The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Chip Minemyer

November 20, 2011

Chip Minemyer | No end to bad decisions out of Penn State

— Week 1 of the Penn State scandal brought the shocking news that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and two university officials faced charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of young boys and the ensuing cover-up, and that football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier were fired from their jobs by the school’s board of trustees.

Athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz were charged with perjury for reportedly lying to a grand jury and for failing to act when they knew of the alleged abuse of children by Sandusky.

In Week 2, the news shifted from the shocking and heart-wrenching to the absurd and surreal – including a series of moves by some of those implicated in the debacle that served to pour gasoline on the inferno, even as they were apparently attempting to perform damage control.

Then again, poor judgment has been the hallmark of this situation for more than a decade.

Why stop now?

Sandusky’s ill-advised and creepy interview with NBC’s Bob Costas served only to convince anyone still on the fence that he is, indeed, a child predator, as charged by a grand jury.

His admission that he had showered and “horsed around” with boys did more harm than good – to his case and Penn State’s hopes of crawling out of the national spotlight.

Then, sidelined assistant coach Mike McQueary – at the center of the firestorm because of his perceived lack of action to stop one attack on a child – spoke out for the first time and claimed he had gone to police after seeing and halting a crime being committed against a child in a shower on university property.

State College and Penn State police promptly denied being contacted by McQueary, who had been placed on administrative leave. The one-time Nittany Lions quarterback told reporters he now feels as if he’s living in a “snow globe,” targeted and criticized by the national media while the story swirls out of control.

This is a massive train wreck that has engulfed the university, the State College community and our entire region.

Adding to the insanity were mid-week rumors that Paterno’s name might be removed from a Penn State library – to which the coach and his wife, Sue, gave millions of dollars – and that the famous statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium would be removed quietly when the students were away for the Thanksgiving break.

Really? Did someone in a position of authority actually toss those ideas out as reasonable?

You would hope not. But the pattern suggests otherwise.

And did Sandusky and his 15-minutes-of-fame local attorney, Joe Amendola, really think it was a good idea for the ex-linebackers coach and defensive coordinator to do an interview with NBC’s “Rock Center” during which Sandusky would admit to often showering with boys, but state for the record that he is not a pedophile?

When asked about the charges against him – that he sexually abused at least eight boys over a 15-year period and that he targeted victims through The Second Mile, a charity he founded – Sandusky seemed to concede only that he was guilty of some questionable decisions but nothing illegal.

He said: “I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact.”

Asked if he was sexually attracted to boys, Sandusky said: “Sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”

Sandusky also said he felt awful about the accusations against him and the fallout at Penn State, including the firing of Paterno.

Unfortunately, his TV appearance did nothing to stem the tide.

Amendola said the Sandusky defense will include some of the witnesses who appear in the grand jury presentment recanting their statements about being abused.

The attorney said: “We anticipate we’re going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say, ‘This never happened. This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred.’ ”

That fiasco prompted Harrisburg lawyer Ben Andreozzi, who is representing one of the alleged victims, to pull out his soap box and tell the world that he is “appalled by the fact that Mr. Sandusky has elected to re-victimize these young men at a time when they should be healing.”

The Penn State scandal is appropriately national news.

The charges against Sandusky are horrific, and the allegations that several key university officials chose to allow the abuses to continue, even helping cover them up rather than take action, are sickening. A legendary coach has been fired.

Indeed, there is plenty of blood in the water for a media feeding frenzy without the likes of Amendola, Sandusky, McQueary and Andreozzi opening their mouths to add more chum to the churning mess.

Their grandstanding is an affront to the alleged victims, and an insult to the many at Penn State who had nothing to do with this situation and yet who are feeling its impact.

Guys, go about the business of preparing for your days in court. They are indeed coming.

And otherwise, please shut up.

Dare we even wonder what Week 3 will bring?

Chip Minemyer is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5091.

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