Louis Freeh and his colleagues have given The Pennsylvania State University a exquisitely detailed report, accounting for various administrative responses and non-responses beginning in 1998, when a parent first filed a complaint about Jerry Sandusky abusing her son with the police. Yet there is a much larger issue looming: Jerry Sandusky is a convicted serial pedophile. Serial pedophiles do not suddenly start abusing children after spending a lifetime of not-abusing children. In 1998, when the first complaint was filed, Jerry Sandusky had already been at Penn State for 29 years. The larger questions remain unanswered: When did Sandusky start sexually abusing children, who are the additional victims, and if there are victims prior to 1998, when did this abuse start happening at Penn State?
The evidence presented in the Freeh Report hints that Penn State officials were deeply worried by the 1998 compliant. As Gary Schultz’s notes from May 4, 1998 opine: “Is this opening pandora’s box” and “Other children?”(Freeh report, 2012, p. 20). Clearly, Schultz feared that this initial complaint was the tip of a proverbial ice berg. Why? What was rolling around in Schultz’s head that he actually put these fears in writing? The Freeh Report remains silent on these points.
So, Louis Freeh and his colleagues have done Penn State an enormous favor. They did not look for any possible sexual abuse by Sandusky prior to 1998, nor did they search for any administrative enabling/covering up of this abuse prior to 1998. The have four clear villains and one convicted sex offender who are the stars of the report–all recently disgraced. But the report is remarkably limited in light of what we know of serial pedophiles/child sexual molesters.
I find it hard to believe that Sandusky only started abusing kids in 1998, partially because he’s too crazy. Witness his bizarre interview with Bob Costas in the winter of 2011. Also please note his willingness to divulge the identity of Victim 2 to Tim Curley, the PSU athletic director. Victim 2 is the young boy Michael McQueary saw being sodomized by Sandusky in the Penn State football showers (Freeh Report, 2012, p. 24). And it was these charges linked to Victim 2 that were thrown out at Sanduksy’s trial, precisely because there was no identifiable victim. Ironically, it wasn’t because Sandusky was hiding that identity. Sandusky didn’t see his behavior as a problem, and so he was and remains stunningly open about it.
Consequently, I suspect Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing children in various venues long before the 1998 complaint. Second, I further suspect some of this abuse probably occurred on campus, and various university officials, across administrations, were aware of the problem–see Schultz’s note, and Sandusky’s remarkably flagrant behavior. And Paterno surely knew, since the Freeh Report notes, “Paterno was in control of the football facilities and ‘knew everything that was going on’” (Freeh report 2012, p. 51). Paterno’s own notes from 1998 indicate that he thought Sandusky was overly involved with The Second Mile, and could not be an effective coach (see Freeh Report, 2012).
Given my suspicions, I sincerely doubt we’ll see any significant cultural change at Penn State. Football remains king, with Joe Paterno, the documented liar and enabler of a pedophile, remaining as its patron saint. Furthermore, the entire State College region is economically dependent on football and has been–for decades. Football, more so than education, is the biggest business in the area. Until and unless the University and the surrounding communities are willing to radically examine the deep roots of this football scandal–and it is a football scandal–nothing will change.