A FORMER PENN State graduate assistant cited by a grand jury report as claiming he saw an ex-assistant football coach sexually abusing a young boy in a campus locker room shower says in an email he made sure the act was stopped and then went to police — contradicting what the report says.
Mike McQueary’s comments, in an email made available to The Associated Press yesterday, appeared to add more confusion to a scandal that has enveloped the university and resulted in the firing of head coach Joe Paterno, the ousting of president Graham Spanier and charges of perjury against the athletic director and a senior vice president.
McQueary, now the football team’s wide receivers coach, told a friend from Penn State that he made sure the 2002 shower assault he witnessed was stopped and went to the police about it.
The friend made McQueary’s email, written on 8 November, available to the AP on Tuesday on the condition he not be identified.
McQueary, who has been placed on administrative leave and did not coach in Saturday’s 17-14 loss to Nebraska, wrote: “I did stop it, not physically … but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room … I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police …. no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds … trust me.”
“Do with this what you want … but I am getting hammered for handling this the right way … or what I thought at the time was right … I had to make tough impacting quick decisions.”
According to the grand jury report, McQueary testified that he spoke to his father and then to Paterno before speaking to athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz, who oversaw campus police. Paterno has not been charged with any crime, and state prosecutors have said he is not a target. Curley and Schultz are accused of breaking the law by not going to police but maintain their innocence.
McQueary’s actions also have been scrutinised, with some critics suggesting he didn’t do enough after witnessing what he said was the sexual abuse of a child. Emails to McQueary from the AP were not immediately answered Tuesday.
McQueary’s remarks in the email to his friend came less than a day after former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s admission that he showered with and “horsed around” with boys stunned legal observers. Sandusky’s comments, they said, could be used by prosecutors trying to convict him of child sex abuse charges.
Experts in criminal law and crisis management questioned Sandusky’s decision to give a TV interview in which he said that there was no abuse and that any activities in a campus shower with a boy were just horseplay, not molestation.
“Mr Sandusky goes on worldwide television and admits he did everything the prosecution claims he did, except for the ultimate act of rape or sodomy? If I were a prosecutor, I’d be stunned,” said Lynne Abraham, the former district attorney of Philadelphia. “I was stunned, and then I was revolted.”
Abraham, who led a grand jury probe involving 63 accused priests from the Philadelphia archdiocese, was retained this week to lead an internal investigation of Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile, from which he’s accused of culling his victims.
Sandusky is charged with abusing eight boys over the span of 15 years. He told NBC on Monday that he is not a pedophile but should not have showered with boys.
“I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,” Sandusky said Monday on NBC News’ “Rock Center.” ”I am innocent of those charges.”
When NBC’s Bob Costas asked him whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys, Sandusky replied: “Sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But, no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”
Sandusky apparently decided to talk to Costas by phone Monday at the last minute, with the blessing of his attorney, Joseph Amendola, who was in the studio.
What was especially astonishing about Sandusky’s interview was when he stumbled over the question about whether he was sexually attracted to children, said crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall, who runs a Washington consulting firm.
“That may not be legal proof that he’s guilty, but it is certainly not helpful, to struggle with the question,” Dezenhall said.
The state grand jury investigation that led to Sandusky’s arrest followed a trail that goes back at least 13 years, leading to questions from some quarters about whether law enforcement moved too slowly.
The grand jury report detailed a 1998 investigation by Penn State police, begun after an 11-year-old boy’s mother complained that Sandusky had showered with her son in the football facilities. Then-District Attorney Ray Gricar declined to file charges.
Another missed opportunity came in 2002, the grand jury said, when then-graduate assistant McQueary told Paterno that he had witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a boy in the team’s showers.
The case apparently took on new urgency three years ago, when a woman complained to officials at her local school district that Sandusky had sexually assaulted her son. School district officials banned Sandusky from school grounds and contacted police, leading to an investigation by state police, the attorney general’s office and a grand jury.
Gov Tom Corbett took the case on a referral from the Centre County district attorney, Michael Madeira, in early 2009 while he was serving as attorney general.
Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with sexually abusing eight boys in a scandal that has rocked the university. (AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Andy Colwell, File)
Maderia said he referred the report to state prosecutors because of an “indirect connection” to Sandusky’s family, but he declined to specify his tie to the Sandusky family.
Corbett bristled Tuesday when asked whether it was fair for people to criticize the pace of the probe.
“People that are saying that are ill-informed as to how investigations are conducted, how witnesses are developed, how backup information, corroborative information is developed, and they really don’t know what they’re talking about,” he told reporters.
The attorney general’s office declined to comment on the pace of the investigation.