Archive for Sunday, November 20, 2011

Author sheds light on Penn State case

In this Oct. 8, 2011 file photo, Penn St. assistant football coach Mike McQueary, left, talks with head coach Joe Paterno during an NCAA college football game against Iowa, in State College, Pa. McQuery has been heavily criticized for not contacting authorities after witnessing former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a child.

In this Oct. 8, 2011 file photo, Penn St. assistant football coach Mike McQueary, left, talks with head coach Joe Paterno during an NCAA college football game against Iowa, in State College, Pa. McQuery has been heavily criticized for not contacting authorities after witnessing former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a child.

November 20, 2011

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Lauren Book

Lauren Book

The most damaging scandal in sports history, rife with victims, enabling authority figures and an alleged monster, also includes one man not as easy to judge as the rest.

His name is Mike McQueary, supplier of the most damning testimony in the case of Jerry Sandusky, alleged child molester and former defensive coordinator under sainted Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

McQueary testified to the grand jury that he saw Sandusky raping a boy of about 10 years old in the Penn State football locker room in 2002. In that testimony, McQueary said he told his father of the incident and the next day followed his instructions to tell Paterno.

Last week as the debate raged as to whether McQueary, then a graduate assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, did enough to see that a pedophile was brought to justice, I consulted an authority on such matters for a verdict.

Lauren Book, author of “It’s OK to Tell: A Story of Hope and Recovery” and host of the website laurenskids.org, details in her book the particulars of her being the victim from the ages of 11 to 16 of sexual violence at the hands of her female nanny. Book, 27 and a graduate student at the University of Miami (Fla.), has made it her life’s mission to educate the public on prevention tactics that can stop pedophiles before they strike.

Interviewed by telephone last week, Book offered an interesting take on McQueary.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know that anybody can truly judge how he reacted to the situation,” Book said. “He did what he thought he was supposed to do. He went to the great Joe Pa to try to stop that. Some people say he should have physically gotten in the middle. A normal human is not accustomed to seeing a 10-year-old boy being sodomized. That’s a subhuman act. I’m sure he was very traumatized to see something like that.”

So, Book said, stop judging the man. But so many did, and McQueary then said in an email that became public that he did talk to police, which police have denied.

If the allegations against Sandusky prove true, pretty much everybody whose mind isn’t held hostage 24/7 by the aura of Penn State football agrees that Paterno, McQueary’s boss, should have done more to get a child molester off the street. The same goes for Paterno’s bosses.

Book said she has read the graphic 23-page grand jury report “several times.”

“If these allegations are true, and I believe they are, this was an active, complicit criminal conspiracy from respected individuals,” Book said. “I believe that they covered this up.”

Again prefacing it with the qualifier that if the allegations are true, Book added, “If you looked up pedophile in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Jerry Sandusky’s face. It was classic. How he preyed, chose these children from his charity, how he was grooming them. He built trust with the family and gave each child presents and attention, things he might not have been getting at home.”

Eight victims told their stories in the grand jury report.

“All these kids were saying, ‘He put a hand on my thigh.’ If a child doesn’t report that, he’s ripe for abuse,” Book said. “Then it went to tickling on the stomach and then to the more advanced and grotesque sexual assault. I’m very confident that more survivors will be coming forward.”

The timing of Sandusky’s decision to retire at the age of 55 in the prime of his career certainly looks suspicious in that it came shortly after a 1998 police investigation sparked by a mother’s complaint about Sandusky showering with her son.

Penn State’s response to that equated to saying that as long as you don’t bring the children on campus anymore, we’re cool with you.

“These individuals who told him he couldn’t bring children there (to the football complex) anymore allowed this to go on,” Book said.

Of the Penn State students who protested on behalf of Paterno, Book asked a very good question: “What are these people thinking? These people just don’t get it. They don’t get that this is about children whose innocence has been taken from them, children who have to walk through a broken life and work to be healed.”

Book has a lot of toughness, working to bring awareness to the once-taboo subject of sexual abuse of children and sharing in a book and in media interviews the horrific details of her lengthy stay in hell on earth. But her toughness too often has been tested in recent weeks when she has turned on the television.

“I’ll be honest, I have shed several tears for these faceless kids because I was one of them,” she said. “I know what it’s like. Look at these Penn State students; the way they’re reacting, it’s infuriating.”

Book said she believes 95 percent of sexual abuse of children is preventable, if they are properly educated.

“It’s about making sure every child has a trusted triangle of three more adults they can feel comfortable talking to about anything,” Book said. “We make sure to let them know if there is a touch that makes them feel icky or confused to make sure to tell someone.”

Comments

blindrabbit 3 years, 8 months ago

Boy will I get blasted for this, especially on a Sunday. But having lived on the East Coast for many years and having had friends and family attend, faculty friends teach and on-campus interactions of my own at several large public and private colleges and universities back there, it is my observation that many schools are very closely aligned if not greatly influence by the Catholic Church. That coupled with a population of students, faculty and the population at large that has a high Catholic percentage and is therefore cultured in Catholicism, it does not surprise me that many of the same issues manifesting themselves about abuse by church officials and others is similarly founded. I have no empirical proof, but this is based on my observations. You may not like what I am saying but it is true, and difficult for a midwest dweller to comprehend without closer observation on their own. Penn State and Syracuse could likely fit this pattern! Blast me away!

Lee Eldridge 3 years, 8 months ago

blindrabbit, I won't blast you for your comments, though I disagree. This is a case where Penn St officials decided that the reputation of their school was more important than the safety of children. The head coach, AD and president engaged in a cover up. And as more events unfolded after the initial 1998 cover up, they were stuck (the janitors that reported seeing him molest a child, and then later on when McQeary reported the rape). If they moved forward and exposed Sandusky, they would also have to admit the initial cover up in '98. These men are pathetic and deserve public ridicule and scrutiny.

kujayhawk7476 3 years, 8 months ago

You'll not receive any blasting from me. While I will readily admit that anything is possible, including what you present, I am more of the belief that the institution of Penn State football or Syracuse basketball (if the allegations are proven true) created an atmosphere of invincibility and reverance so that no one was willing to stand up against any wrongdoing, lest the castle come tumbling down. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

blindrabbit 3 years, 8 months ago

lee & kujayhawk: Agree with some of what each of you say; but my thesis has more to do with the cultural mindset that many back there have gained through the Catholic Church and it's dogmatic teachings, coaching and establishment of male-dominated authority figures, thus creating a means for this to happen!

cato_the_elder 3 years, 8 months ago

Penn State football and the Catholic Church are both religions with many people associated with each of them who would attempt to protect their reputations at all cost, but the Catholic Church had nothing to do with what is alleged to have happened at Penn State.

Moreover, the most commonly-expressed etiology for child abuse within the Catholic Church, the fact that priests are not allowed to marry, is irrelevant to what has been alleged concerning Penn State.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 8 months ago

Here's what I said:

"Moreover, the most commonly-expressed etiology for child abuse within the Catholic Church, the fact that priests are not allowed to marry, is irrelevant to what has been alleged concerning Penn State."

What I set forth was the most commonly-expressed etiology for child abuse within the Catholic Church. If you haven't heard that, you've been living in a cave. I expressed no personal opinion on it, and lack the personal experience with the subject to do so.

blindrabbit 3 years, 8 months ago

cato: Missed my point; I did not say the Catholic Church was directly involved, just contributed to the mindset and culture that may allow this to happen! Interestingly, I'll bet if you look at the religious affiliation of most of those involved at both institutions, my point might have more credence. Although, I've heard Sandusky himself might by Methodist

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

I was listening to NPR a good decade ago. The person bring interviewed had done a study of pedophiles in religious organizations. The Catholic Church gets much of the publicity, but this person wanted to know if it was the same in other religious groups. What he said was that from his findings, pedophiles were attracted to all religions in roughly the same numbers. What made the Catholic Church different was the hierarchical system they employ. Once found out, rather than being exposed and removed from a position of authority, as would happen in religious groups that do not employ a strict hierarchy, within the Catholic Church, those above have the very real power to hide the misdeeds. To the extent that Penn St and Syracuse have established a hierarchical system within their athletic departments, you have increased the chances of abuse being swept under the rug. It's not the influence of the Catholic Church as much as a coping of the manner in which they conduct their business.

anon1958 3 years, 8 months ago

Mike McQueary did not do enough for a 26 year old man. He should have seen to the safety of the child that was being raped and gone straight to the police.

I mean seriously wtf, the man is a coward and should be ashamed to be seen in public. How can an adult not be enraged when encountering a child being raped? McQueary just makes me sick to my stomach every time I see his oafish mug on TV. The man has no shame or he would be hiding somewhere.

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