Thursday, January 26, 2012

In defense of Joe Paterno...

I retrieved the following from a comment section on this article, it is a rebuttal to that article. NOTE: I did not write this. I don't own the rights to this, this is simply a copy and paste to spread the rebuttal more effectively. The rights to the rebuttal belong to its author, Stacy B. Gray.

I am sorry Mr. Hamby, but I think you are off base here. I have read your article, and I have read the indictment. No one is saying that child abuse, be it sexual or otherwise, is anything less than the most heinous of crimes. No one is saying that the guilty should not be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. No one is suggesting anything but compassion for the victims of this terrible episode. And no one is suggesting that Justice isn't terribly overdue.

Chastise me if you wish, but please consider:

First of all: Mr. Paterno's legacy is one of honesty and integrity. Football happened to be his avocation, but his purpose in life was to teach all that life was about doing the right thing, of accepting responsibility for your actions and the consequences thereof. Say what you like, but up until the end he lived that conviction. He never tried to obfuscate the facts, never made excuses, never tried to shift the blame or avoid responsibility. He never asked to be excused, never asked for the displays of support, and did indeed direct focus back to the seriousness of the matter. Above all else Joe Paterno was a man of integrity. To deny that is disingenuous.

Secondly, with all else being hearsay, consider the facts as determined in the indictment. There is only one instance that suggests that Paterno had any knowledge that there was anything improper occurring, that being the case of victim number 2. No one disputes that the grad student in question failed in his direct legal and moral responsibility to immediately act upon the situation he discovered. That he did not is despicable. In my opinion as a football player half Sandusky's age there was no reason that he did not immediately and personally intervene to protect the child. This man failed. Further he did nothing to report the matter to anyone save his own father. His father then failed to direct his son to make proper reports or to make any report of his own. On March 1, 2002 these were the only people that we are aware of who could have, and should have intervened to protect the child. This is where the anger should be focused.

According to the indictment not until the following day, contrary to state law and moral obligation, did the grad student in question make a verbal report to Mr. Paterno. Save for this single event Mr. Paterno would not be involved in this travesty in any way. Had the grad student made his report to a police agency or any other person on earth, Joe Paterno would not now be involved.

According to the indictment, Paterno responded by reporting the matter to his immediate supervisor, Tim Curley, Penn State athletic director. There is no indication why Curley did not respond immediately, but it does state that Sunday morning Curley arrived at Paterno's home and Paterno reported to him what the grad student had reported to him. Please keep in mind that at this point this becomes nothing more than hearsay evidence as Paterno did not witness the incident. He was no more knowledgeable, no more involved, no more obligated than if he had overheard something on the street - except for his position in the University hierarchy.

Anyone who has been employed in a multilevel organization must recognize the position of Paterno as a middle manager. Charged with responsibilities to do, they are also charged with responsibility to, and with obligation to the organizational structure. The organization establishes its policy, those employed by it are obligated to that policy. In this case the state statute is clear, and I am sure that Penn State's policy is in compliance therewith: “Pennsylvania's mandatory reporting statute for suspected child abuse is located at 23 PA. §6311(child protective services) and provides that when a staff member reports abuse, pursuant to statute, the person in charge of the school or institution has the responsibility and legal obligation to report or cause such a report to be made by telephone and in writing within 48 hours to the Department of Public welfare of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." Clearly having reported the matter up the chain of command Paterno was not only relieved of responsibility to, but deprived of authority to report the matter further. It became the obligation of the University.

I would point out that as an employee of a Pennsylvania mandatory reporting agency, those are my exact orders. Should such a matter come to my attention I am to immediately report it to the chairperson of the agency, my immediate supervisor. Any other action on my part is both contrary to legal statute and in violation of the policies and procedures of the organization. While it would be unlikely that I would be prosecuted, I could well be subject to termination should I do otherwise.

At some point, and the indictment is not clear as to when (though I have read elsewhere that the call was made from Paterno's that Sunday morning), Curley reported the matter to his supervisor Gary Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business. Of note here is that according to page 10 of the indictment "Schultz oversaw the University police as part of his position". Now I don't know how other states handle campus police forces, but in Pennsylvania it is my understanding that large campuses incorporate as a municipality and hence have municipal police authority and responsibility. Penn State University Park Campus police force are not mall cops, they are a law enforcement agency. Just as it would be if a Councilman had made a report to a city police Commissioner, as such the matter was reported to the police agency having legal jurisdiction. That Schultz failed to act upon it in that capacity is reprehensible and he needs to be held cupable. But the fact that Paterno was aware that his report had been forwarded to the person who could have, and should have acted upon it in my opinion absolves Paterno from further responsibility. As far as he knew the matter had been reported appropriately and was now both a police matter and a personnel matter, none of which Paterno should expect to have any further input to or report from.

The fact is that he was subsequently advised that Sandusky’s campus privileges had been restricted with regards to bringing children onto the campus. It was not his responsibility nor his authority to enforce that, indeed as noted in the indictment,(Page 11) such restriction was impossible to enforce.

Admittedly there are a disgusting number of similar post fact allegations of wrongdoing on University property and in the purlieu of what could have been considered Paterno's realm. Please keep in mind that Paterno headed the football program. Also consider that the sports complex as alluded to is a large network of buildings and facilities. Paterno was not a conventional professor, not responsible for a specific location save during the football season. I would not expect that he was frequenting the places in question, and certainly not on Sandusky's level. There are no allegations that any of these incidents had anything to do with Paterno's football program, except of course that Sandusky brought his charges with him to games and events and to use the facilities.

I cannot believe that Paterno was in any way connected to the campus grapevine or rumor mill. That was not his style. If there were any rumors, any allegations, any suspicions of wrongdoing on his turf I would not expect that Paterno was aware of them. If there had been he would have, he did deal with them immediately, openly and upfront. That was his style.

Also remember that, as noted in the indictment, page 11, Sandusky retired in 1999 when “Paterno felt it was time to make a coaching change". For whatever reason at that point Paterno decided he didn't want Sandusky around. It was the University, not Paterno, that negotiated professor emeritus status and campus privilege for Sandusky. There are no indications that after Sandusky's retirement the two associated, except casually in mutually attended functions. Think about it, would you socialize with the guy who fired you? What is indicated is that Paterno had concerns about Sandusky being involved with both the University football program and his sponsored youth program. He questioned the wisdom of that and had it resolved - Sandusky was done.
Finally, please consider that to the best of my knowledge in the United States of America individuals are considered innocent until proven guilty. Sandusky has apparently been afforded that privilege. Joe Paterno was not. Without charge of any kind, without indication of wrongdoing on his part, with no motivation other than that he was the face of the University, Joe Paterno was lynched by the mob of public opinion. I think that is a terrible injustice to a man who lived personal integrity and responsibility. Joe Paterno deserved better than that if for no other reason than being a citizen of the United States. This gentleman who stood above reproach in all his dealings was condemned to this ignominious end through jealousy of those who could not defeat him otherwise.

This whole matter has been handled in a manner reminiscent of the night rides of the KKK - though perhaps not nearly as genteelly. Guilty or not, hang somebody that looks like Penn State (you know they all look alike!), then blame it on them for being uppity, arrogant or successful.

Mr. Hamby you stated “That is the bottom line. There is no discussion. Not, at least, in the minds of people who think justice is for everyone, and that moral dispensations are not part of the compensation package for famous people.” Where is Mr. Paterno’s Justice? Who is seeking moral dispensation to express their untimely outrage?

I believe, Mr. Hamby, that you owe Mr. Paterno and his family an apology. That Justice too is terribly overdue. Rest in Peace Joe Paterno. May you have in death the dignity you were robbed of in life.