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Witness in Penn State rape case had responsibility to do more than tell his bosses

November 9th, 2011 · No Comments · Blog

Character quiz time. You witness an older man raping a child. You:

a. Do everything within your power to stop it immediately, using physical force if necessary, and if not necessary using it anyway.

b. Slink away and tell your boss the next day.

c. Do nothing and hope it doesn’t happen again.

Sorry, Mike McQueary, I’m not giving partial credit for b.

And for the rest of Penn State, c was never close to the right answer. The only correct response is a. Doesn’t matter if the rapist (and that’s how I’d characterize someone sodomizing a boy in a shower) used to be your coach. Doesn’t matter if he’s three times as big as you are, which in this case, he wasn’t. McQueary, who was a graduate assistant at Penn State when he stumbled onto former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in March 2002, played football for the Nittany Lions. Certainly he was capable of laying a hit on a naked man in a shower.

Were it me, I’d have grabbed something heavy and bashed Sandusky over the head with it. When he collapsed to the tiled floor I’d have hit him again. Then probably hit him a few more times until he lost consciousness. Then I would have called 911. And if my career as a coach at my alma mater came to an abrupt end as a result, at least I’d have been able to live with myself.

Sandusky has been charged with sexually assaulting eight boys from 1994 through 2008. Let’s guess there were more victims. Even if there were not, this sexual predator was allegedly still at it for six years after McQueary caught him in the act. He altered, and possibly ruined, the lives of boys after he was caught in the act of raping someone.

How do you sleep at night knowing you could have put a stop to that?

McQueary reported the act to Penn State coach Joe Paterno and later to athletic director Tim Curley and vice president in charge of university police Gary Schultz. Curley reported it to university president Graham Spanier. And nothing happened. McQueary’s higher-ups sat on the information as Sandusky continued to have free run of the campus, where he often brought boys from The Second Mile, the charity/recruiting center he started in the ‘70s.

What did McQueary think every time he saw Sandusky on campus? What did he think every time he saw himself in the mirror?

Just because the coach, AD, and university president didn’t do anything doesn’t absolve him of not pushing the case until someone did. Even the lowest man on the totem pole must go over his boss’s head sometimes.

I grew up next door to a pedophile. We didn’t know it at the time. He was a teacher in middle and high schools, and frequently had kids over at his house, often boys who would help him with yard work or other chores. We thought he was kind of creepy, but he was nice enough and we had no idea he was molesting the kids who were visiting.

Several years later, I read a note in USA Today about a teacher being killed by one of his former students, a long-time victim of his sexual assaults. His name was Neal Summers, and I wondered could it possibly be my old neighbor. It was. Darrell Cloud, then 24, waited outside of the school with a rifle and picked Summers off as he reported for work.

Cloud, who had played briefly for the University of Washington baseball team, was a football star in high school. An athlete. A strong, solidly built kid, whom no one would have guessed was being abused. He was about my age. Maybe I saw him next door on occasion when I was a kid. It’s likely I did. But I didn’t know him or know anything about him until his story was splashed all over the newspapers in 1994, when he was jailed for finally striking back against his abuser. He spent nine years in prison, in part due to incompetent representation, and later received a $250,000 settlement from the school district for its failure to supervise Summers. Safe to say his life isn’t what it once could have been.

Certainly that must be the case for each of Sandusky’s victims as well. They will carry their victimhood with them forever. As Mike McQueary—and every other man who did nothing in the Penn State case—must carry his cowardice.

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