Details in the Penn State sex abuse scandal continue to disturb, even after ex-assistant football Jerry Sandusky was convicted last week. Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 different boys, after apparently being shielded by Penn State officials for years.
Over the weekend, emails between the school’s former president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, and retired vice President Gary Schultz emerged, regarding a graduate assistant’s report that he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the team’s locker room in 2001.
The emails revealed that Curley and Schultz had originally intended to report the assistant’s allegation, but decided not to. Spanier told the pair that he was supportive of their plan, but feared they might “become vulnerable for not having reported it.” More than a decade later, Spanier’s worst fears have come true. Upon the public revelation of Sandusky’s sexual abuse Spanier was forced out of the university, as was longtime football head coach Joe Paterno before he passed away. Curley and Schultz are both currently facing criminal charges for perjury and failing to report child abuse.
It is said that Curley decided not to report the assistant’s claims after speaking with Paterno, leading to questions about the coach’s involvement in the cover-up. CNN specifically cited an email from Schultz to Curley on Feb. 26, 2001, 16 days after the graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, told Paterno about the apparent assault. Schultz suggests notifying Sandusky and his charity organization, as well as the Department of Welfare, which is responsible for investigating child abuse.
However, the next day, Curley contacted Spanier, saying that after considering that course of action and talking to Paterno, he was “uncomfortable” with that plan. “We would work with him. …. If not, we do not have a choice and will inform the two groups,” Curley said via email. Spanier co-signed, calling Curley’s approach a “humane and a reasonable way to proceed,” though he warned of the consequences. “The only downside for us is if message isn’t `heard’ and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it, but that can be assessed down the road.”
Just weeks after being removed from his position, Paterno passed away, adding to the Penn State tragedy. Accusations of the coach’s involvement will likely be limited, even as Schultz and Curley are locked in a legal struggle. They have a status conference for their case scheduled for July 11, and have asked for their charges to be dismissed.