“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’” the man’s lawyer asked him in 2014.

“Specifically. Yes . . . I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted. . . I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”

Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.

Two assistant coaches and an athletic director were also informed about Sandusky molesting children in separate incidents no later than 1988.

Joe Posnanski’s…regrettable Paterno hagiography makes a big deal out of the fact that Paterno disliked Sandusky, for some reason seeing this as a defense of Paterno. But, strikingly, he never even considers the possibility that he hated Sandusky because he knew about Sandusky’s proclivity for young boys but tried not to think about it because he needed him to win. It’s increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that Paterno knew about it for decades. And it also helps to explain what’s always been a longstanding puzzle: why the defensive coordinator of a highly successful program that won primarily with defense never got a head coaching gig.

Sandusky remained an assistant coach until 1999. After he retired, he continued to run a foundation for young boys, which he founded in 1977. But, to be Scrupulously Fair, Joe Paterno was very assiduous about ensuring that the players who made him a great deal of money never received any compensation.

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  • D.N. Nation

    Ah, but Franco Harris told me that Paterno dragging his feet for years on this stuff meant that he was merely going through the proper channels, like any classy gentleman would do! “That’s good ol’ Joe,” or whatever it was that Franco said.

    Penn State disgusts me. I was weirded out by my team playing them in a bowl last season, honestly. (Not that I’ll ever argue my football program of choice is a shining beacon of virtue.)

    • Denverite

      Penn State disgusts me.

      Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

      • Brett

        They should have been hit with a program ban for 1-2 years over this.

        • Captain Oblivious

          Agreed. They should have gotten the death penalty. We’re talking sexual assault of children here, not recruitment violations.

          • efgoldman

            We’re talking sexual assault of children here, not recruitment violations.

            Look at what you said. The Khans of the NCAA had to make sure none of the players got an extra slice of pizza, They didn’t have time for all this other stuff that didn’t have any effect on the program.

            [Argh. Even though it’s snarkasm, I am disgusted with myself for typing that.]

            • JR in WV

              Penn State should have been put out of the NCAA for this.

              Not for a year or two, forever.

              Become an academics only U with intramural sports, no scholarships, no flying cross-country on chartered airliners, just playing other teams on campus, for fun.

              Imagine that, playing for fun!?

          • LosGatosCA

            I think you answered the whole discrepancy – not recruitment violations.

            Priorities, priorities, priorities.

            Don’t let trivial details interfere with personal glory – and money for all parties.

            I wonder if Paterno wrote any PE’s for Sandusky?


            Jerry, you have real potential to be a star defensive coordinator here at Linebacker U if don’t get distracted by molesting boys in the shower. Tone it down if you can as it’s limiting your contribution and career potential. Try to better or I’ll never be able to recommend you for a promotion or a head coaching position.

            Try channeling your time more effectively finding booster money for jobs for recruits parents or altering transcripts by reviewing recruiting film like a normal assistant coach does.

            Employee response: This evaluation seems unfair. I’ve been here for almost 20 years and this is the first I’m being told that my behavior in the showers are a problem.

            Manager rebuttal: You’re right. Just be more discreet so I don’t have to hear about it. I have my career and reputation as a clean, the game right, ethical coach. I don’t want people thinking anything different.

            • JR in WV

              This is perfect! Great job.

              Joe Pa was a piece of scum floating in the Penn State locker room all that time.

          • The Lorax

            Though it’s the NCAA, which morally competes with FIFA and the IOC.

        • D.N. Nation

          The NCAA is not a law enforcement agency.

      • The Lorax

        I’d forgive were there some contrition at the university. But they seem intent on lionizing a guy who conspired to enable the rape of young boys.

        • LosGatosCA

          At least it’s an ethos.

  • Denverite

    And it also helps to explain what’s always been a longstanding puzzle: why the defensive coordinator of a highly successful program that won primarily with defense never got a head coaching gig.

    Curious whether you think it was because Paterno expressly told teams not to hire Sandusky because of [insert whatever “character” euphemism here], or whether word got out to other programs that there were really bad skeletons in the closet.

    • NonyNony

      Or if Sandusky knew that moving up the ladder would get him caught, but so long as he stayed in the shadow of Paterno he’d be reasonably protected.

      To put it back onto Paterno – it’s possible Paterno himself made that point very clear to Sandusky to keep him where he was. If he felt he needed him to win games to the point that he was willing to look the other way …

      • CrunchyFrog

        Oh, man, the last possibility is the kicker. What a nice symbiotic arrangement for both – mutually beneficial. Sandusky gets to keep acting on his urges, and Paterno actively covers up for him in exchange for Sandusky agreeing never to take a job elsewhere. The discussion might have started as simple blackmail, but soon it became the beginning of a beautiful, life-long, work agreement.

        And its entirely plausible, and even probable.

        The longer you live the more you realize just how callous most humans can be given the right incentives.

        • JustRuss

          Call me PollyAnna, but I’m going to believe most humans are pretty decent, but the callous assholes don’t care who they have to step on to get to the top so they’re over-represented in positions of authority. Which is depressing enough.

      • Peterr

        Once Paterno heard about one of these incidents, and did nothing more than pull Sandusky aside and say “Cut it out,” Sandusky owned him. After that, all he had to say to JoPa was “If you don’t keep covering for me, the police are going to ask you some mighty pointed questions, starting with ‘how long did you know about this?’ I may be tried for abuse, but you’ll be next on the docket for conspiracy.”

        When I read the part quoted in the post above where JoPa said “I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff” and he walked away, it said to me that the kid tapped into exactly this kind of blackmail conversation. Sandusky gave Paterno a choice, and Paterno chose again and again to sacrifice a succession of kids to his own reputation. When this kid confronted him, it wasn’t just confronting him about Sandusky, but about his own complicity.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Curious whether you think it was because Paterno expressly told teams not to hire Sandusky because of [insert whatever “character” euphemism here], or whether word got out to other programs that there were really bad skeletons in the closet.

      I would suspect it’s some of both. And while I think the commenter below is right that Sandusky probably preferred to remain an assistant, if I understand correctly it’s not like a lot of programs were aggressively pursuing him and he turned them down. Paterno was clearly telling people something.

      • D.N. Nation

        If memory serves, Virginia in ’00 was the only school that made a legit overture toward Sandusky as a HC. (Also in that HC search: Mark Richt and Al Groh, who they ended up hiring.)

        • Nobdy

          The hiring of Al Groh has to go down as one of the best decisions to hire a mediocre coach ever. Say what you want about Al, but even though he didn’t win much he was boring and relatively scandal free.

          Of course there are probably some college football fans who would rather have won with Sandusky than been mediocre with Groh. After all Sandusky seems to have preyed upon vulnerable low SES kids, not the children of rich boosters and a championship is a championship even if it is revoked after the fact…

          • D.N. Nation

            Rather have Groh than Sandusky, sure. But Richt ended up getting 8 more 10-win seasons during his time at Georgia than Virginia has in their entire history. So…can’t win ’em all I guess?

      • Denverite

        Paterno was clearly telling people something.

        I’m too lazy to look it up — did Paterno have much of a coaching tree? If not, I’d be a bit surprised that more schools didn’t gamble that he was making up stuff to keep his star coordinator.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          hm, I never followed that closely, but Paterno had such a reputation for being an honest man that *if* he said something like that, they’d believe him (and I tend to think whatever he said was pretty non-specific and ended in “but I can handle him”)

          very cold-blooded men, though, both Sandusky and Paterno. ungodly amounts of calculation over decades to hang it together as long as they did

        • witlesschum

          Less than you’d think given how long Paterno coached. He had a lot of assistants who stuck around with a long time, so that does make for less of a coaching tree than someone like Nick Saban.

          There are some guys like Al Golden who played for Paterno and then coached for him a couple years. Greg Schiano, too. Matt Rhule played, but didn’t coach for Paterno.

    • FridayNext

      Or he figured staying a highly paid and respected defensive coordinator in top program near a steady supply of young boys amidst adults who were prepared to look the other way was just too much of a paradise for the sick pervert to give up.

      Those other things are possible, and none are mutually exclusive, but lets be honest. For a practicing pedophile he was in a sweet position. I can only imagine he knew full well that if he became the head coach at an even a moderately ranked school his molesting days were over and not just because he wouldn’t be near the charity that seemed to supply his twisted needs.

      • I’ve read some rumors and conjecture that Sandusky’s charity (the Second Mile) had some real estate kickback scheme going with Paterno & other PSU insiders. Essentially, they would pick properties they wanted, Paterno & co would buy the land, then double the price and sell it back to the Second Mile, knowing that it would be covered with charity money & grants from the State of PA. There’s an ESPN article on it, but I can’t find the link right now.

        This maybe explains some of the reason they kept Sandusky around & kept quiet about his abuses (aside from the obvious damage to their program that would occur if it revealed a coach was a child predator).

        and yeah, as Crunchy noted… sick and depressing realizing how callous and calculating some people can be.

        • Dilan Esper

          One of the really salient facts about this scandal is that PSU and Paterno kept Sandusky around and continued to allow him access to school facilities and the use of the Penn State trademarks in connection with his children’s charity even after he ostensibly separated from the football program in 1999. And they obviously did that knowing he was a child molester.

          • N__B

            That feeds into (IMO) the semi-blackmail scenario that Peterr is talking about here.

    • Captain Oblivious

      I don’t see how this was just the Penn State athletic department’s dirty little secret.

      Normally I would dismiss “massive coverup” theories as nutty, because sooner or later someone talks. But in cases of sexual assault, we’ve seen it over and over — when the perp is a powerful man with powerful allies, the dam can hold for years until someone finally breaks it. See also Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Jimmy Savile.

  • MgM63

    Gotta get those millions back.

    Btw, Penn State University’s endowment was reportedly $3.64 billion as of 2015.

  • priceyeah

    I am very very not surprised by this. This was always one of those stories where any sense of “controversy” was driven by the paucity of information.

    • Dilan Esper

      And fans. Just like there are whole comprehensive websites dedicated to proving Michael Jackson was innocent, and Martin Sheen is making a movie claiming OJ didn’t do it.

      Being a big celebrity means you will almost always have fans to defemd your claim of innocence.

      • LNM_in_LA

        Oh, fudge. Really!?

        I have always held out Martin Sheen as example # Uno in the “Not All Of Them Are Assholes” category of celeb-dom.

        Granted, he’s had some mixed success with at least one of his kids, yup, but the word on the street has always been that the guy walks the walk – he goes out and regularly puts in hours of sweat time for charity (I can say from direct experience – shake the man’s hand and you encounter a lump o’ callouses, applied firmly with direct eye contact). The dude seems to do as much as possible to be a good guy. Heck, he’s even faithful to his wife.

        This OJ thing is . . . weird. When not overwhelmed by work, I’ve mostly been concentrating on the break-out-the-popcorn political situation and this is the first I have heard about this. Dang.

        I am a tiny bit closer to this than a lot of people; I had a friend at the Purdue LAPD Station, who had told me about Nicole coming in a lot to give DV reports, screaming that the Juice was going to kill her. On the day of The Low Speed Chase I stopped off Sepulveda Blvd on the hill up to Westchester to watch the Bronco slowly cruise by below on the 405, with 6 or 7 choppers above it and like a gajillion police and press vehicles following it a little ways off. I remember Harry Shearer’s reports from the trial talking about the LAPD framing a guilty man. yada yada yada

        LNM now sad.

        OK, Martin is still not an asshole (probably maybe), but he might just be a little foolish. Guess I should go check out the source material before I go full “He’s an Idiot!” on him.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    In addition to the obviously disgusting “football is more important than anything else in this world” problem, I wonder what else was clogging Paterno’s noggin. I fear that in his mind, the victims were contaminated with the gay cooties, post-molestation, and he just thought “icky gross homos get ’em away from me/not my problem!” Which is really effing insane, considering the age of the boys involved. Just a guess. I’ve heard of this kind of mentality before in macho cultures, if you’re the one things are done to, then you’re the homosexual.

    • advocatethis

      It’s the same mentality you see applied to rape victims in a lot of cultures, that because they have been raped, they are now tainted.

    • CrunchyFrog

      It’s not just about football. No, as I said above, it’s amazing how callous most humans can be given the right incentives. I’ve seen similar denial behavior everywhere – but the worst examples are situations where the victims are the most vulnerable. I was personally involved in a lawsuit against one of the most prestigious public school districts in the country in which they had over a period of years covered up ongoing physical abuse of special needs students by their teacher. There was no real profit for them in this. The best we could figure was that it was a harder to hire special ed teachers in their locale due to high cost of housing. When they finally did announce the teacher’s “retirement” in early October, 3 weeks after a lawsuit was filed, they sent her off to another district where she was quickly identified as a serial abuser, fired for cause, and put on a blacklist. And yet, instead of settling for legal costs and and admission of wrongdoing they fought it all the way to trial and were slapped by a jury – a jury in which almost half the members were teachers. Why did they cover it up in the first place? Why did they keep covering it up for years afterwards? Why, in the process of covering it up, did they do their level best to ruin the careers of those reporting the abuse?

      It’s not just football. There is something about power that corrupts people.

      • so-in-so

        Combination of “we can’t admit to having been wrong” and “if we cop to this, what other problems will pop up because we admitted weakness”.

        • CrunchyFrog

          Given their authoritarian attitudes and secretiveness, combined with some “interesting” vendor choices, I would be shocked if they weren’t getting all kinds of kickbacks, so it’s possible that they circled the wagon on this one to discourage other investigations – which is consistent with your “don’t show weakness” comment. When the school board members who backed them up were putting $5k and $10k of their own money into their campaigns for a no-compensation position you have to wonder if something is up.

      • JustRuss

        a jury in which almost half the members were teachers

        I wish cops were as offended as teachers by the bad apples in their midst.

        • CrunchyFrog

          It wasn’t the teacher that offended them so much – although that, too – but the administration. Since the records of the teacher’s classroom would have shown a seriously problematic pattern of behavior (every incident involving a student requires a report, and usually a follow up IEP – Individual Education Plan – meeting) the school simply claimed that it all was lost and literally presented zero exhibits at the trial.

          Ironically the school district hired a jury specialist and placed on the jury teachers and others who had jobs that subjected them to accusations of abuse. The theory being that they would naturally be skeptical of allegations of abuse having probably been subject to scurrilous claims themselves. The foreman, for example, was a paramedic. And that was their bent going into the trial. But when they learned all paperwork had been “lost” they immediately began leaning toward the plaintiffs as they knew that this was simply impossible. The foreman – who was so skeptical of any abuse claim during the jury selection that I was stunned the lawyer left him on the jury – was the school district’s harshest critic in the jury meeting afterwards.

          It was also during that trial that I learned that the federal court system doesn’t give a flying fuck about perjury. A school board members and two district personnel were caught out in provable lies, as was the teacher and a witness who tried to back her up, but we were told afterwards by the judge that no action would be taken because it was so hard to prove intent. I’ve since concluded that any perjury charge I read about is externally motivated.

          • Dilan Esper

            Perjury in a legal case is like offensive holding in a football play. Happens almost every case, only flagged when the officials see it.

            • CrunchyFrog

              My impression is that it was like Offensive Holding on pass plays or Pass Interference in a conference championship or Super Bowl – not called ever, even though it’s a rule.

              • rea

                Well, naturally–in every case not resolved on summary disposition, someone is, not necessarily lying, but saying things that aren’t true.

                • Breadbaker

                  The Clinton Rules, of course, apply, both to Bill and Hillary.

    • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

      I’ve heard of this kind of mentality before in macho cultures, if you’re the one things are done to, then you’re the homosexual.

      It’s the Afghani way!

      “At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

  • The Dark God of Time

    I’m a Leek Green man, FWIW.

  • kped

    I think he stuck around because he knew he had a sweet gig. Influential assistant coach in a big program and a boss and University that not only looked the other way when he molested young boys, but actively let him continue doing so on school property!

    I mean…pretty sweet gig if you can get it, right?

  • randy khan

    Apparently there was some push going on to put the JoePa statue back where it used to be. I guess those folks will quiet down for a while.

    At this point, I doubt I would be surprised by any further revelations. That said, the idea that Paterno was blackmailing Sandusky to keep him there, while consistent with the general moral atmosphere at the place, does seem improbable.

    • gratuitous

      You’d think the JoePa statue restorers would quiet down, but somehow I don’t think that will be the case. The story at the Inquirer website (sorry for all the autoplay ads) indicates that even these latest revelations aren’t enough to derail the Paterno family and its partisans:


      The Inquirer doesn’t have a comment section on this story, which is probably wise (assuming they have comment sections for other stories).

      • randy khan

        Well, at least they’re consistent.

        I really love the Paterno family arguing that it’s all unsupported claims that can’t be corroborated because it’s so long ago and the witnesses who could corroborate the stories don’t remember or are dead. The reason so many of those people are unavailable or don’t remember, of course, is that the coaches and university did nothing for decades.

        • (((Hogan)))

          “The materials released today relating to Joe Paterno allege a conversation that occurred decades ago where all parties except the accuser are now dead,” said the statement from Wick Sollers, the lawyer representing the family. “In addition, there are numerous specific elements of the accusations that defy all logic and have never been subjected to even the most basic objective examination. Most significantly, there is extensive evidence that stands in stark contrast to this claim.”

          Did Penn State not have counsel present at these depositions?

          • randy khan

            Depositions don’t have the same rules of evidence as trials and are unlike trials in other ways as well.

            • Denverite

              Yeah, the two main goals in a deposition are to find out what the witness is going to say and then to lock her in so she can’t say anything new or different at trial.

              A lot of lawyers won’t ask any questions of their own witness at a deposition, and most of the rest just ask questions to have the witness clean up her testimony (i.e., she says something that might be misinterpreted, so the lawyer will get her to clarify what she meant).

              • (((Hogan)))

                Thanks, both of you.

        • so-in-so

          That would work in a criminal proceeding (see Ken Lay). Not sure it works in a civil suit between institutions.

          Definitely doesn’t hold water in a “just shut up, you, and put the statue back” publicity effort.

      • JMP

        They at least used to have comment sections on everything, though I don’t if they still do; like a lot of major mainstream newspapers, they were always dominated by old cranks from the rural Philly exurbs and who generally absolutely hated the city, thought that their taxes were subsidizing the city when the reality was the other way around, and were really ridiculously racist.

    • witlesschum

      I mean, the simpler explanation of Paterno being motivated by the desire to not have a scandal that would embarrass or tarnish, in his mind, Penn State as an institution or him personally. Not exactly the first conservative Catholic type of his generation to behave that way.

      • rea

        Surely, the way to avoid scandal was to have Sandusky let go early on, rather than continue to facilitate him?

        • Breadbaker

          There’s some 20:20 hindsight involved in that position. The earliest of these allegations predate mandatory reporting laws and the scandals and understanding of the widespread nature of these events and the longterm damage done to the children that led to such laws. At the time, the idea was ordinarily to hide the entire incident, quietly let the perpetrator go (with no notice to future employers; see The Catholic Church) and hush it up as too terrible to talk about.

          The establishment of Second Mile and the government-sponsored pipeline of victims and facilities has none of these explanations, though. By 1999, this wasn’t something “educators” could possibly claim to be ignorant of, and they all made it worse.

  • brad

    In context this isn’t even necessarily worth mentioning, or the first time it has been, but it’s still amazing that Paterno was so awful he can make us all root for an insurance company to win.

    • Bitter Scribe

      When ruthlessness meets ruthlessness…

    • FridayNext

      If anyone who looked the other way(which apparently allegedly includes Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley) owes money to a pay day lender, I’d happily cheer for the lender. THAT’S how much I’m disgusted by this crap.

      • Gregor Sansa

        What if Paterno owed money to David Cameron? How about Tony Blair?

        (I’d root for Cameron and Paterno respectively on those ones.)

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Wow, nothing is more clarifying than a legal battle between an insurance company and a big institution. Man, Penn State is going to be sorry that they opened this can of worms by trying to get reimbursed.

    • The Lorax

      And the rest of us, not least the victims who have suffered in silence for 40 years, grateful.

  • BigHank53

    John Doe 150? What the fuck? Good luck getting that money from your insurance company, guys, because something tells me that it’s going to cost about ten-fifteen million to make the fetid stink of Paterno’s sin go away again.

    • randy khan

      The university already has paid all of the victims who came forward. (Presumably there are some who haven’t, but I don’t know.) This is just about whether the insurance company will pay the money back to the university. As noted above, hard though it is, you’ve got to root for the insurance company here.

      • AMK

        Football: making the insurance industry look good since 1873

      • BigHank53

        Oh, I wasn’t thinking of the victim compensation; rather the fervent wish of the administration to put all that unpleasantness in the past and start slapping happy-face stickers all over it. But this is front-page news and the insurance company is unsealing reports and dumping new and disgusting details in front of the public. Whatever PR firm did damage control and spin for Penn State last time around probably has staff shopping for new boats this morning.

        • randy khan

          That’s a fair point.

        • efgoldman

          the insurance company is unsealing reports and dumping new and disgusting details in front of the public.

          And I’ll bet they even told this generation of geniuses that are running PSU’s board that they were going to do it, too. The U’s attorneys had to have seen the stuff months or years before they released it. IANAL, but somebody gave somebody else some really, really bad advice.

  • pianomover

    Penn State should rename their team the Thriller’s and make Michael Jackson the official mascot.

  • wengler

    For Joe Paterno apologists, I can’t emphasize how easy it would have been to meet his requirement as a decent human being. One phone call likely lasting one minute. But he didn’t, because he wasn’t a decent human being and prioritized football over little kids getting raped.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Joe Paterno apologists also prioritize football over little kids getting raped.

      • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

        Exactly, his dedication to the team is what fuels their dedication to him.

  • Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

  • libarbarian


    Of course there are probably some college football fans who would rather have won with Sandusky than been mediocre with Groh

    There are a SHITLOAD of PSU fans who would have … at least before the evidence was so overwhelming. They would have attacked the victims and used every artifice of motivated reasoning to arrive at the conclusion that the guys who were delivering them victories were awesome dudes who were being slandered.

  • Bruce Vail

    Huffpo is running the story with the tag ‘SHOCKER’

    I’m not shocked…

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    Gosh, who would have guessed that the School’s own “independent, in-depth” investigation managed to never find any of this information.

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