The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Trial by Therapy:
The Jerry Sandusky Case Revisited

“It was incredibly difficult for some of them to unearth long-buried memories of the shocking abuse they suffered at the hands of this defendant.” —Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Linda Kelly after the Sandusky guilty verdict

In June 2012, the 68-year-old Jerry Sandusky, for three decades a successful and admired assistant to Pennsylvania State University’s legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, was found guilty on 45 counts of child molestation and was remanded to prison for, effectively, the rest of his life. Sandusky was exposed as a serial pedophile on a scarcely imaginable scale, and 10 of his victims—presumably a small sample—were featured in his trial. Penn State would eventually pay $109 million (and counting) in compensation to at least 35 men who had been schoolboys at the time of their reported abuse. And presumably there were hundreds more victims. Since 1977 Sandusky had led a substantial program of his own devising for disadvantaged youth, The Second Mile, that was thought to have served him as a “candy store,” affording opportunities to “groom” neglected boys and then to have his way with them.

Jerry Sandusky around 1999 with Second Mile kids, most of whom later claimed that he abused them and received millions of dollars in settlements.

Jerry Sandusky around 1999 with Second Mile kids, most of whom later claimed that he abused them and received millions of dollars in settlements. (Photo from The Most Hated Man in America)

The Sandusky case was so mortifying that it triggered the firing of Penn State’s president, Graham Spanier, a vice president, Gary Schultz, its athletic director, Tim Curley, and the idolized Joe Paterno himself, at age 84 and after 61 years of service, for having abetted Sandusky’s crimes. Specifically, they had failed to take action after one horrific incident had been called to their notice. Paterno died of lung cancer two months after his shaming. Schultz and Curley, later indicted on felony charges, pleaded guilty to a compromise charge of child endangerment, for which they each received a two-year jail sentence (not entirely served). President Spanier protested his innocence but was convicted of the same offense and sentenced to four to 12 months of combined jail time and house arrest. (His appeal is still in process.) And in the wake of Sandusky’s own conviction, Penn State was fined $860 million and otherwise condemned and sanctioned for having placed sports mania ahead of helpless children’s welfare.

All that furor was commensurate with the depravity of Sandusky’s alleged crimes, divulged in sensational news reports after a grand jury “presentment” (summary) was released and dramatically recapitulated at the trial seven months later. A university janitor, Ronald Petrosky, testified that a fellow janitor, Jim Calhoun, had happened upon Sandusky, around the year 2000, giving oral sex to a boy in a university shower. And more directly, emotional Second Mile veterans told of having been subjected to multiple assaults. Under prosecution questioning, for example, Aaron Fisher agreed that between 2006 and 2008 he had been forced into oral copulation more than 25 times. Ryan Rittmeyer said that after initially fending off Sandusky’s advances, he gave in and repeatedly exchanged oral sex with his abuser. According to Brett Swisher Houtz, Sandusky had molested him in showers, in a sauna, and in hotel rooms, forcing him to assume “69” positions. There had been over 40 such events, Houtz reported, occurring two or three times a week. And Sabastian Paden told the grand jury of even more savage treatment.

None of those stories is as well remembered, though, as that of Mike McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback and coach who, as a graduate student at the turn of the century, had been serving as an apprentice to the coaching staff. Two factors set McQueary apart. First, by 2012 he was the only mentally competent person who claimed to have seen Sandusky in the act of molesting a boy. And second, he was the informant who had alerted Coach Paterno and thence Athletic Director Curley, Vice President Schultz, and President Spanier. “Remember that little boy in the shower,” Governor Tom Corbett admonished the governing board that was about to sack all four men. And that boy in the shower is what the American public remembers, too.

To judge from the grand jury presentment of November 2011, there was no doubt about what McQueary had observed a decade earlier. At about 9:30 on the evening of March 1, 2002, it was stated, McQueary, upon entering the locker room of Penn State’s Lasch Football Building, had heard “rhythmic slapping sounds” indicative of sexual intercourse. Sure enough, when he had peered into the communal shower area he had seen a boy, roughly 10 years old, with his hands against the wall, being sodomized by Jerry Sandusky. McQueary had been too flustered to intervene, but on the next morning he notified Paterno, assuming, mistakenly, that Paterno and higher officials would turn Sandusky in to the police.

Once the McQueary story became public knowledge, Sandusky’s conviction in the following spring was a foregone conclusion. In the aftermath, the university’s new administration rushed to make amends. In addition to paying handsome settlements to claimants, it welcomed punishments and sanctions, tightened its rules on sexual abuse, and humbly acceded to a stinging report by the former FBI director Louis Freeh, deploring the disgraced leaders’ “total and consistent disregard…for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.” From the issuance of the $8.3 million Freeh report in July 2012 until now, that has been the received wisdom. Its truth will be memorialized in the format that modern Americans find most convincing: an HBO docudrama, in this instance featuring Al Pacino as the devious Joe Paterno.

Not quite everyone, however, has been on board. A separate four-month investigation by John Snedden, a federal agent tasked with judging whether the fired president Graham Spanier ought to be stripped of his national security clearance, found no evidence whatsoever of administrative wrongdoing. There hadn’t been a cover-up, wrote Snedden, because there had been nothing to cover up. (Snedden offered his evidence to the Freeh investigators, but they disregarded it.) And John Ziegler, a conservative talk show host and documentary filmmaker, independently reached the same conclusion as Snedden—though no one paid attention to his argument. Ziegler had been troubled by an incongruity: how could the famously ethical Paterno have brushed aside the news of pedophilic rape by his own former defensive coordinator? Ziegler began his inquiry with only Paterno’s vindication in mind, but he ended, to his surprise, by believing that Sandusky himself was blameless.

Can a sustained, comprehensive case be made for that inference? It already exists, in a book that was rejected by every major publisher and finally issued in November 2017 by the modest Sunbury Press of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Until now the work has been almost entirely ignored by reviewers. Yet it comes with the strong endorsement of a world-renowned psychologist and memory expert, Elizabeth Loftus, and a leading expert on coercive interrogation methods and false confessions, Richard A. Leo. If they are right, Mark Pendergrast’s 391-page The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment can erase the shame of both Penn State and Sandusky, who languishes in solitary confinement, for 22 hours a day, in a maximum-security state prison.

Pendergrast is an independent scholar and science writer who has long been concerned with the psychology and disastrous consequences of falsely “recovered memory.” Like nearly all consumers of mainstream news, Pendergrast at first took the reports of Sandusky’s misdeeds at face value. But when, in 2013, he received a tip that there appeared to be a recovered memory aspect to the case, he was intrigued. After studying all pertinent documents, corresponding with Sandusky and twice visiting him, and interviewing family members, alumni of Sandusky’s Second Mile program, and other figures involved in the case, Pendergrast assembled an imposing argument against the consensus. What follows is based on detailed evidence and reasoning in The Most Hated Man in America.

From the public’s standpoint, Sandusky’s criminality was epitomized in Mike McQueary’s revolting image of the shower room copulation. But McQueary’s testimony—which, he admitted, had been reframed in his mind “many, many, many times”—had evolved in stages between his first statement to the police in November 2010 and his appearance at Sandusky’s trial in the spring of 2012. In the final version, for example, he had peered into the shower three times, not twice, and he had halted Sandusky’s assault by loudly slamming his locker door—a strangely timid means for a 26-year-old, 6'5", 220-pound athlete to have “done something about” the ongoing rape of a child. More important, McQueary’s belief that he had witnessed anal penetration wasn’t settled until quite late. At one point, in fact, he complained to Deputy District Attorney Jonelle Eshbach that she had twisted his words to make them sound more definite—but he was instructed, remarkably, to keep his mouth shut about it.

McQueary’s wavering could cause one to doubt the accuracy of his final testimony. And, as it happens, all of his late accounts departed radically from his first narration to listeners at the time. Which story, then, ought to be believed? The answer is obvious. In 2010 through 2012 McQueary was revisiting a decade-old incident that he now regarded in the light of other alarming charges against Sandusky that police and prosecutors had disclosed to him; but in the first instance he was telling people about a fresh experience. Significantly, Sandusky’s jury, which got everything else wrong, acquitted him of rape in that instance.

Here, then, is the most trustworthy variant of the story. From outside the locker room before he entered it, McQueary had heard slapping noises that sounded sexual to him. “Visualizations come to your head,” as he would later say. In the few seconds it took him to get to his locker, the noise had stopped. Curious, he looked into the shower room through a mirror and caught a glimpse of a boy. Then an arm reached out and pulled the boy back. Horrified, McQueary assumed he had narrowly missed watching a rape. But had he?

After closing his locker, McQueary had seen Jerry Sandusky walking out of the shower area, but he had made no attempt to confront him. Instead, he phoned his father, an office manager, and told him what he had heard and noticed. John McQueary asked him to come right over, and he also summoned his friend and employer, the nephrologist Jonathan Dranov. Dranov then grilled Mike, repeatedly asking him whether he had witnessed a sex act. No, he hadn’t. Considering the unlikelihood that the respected Jerry Sandusky had been living a Jekyll-Hyde existence, John McQueary and Dr. Dranov decided that no abuse had probably occurred.

So, evidently, did Mike McQueary. Several months after the shower incident, he signed up to participate in a celebrity golf tournament that bore Sandusky’s name, and he continued to associate cordially with Sandusky in later years. Could he have done so knowing that the pedophile’s depredations were going unpunished and unreported to the police?

Coach Paterno, too, when Mike consulted him, hadn’t been greatly concerned. Although the gregarious, practical joking Sandusky grated on Paterno, a lone taskmaster who never befriended his players, Paterno was sure that “Saint Sandusky,” as Sports Illustrated had called him in 1998 when honoring his charitable work, was no pervert. The venerable coach was already familiar with Sandusky’s “horsing around,” in plain sight, with boys who lacked a father’s companionship. Paterno didn’t care for it, but he didn’t regard it in a sexual light.

Given the ambiguous circumstances, Paterno did the right thing. He presented the matter to his immediate superior, Athletic Director Curley, who then conferred with Vice President Schultz and President Spanier. The three parties agreed that while Sandusky must be forbidden to bring any more Second Mile boys to campus, the shower episode had consisted of innocuous play.

The accuracy of that interpretation was confirmed by the grown-up shower boy himself, Allan Myers, who was almost 14 at the time of the incident. In May 2011, before the McQueary story went public, Myers wrote a letter defending Sandusky’s character in general terms. Then, after the grand jury presentment was made available on November 4, Myers, having recognized himself as the allegedly sodomized boy, gave a statement to an investigator for Sandusky’s defense in which he denied that anything sexual had occurred. And he added, indignantly, that the police had already been trying to bully him into alleging molestation by Sandusky. Myers’s recollection of the shower incident matched Sandusky’s own: the goings-on had consisted of friendly slap boxing and/or towel snapping, period.

McQueary’s later memory of the shower incident was so poor that he misdated it by more than a year, placing it on March 1, 2002. Later inquiry put it at February 9, 2001—but that date, too, was almost certainly wrong. It was chosen because the time of McQueary’s conversation with Joe Paterno was well established as February 10, and McQueary had testified that he met with Paterno on the day after the incident. But John Ziegler has shown, and Sandusky himself concurs, that the incident almost certainly took place on December 29, 2000.

If so, McQueary had waited more than five weeks to bring the matter up with Paterno. That would be further evidence that after conferring with his father and Dr. Dranov, McQueary was uncertain that any offense had been committed in the Lasch building. The absence of a police investigation at the time attests not to criminal negligence by Paterno, Curley, Schultz, and Spanier but to their reasonable judgment, shared by a calmed-down McQueary, that the matter was already resolved.

For a while the McQueary/Myers episode had looked like a smoking gun, until it turned out to be merely a water pistol. But the police and other authorities, though well aware of the considerations that had led Paterno and the others to deem Sandusky innocent, were undeterred. For them, McQueary’s latest memory was the most authentic. They derived their confidence from the fact that they had already been working with another accuser, Aaron Fisher, whose charges, though replete with dubious oddities, they were determined to believe.

The whole initiative against Sandusky had begun in November 2008 when Fisher, a former Second Miler whose delinquent tendencies had included a frequently rebuked penchant for lying, began at age 14 to feel that Sandusky’s attentions to him might have betrayed an aspect of perversion. Fisher had confided his worry to his mother, Dawn Daniels, who had taken advantage of Sandusky’s mentorship of her son to party hard in local bars. Until then, she had regarded Sandusky as “a real dumb jock with a heart of gold.” Now, however, she wanted to know whether he had ever molested her son.

Dawn Fisher Daniels Hennessy, the mother of Aaron Fisher

Dawn Fisher Daniels Hennessy, the mother of Aaron Fisher (“Victim 1”), posted this picture on MySpace in 2008, boasting of her inebriation in a bar. (Photo from The Most Hated Man in America)

The answer she received from her son was an unequivocal no. Aaron did hold a grudge against Sandusky, but on further questioning it transpired that the source of resentment was Sandusky’s insistence on staying in supportive contact with him after the boy had become exasperated with Second Mile moralism and positive thinking. It was his mother, now, who pursued the seduction theme. According to her next-door neighbor, Joshua Fravel, she once boasted, “I’m going to get a lawyer and make a million dollars off Jerry Sandusky.” She is also said to have told him, “I’m gonna own the motherfucker’s house.” Likewise, in Pendergrast’s words, “Aaron Fisher later allegedly told Fravel that he planned to buy a big house in the country for his mother and family….”

A 2015 photo of Aaron Fisher

A 2015 photo of Aaron Fisher, “Victim 1,” posted on Facebook. Covered with money (presumably from his Sandusky settlement), he is giving the finger to his critics. (Photo from The Most Hated Man in America)

The problem, however, was that Aaron couldn’t initially bring himself to declare that Sandusky had ever molested him. Yes, Sandusky had hugged him to “crack his back” after wrestling around, but they had both been fully clothed. That was all. Social workers in Clinton County’s Children and Youth Services urged Aaron to say more, but when he still showed reluctance, they deduced that his memory needed enhancing. And so they sent him upstairs to the psychotherapist Mike Gillum, who was, in all respects except the name, a recovered memory psychologist.

Gillum believed, as did the tutors of the mass “recovered memory” delusion in the 1980s and 1990s, that the usual response to a trauma is to “dissociate,” blocking awareness of the event in progress while nevertheless storing a repressed recollection of it in the unconscious. The therapist’s imagined task was to bring that repressed memory into consciousness and thus, in theory, to restore psychological health. Typically, a sexual abuse specialist would build trust in him- or herself while subtracting it from the alleged abuser, most often a father, stepfather, or other caretaker. As this disorienting process rendered patients more agitated and depressed, their unraveling would be offered as proof that the repressed memories were approaching the surface at last. The unraveling, anyway, was genuine. Aaron Fisher, for example, suffered panic attacks, became suicidal, and nearly killed himself in a car wreck.

As many researchers have shown, and as Mark Pendergrast himself expounds in another recent book on the subject, Memory Warp: How the Myth of Repressed Memory Arose and Refuses to Die (Upper Access, 2017), people actually tend to remember traumatic experiences quite vividly. (Has any survivor of the Holocaust, excepting those with brain damage or dementia, ever lost awareness of it?) Yet memory is also reconstructive, or framed anew with each effort of recall, and therefore it is subject to distortion in the light of subsequently acquired beliefs. To fall under the sway of a recovered memory practitioner is to acquire just such a belief, ensuring that artifactual details or a wholly invented incident will acquire the force of a real memory.

This was to be Aaron Fisher’s development under the watchful eye of Mike Gillum. The latter, noting Aaron’s nervousness in his company, classified him at once as a survivor of molestation. Gillum began spending many hours each day with the boy and making himself available by phone around the clock. He told Aaron that he would help and protect him until the memory of abuse could be safely expressed. As Fisher would later avow, “It wasn’t until I was 15 and started seeing Mike that I realized the horror.” Nor was it necessary for Aaron to tell Gillum what he thought had happened. The psychologist prided himself on guessing the truth and stating it to the boy, who would simply nod his head or say “Yes” or “No”—and “No” was clearly not an acceptable answer.

In Gillum’s view, as in that of other memory therapists, a severe trauma can be recalled only piecemeal, in anguished stages, with the result that the very latest iteration is sure to be the most accurate one. Gillum likened the process to peeling an onion. Such a model discounts the therapist’s all-important influence over the process of recall under treatment. Indeed, in the opinion of psychologists who study memory, when a “memory” keeps accreting ever more grotesque and improbable details, that is a sign that the originating event probably hadn’t occurred at all.

Having seen Aaron Fisher every day for weeks, Gillum felt frustrated when he was excluded from Aaron’s first police interrogation, which yielded meager results. After that setback, though, Gillum became in effect a tool of the prosecution, sitting in on every interview and, by his very presence, reminding Aaron of what he was expected to say.

Even so, Aaron’s compliance was always hesitant and partial. Gillum would later tell Pendergrast that it had taken him six months (actually seven) to get his patient to state in so many words that Sandusky had forced oral sex upon him—a charge that Aaron retracted when quizzed about it in the first of three grand jury appearances. The jurors, possessing no solid evidence against Sandusky, refused to hand down an indictment. In Aaron’s second appearance, he was so distraught and confused that, once again, no action was taken. And he tried to back out altogether from making the third appearance. A newly constituted grand jury had to settle for his reading a text that may have been crafted by others. Even at the trial in 2012, he could do no better than sob through rehearsed assent to statements by a prosecuting attorney.

Those statements included an assertion that Fisher had been an overnight guest in Sandusky’s house about a hundred times during the period of abuse, 2003–8. Mutual but by no means consensual fellatio had supposedly been practiced in the basement. But why had the boy returned, again and again, for more of what was traumatizing him? Had he sleepwalked through all five years? Like most false memories, Fisher’s couldn’t be reconciled with norms of plausibility. Nonetheless, his sobs on the witness stand, possibly expressing entrapment and remorse for his part in railroading Sandusky into prison, made a stronger impression on the jury than his illogic did.

Long before Sandusky’s trial, state officials had been shown that Fisher by himself, a mentally fragile teenager who kept changing his story, wasn’t going to bring Sandusky down. Before they had heard of the McQueary/Myers incident, only one other possible victim besides Fisher was known to them. In 1998 Debra McCord, the mother of a Second Mile child, 14-year-old Zachary Konstas, had been alarmed to learn that Sandusky had play-wrestled with him during another post-workout shower. She had notified the police, who investigated her claim of abuse and even performed two sting operations designed to entrap the perpetrator. But Zach Konstas himself insisted that Sandusky had merely been engaging in his usual mock-aggressive foolery.

Finding no incriminating evidence, the police had declared Debra McCord’s suspicions to be unfounded. And McCord herself must have agreed with their judgment. For the next dozen years she allowed Zach to continue attending football games with Sandusky and visiting his home. Indeed, Zach and Allan Myers, the more important if still anonymous shower boy who was now a young man, shared a dinner with Jerry and Dottie Sandusky as late as July 2011.

Dottie Sandusky at Christmas 2010.

Dottie Sandusky at Christmas 2010. After she defended her husband in a 2014 appearance on the Today show, viewers wrote that she was a “hag,” a “sicko,” a “rapist,” and that she deserved the death penalty. (Photo from The Most Hated Man in America)

To an objective observer, the terminated Konstas episode would have held no forensic interest. But Deputy District Attorney Eshbach and memory therapist Gillum were not objective observers. Because Eshbach never doubted that Sandusky was a serial molester, she hoped to lure Konstas into joining Aaron Fisher as a self-announced victim. And she decided to cast a wide dragnet for further victims, ordering troopers to interrogate every Second Mile veteran they could find who had had personal dealings with the founder.

Ironically, the sleuths were aided in that task by Sandusky’s upbeat autobiography of 2000, unselfconsciously titled Touched (!). It contained photographs of the beaming suspect with his arms draped around easily identifiable prepubescent boys. In that book, by the way, Sandusky had written about “reaching out” to boys and “having fun” in “wrestling” with them. As Pendergrast asks, would a child molester be likely to have allowed such a work to see print?

Eshbach’s agents told each respondent, falsely, that quite a few other young men had already volunteered narratives of molestation by Sandusky—so shouldn’t they, too, reveal what had been done to them? The overwhelming majority of some 600 ex-Second Milers, however, gave versions of the same disappointing answer. Yes, Sandusky had tickled them, squeezed their knees, cracked their backs, or even kissed them on the forehead at age 10 or 11; but this hadn’t been grooming for later assaults. It had simply expressed affectionate comradeship from a father figure. For many of these 20-somethings Sandusky had remained a hero, a man of spotless character who had once spared them from wretchedness and then, in their troubled adolescence, steered them toward responsible adulthood by providing advice and incentives for good schoolwork and clean living.

The interviewees’ recurrent mention of Sandusky’s moral counsel ought to have signaled caution to the district attorney. Some recalcitrant Second Milers had spurned their former mentor and plunged into early experimentation with alcohol, drugs, and sex. For them, Sandusky’s redoubled exhortations to virtue had rendered him an annoyance. If he had ever molested them, they would surely have fired back against such gross inconsistency. (“Who are you, a rapist of children, to be lecturing me?”) Yet no one, not even Sandusky’s most florid accusers, ever seems to have called him a hypocrite.

Among so many young men drawn in by the dragnet, however, there were bound to be a few who, in bad financial straits that were sometimes worsened by criminal records, caught the scent of money. Aaron Fisher’s mother, we recall, may have glimpsed that benefit from the start. Without explicitly saying so, Eshbach and police investigators implied that testimony against the abuser could lead to riches. Nor would the young men necessarily have to perjure themselves on the witness stand. If they would merely entertain the hypothesis that they had been violated by Sandusky many years before, when their sexual ignorance had prevented them from registering the offense, then Mike Gillum or other therapists, such as State College’s Cynthia MacNab, could assist them in bringing their “compartmentalized” memories to the surface.

By the time of the trial, Aaron Fisher and Zach Konstas were ready to denounce Sandusky—for Konstas, too, must have “flipped” under therapeutic pressure, now maintaining that the pedophile had been grooming him for future abuse. As a result of their recruiting, the authorities also had four new “victims” in tow, plus two more who belatedly responded to a hotline number that was established after the media had pounced on the Sandusky scandal. Thanks to the hotline, previously unknown parties could simply phone in to stake a claim. Then, too, there was Mike McQueary, who had finally convinced himself, on the basis of others’ charges, that he had actually witnessed a homosexual rape. And with the janitor Ronald Petrosky ready to report about another one, the prosecutors’ case was finally looking strong.

The appearance of strength, however, isn’t the same thing as proof, and dozens of false memories are no better than one. Let us review the claims of each accuser, as Pendergrast does more fully in The Most Hated Man in America.

1. Mike McQueary/Allan Myers. As we have seen, McQueary witnessed no sexual activity in the shower, and Myers confirmed that nothing untoward had been going on. Myers’s later intention to testify in Sandusky’s behalf should have put the question to rest.

2. Zachary Konstas told both his mother and the police that he and Sandusky had indulged in harmless horseplay in 1998. There is no reason to believe otherwise. In 2009, as a 23-year-old, Konstas messaged, “Hey Jerry just want 2 wish u a Happy Fathers Day! Greater things are yet 2 come!” And later that year he wrote, “Happy Thanksgiving bro! I’m glad God has placed U in my life. Ur an awesome friend!” Konstas’s “flipping,” just before the trial, may have resulted from some combination of opportunism, psychotherapy (which he did undergo), and surrender to a general moral panic.

3. Aaron Fisher. The “victim” who set the Penn State tragedy in motion was egged on by his mother and then by the memory diver Mike Gillum. We have seen that in a number of ways, straight through the trial, Fisher manifested a reluctance to accuse Sandusky of misdeeds that he could never clearly bring to mind. And his friendly association with Sandusky throughout the five years of alleged abuse argues strongly against the likelihood that any abuse occurred.

4. Dustin Struble (b. 1984) recalled the Second Mile program with unmixed gratitude in 2004. That was when he wrote on a scholarship application, “Jerry Sandusky, he has helped me understand so much about myself. He is such a kind and caring gentleman, and I will never forget him.” More recently, when Pendergrast asked Struble what he would have said about Sandusky in 2010, he replied, “I would have said I went to games with him and that we were friends.” Indeed, tailgate parties with the Sanduskys had been a regular feature of his life for 14 years, until he was 25.

Nevertheless, when the McQueary scandal broke in 2011, Struble wondered whether Sandusky’s typically hands-on encounters with him could have included a sexual component. In February 2011 he told investigators that he was entering psychotherapy, presumably in order to dredge up repressed memories. Still, on April 11 of the same year, he assured the grand jury that, so far as he could recall, Sandusky had never once touched him inappropriately.

But around that time, Struble began comparing notes with his fellow memory patient Zach Konstas. Before long he signed a contingency fee agreement with a local attorney, Andrew Shubin. Obviously, then, the lawyer and his client were looking forward to splitting a possible settlement for psychological harm. Struble met with Shubin 10 to 15 times before the trial, and he entered therapy with Cindy MacNab to find hidden memories of abuse.

Soon thereafter, Struble’s story drastically changed. Sandusky, he claimed, had touched his penis in a car and had nestled against him erotically in a shower. Asked in cross examination why he hadn’t disclosed those events in earlier testimony, he replied in recovered memory psychobabble: “That doorway that I had closed has since been reopening more.” And in a 2014 email to Pendergrast, Struble wrote: “Actually both of my therapists have suggested that I have repressed memories, and that’s why we have been working on looking back on my life for triggers. My therapist has suggested that I still may have more repressed memories that have yet to be revealed, and this could be a big cause of the depression that I still carry today.”

5. Michal Kajak (b. 1988), a friend of both Struble’s and Zach Konstas’s, said nothing to investigators until well after the Sandusky uproar had become headline news. Then, on June 7, 2011, he alleged that Sandusky had once seized his hand and placed it on his (Sandusky’s) erect penis. When had this happened? At first Kajak located the offense in the fall of 1998, before he and Sandusky had even met. Later he changed the date to August 2001. No, he corrected himself again, it had been sometime in 2002, in Penn State’s Lasch Football building. But by then Sandusky was complying with former Athletic Director Curley’s ban on bringing any Second Mile boys onto the campus; so this date, like the first one, is unbelievable.

By moving the incident’s occurrence to 2001 or 2002, Kajak and his attorney were placing it “post-McQueary”—that is, at a time when the Penn State administration would be vulnerable to the highest damages for having neglected to turn Sandusky in to the police. And indeed, Kajak’s final version would be worth millions to him and his lawyer. But had any misbehavior ever taken place? Like all of the other supposed victims, Kajak had never mentioned it to anyone and had gone right on cordially fraternizing with his presumptive abuser.

6. In July 2011 Jason Simcisko (b. 1987) was questioned by two policemen whom he told, in the words they quoted,

I lost touch with [Sandusky] around the time I went into tenth grade. I was in trouble a lot then: in and out of foster homes and stuff. He made me feel special, giving me stuff and spending time with me. I just always took it that he was trying to make sure I kept out of trouble. I don’t believe any of this stuff is true and hope that he’s found not guilty.

But a month later Simcisko had taken on Dustin Struble’s contingency fee lawyer, Andrew Shubin, and had changed his tune. Now, it seems, he had spent some 20 overnights in the Sandusky home and had been subjected to numerous genital rubbings. By the time of the trial, 20 visits had grown to 50, and Sandusky’s touching of his penis had occurred nearly every time. Once again, recovered memory was invoked. When challenged about inconsistency with earlier statements, Simcisko responded, “I tried to block this out of my brain for years.”

7. Brett Houtz (b. 1983) was a rebellious adolescent—by all accounts a habitual liar and manipulator who neglected school, dropped out of sports, used drugs, stole a car, and got sexually involved with a young girl. Sandusky had taken him on as an especially challenging project, but by 16 Houtz was fed up with Sandusky’s preachy messages, some of which would be introduced in the trial as grooming “love letters.”

Abuse became an issue for Brett Houtz only after the press sensation that began on March 31, 2011. Reading of the charges against Sandusky, Houtz’s biological father got in touch with him and proposed that he retain a lawyer and get in on the action. Houtz’s immediate retort was that he wanted nothing to do with the case. On reconsideration, though, he retained Benjamin Andreozzi, the lawyer his father had contacted, who would end by serving lucratively as the attorney for 10 claimants against Penn State.

Even then, Houtz refused at first to enter charges against Sandusky. Afterwards, two police officers drew him out, with attorney Andreozzi present, in the only interview with a Second Miler that was ever tape recorded. The tape could serve as a classic lesson in biased interrogation. From the beginning, the idea was to get Houtz’s recollections into alignment with those of other accusers; and the questioners, with the attorney’s collusion, didn’t relent until they had done so.

Houtz’s eventual testimony, which was so graphic that it served as the opener in the prosecution’s horror show, may not have been entirely disingenuous. He had entered psychological counseling soon after retaining Andreozzi, and at some point he, too, had come under the care of recovered memory guru Mike Gillum. As he told the jury, “I have spent, you know, so many years burying this in the back of my mind forever.” Pendergrast thinks Houtz may also have been the Second Miler who underwent 30 trauma sessions with a recovered memory advocacy group called Let Go Let Peace Come In.

Like other putative Sandusky victims, Houtz ramped up his charges between the grand jury and the trial. At first his questioners had had to coax him before he would say that he had ever experienced oral sex with Sandusky. In the trial, though, he was ready to declare that he had been molested at least 50 times, with Sandusky often forcibly jamming his penis into his mouth.

The events that Houtz narrated bore the usual marks of recovered memory craziness. In his recollection, he had been playing basketball or racquetball with Sandusky nearly every evening during the 1997 football season and preseason, when the coach’s all-consuming duties barely allowed him enough time to come home for dinner. No less bizarre was his assertion that the puritanical Sandusky, who had never been known to smoke, consume alcohol, or utter a swear word, used to buy cigarettes for the teenager and once drove him to a drug dealer and gave him $50 to buy marijuana, which he smoked in Sandusky’s car.

Above all, Houtz was stumped by the same paradoxes that no accuser would be able to resolve. Why, once having been assaulted by a monstrous villain, had he kept returning to be raped again? Why had he informed no one at all about his ongoing torture? And why hadn’t his opinion of Sandusky, already mixed because of the latter’s moralizing, drastically worsened? At age 26, in the year before turning on his benefactor, Houtz had brought his girlfriend and three-year-old son for a happy visit with the Sanduskys, as if there had never been a cause for complaint. That fact speaks louder than anything he would say in court.

8. Sabastian Paden (b. 1993) was a senior in high school when, on November 5, 2011, his mother saw the televised news of Sandusky’s arrest and learned that Pennsylvania’s new attorney general, Linda Kelly, had established a hotline soliciting more victims to declare themselves. At once the mother asked someone at her son’s school to call the hotline. But she hadn’t consulted Sabastian himself, and so, when the police soon knocked on his door, his answers to their queries were unrehearsed. He informed them without hesitation that Sandusky had done nothing to him in a sexual way.

Very soon thereafter, though, with or without therapeutic prodding, Paden began telling the grand jury dreamlike tales about Sandusky’s outrages. During the period of his abuse, he testified, he had crossed the Sandusky threshold about 150 times, seemingly powerless to stay away. Although we know that Second Mile kids often came around to play games in the basement, they were all conveniently absent on the many days of Paden’s abuse, leaving the rapist free to work his mischief unobserved.

In one instance Sandusky had allegedly lured Sabastian home after school, locked him in the basement (whose lock was on the inside), and kept him there for three days while depriving him of food and repeatedly assaulting him orally and anally. At the time, Paden testified, Dottie Sandusky was on the first floor of the small, unsoundproofed house, but Sabastian’s loud screams of pain and terror were ignored. Dottie, then, must have been a fiendish accomplice to rape. But for anyone who knew her—a loving mother, a churchgoing Methodist, and a stern enforcer of household rules who was nicknamed “Sarge”—this was the most preposterous fantasy of all.

9. Ryan Rittmeyer (b. 1988) had attended a Second Mile camp, but neither Jerry nor Dottie Sandusky could recall ever having met him. He hadn’t turned out well, having been incarcerated for burglary in 2004 and again in 2007 for having robbed, beaten, and permanently injured an elderly man. He was probably hard up for money when the Sandusky hotline posed an opportunity for sudden improvement in his fortunes.

Unlike the accusers who had felt Sandusky’s kindness and may have suffered pangs of conscience about betraying him, Rittmeyer wholeheartedly embraced the role of prosecution witness. He had seen Sandusky once or twice a month, he stated, through 1997, 1998, and part of 1999, and on nearly every occasion the man had made sexual contact with him. At last, supposedly, they had begun to take turns committing fellatio.

Rittmeyer’s story, fitting the general pattern, was a tissue of physical, temporal, and motivational absurdities. But the jury, without having been shown that Sandusky and Rittmeyer were even acquainted, found it compelling. Indeed, the jurors believed all eight of the Second Mile veterans who testified—forming, collectively, a portrait of a man with little time to do anything but scurry from one unreported molestation to the next. Even Aaron Fisher and Sabastian Paden would have had to take turns getting ravaged in Sandusky’s basement, as their supposed ordeals there overlapped between 2005 and 2008.

10. Ronald Petrosky was the Penn State janitor who told the Sandusky jury what he thought Jim Calhoun, another janitor, had revealed to him one night in 2000, 12 years before. Calhoun himself couldn’t testify; in June 2012 he was suffering from dementia. But Petrosky testified on his behalf, even reproducing what he imagined to be Calhoun’s thought process from long before. His recollection, though it wavered and contained some odd features, impressed the jury as the crowning proof of Sandusky’s guilt. That it was hearsay at a 12-year remove didn’t matter to the judge, who admitted it into testimony on the novel ground that it was consistent with the other unproven charges in the case.

Apparently, something awful had indeed occurred one night in 2000. Calhoun had seen a man licking an older boy’s genitals in the Lasch building’s shower area. Unnerved, he had communicated his alarm to Ronald Petrosky. More than a decade later, when the mounting charges against Sandusky were dominating the news, Petrosky evoked that incident, which neither he nor Calhoun had reported at the time. Nor, curiously, had Petrosky ever mentioned it to anyone else. Now he seemed to remember that Calhoun had identified the perpetrator as Sandusky and that he, Petrosky, had caught sight of Sandusky and the boy exiting the locker room together. Further, he thought he recalled having noticed Sandusky driving slowly around the building’s parking lot later that night and again around 2 a.m.

Months before the trial, Petrosky’s story had figured, albeit erroneously, in an influential televised exchange between Sandusky and the sportscaster Bob Costas:

Costas: A janitor said that he saw you performing oral sex on a boy in the showers in the Penn State locker facility. Did that happen?

Sandusky: No.

Costas: How could somebody think they saw you do something as extreme and shocking as that, when it hadn’t occurred, and what would possibly be their motivation to fabricate it?

Sandusky: You would have to ask them.

Sandusky’s terse, bland responses damned him in the eyes of future jurors and the public. No one pointed out that the janitor in question, Petrosky, had not in fact observed any activity in the Lasch building’s shower room.

The man who did witness a crime, Jim Calhoun, had been interviewed by state trooper Robrt Yakikic on May 15, 2011, when his Alzheimer’s was still at an early stage. Asked what he thought of Sandusky, Calhoun had brightened and said he was “a pretty good guy.” Did Calhoun recall the shower incident? Absolutely, and he felt that even now he would recognize the dastardly abuser if he encountered him. Was it Sandusky? Calhoun answered at once, “No, I don’t believe it was.” An incredulous Yakikic asked, “You don’t?” Calhoun became more emphatic: “I don’t believe it was. I don’t think Sandusky was the person. It wasn’t him. There’s no way. Sandusky never did anything at all that I can see.” The exculpating tape was in the possession of Sandusky’s lead attorney, Joe Amendola—who, however, lacking time for adequate preparation, made no use of it.

The Sandusky trial, described in detail by Pendergrast, proved to be a perfect storm of juror prejudice, prosecutorial malfeasance, incompetent and perfunctory defense, judicial bias, and unlucky circumstances. Among the latter was the fact that Mike McQueary’s “little boy in the shower,” Allan Myers, who had been planning to attest to Sandusky’s innocence, saw dollar signs and, joining forces with the claims lawyer Andrew Shubin, apparently maintained (out of court) that Sandusky had molested him after all. That decision may have cost him his conscience but it gained him financial security, thanks to the munificence of the new, ask-no-questions administration of Penn State.

Again, Sandusky had been counting on the last of his six adopted children, Matt (né Heichel), to vouch for him at the trial, as he had already done in the face of nagging interrogation. The Christian activists Jerry and Dottie Sandusky had welcomed Matt into their home because he was continually getting into trouble, which eventually included theft, arson, and exposing himself on multiple occasions to the family’s only daughter. Jerry had kept bailing Matt out and lecturing him about the good life. He even got him to sign a contract whereby improved behavior would be repaid with funds—Jerry’s own money—for a college education.

Matt Sandusky with children and Jerry Sandusky from the Sandusky family 2010 Christmas booklet.

Matt Sandusky with children and Jerry Sandusky from the Sandusky family 2010 Christmas booklet. The following year, Matt testified that his father has never abused him before the grand jury, but he “flipped” in 2012 to accuse his father on the basis of recovered memories. (Photo from The Most Hated Man in America)

Jerry’s refusal to be discouraged by Matt’s lapses seemed to be vindicated by a turnaround in the young man’s deportment, and Matt was grateful for such steadfastness. In 1998 he told Sports Illustrated,

My life changed when I came here to live [in the Sandusky household]. There were rules, there was discipline, there was caring. Dad put me on a workout program. He gave me someone to talk to, a father figure I never had. I have no idea where I’d be without him and Mom. I don’t even want to think about it. And they’ve helped so many kids besides me.

But the negative pattern resumed. Matt dropped out of Penn State, got in further trouble, married and divorced after fathering three children, and then moved back in for a year with his adoptive parents—an unthinkable decision if he had ever been molested by Jerry. It isn’t surprising, but it is telling, that he swore under oath to the grand jury that no such molestation had happened.

Right up until the middle of the trial, Matt was looking forward to delivering a strong tribute to Jerry. But psychologically he was in a bad way, obsessed with a nonexistent odor in the family basement and hearing voices calling his name. When he attended to Brett Houtz’s colorful testimony, something snapped. Now he wondered whether abuse by Jerry, though unremembered, had been the source of his many problems in life.

Evidently, Matt had already been in the care of a psychotherapist. Now, under the guidance of lawyer Shubin, he went to the police and reported that a recollection of Jerry’s assaults was beginning to take shape in his mind. The weird sex acts that he subsequently “recovered” sounded like characteristic products of therapeutic prodding. As he later explained, “My child self was holding onto what had happened to me,” so that at first “I didn’t have these memories of the sexual abuse.”

The “flipping” of both Allan Myers and Matt Sandusky was a disaster for the already hapless defense team. Not only could the two young men not be called upon to testify; Jerry himself was dissuaded from taking the stand, lest Matt then be summoned by the prosecution to add an exclamation point to its ghoulish case. And so the jurors never got to compare the real Jerry Sandusky with the bogeyman conjured by his adversaries.

Long before Sandusky faced the justice system, he had been thoroughly demonized in the press. The journalist Sara Ganim, profiting from grand jury leaks by the district attorney’s office, would win a Pulitzer prize for articles bearing such unequivocal titles as “Former Coach Jerry Sandusky Used Charity to Molest Kids.” And once Sandusky’s wickedness had been engraved on the public mind, everything about him was twisted to fit a predator profile.

In reality, the extraverted but high-principled Sandusky didn’t fit any model of deviance. No doubts about his sexual orientation or conduct were raised before he was 54 years old. No pornography was found on his computer. Disapproving of sex out of wedlock, he had been happily married to his only spouse since 1966. His domestic lovemaking, he and Dottie separately attested, was conventional in frequency and nature. He was disgusted by the idea of anal or oral copulation. His testosterone level was abnormally low. And if Jerry had been an unscrupulous homosexual pedophile, his adopted boys would have been prime targets; but until Matt became afflicted with pseudomemories, all five of them considered the charge to be outlandish.

Had Sandusky testified, he could have explained the aspects of his behavior that some parents and even some children found “creepy.” He had spent much of his youth living on the second floor of a recreation center managed by his father, himself a charitable man who cared about helping underprivileged children. Jerry had wanted to emulate him in every way. In Art Sandusky’s facility, communal showers and prankish romping after exercise had been routine. The roughhousing had been play, but it had also offered a heartening, asexual token of solidarity between athletically inclined men and boys. Even Jerry’s most unsettling practice, squeezing the knees of a boy passenger in a car, was inherited from his father. It meant something like “Don’t forget that you can rely on my support.” As Jerry’s son Jon, now Director of Player Personnel for the Cleveland Browns, has commented,

[My father’s] whole picture of the world was stuck in the 1950s and 1960s, with no concept of what was politically correct or what is taboo nowadays…. To him, horsing around in the shower, snapping towels or throwing soap wasn’t out of the realm of normality…. But people’s view of the world is different now…. I don’t think he really understood that.

And Jon added, “My parents gave me morals. They taught me how to live my life, with a work ethic but mixing in pleasure too…. They were well-rounded parents. They modeled things I’m striving to be as a parent myself.”

Many factors contributed to the Sandusky debacle: a prurient misconstruction of well-meant deeds; excessive zeal by officials, police, social workers, and therapists; scandal mongering by the media that preempted the judicial process; the greed of abuse claimants and their lawyers; and a political vendetta against Penn State’s President Spanier by then Governor Tom Corbett. But the main ingredient in the witches’ brew, the one that rendered it most toxic, was something else: bogus psychological theory.

The indefinite and unsupported concepts of dissociation and repression, wielded without allowance for the distorting effects of suggestion and autosuggestion, lent forensic weight to nightmarish scenes that were “retrieved” in a climate of fright. Without that bad science, imparted first by therapy (Fisher) and then by social contagion (McQueary), there would have been no case at all against Sandusky. Attorney General Linda Kelly acknowledged as much in her triumphant press conference following the conviction. She praised the accusers for their courage and persistence in struggling toward a negation of their original statements to authorities. “It was incredibly difficult,” she proclaimed, “for some of them to unearth long-buried memories of the shocking abuse they suffered at the hands of this defendant.”

With The Most Hated Man in America and its companion volume, Memory Warp, Mark Pendergrast has demonstrated that the obituaries of our lamentable recovered memory movement were premature. Its virulent misconceptions, originally propagated by ideologues and ignorant psychotherapists, will surely continue to wreak havoc. Forewarned is forearmed. But who, meanwhile, will restore Jerry Sandusky’s liberty and good name? And when will the stain of criminality be erased from Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, Graham Spanier, and the late Joe Paterno? As Charles Mackay wrote in his 1852 Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, men “go mad in herds, while they only recover their sense slowly, and one by one.”

About the Author

Frederick Crews is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley. His latest book is Freud: The Making of an Illusion. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Other Resources we have on Topic of Recovered Memories
  1. False Memory Syndrome and the Recovered Memory Movement
    (lecture on DVD), by Dr. John Hochman
  2. “Recovered Memory Therapy & False Memory Syndrome”
    (in Skeptic magazine 2.3)
  3. The Memory Wars: Recovered v. False Memories
    (lecture on DVD), by Dr. Pamela Freyd & Eleanor Goldstein
  4. “First of All, Do No Harm: A Recovered Memory Therapist Recants —
    An Interview with Robin Newsome,” by Mark Pendergrast
    (in Skeptic magazine 3.4)
  5. Junior Skeptic # 25: “Alien Abductions (Part 2),” by Daniel Loxton
    (bound within Skeptic magazine 12.4)
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William McClung
February 9, 2018 8:09 am

I have read Crews on the Pendergrast book and followed this comment thread as best I can. I’ve ordered 10 copies of the book for our bookstore and am inviting about a dozen publishers, therapists, and defense attorneys to discuss it together soon.

I am old enough to remember large amounts of sexual energy, horseplay, hanky-panky (real, imagined, feared, or expressed), and wonderful camaraderie in school locker rooms in the 50s and 60s.

William McClung, University Press Books/Berkeley

Mike Simons
February 9, 2018 3:02 pm

To William McClung

Hello!

You: “I am old enough to remember large amounts of sexual energy, horseplay, hanky-panky (real, imagined, feared, or expressed), and wonderful camaraderie in school locker rooms in the 50s and 60s.”

What would your view be of the same behaviors if they were displayed today in 2018?

Terry
February 8, 2018 9:15 pm

What a sad, shoddy article this is. The ad hominem insinuations against the victims and witnesses alone should embarrass professor Crews.

Mark Pendergrast
February 3, 2018 6:13 am

Weighing in once more (sigh) in reply to Mike Simons.

Jerry Sandusky sometimes took showers with Second Mile boys after they exercised together. Many people take this as prima facie evidence that he is weird and sexually attracted to boys and must have been abusing them, because such behavior is now considered highly inappropriate and unusual. As Sanford Thatcher observed, however, for Sandusky as well as many others raised in the 1950s sports era, such behavior wasn’t abnormal, nor was “horsing around,” snapping towels, etc. And it is a direct legacy of Sandusky’s rearing in a recreation center run by his parents.

The 1998 shower with Zachary Konstas upset his mother, but not Konstas, who said quite clearly (despite very leading interview methodologies) that no sexual abuse had taken place.

The Dec. 29, 2000 shower that McQueary overheard (that is likely to be the correct date) involved Sandusky and Allan Myers snapping towels and/or slap boxing. Myers gave a very strong statement explaining this and exonerating Sandusky, before “flipping” and receiving millions of dollars as an alleged victim (who was probably sent to therapy and who never said what Sandusky was supposed to have done to him.)

Mike Simons thinks that calling 911 would have resolved everything. Quite possibly. But there is also no doubt that if Tim Curley had accepted Sandusky’s offer to put him in touch with the boy in the shower (Allan Myers), the whole matter would have been cleared up back in early 2001.

Mike Simons
February 3, 2018 11:40 am

To Mark Pendercrast

Thank you for your reply.

You: “ As Sanford Thatcher observed, however, for Sandusky as well as many others raised in the 1950s sports era, such behavior wasn’t abnormal, nor was “horsing around,” snapping towels, etc.”

I completely agree with your assessment here of the 1950s. But this was the 2000s — the era of the sexual machinations of the Catholic Church. And also in the 2000s, because of contemporary social media exposing the terrorism throughout our society that was Pedophilia, suddenly what was considered “normal” activity decades before now became, at the very least, suspicious behavior at that time in 2001. Again and again I reiterate:

“… Call it ‘fondling,’ ‘touching,’ ‘caressing,’ or ‘horseplay,’ a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!”

And how strange for Sandusky to place himself squarely in harm’s way again when you consider the emotional coaster ride he experienced as a result of Shower 1998! An experience where he was never charged for the lack of evidence by a suspicious policing authority who was convinced he was a pedophile.

Again, had a simple legal, ethical, and very mandated 911 call been made, the Penn state scandal would never have occurred. And that’s is exactly what would have hypothetically happened if hypothetically that adult in Shower 2001 been a total stranger to all involved!

And by golly, in 2001 a simple legal, ethical, and very mandated 911 call would have accomplished one of two monumental actions:

1) Sandusky would have been cleared of any wrong doing as you so theorize; OR BY GOLLY 2) For the next 8 years no little boy would have found himself in harm’s way of the coach because he would have been incarcerated forever!

More by you: “Myers gave a very strong statement explaining this and exonerating Sandusky, before “flipping” and receiving millions of dollars as an alleged victim.”

Again, your statement while accurate has absolutely and completely no meaning nor application here for the admission by Meyers was eights years after the fact — after the fact being Shower 2001!

And you even support my conclusion here when you stated :

“…  But there is also no doubt that if Tim Curley had accepted Sandusky’s offer to put him in touch with the boy in the shower (Allan Myers), the whole matter would have been cleared up back in early 2001.”

Yes, what you say is abundantly true, but here is my question for you: Please cite the evidence or the material you collected that claims had Tim Curley accepted Sandusky’s offer to put him in touch with the boy in the shower (Allan Myers), the whole matter would have been cleared up back in early 2001. For under all the testimony I have read, there is no mention of Curley talking with Sandusky in 2001 about his behavior in that shower room.

Mark Pendergrast
February 7, 2018 5:52 am
Reply to  Mike Simons

Mike Simons wrote to me privately to ask me to reply to his latest comment here. I asked him if he had actually read THE MOST HATED MAN IN AMERICA, and he said he had not. I answered: “I am not going to engage in any further debate with you until you actually read the book. It’s a waste of time. Let me know when you have done so. Thanks.”

Rob Schuette
February 3, 2018 5:09 am

Simons,

WRONG! It is a tremendous stretch on your part to assume a 911 call in 2001 would have solved anything. One, there was no emergency. Again, you can recraft McQueary’s story anyway you’d like but the accounts from ALL about what he “witnessed” in 2001 confirm that it was ambiguous. Two, there is no way to “reasonably conclude” that an ambiguous report and a subsequent 911 call would have had the affect you claim it would. I’d say that assumption is completely false. Seven years later police had a first hand accusation that would’ve had a far greater impact than any McQueary statement. This damning accusation didn’t result in an indictment for another three years. The sentiment from many that this nightmare could’ve been thwarted in 2001 is ridiculous and riddled with prejudicial hindsight. The only true effect this incident had in this case is that it opened the door for many to get instantly wealthy.

Mike Simons
February 3, 2018 10:36 am
Reply to  Rob Schuette

To Rob Schuette

Thank you for your impassioned but misdirected post. Alas, you twist the facts to support an unsupportable theory. How? Here’s how:

You: “ Again, you can recraft (sic) McQueary’s story anyway you’d like but the accounts from ALL about what he “witnessed” in 2001 confirm that it was ambiguous.”

Yes, you are absolutely correct! From all accounts stated eight years later, McQueary’s witnessing of an alleged rape was VERY AMBIGUOUS! I totally agree! But wait! All those accounts are absolutely and completely irrelevant to Shower 2001! Why? Because they are all accounts made many years after the fact! That’s what makes them irrelevant! But what absolutely and completely is relevant is the fact that Paterno believed from McQueary’s statement that something of a “sexual nature” did transpire in that shower room that evening. What is relevant is the fact Mike’s father and Dr. Dranov both believed the son had witnessed a rape. What is relevant is the fact that Schultz also believed that inappropriate physical touching did occur in Shower 2001. These “relevant” facts are all from recorded legal testimonies revealed in 2010 from the above mentioned contributors.

You: “… There is no way to “reasonably conclude” that an ambiguous report and a subsequent 911 call would have had the affect you claim it would. I’d say that assumption is completely false.”

Sigh! You have made a false assumption here based on nothing but supposition. Here’s what you can “reasonably” assume:

Had a 911 call been made, a policing authority would have either charged Sandusky for an assault or exonerated him completely. And you can also “reasonably “ assume that no Penn state Scandal would have transpired as the result of a mandated police investigation! And you most certainly can “reasonably” assume that had that adult in Shower 2001 been a complete stranger to everyone involved, you and I Rob would not be debating this subject today in 2018.

And you can also “reasonably” assume JoePa would not have been condemned today by millions of fathers and mothers across the nation. And you could then “reasonably” assume his great legacy would have remained untarnished!

Sanford G. Thatcher
February 1, 2018 10:46 pm

I preface these comments by disclosing that I was director of Penn State University Press on the University Park campus of Penn State from 1989 to 2009, when I retired and moved to North Texas. I was hired by President Bryce Jordan but worked for most of my time there under President Graham Spanier.  Rod Erickson, who replaced Spanier when he was fired, was as provost the person I reported to during the last years of my employment. As a supporter especially of the swimming team, I got to know AD Tim Curley quite well.  Joe and Sue Paterno were major benefactors of the Penn State Libraries, and in my last four years there my immediate boss was the head librarian. I interacted with the Paternos also in relation to several books we published at the Press with which they were involved including books about the Nittany Lion and about the Penn State Marching Blue Band.  I went to the same church as Jerry Sandusky and talked with him several times there, but did not know him well.  I met VP for Finance Schultz on a few occasions, but did not know him well either.

From what I know about these people and what I have learned from talking with other people connected with Penn State including faculty, staff, and alumni as well as fellow administrators, I find the account or Mark Pendergrast, at least as conveyed by Prof. Crews in this summary (since I have not yet read the book), entirely credible and plausible.

Like a few of the other commenters I read a great deal of the literature produced about this alleged scandal including the Freeh Report, which I resented because it tried to portray the entire Penn State community as co-conspirators in a coverup through their collective guilt in feeling such reverence for the football program.  Hogwash! If Judge Freeh had actually talked to Penn State staff and residents of State College, he would have known that many of us did not enjoy the traffic jams, drunken students all over our downtown streets, loud noise, and even occasional riots after games that resulted in significant property damage. Some of us even left town on home football weekends to escape these annoyances.  And if he thinks that we all knew that Jerry Sandusky was abusing children, he is way off base.  Jerry was generally regarded as a solid citizen who cared for troubled young boys and tried to help them through his Second Mile Foundation. No one I know suspected that any abuse was occurring—and if Pendergrast is right, for good reason because there wasn’t any!

Mr. Simons, who keeps repeating his mantra about the locker room incident that garnered so much attention in the media, appears not to be aware of what was regarded as normal behavior back in those days. Growing up at a summer boys camp in northeast Pennsylvania, where we often swam nude in the lake, horseplay with towels and such was a frequent occurrence in the locker room at the lake. When I was on the high school and college swim teams in the late 1950s and early 1960s, we practiced with no suits (and wore no goggles either).  Anyone familiar with this era would not think any of Sandusky’s horseplay to be unusual and certainly would not have regarded it as anything seriously wrong worth notifying the police about. The police would have just laughed at anyone filing such a report and called the person a prude. As for JoePa’s responsibility, he did exactly what he was supposed to do, nothing more and nothing less. Considering how ambiguous McQueary’s description of the incident was, it’s hardly surprising that Paterno did not call the police.  Simons is just way off base here.  To understand JoePa’s mindset, he might benefit by reading Jay Paterno’s excellent book about his father.

It was not credible to me that Spanier would have tried to cover up any crime, especially child abuse, because (1) his academic specialty was family sociology and (2) he was himself abused as a child.  Nor was it credible to me that Curley, as honest and straightforward a man as I’ve ever met, would participate in a coverup.  I do fault Spanier and Curley for approving Sandusky’s status as emeritus upon his retirement, which is what gave him access to the locker rooms and athletic facilities after he retired. Note that Paterno had opposed this decision.  I also fault Spanier and the top administration with having failed to fully and properly implement the Clery Act of 1990 until after the story broke in 2011, a full two decades after its passage.  But neither of these mistakes  make them guilty of any coverup.

What I am puzzled about is the way in which The Second Mile escaped much attention in all the media outrage.  If there was any abuse going on, certainly The Second Mile was more liable than Penn State. But consider this curiosity: Penn State main legal counsel was Wendell Courtney, who headed a private law firm downtown. But Courtney was also legal counsel to The Second Mile.  Was that not a conflict of interest? So far as I know, Courtney’s role has never been explored in any depth.  If there was a coverup, how was he involved?

If you compare the episodes at Penn State and Michigan State, note this one crucial difference: Larry Nassar admitted he abused the gymnasts, but Jerry Sandusky has never admitted to abusing anyone.  The 156 women who spoke at Nassar’s sentencing did  not seem to suffer from “repressed memory”; indeed, they admitted to having had their lives significantly affected by their memories. Doesn’t it seem peculiar that all those women could remember what had been done to them but Sandusky’s accusers could only “remember” after being coached by psychologists, lawyers, and police?  The NCAA did not hesitate to impose very severe penalties on Penn State, some of which directly affected athletes, even though no athletes were involved in any of the alleged crimes committed by Sandusky. At MSU, by contrast, athletes were among the victims. MSU certainly has more direct liability for the harm done to them than PSU did for any harm done to children who had no connection with Penn State at all. Yet the NCAA has only very cautiously gotten involved with MSU now, and there is no talk of any harsh penalties.  Perhaps the NCAA has belatedly realized that its actions against Penn State were way too severe and not really justified under its own bylaws. And what an irony it is that Lou Anne Simon, MSU’s president who finally resigned, chaired the group of college presidents in the NCAA who voted for those sanctions against Penn State. What goes around comes around….

If Pendergrast is right, then what we see here is two tragedies, but not two cases of child abuse.  With MSU we have a case of true child abuse at outrageous levels and real efforts to cover it up; with PSU we have a real and massive miscarriage of justice if Sandusky indeed is innocent. And the role of the NCAA in both does not reflect well on its ability to govern college athletics effectively and fairly.

Mike Simons
February 2, 2018 4:23 pm

To Sanford Thatcher

Thank you for contributing your astute opinions re Shower 2001. And I agree totally that the Free Report was amateurish, grossly incomplete, and devoid of critical facts. And how much did he get paid for this inaccurate trash? But I totally disagree on some other very shortsighted points you made.

You: “… And if he (Free) thinks that we all knew that Jerry Sandusky was abusing children, he is way off base.  Jerry was generally regarded as a solid citizen who cared for troubled young boys and tried to help them through his Second Mile Foundation. No one I know suspected that any abuse was occurring.”

No, no, and no! It is a matter of factual record that Schultz was totally aware of the Shower 1998 incident. And by logical extension, Curley, Paterno, and Spanier HAD to have been apprised by Schultz re that investigation and re Sandusky’s strange but not illegal behavior.

You: “… Considering how ambiguous McQueary’s description of the incident was, it’s hardly surprising that Paterno did not call the police.”

No, no, and no again! JoePa testified in the Grand jury Presentment Hearing that he took from McQueary’s emotional outburst that something of a “sexual nature” did indeed transpire in that shower. And Paterno thanked McQueary for coming to him stating that McQueary had done the right thing. He then asked him to leave and go home stating that he would report the incident.

Interestingly, ten days later when Schultz talked to McQueary, he (Schultz) admitted in the 2011 Preliminary Hearing it was his understanding that an inappropriate physical act transpired in Shower 2001.

You: “ Anyone familiar with this era would not think any of Sandusky’s horseplay to be unusual and certainly would not have regarded it as anything seriously wrong worth notifying the police about. The police would have just laughed at anyone filing such a report and called the person a prude.”

Sigh! Wrong again. The era you speak of happened to be the Catholic Church era! There was nothing normal nor usual about the coach’s behavior in Shower 2001. Why? How? Here’s why and here’s how:

“… “Call it ‘fondling,’ ‘touching,’ ‘caressing,’ or ‘horseplay,’ a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!”

Thatcher, a simple legal, ethical, and very necessary 911 call would have accomplished one of two monumental actions: Sandusky would have been cleared of any wrong doing as you so theorize; or for the next 8 years no little boy would have found himself in harm’s way of the coach because he would have been incarcerated!

Amen!

Jon H
February 7, 2018 5:38 pm

Sanford Thatcher wrote : “Mr. Simons, who keeps repeating his mantra about the locker room incident that garnered so much attention in the media, appears not to be aware of what was regarded as normal behavior back in those days”

It was *not* regarded as normal behavior regardless of what you did in the 50s or 60s.

What the heck is in the water in State College that warps you people so badly.

Mark Pendergrast
February 1, 2018 8:10 pm

From Mark Pendergrast, the book’s author. Sorry, I have not had time to follow all these comments. I just saw this one and am moved to comment. Mike Loew wrote: “To the author of the book I would inquire as to how many of the victims you interviewed? Did you talk to the police who investigated the matter? Did you talk to the prosecutors? I find it fascinating that a former librarian and children’s book author becomes an expert on the American legal system.”

First, about the nasty ad hominem remark about my being a former librarian, as if this is a bad thing. I am proud that I hold a master’s in library science and served as an academic librarian for over a decade. My research expertise has helped considerably in writing my 11 nonfiction books. I sometimes joke that I should get an honorary PhD for each book, since each amounts to a dissertation of sorts. I have written about quite an array of topics, ranging from human memory to astronomy to epidemiology. See http://www.markpendergrast.com.

I am a science writer. But I am also an investigative delver, and I have written about legal matters extensively in various guises in my books and articles and have served as a consultant on legal cases. I did everything I could to find out as much as possible about the Sandusky case. I read the trial and hearing transcripts, media coverage, etc. I talked to everyone who would talk to me, which included two alleged victims (though one insisted on being off the record), various attorneys, many Second Mile alums, those who knew Sandusky, etc., but otherwise I had to rely on police reports and the public record. But that was quite extensive. Take a look at the book’s endnotes and bibliography.

Oh, and yes, I’ve written three picture books for children, for fun.

Finally — I urge you to actually read THE MOST HATED MAN IN AMERICA: JERRY SANDUSKY AND THE RUSH TO JUDGMENT, which answers all of the questions raised here. It is incredibly frustrating, as you can imagine, to have spent several years researching and writing a book and then have people make assumptions and comments without having read the book.

Mike Simons
February 1, 2018 10:35 pm

To Mark Pendergrast

Yours is an excellent retort and I appreciate your extensive research.

My consistent and constant view is this: What McQueary witnessed or didn’t witness is totally and completely irrelevant to Shower 2001. To reiterate, over and over and over and OVER…

Call it “fondling,” “touching,” “caressing,” or “horseplay,” a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically— immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!

Paterno and McQueary’s transgression was instantaneously making invisible, obscure, and insignificant a little boy suspected to be in immediate danger by replacing his image, instantaneously, with the image of Jerry Sandusky.

Why the cover up? Because McQueary, his father, Dr. Dranov, and Paterno all had a many years acquaintance with Jerry Sandusky and because of this familiarity, they all feared for the reputation of Penn State and its football team!

Forever for shame!

PS: As regards Sandusky, my whole suspicion towards him being guilty as charged started way back to the police investigation made in Shower 1998. No charges were ever filed because no claim of sexual abuse was ever made by neither the mother nor the son! But Sandusky was demonstrably shaken by the whole experience in 1998 and even felt so upset by the affair that he went to the mother to express his sadness and contriteness. But alas, after going through a legal experience that would have been emotionally life altering for anyone else, he proceeded to place himself squarely in “harms” way and in legal jeopardy once again vis-a-vis Shower 2001!

Your thoughts about my thoughts?

Mike Loew
January 25, 2018 5:48 am

To the author of the book I would inquire as to how many of the victims you interviewed? Did you talk to the police who investigated the matter? Did you talk to the prosecutors? I find it fascinating that a former librarian and children’s book author becomes an expert on the American legal system. Even more interesting a lifelong English professor backs him up. You paint every victim in the most unflattering light you possibly can. As a matter of fact you indulge in victim shaming. Finally you cite John Ziegler. Look at John Ziegler’s history, the crackpot theories he has Championed over the years, and then consider him as a supporting source. I understand both the author and the reviewer have an almost obsessive need to be the smartest men in the room. I would suggest the both of you adhere to the scientific method you both claim as your own. There are something called joe-bots and they are the ones supporting you guys. If your Goal was to appeal to a bunch of crackpot conspiracy tin foil hat-wearing lunatics you succeeded.

Frank Cannon
January 25, 2018 10:43 am
Reply to  Mike Loew

Why don’t you go ahead and try to paint the victims in the most positive way. I’ll wait. Pore over their online antics and show me the good they’re doing in society.
Common sense (and simple math) would require that somebody credible would be speaking up against Jerry Sandusky. Someone who has made something of his life and is not seeking a seven figure payday. You know, as in the case of Bill Cosby’s accusers. However, that simply is not the case. Question: if you offer a marginal person, in debt and likely in trouble with the law a seven or eight figure payday, what are the odds you can’t get him to say what you want? Every person referenced in this story was given MILLIONS of dollars. I believe Mike McQueary was recently awarded over ELEVEN MILLION dollars. I ask you: for what?
It’s Occum’s Razor. What is more likely, that a bunch of lawyers, psychologists, and formerly at-risk kids (now in their late 20s and 30s) would raid PSU of a large portion of its endowment, or that Joe Paterno and Tim Curley would willingly, for decades, allow children to be raped? For what purpose? Why would men who consistently took the moral high road decide to willingly conspire to allow child rape of all things? In other words, if you’re willing to allow a former coworker to commit the worst crimes imaginable, would you not surely also allow your starting QB to drink a beer in public without kicking him off your team? Would you self-report a minor violation to the NCAA yet allow child rape? That makes no sense.
It should bother you that Jerry Sandusky is the only pedophile in modern history not to have pornography. It should REALLY bother you that everyone involved in this case is now rich. That’s not “tin foil hat wearing” lunacy. That’s FACT. Meanwhile, accomplished men who have gone six decades with ZERO problems with law enforcement are railroaded into prison? Because they didn’t care that children were systematically being raped by a monster? In fact they ENABLED him? I’m sorry my friend, but THAT’S the crackpot conspiracy theory. To sum up, allow me to say this: If PSU didn’t have the most recognizable, longest tenured, and universally praised head football coach of all time, we would not be having this discussion and Jerry Sandusky would be a free man.

Michael P Simons
January 25, 2018 12:23 pm
Reply to  Frank Cannon

High Canman

I assume your last post was to the author of this article. I enjoyed the points you made re people unethically taking financial advantage of a damaged university.

But my friend, do you not finally realize, that none of your aforementioned scenarios would ever had occurred had any one of four professional men had made a simple 911 call back in Shower 2001?

THAT is what this Penn State tragedy is all about — not the taking of financial advantage from unethical people!

Think of yourself (and of myself) Canman. I know from your moral passion (and from mine), had either of us been faced with the responsibility of reporting an alleged crime similar to Shower 2001, I just know absolutely, we would have called a policing authority — immediately without hesitation!

And re your words regarding Penn State administrators:

“…that Joe Paterno and Tim Curley would willingly, for decades, allow children to be raped? For what purpose? Why would men who consistently took the moral high road decide to willingly conspire to allow child rape of all things? In other words, if you’re willing to allow a former coworker to commit the worst crimes imaginable, would you not surely also allow your starting QB to drink a beer in public without kicking him off your team? Would you self-report a minor violation to the NCAA yet allow child rape? That makes no sense.”

No, no, and no! No one has ever stated (other than yourself) that Paterno and Curley and all the other administrators knew Sandusky was a child predator for many decades. So Canman, your assumption here is erroneous , sadly juvenile, and inundated with hyperbole. But yes, their moral obligation to seek guidance and investigation from a policing authority was their downfall and ironically directly contributed to the arrest of a man you feel was innocent — Jerry Sandusky!

And “that does makes sense!”

Mike Loew
January 25, 2018 5:41 am

To the author of the book I would inquire as to how many of the victims you interviewed? Did you talk to the police who investigated the matter? Did you talk to the prosecutors? I find it fascinating that a former librarian and children’s book author becomes an expert on the American legal system. Even more interesting a lifelong English professor backs him up. You paint every victim in the most unflattering light you possibly can. As a matter of fact you indulge in victim shaming. Finally you cite John Ziegler. Well I understand both the author and the reviewer have an almost obsessive need to be the smartest man in the room I would suggest the both of you and here to the scientific method you both claim as your own. There are something called joe-bots and they are the one supporting you guys. Again if your Goal was to appeal to a bunch of crackpot conspiracy 10 file hat-wearing lunatics you succeeded. Congratulations. I’d like to sit down sometime with the author and he could teach me about the Dewey Decimal System since I have forgotten

Joe J
January 24, 2018 3:54 pm

The Penn State “scandal” was the perfect storm. The one thing that always gets left out is just how it became exclusively the “Penn State Scandal.” To my mind it should have been a Second Mile and Pennsylvania Dept. of Public Welfare Scandal that included some negligent behavior from PSU officials, and that is if any of the whole scandal is true.
I don’t believe any of it is but even Ziegler won’t address the role of newly elected governor Tom Crusader Corbett who made a career out of political prosecutions. Prior to all of this, and Corbett had been state AG back in 1995, Sandusky had accusations against him and they were always unfounded. When Corbett got back into AG office and transitioned to governor he wanted to settle a score against Spanier and he and his quislings manipulated the whole thing into a Penn State Scandal, he wanted Spanier out and it also fit the larger goal of de-funding all state public universities. It was just Corbett doing as governor what he did as AG, political prosecution. Fina and the other quislings should all be given lie detector tests.

Michael Sullivan
January 18, 2018 5:49 pm

I enjoy and support skeptic.com. I’m comfortable with my atheism. And I’m comfortable calling bullshit on a one-sided review and an author who can only parrot “awwwk, read my book!” These 2 assclowns write like every tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist pushing UFOs and reptile world leaders. It would be funny if they weren’t defending the molestation of children. And it’s painfully obvious why.

seventhseal
January 17, 2018 5:54 pm

This was a fascinating article on a case I knew very little about by a skeptical author whose recent skeptical book I also very much enjoyed. While I was familiar with several of the other Freudian take downs, Crews’s book thoroughly disillusioned my interest in Freud (this is coming from a humanities graduate student). Pardon the perhaps irrelevant comment, but could we say that Freud could be lauded for abandoning the seduction hypothesis of his early years? Of course, he replaced it with ideas of Oedipus/castration, etc. more evidence of what Crews sees as Freud’s adherence to coercive suggestion, but still, wasn’t the Viennese quack the first to sense and reject aspects of false memories?

Canman
January 17, 2018 3:21 pm

I want to congratulate Michael Shermer for for having the guts to publish this. Whichever side you are on, a contrarian view of the Sandusky trial is definitely something you should expect a skeptical magazine to comment on. I must say that I’m very taken aback by how well argued it is. There’s a lot of new facts and if they’re wrong, they should be refuted. If they can’t be, I think John Ziegler deserves a Pulitzer or some kind of award for journalistic courage.

Michael P Simons
January 18, 2018 6:44 pm
Reply to  Canman

To Canman

Thank you for your post Buuuuuuuuuuut, here is why John Ziegler is so far off the mark re Shower 2001 and the Penn State tragedy!

Call it “fondling,” “touching,” “caressing,” or “horseplay,” a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!

Paterno and McQueary’s transgression was instantaneously making invisible, obscure, and insignificant a little boy suspected to be in immediate danger by replacing his image, instantaneously, with the image of Jerry Sandusky.

Had that adult in Shower 2001 been a stranger, JoePa’s legacy today would be untouched!

Why the cover up? Because McQueary, his father, Dr. Dranov, and Paterno all had a many years acquaintance with Jerry Sandusky and because of this familiarity, they all feared for the reputation of Penn State and its football team!

Canman
January 20, 2018 11:23 am

MPS,

FIS Special Agent John Snedden, who investigated the case does not appear to agree with you:

http://www.bigtrial.net/2017/03/special-agent-who-investigated-spanier.html?m=1

Michael P Simons
January 22, 2018 8:33 am
Reply to  Canman

To Canman

Thank you for your post to me.

Snedden has made the same disastrous mistake as has Ziegler. There arguments re Shower 2001 are about information discovered AFTER the fact. And therefore it’s information not relevant to the central issue re the Penn State tragedy. No, the central issue is how I have described it to you before…

“Call it ‘fondling,’ ‘touching,’ ‘caressing,’ or ‘horseplay,’ a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!”

An alleged rape was believed to have occurred by McQueary, his father, Dr. Dranov, and Paterno. What is the ONLY option here for these individuals? To dial 911 — immediately without reservation! Period!

And as I stated to you before, had that adult in Shower 2001 been a stranger, that’s exactly what would have happened. Period!

For shame!

Canman
January 22, 2018 2:12 pm

I would certainly agree that in this day and age, a naked boy and man engaging in horseplay in a public shower is inappropriate behavior, but does it mandate a 911 call? If so, Mike McQueary is the one who should’ve made it, and you’d think he’d’ve gotten some kind of reprimand. What did he get? He sued Penn State and got a $12.3 million verdict!

http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/11/penn_state_officials_confirm_s.html

Michael P Simons
January 22, 2018 9:32 pm

To Canman

Thanks again for your astute reply! You are absolutely correct that Mr. “Numbnuts” McQueary should have been the first one responsible for calling 911.

But this responsibility was compromised when he decided to go to Paterno. And JoePa complimented McQueary by stating to him that he did the absolute right thing to come to him with what he witnessed. And at that exact point in time, JoePa told McQueary to go home, that he, (Paterno), would take the full responsibility for reporting the alleged crime.

And Paterno, just like McQueary, failed to call a policing authority because Paterno, just like McQueary, realized the adult in question was Sandusky!

Again, had that adult in Shower 2001 been a stranger, you and I Canman would not be having this discussion.

Avital Pilpel
January 15, 2018 8:08 am

The problem is that it is ONLY the memories of evil deed by whomever society is hysterical about right now – pedophiles, satanists, witches, et cetera – that are ever “recovered” from complete forgetfulness decades later because allegedly they were so traumatic one could not face them at the time.

Such total forgetfulness never seems to occur with “banal” traumas such as, say, being in a plane crash or car accident. You would think nothing could be more traumatic than the holocaust; was there ever a holocaust survivor who forgot all about it because of that?

At any rate, nobody ever has vague memories of once being in a car accident one day, only to “remember” how he was regularly used as a living crash test dummy For decades by satanists two months later. This sort of thing happens only when “therapists” push the “truth” on their unsuspecting victims.

Tim Berton
January 12, 2018 5:06 pm

The Sandusky case was hopelessly tainted by inept policework, unethical prosecutors, Sandusky’s hapless defense, greedy lawyers out for multi-million dollar settlements, a self-serving PSU Board of Trustees and yellow journalism.

This book and article adds quack psychology to that list.

Mike Simons
January 11, 2018 1:17 pm

Mr. Moderator,

I’m engaged with several people in this comments section. We cannot continue the dialog with one another unless all comments are printed and exposed here. We all need comments #36 through #60 to be recorded here.

Thanks,

Mike

Mike Simons
January 10, 2018 11:08 pm

To the Moderator of the comments section! Please return the latest comments (#35 to #60) to this article.

Thank you.

Douglas Barber
January 10, 2018 12:26 pm

This may be one of the most profound stories of the decade. Being in college in Pennsylvania during the unfolding of this scandal I was certain Sandusky was guilty as hell (didn’t have any reason to think otherwise). This was a major scandal resulting in nearly a billion (!) dollars in damages. However, the work here by Mark P and John Ziegler has totally turned this world upside down. Their evidence upon which they independently reached their conclusions is very solid. I am 100% convinced. If this story gains traction it will be HUGE. It is just a shame that all of those that have even asked the important questions and sought truth regarding this case have been publicly shamed, because of its nature involving pedophilia.

mark hentz
January 10, 2018 4:48 am

To Mike Simons:

Joe Paterno’s legal obligations with regard to the 2001 shower incident were to do absolutely nothing. He was not a mandatory reporter at the time (and likely would still not be today) which is itself likely a moot point as no clearly identifiable illegal acts were reported to him by McQueary…and that is by McQueary’s own admission. I repeat, Paterno’s legal obligations were to do absolutely NOTHING. We both know he did far, far more than nothing.

So, now that that nonsense of yours has been dispensed with and turning to his ethical obligations, he did everything he should possibly have been expected to do with this vague, hearsay, after the fact report on a topic on which he had not even the tiniest expertise. He had no business being involved in the decision making process per the incident and he knew it. He consulted the university policy manual and per policy turned the matter over to the level of administration designated to deal with the matter, which was entirely the correct legal, moral, and ethical thing for him to do. He was a marginal, bit player in this mess to begin with and had no business whatsoever injecting himself deeper into it, especially as a person who could have later been accused of unduly influencing the outcome in one way or another. When McQueary met 7-10 days later directly with Curley and Schultz, at that point Paterno’s involvement became irrelevant entirely and he was correctly removed from any considerations in the outcome of the matter.

From the beginning, and especially after McQueary’s meeting with Curley and Schultz, had Joe done anything….anything at all….he would have been guilty of insubordination, excess of authority, abuse of his power as a high profile and influential person, and likely would have been accused of attempting to unduly influence the matter in one way or another. In addition, considering that it would have been a violation of PA law for him to even be made aware if there had been an ongoing criminal investigation, he could have led himself into accusations of illegally tampering with an ongoing investigation. You apparently need to be educated to the fact that in our society insubordination, excess of authority, abuse of power, and undue influence and tampering with matters that are none of your business are all considered negative character traits and acting upon those traits,as you insist Paterno should have, are all considered UNETHICAL acts.

I’d like an explanation from you how it is that in your world all these decidedly UNETHICAL and immoral acts would constitute the “correct” thing to do; and furthermore, why it is you are encouraging others to adopt these decidedly negative character traits and extreme unethicality and immorality. My suspicion is that your motivations stem from a deep-seated and irrational hatred of Joe Paterno himself that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Jerry Sandusky scandal. It would be refreshing….and ethical…..to see you admit it.

Mike Simons
January 13, 2018 8:18 am
Reply to  mark hentz

To Mark Hentz

I would like to continue our discussion here on this site. Let me know if you are interested to further continue your positions.

If yes, I will then reply to your last post to me.

Mike Simons
January 9, 2018 10:50 pm

To Talk Is Cheap

You neither understood nor comprehended my entry! Sigh!

Pedophiles roam freely and safely in this society as long as shortsighted, unaware, and clueless individuals such as yourself make statements that are completely and totally not applicable to this whole Penn State tragedy.

To wit…

What McQueary witnessed or didn’t witness is totally and completely irrelevant to Shower 2001. To reiterate (over and over and over and OVER)….

Call it “fondling,” “touching,” “caressing,” or “horseplay,” a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!

Your position is all after the fact. What this whole affair is about is the 24 hour period that encompassed Shower 2001. THAT”S IT!!!

Rational Observer
January 9, 2018 10:32 pm

I have been a Skeptic reader since the mid-90’s and I can say that Professor Crews’ article is the best, most well written, detailed and exhaustive, yet concise argument I can remember. Perhaps it is because it concerning a topic that I have been passionately following for the past 6 years. As a Penn Stater I was dismayed when I heard Louise Freeh’s press conference and his telling of his ‘reasonable conclusions’ Executive Summary from his investigative report. Like most people, I immediately believed his conclusions. Unlike what seems like 99% of people, I sat down and read the entire 267 page report. I was absolutely floored that Freeh could come up with such extraordinary claims from the flimsiest of evidence. It was obvious that there was a narrative formed and that he, and many others, would protect this narrative regardless of facts.

I pled my case to my mostly, interested (as several were Penn Staters or big PSU supporters), very intelligent friends but they didn’t want to hear it. Sandusky’s odd behavior showed he was obviously a serial pedophile and Paterno and the PSU administrators were covering it up. Shame on them! My friends did not care that the 1998 incident was completely discredited as a criminal act nor that McQueary’s story made little sense and was constantly shifting. I am fairly certain, if my friends read anything on the matter, it was an article by an ESPN reporter, Sally Quinn, Christine Breenan or Buzz Bizzinger (all PSU haters and complete idiots). Mostly, they got their information from TV sports reporters, who just parroted the prevailing wisdom of the day.

Following this frustration I read all that I could get my hands on concerning the case, including Grand Jury testimonies, dozens of articles, eventually all of the Paterno family professional reports, including Governor Thornburgh’s takedown of Freeh’s legal case, Jim Clemente’s detailed description of acquaintance offenders (as well as a video debate) and Professor Fred Berlin’s psychiatric evaluation of the case. Eventually I came upon John Ziegler’s excellent website (Framing Paterno) which I have religiously following for the past 4 years or so.

Because I read the primary documents and I kept an open mind, it was obvious to me that two narratives were being pushed:
1. Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile, a serial child molester who used his Second Mile Charity to prey on dozens or perhaps hundreds of boys over a 20-30 year period.
2. Penn State administrators and Joe Paterno knew with certainty, or at least should have known, of the otherwise imminently respected Sandusky’s nature and covered up his behavior for many years to protect the school, the football program and Paterno’s legacy.

I knew immediately that Narrative 2 was complete hogwash. It didn’t square with the facts nor did it make any sense on its face. Read Ziegler’s website and Pendergrast’s book for a complete takedown of this narrative. It was obvious to me that huge swaths of country were in a ‘moral panic’ concerning this issue and obeyance to the ‘consensus’ view was paramount. Virtually all of the people I talked to had no interest in my much more informed opinion on the topic simply because my view differed from the norm. But more importantly, they simply were not interested in facts of the case that they were unaware of if those facts weakened their position. Their minds were made up and they simply were not interested in another view, regardless of the truth. How can people be so willfully blind? It simply astonished me.

That is, until I realized that I was doing the very same thing. You see, I knew that Narrative 2 was hogwash and I was fairly certain that Narrative 1 (JS = pedophile, molester) was likely overstated, but at least partially true. I was certain that hundreds of kids were not likely involved, maybe not dozens, but I assumed that Sandusky got his rocks off by playing touchy, feely games and may have sodomized or raped 1, 2 or 5 boys. If so, he deserved to be in prison so I didn’t give his guilt or innocence much thought. John Ziegler eventually came around to believing that Sandusky was completely innocent but I blew this off thinking that Ziegler was too emotionally invested in this case and was snowed by Jerry and Dottie Sandusky. It wasn’t until I heard a Ziegler podcast interview with Mark Pendergrast that I realized my enormous error. I made an assumption based on strange, seemly unexplained, behaviors and reports of numerous ‘kids’ (actually adults) court testimony. It never occurred to me that the strange behaviors could be quite rationally explained away (providing proper context) or that the numerous ‘kids’ could be lying or simply misremembering. In fact, despite being very well read on the topic, I had no knowledge of who the ‘victims’ were or what they testified to.

It wasn’t until I read Pendergrast’s book that my mind flipped about Sandusky. I now believe there is at least a 75% chance he didn’t rape or sodomize anyone and there is at least a 50% chance he is not, nor ever was, sexually attracted to little boys. If you want to learn about the case visit Ziegler’s website often and read Pendergrast’s book with an open mind. Thank you Professor Crews for an excellent review and synopsis of the facts of this astonishing case.

Mike Simons
January 9, 2018 11:14 pm

To Rational Observer

Your well written entry completely and totally missed the whole issue re Shower 2001. All of your statements are after the fact of the alleged crime. None are relevant to what any “rational observer” would have done if confronted with the same details encompassing the 24 hour period that describes Shower 2001.

Please read carefully the following…

Joe Paterno’s action in Shower 2001 was ethically and legally the absolute wrong reaction! And his legacy will never be restored to its rightful place in history until the following is found acceptable by everyone.

Why was his behavior so wrong? It’s like this:

Call it “fondling,” “touching,” “caressing,” or “horseplay,” a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!

Paterno and McQueary’s transgression was instantaneously making invisible, obscure, and insignificant a little boy suspected to be in immediate danger by replacing his image, instantaneously, with the image of Jerry Sandusky.

Had that adult in Shower 2001 been a stranger, JoePa’s legacy today would be untouched!

Why the cover up? Because McQueary, his father, Dr. Dranov, and Paterno all had a many years acquaintance with Jerry Sandusky and because of this familiarity, they all feared for the reputation of Penn State and its football team!

Chuck O'Connor
January 8, 2018 4:10 pm

re: Mike Simons comments is in error
“..Joe Paterno’s action in Shower 2001 was ethically and legally the absolute wrong reaction!…”

JVP was not there, it was reported to him By MMcQ, there was never an actual date of the incident, or even an establishment of an actual child (age unknown) and all recovered memories of the incident were 10 years after that fact/incident, those memories were also altered by the AG’s, Police & Presentment.

Thank-you Frederick Crews for writing this article it makes me want read both of Mark Pendergrast’s books.

Mike Simons
January 9, 2018 11:03 pm
Reply to  Chuck O'Connor

To Chuck O’connor

In testimony to the Grand Jury, JoePa stated that he took and accepted complete and total responsibility to report the alleged crime. He told McQueary to go home. Again, It was now up to him to report the incident! And there was only one legal and ethical action he could take — to call a policing authority immediately without hesitation! And that is why he shares the dereliction of duty along with McQueary, his father, and the incompetent Dr. Dranov.

Again and again and again…

Call it “fondling,” “touching,” “caressing,” or “horseplay,” a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!

Talk Is Cheap
January 13, 2018 5:50 pm
Reply to  Mike Simons

“Mike Simons” – you sound a lot like that Jeffery Imm – PSU Child Rights guy.

He was quite vocal online early on in this shitshow.

What if McQueary actually saw Jerry in the shower with a Second Mile teen on December 29, 2000?

Facts on record suggest this was the correct date. Not February 9, 2001.

Mike then sits on it for 5 weeks.

Some urgency, huh?

And stop making up what Joe supposedly said. You know damned well his testimony was read into the record by Barker. No one had heard any audio, and the written testimony has a LOT of qualifiers surrounding its.

Without the audio there is no context & no inflection and written testimony is subject to transcription error. You’re beating a dead horse Jeffrey with the sexual aspect.

So just stop.

Everyone reacted properly to Mike’s story – given the information they had at the time.

For all we know – Mike made up the entire incident. The state never produced a victim and certainly never independently vertified the date.

Louis Freeh certainly didn’t.

And why do you continue to give Jack Raykovitz a pass? You a Second Mile Swinger guy? Is that your thing?

You’re an ass Jeffrey and you have zero grasp of the facts. You should have given it up years ago.

Mike Simons
January 7, 2018 10:31 pm

To All You All

The following is the most important, the most critical, the most compelling aspect of the whole Penn State tragedy!

****
To all mothers and fathers and all advocates of children…

Joe Paterno’s action in Shower 2001 was ethically and legally the absolute wrong reaction! And his legacy will never be restored to its rightful place in history until the following is found acceptable by everyone.

Why was his behavior so wrong? It’s like this:

Call it “fondling,” “touching,” “caressing,” or “horseplay,” a naked male adult with a naked minor in a closed private gymnasium at a major university on a Friday night constitutes reasonable doubt, a legalized suspicion as to the appropriateness of that adult’s behavior. A 911 call is mandated here legally and ethically — immediately without hesitation. Period! You always let the policing experts take over and investigate the legality or illegality of a scene of alleged rape — immediately without hesitation. Period!

Paterno and McQueary’s transgression was instantaneously making invisible, obscure, and insignificant a little boy suspected to be in immediate danger by replacing his image, instantaneously, with the image of Jerry Sandusky.

Had that adult in Shower 2001 been a stranger, JoePa’s legacy today would be untouched!

Why the cover up? Because McQueary, his father, Dr. Dranov, and Paterno all had a many years acquaintance with Jerry Sandusky and because of this familiarity, they all feared for the reputation of Penn State and its football team!

For Shame!

Talk Is Cheap
January 8, 2018 5:14 pm
Reply to  Mike Simons

Oh FFS “Mike Simons”.

If you had followed the case closely, compared testimony and statements to AG investigator Sassano & Trooper Rossman you’d know that McQueary didn’t see a damned thing.

There was no rape.

And there was no cover up. The conspiracy charge was dropped.

Jack Raykovitz knew damned well it was a Second Mile teen and Jack failed to ever contact this teen and his parents/guardians to get a full pictures as to why he was with Jerry in the first place. Jack never circled back with anyone at Penn State, he certainly didn’t speak with McQueary.

I would suspect it was Jack Raykovitz that feared for bad publicity for the charity and fundraising, considering Jerry was retired from Penn State and the football program.

Regarding McQueary, his first ever statement to Rossman & Sassano says he was on campus that evening working late, decided to swing by Lasch and put his sneakers away and heard the showers running.

Curious how he can hear three “slapping sounds” over running water, but I digress.

Later testimony has McQueary comfortably at home in bed watching “Rudy”, he gets “motivated” leaves the house and drives up to campus.

McQueary can’t be in two places at the same time. Pick a story McQueary – which was it? The “Rudy” story was concocted by Tony Sassano, and you’ve testified to that concocted story at least four times under oath.

While you’re at it McQueary – pick a date. Was it February 9th, 2001 or December 29, 2000 – the more likely date given facts already on the record.

Remember – McQueary has never been cross-examined.

It’s curious why folks like “Mike Simons” want to so desperately believe Mike McQueary, who was never really needed by the AG, and so desperately shake their Pom Poms for the high functioning alcoholic Louis Freeh.

Jonathan S
January 7, 2018 9:51 pm

A very contrarian perspective on a topic that most people wouldn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole.

A few thoughts:
1) PZ Myers dismissal of this article is just an appeasement of orthodoxy: Sandusky has been declared truly evil and, therefore, suggesting anything different is akin to Holocaust denial.
2) If Pendergrast’s narrative is true, I’m not convinced that this entirely clears Sandusky’s name, but rather one would be forced into a weak agnosticism. That being said, a weak agnosticism would require a presumption of Sandusky’s innocence.
3) Is it possible that a commitment to eliminating “repressed memories” from the court of law would lead Pendergrast to craft a controversial narrative around a high-profile case to get more visibility for this position? (That’s a question, not an accusation.)

BrianBruise
January 7, 2018 8:53 pm

P.S. I will add, particularly without any corroborating evidence.

BrianBruise
January 7, 2018 8:44 pm

I am still ambivalent about which side to take in this matter. But, if you go back to the bizarre day care cases of yore and read the completely unreal “testimony” of the alleged abused children regarding satanic rituals, sex, and murder, you will have a better understanding of the great skepticism which must be brought to recovered memories.

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