Friday, January 20, 2012

What If

The prevailing perception of the media and some others is that Joe Paterno should have done more.  What more could have been done, remains a more obscure question.

The implication though is clear . . . had Paterno done more, then Sandusky would have been stopped and innocent children would not have suffered.

"That was a priceless football program!"
"Not anymore."
 But can we make that assumption?

Paterno even said himself, with the benefit of hindsight--in other words, knowing now about Sandusky what he didn't know then--"I wish I had done more."  But seriously, what more could he or should he have done?

First of all, Sandusky's guilt has not even been legally established.  He has been indicted and will stand trial, but as we all learned in the O.J. Simpson case, a conviction is not guaranteed.

And what if Joe Paterno had gone to the police?  I think it is incredibly naive to think that Sandusky would have been brought to justice and the transgressions against kids would have ceased if only Paterno had gone to the police.  How would that have changed the situation?  What would the police have done? 

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to discuss this with some trooper friends of mine, but I assume they would head over to Sandusky's house with some questions. . .

Where were you that night?  Who were you with?  What were you doing?

They would probably want to find security camera tapes.  Obviously, there would have been none in the shower or locker room area, but perhaps views from buildings outside would confirm Sandusky's presence on campus in a particular building and whether or not he was alone.  Maybe--just maybe--an ID could be made of the victim in question.

But aside from the tangible evidence of a camera, which may or may not have even been available, how is Sandusky going to respond to this allegation?

He could easily make up a story.  He could tell the police he was alone.  With no camera record, who can deny that?  It's not clear that the Second Mile organization kept good enough records to confirm or deny that he was with anyone.  It is even possible the kid in question wasn't associated with the Second Mile--although that has been assumed.  I know of no other witness in this particular instance who could corroborate McQueary's testimony.

Perhaps Sandusky would bring another child forward who would deny that Sandusky did anything.  How would we know if it was the victim?  Would McQueary have been able to identify the boy from a line-up with absolute certainty?

An investigation might have tipped Sandusky off and he might have been more careful in the future.  Had he been more careful, he might not have been caught in 2008.  He might STILL be out there preying on young boys, assuming of course that he is guilty.  Yeah, it's an assumption but no more a leap of faith than presuming that Paterno calling the police would have stopped this.

The police were involved in 1998.  So was the DA.  Nothing came of that.  Can we really assume that 2002 would have been any different.

Was there even enough evidence in 2002 to go after Sandusky?  It's appalling to look at the Grand Jury presentment in its entirety.  But the people involved at Penn State--at least Joe Paterno--did not know about the 1998 or 2000 incidents.  It's hard to identify a picture puzzle from a single piece--much easier to make the call when all the pieces are laid in front of you.  And if it's your own reputation on the line--such as Paterno or the DA--you're more likely to wait until more peices are available before jumping to conclusions.

I would love to hear from some law enforcement officials as to what kind of investigation would have been carried out.  Would they talk to Sandusky or not?  Would they set up a "sting" operation?  Seriously, it's one thing to watch this kind of Law & Order drama on TV for entertainment, but the real world does not always follow the Hollywood script.

And, I would love to know if the Board of Trustees has given Bill O'Brien the authority to conduct his own investigations and call in outside agencies at his discretion without first running the decision by an administrator or the Board itself.  If they haven't, then why notThat's what they expected of Paterno in 2002.

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