November 7, 2011

Uncle Jerry’s Shower Room of Horrors: Bear Hugs, Soap Battles, and a Twisted Sex Scandal at Penn State

This story makes me feel dirty.  Not good dirty, like those old David Beckham underwear ads or Grady Sizemore’s coffee-cup cock shots.  But for real, I need to take a shower, this disgusts me, sort of dirty. On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Attorney General and State Police Commissioner issued a joint press release detailing an extensive grand jury investigation into reports of child sex abuse at Penn State University.  In particular, the 23-page Grand Jury report (“Report”) calls out three defendants, all of whom have been charged with multiple criminal offenses: 1) Jerry Sandusky, the former Defensive Coordinator for the Penn State football team; 2) Tim Curley, Penn State’s Athletic Director; and 3) Gary Schultz, Penn State’s Senior VP for Finance and Business, a position which includes oversight of the University’s Police Department.  To call the report explosive would be an understatement, because this scandal, in my opinion, has far greater consequences than the corruption found in Miami, Ohio State, Auburn, UNC, or any other program.  This report does not detail a school that cut corners for competitive advantage, but one that willfully and knowingly covered up morally reprehensible criminal activity on a massive scale.

Before we discuss potential consequences of the Report, we should first establish what allegedly happened. But please keep in mind that what we have here is one-sided; only the prosecution presents the facts in this type of legal proceeding, hence the old joke that a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich.”  Still, the facts in the Report, which uncover grave acts of sexual assault against “minor male children,” make my skin crawl.  Sandusky, who is accused of crimes while he worked for the “football team and after he retired,” is also the founder of The Second Mile, a charity and foster home he created in 1977 to help troubled boys.  
You see where this is going? We are only on Page 1. The next 22 pages detail eight victims in painstaking fashion, as well as how Penn State handled its own personal kiddie porn ring.  Be forewarned, this is not pretty.

Victim 1: When this boy met Jerry Sandusky, he was 11 or 12-years-old. “As with the remaining victims, Victim 1 only came to Sandusky’s attention during his second year in the program, when the boy attended The Second Mile’s camp on Penn State University Park Campus.”  (Report at 1).  So Uncle Jerry liked to prey off unsuspecting troubled young boys through the charity he created, great.  Once the two met, Sandusky began to see the boy on a “weekly” basis, planning sleepovers, inviting him to Eagles’ games, or giving him gifts like “golf clubs, a computer, gym clothes, dress clothes, and cash.” (Report at 2).  He took the kid everywhere, from restaurants to swimming pools to “church.” Yup, church (at least they went somewhere they could fit in).  When they had their little slumber parties, Uncle Jerry would visit the boy after he went to bed under the guise of “cracking his back.”  He would make the boy lay on top of him in the dark, and roll his hands up-and-down his back. This “became a ritual at bedtime.”  (Report at 3).  Back cracking eventually progressed to butt rubbing to intimate belly blowing to full-on mouth kissing.  After they hit the first three bases of disgusting underage sex crimes:
The boy was understandably skeeved out, so he started avoiding Uncle Jerry altogether in early 2008, when he was a freshman in high school.  Would this deter him? Nope! Uncle Jerry just became a volunteer assistant football coach at the boy’s high school and began contacting the school to arrange “afternoon meetings” in a “conference room” with the boy.  “No one monitored these visits.” (Report at 4). As a football coach, he had “unfettered access to the school.”  One night, however, a wrestling coach caught Uncle Jerry pinning the boy to a mat and reported his concerns to the principal.  The boy’s mother got involved and eventually Uncle Jerry was “barred from the school district attended by Victim 1 from that day forward and the matter was reported to authorities as mandated by law.”  (Report at 5).  And it was this involvement by the boy’s mother, back in 2009, that kick-started this entire investigation.  Still, between January 2008 and July 2009, Sandusky made nearly 120 additional phone calls to the boy.  He even tried to hit on one of the victim’s friends during an Eagles’ game; he tickled him and rubbed his knee.  (Report at 6).  While Michael Vick is a snake in the pocket, Uncle Jerry has a snake in his pants.  

Victim 2: This particular incident has exploded in the press, because Uncle Jerry not only fucked a little boy, he fucked Penn State, too.  “Welcome to Uncle Jerry’s Shower Room of Horrors.  Please drop your pants and stand against the wall.  When we want you badly enough at PSU, we put on the full-press recruitment which you are about to experience.” You know what? Let’s make this like the worst Choose-Your-Own Adventure ever. 

It is about 9:30 p.m. on March 1, 2002, the night before Spring Break.  (Report at 7). You are a 28-year-old graduate assistant, walking into the Lasch Football Building on University Park Campus.  Do you: A) put away your sneakers like you came here to do or B) take advantage of the empty gym and practice free throws naked?  You choose A, which I guess is a good thing, because the story couldn’t possibly get any weirder.  As you enter the locker room, you are surprised to see that the lights and showers are still on.  Your forehead crinkles in confusion as you then hear “rhythmic, slapping sounds” that you believe are “the sounds . . . of sexual activity.”  (Report at 7).  Huh, the night just got interesting.  Do you: A) peer around the corner, hoping to see a remake of Debbie Does Dallas, or B) get the fuck out of there and burn your ears with lit cigarettes? High on Four Loko and Adderall and feeling rather turned on, you choose A.  And instantly, immediately regret it.  Instead of dying, which you would prefer:
They both see you and at that point, you coward, you run away.  Holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck. What do you do now?! Do you: A) call 911 immediately or B) run back in there and put an end to the awful madness?! No. On the verge of tears, you call your dad. (Report at 7).  Dad tells you to get your ass home, and once there, he says, “Jesus Christ, we have to tell Joe Paterno about this, like stat.” So first thing the next morning, you go over to Coach’s house and relay the tale of terrible touching.  It is Saturday, and you are “very upset.” Coach Paterno then calls Tim Curley, the Athletic Director, and invites him over the following day.  He repeats your story to the AD.  About ten days later, you are called into a meeting with Curley and Vice President Schultz, who make you go through the whole thing all over again.  They promise you that the matter will be handled accordingly.  A few weeks go by and then you receive a phone call from Curley.  He tells you, “Don’t worry. We took away Uncle Jerry’s keys to the locker room and we reported the incident to The Second Mile. All is well here. Let’s just keep this between us. Best friends forever, okay?”  You notice that he doesn’t mention the police.  In fact, you don’t hear from anyone again, not the police or the football administration. That is, until you are called by the Grand Jury in December 2010.  (Report at 8).

Turns out, Curley claimed you never told him about the horrific anal sex that you witnessed; he said you only saw some “horsing around.”  He flatly denied, multiple times, that you ever mentioned sex was involved.  He did admit, however, that he shared your story with University President Graham Spanier, who then “testified to his approval of the approach taken by Curley.” (Report at 8).  You know, the approach that did not include the police or any other authority.  The President apparently thought it was totally cool that little boys were being banged in his locker room.  It seems that Vice President Schultz also forgot what you told him.  While he admitted being aware of a prior “child protective services” investigation involving Uncle Jerry in 1998, he did not recall anything specific about sexual activity in the locker room.  And although he oversees the University Police Department, he didn’t think it was necessary to tell them about your concerns.  Instead, he had the entire incident reviewed by Wendell Courtney, former counsel for the University.  Guess what?  Counselor Courtney ALSO represents, wait for it, The Second Mile.  (Report at 9).  Imagine that.  Uncle Jerry’s attorney for The Second Mile was also the attorney for Penn State University.  I didn’t think it was possible for this story to get any dirtier.  The whole merry band of losers failed to do anything about the incident.
The Report finds that no one enforced the ban of Uncle Jerry from Penn State’s locker room, and worse, that Curley and Schultz “made material false statements” to the Grand Jury.  Pursuant to 23 Pa.CS §6311, they had a mandatory obligation to report suspected child abuse and failed to do so.  (Report at 11-12).  In fact, in the recent press release, Attorney General Linda Kelly states that: “Despite this so-called 'ban', which was reviewed and approved by University President Graham Spanier without any further inquiry on his part, there was no effective change in Sandusky's status with the school and no limits on his access to the campus. Sandusky's 'emeritus' position, alleged negotiated as part of his 1999 retirement, provided him with an office in the Lasch Football Building; unlimited access to all football facilities, including the locker room; access to all recreational facilities; a parking pass; a university Internet account; listing in the faculty directory and numerous other privileges - he had remained a regular presence on campus." Victim 2 alone puts Penn State in more hot water than can ever be found in Uncle Jerry’s Shower Room of Horrors.  

Victim 3:  He met Uncle Jerry in 2000, when he was 13-years-old and going into eighth grade.  Sandusky invited him “home for dinner, to hang out, walk the family dogs and to go to Penn State football games.”  (Report at 13).  They would often go to the gym and shower together.  When Victim 3 chose a shower that was far away from Uncle Jerry, he would be guilt-tripped into moving closer.  Sandusky “initiated physical contact in the shower with Victim 3 by patting him, rubbing his shoulders, washing his hair, and giving him bear hugs.”  (Report at 13).  On a few occasions, Uncle Jerry’s erection even poked him in the back.  Just like with Victim 1, this boy had slumber parties at Sandusky’s house, where his back was rubbed and his genitals were touched.  He eventually started sleeping on his stomach, so Uncle Jerry could not access his special places.
Victim 4: According to Victim 3, Victim 4 was particularly close to Uncle Jerry.  This boy was “repeatedly subjected to Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and Indecent Assault at the hands of Sandusky.”  (Report at 14).  The assaults occurred on campus, in football buildings, and at Toftrees Golf Resort, where “the football team and staff stayed prior to home football games.”  The boy first met Uncle Jerry at a Second Mile picnic, when he was about 12-years-old; that first day, he was fondled in the pool.  Later on, in the shower room, Sandusky “initiated physical contact with Victim 4 by starting a ‘soap battle’ – throwing a handful of soap at the boy and from there, the fight turned into wrestling in the shower.”  (Report at 14).  This poor kid was like coach’s pet.  He was listed, along with Uncle Jerry’s wife, as a guest for the 1998 Outback Bowl and the 1999 Alamo Bowl.  He traveled with the Penn State football team regularly and shared the same team accommodations.  Uncle Jerry dragged him to golf outings and planned hotel trips, where he would perform oral sex, ejaculate, and probe the boy anally.  (Report at 15).  When Victim 4 resisted, Sandusky threatened to send him home from events. He showered him with gifts, like Nike sneakers and ice hockey lessons, to buy his silence.  He even promised the boy that he could be a “walk-on player at Penn State.”  In 1999, when the university had a sauna installed, it became Uncle Jerry’s venue of choice for his continued sexual assaults.  That May, Sandusky even cried to the boy after he was told by Joe Paterno that he would not be the next Head Coach of Penn State football.  (Report at 16).  Totally creeptastic. 

Victim 5: This boy met Uncle Jerry when he was only seven or eight-years-old.  We are dealing with a second grader here, a new circle of hell, so be warned.  Both he and Victim 6 were invited to a Penn State football game and personally driven to the field by Uncle Jerry.  (Report at 16).  Victim 5 went to 15 games, FIFTEEN, as Uncle Jerry’s guest.  Sometimes, the games were followed by a shower.  One time, the boy felt Sandusky watching him with an erection.  (Report at 17).  He felt uncomfortable, so he turned around.  The next thing he knew, Uncle Jerry was standing right behind him; when he tried to move away, he was pinned against the shower wall.  He could not escape.  Uncle Jerry then took his hand and “placed it on his erect penis.”  (Report at 17).  When the boy wouldn’t participate, he turned the shower off.  He was never touched again; he was also never invited to another football game. 

Victim 6: This boy also met Uncle Jerry when he was only seven or eight-years-old.  Sandusky used to invite him to Penn State games regularly.  One time, in 1998, the victim recalls that he was invited to work-out with Uncle Jerry.  After about 20 minutes, even though he “wasn’t sweaty,” he was forced to take a shower. 
When he was dropped off at home, his mom saw that his hair was still wet and freaked out.  She reported the incident to the University Police.  After a brief “investigation,” which also included another boy identified as “B.K.” who was “subjected to nearly identical treatment in the shower,” the matter was closed.  The boy’s mother consented to having phone conversations recorded by the police between her and Uncle Jerry.  On May 13, 1998, Mom confronted him and tried to make him promise “never to shower” with her son again, but Uncle Jerry would not agree.  (Report at 20).  She asked him if his “private parts” ever touched her son and he responded, “I don’t think so…maybe.” After the second phone call, on May 19th, the mother forbade him from seeing her son again.  He responded:
Still, the incident was closed. An investigator from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare interviewed Uncle Jerry wherein he admitted the inappropriate shower activity.  The investigator “advised” Uncle Jerry never to shower with a child again.  No further action was taken. (Report at 20). 

Victim 7:  In 1994, when the victim was about 10-years-old, Uncle Jerry invited him to a Penn State football game.  This MO is getting old.  They became so close that he was invited to Uncle Jerry’s son’s football games, to special sleepovers at Uncle Jerry’s house, and into Penn State coach’s meetings.  Sandusky frequently rubbed the boy’s thighs and “on more than one occasion . . . put his hand down the waistband of Victim 7’s pants.”  (Report at 21).  He used his whole back-rubbing-and-bear-hugging routine. But when the boy did not return Uncle Jerry’s advances, he did not hear from him again.  That is, until Uncle Jerry, Uncle Jerry’s wife, and Uncle Jerry’s friends all called him in the weeks leading up to his Grand Jury testimony. Sketchy bastards.  (Report at 21). 

Victim 8: This boy’s identity remains unknown.  (Report at 23).  But in the fall of 2000, Jim Calhoun, a janitor at the Lasch Football Building, observed a young boy being pinned against the wall, getting a blow job from Uncle Jerry.  He was so disturbed and upset that he immediately reported the incident to his superiors.  (Report at 21).  A fellow janitor, Ronald Petrosky, also witnessed a young boy, about 11 to 13-years-old, being led hand-in-hand by Uncle Jerry into the locker room that night. As the two janitors discussed what they had seen, Jim Calhoun started crying.
Although they were afraid of losing their jobs, both men reported the incident to their immediate boss, Jay Witherite.  No official report was subsequently made.  (Report at 23). 
*          *          *
The Grand Jury heard evidence from the victims, the victims’ families, witnesses who observed the abuse, University police and administrators, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Wefare, and the Office of Children and Youth Services, which established an extreme pattern of sexual abuse from 1994 through 2009.  As Attorney General Linda Kelly said:  "This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys.  It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys.”  Uncle Jerry, who was arrested on Saturday and released on $100,000 bail, now faces 40 criminal counts, from involuntary deviate sexual intercourse to aggravated indecent assault to unlawful contact with a minor to endangering the welfare of a child to corruption of minors.  He is looking at decades in prison and exorbitant fines.  The other two stooges, Curley and Schultz, have each been charged with perjury, as well as one count of failure to report under the Child Protective Services Law, and face up to seven years in prison.
 
Undoubtedly, this is one of the dirtiest, most cringeworthy scandals in the history of college sports.  From Uncle Jerry to Coach Paterno to AD Curley to VP Schultz to President Spanier, the perversion spread throughout Penn State, the whole sordid chain of command.  And it should have been handled long ago by umpteen different people.  Schultz acknowledged that he was aware of an investigation into sexual abuse as far back as 1998; he was intimately involved in the cover-up of 2002; and he did not testify (and perjure himself) until 2011.  So, Penn State knew that criminal sexual activity may have occurred on its campus for over a decade and did absolutely nothing to investigate it, let alone put an end to it.  Ridiculously, Penn State had the matter reviewed by an attorney who represented both the university and The Second Mile, Uncle Jerry’s foundation, and – shockingly! – no criminal charges were ever pursued.  They let a predator roam free, one who continued to target children AND who continued to use its campus as his private sex lair.  It is positively disgusting.  Even more ludicrous, the University, in a statement by Spanier, has called the Report “troubling” and lent its “unconditional support” to Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.  Sigh. Did they not learn anything from Ohio State’s “unconditional support” for Jim Tressel?  I mean, really. “If you can’t keep it in the pants, let’s keep it in the Penn State family.”  All of them – from Curley and Schultz, alleged criminals, to President Graham, and yes, even the legendary Joe Paterno – were complicit in the charade, the cover-up, and the criminality.  And all of them continue to hold their positions of authority.

In fact, the credibility of Curley and Schultz is indelibly tied to the credibility and culpability of President Spanier, leader of the whole fucking school.  If he decided that Uncle Jerry should be banned from the locker room, he also deemed that the matter, while serious, did not need to be investigated further.  The fact that he is still calling the shots is absurd.  In some cases, like with Victim 8, the school did not even bother to find out the name of the abused boy; in other cases, like with Victim 2, they did not follow up with the victim when they knew, for certain, that abuse had occurred.  Penn State’s apathy, from the President on down, is appalling.  We are not talking about steroids or free tattoos or bottles of booze or even cocaine; we are talking about the explicit and extensive sexual abuse of children. One of the most disgusting crimes that can be alleged. On campus.  There is simply no justification for failing to investigate or for looking the other way. 
If these allegations are upheld, Penn State will have no choice but to clean shop from top to bottom.  Curley and Schultz should resign immediately.  President Spanier should recuse himself from any involvement with the current investigation.  And whether Paterno should go, too, is a very fair question.  After years of clamoring from the alumni for his failure to recruit, amongst other things, it may be Paterno’s failure to report that acts as the final nail in his coffin.  Yes, he reported the incident to the Athletic Director, but is that enough?  Is that really good enough, does that relieve you from responsibility, when a group of underage boys are being regularly assaulted in your own locker room?  I cannot help but feel disappointed and disgusted with all of them, including Joe Paterno, who I otherwise respect greatly.  The sexual abuse of children is not something that should be tolerated under any circumstances.  Paterno may not have been under a legal obligation to act further, but as a role model for children everywhere, it seems that he had a moral responsibility to do something more. 

I don’t know what will happen.  After having knowledge for over a decade, it is about time that Penn State was forced to accept responsibility.  And after reading this, it is about time we all took a hot shower. Preferably, one without Uncle Jerry’s bear-hugs.

UPDATE: Curley and Schultz just stepped down.

3 comments:

  1. Pretty sick. hard to understand how Joe Pa thinks just telling the AD means he's all done. Tough, tough story, but it has to be told. This was a lot of work. Thanks.

    -MM

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  2. It just makes me so sad and sick thinking about this. I've worked at children focused organizations for the past four years and have learned that pedophilia and inappropriate touching ALWAYS starts with a back rub. ALWAYS.

    Thanks for sharing this horrible horrible story. Really well written. Those poor boys.

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  3. My father was a pedophile until i stabbed him to death.I spent 5yrs. in Spaford and 5 yrs.in NY State for killing the prick.I hope they kill that asshole when he gets inside but after they cut his dick and balls off.At least this guy didn't buy off the judge and jury like Michael Jackson did.

    ReplyDelete