Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Column: Did Joe Paterno Break the law???

Joe Paterno is out as head coach of Penn State.  I have a new column for Sports Illustrated on the possibility he will face criminal charges and tort claims.  Here's an excerpt:


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These inconsistencies related to Paterno's and McQueary's statements about "Victim 2" in the grand jury's statement of facts. According to the grand jury's findings of fact, McQueary detailed how in 2002 he saw a naked Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the showers in the Penn State football locker room. McQueary also testified that he told Paterno what he saw the following day, though it isn't clear from McQueary's testimony how explicit he was in his description to Paterno.
After hearing from McQueary, Paterno alerted athletic director Tim Curley. Yet instead of relaying what McQueary claims to have told him, Paterno conveyed a milder and vaguer description. Specifically, Paterno testified under oath that McQueary had said that Sandusky was engaged in fondling or "doing something of a sexual nature" to a boy.

To be sure, the phrase "doing something of a sexual nature" technically includes forcibly subjecting a child to anal intercourse, meaning Paterno may have been more evasive than untruthful. Then again, Paterno's hazy choice of words could encompass a band of sexual acts, from raping a 10-year-old boy to inappropriately touching or patting a child, that ranges too widely in heinousness to be deemed consistent with McQueary's allegedly more specific statements. The phrase unnecessarily imports ambiguity and generality where none had existed, and dubiously invites the listener -- Curley -- to assign a lack of severity to the incident. From that lens, Paterno appears to have told Curley a different account than what McQueary had told him.
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To read the rest, click here.