Fifteen Adults at Penn State Knew About Child Sexual Assaults, Rapes and Did Not Act

I am still processing and still in shock from the revelations coming out of Penn State this week.  And the more I learn, the more revolted I become.

Consider for example, that 15 adults at Penn State–15 individual adults, all men–either witnessed directly or had knowledge of rape, sodomy, and assault of children by Jerry Sandusky and either did not act or whose actions were for naught. These include 12 adult men who were in positions of power, some of them members of law enforcement,  who did not do anything to protect children raped and abused or to prevent other children from being raped and abused. I am trying to wrap my head around this.  I am not sure I ever will.  The Daily has a list of the 15 men, what they knew and when they knew it. 

They also have a timeline which indicates that reports were being made and investigations into Sandusky conducted as early as 1998 (perhaps earlier).  In 1998, for example, police listened in on a conversation between the mother of a victim of sexual assault, a boy with whom Sandusky took a shower, whom Sandusky “lathered up” and who then was “bear-hugged” by Sandusky. In the conversation, he admits to having assaulted this child. What do the police do? They tell Sandusky not to shower with boys. He says he can not promise not to do so.

It only gets worse–far worse–from there.  The list follows.


Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State University football coach who was in his 46th season, was fired by the school’s board of trustees Wednesday.

Graham B. Spanier, Penn State’s president since 1995, also was fired by the board of trustees Wednesday. He was told of the 2002 shower incident but did not report the matter to police.

Tim Curley, Penn State’s athletic director, is charged by the state attorney general with perjury and failing to report to authorities what he knew of the allegations.

Gary Schultz, Penn State’s senior vice president for finance and business, is charged by the attorney general with perjury and failing to report to authorities what he knew of the allegations.

Mike McQueary, Penn State assistant football coach, says he witnessed Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in the shower in 2002 and reported the incident to his higher-ups.

Jim Calhoun, a janitor who saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in 2000, suffers from dementia and is not competent to testify.

Ronald Petrosky, another janitor, was approached by a shaking and crying Calhoun in 2000. He testified that the janitors were afraid they’d lose their jobs if they told on Sandusky.

Jay Witherite, the janitors’ immediate supervisor, was told of the 2000 incident and left it up to Calhoun to report it.

Ray Gricar, formerly Centre County district attorney, investigated a 1998 claim about Sandusky acting inappropriately with a boy in the shower. He disappeared in 2005.

Ronald Schreffler, a campus detective, was told in 1998 to close the case on Sandusky.

Jerry Lauro, an investigator with the state Department of Child Welfare, interviewed Sandusky on the 1998 incident.

Thomas Harmon was director of campus police in 1998, when Sandusky was investigated.

Ralph Ralston, another campus police officer, worked on the Sandusky case in 1998.

Dr. Jack Raykovitz, executive director of The Second Mile, allegedly was notified of the anal sex incident in 2002.

Wendell Courtney was university counsel during the 1998 investigation and remains counsel for The Second Mile.


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  • ahunt

    Rape…just guessing here, but wondering what could have silenced the parents more effectively than…“you do realize what you will be putting your child through, right?”


    I do not understand any of this…but I do suspect the power of Mighty Men covering for their own…

  • rick88

    You omitted Mike McQueary’s father, John who was the first person he told of the abuse he witnessed, which makes it 16, and I highly doubt that they would have withheld this from Mrs. McQueary, that is, Mike’s mother and John’s spouse. Ditto the spouses of Paterno, Spanier, Curly, and Schultz. And if they did for fear of how these women would react, I can not even imagine how they are trying to explain themselves to their wives at the moment.

  • ahunt

    I dunno Rick… guessing that the “Cult of Manly College Sports” might preclude discussions like this.


    I can not even imagine how they are trying to explain themselves to their wives at the moment.


    Neither can I. 

  • johnfromberkeley

    Jodi wrote-

    “Consider for example, that 15 adults at Penn State–15 individual adults, *all men*”

    Were you trying to make a point about men in general? Because it sounds that way, but your point is not clear to me.


  • jodi-jacobson

    Thanks so much for your comments.  Rick… I was merely reporting on what had been documented — in other words, the instances noted above have been documented in regard to which persons knew of some form of assault/abuse/rape.  I have no doubt, as Steve Brown points out in his piece, that others probably had some knowledge/inkling/intuition of something clearly done wrong or something generally wrong with Sandusky’s behavior.  Certainly, it seems to me and I underscore this is speculation, like in so many such cases, Sandusky’s own family either were completely blind to what was happening or were in deep denial.

    John, thanks to for your note.  I did underscore “men” here not because I think men are more likely to withhold information of abuse, but I do think that in this instance, where you have a culture of male dominance and patriarchal attitudes such as are pretty standard in major college football programs, and where huge amounts of money and reputations are on the line, it is notable that preserving the culture and the “image” not to mention the money falls to a group of men whose reptuations all are on the line in that system.  They chose the mythology and the money over the children. This is my opinion.  I am not suggesting that women are never wrong, never make mistakes, never hide wrongs–clearly if the wives of these men also knew, they too were complicit.  But we can’t deny that college football–as much as I love my own college team–is also dominated by a patriarchal ideology that is self-preserving, sometimes as we see here, at all costs.


    Best and thanks for your notes.




  • rick88

    “…where you have a culture of male dominance and patriarchal attitudes such as are pretty standard in major college football programs, and where huge amounts of money and reputations are on the line, it is notable that preserving the culture and the ‘image’ not to mention the money falls to a group of men whose reptuations all are on the line in that system.”

    Perhaps, but I tend to the think the problem is less the Y chromosone but rather a knee-jerk tribal reflex to defend a culture within a society. Remember the horrific case of Cheryl Araujo, which served as the basis for the film, “The Accused”? She was a member of the Portugese-American community in New Bedford, Massachussetts who was gang-raped on a pool table while the male patrons cheered the assaulters on. But when the accused went to trial, did the Portugese-American women rise up in anger and disgust at their fellow Portugese-American men? Nope — they rallied to support them and derided Cheryl Araujo as a “slut.” Recently “60 Minutes” ran a piece on white female athletes who were raped on their campuses by black basketball players, who then received light punishments before transfering to other colleges to continue playing in their sport. Out of curiosity, I scanned the reaction to the piece on black media sites. What did the African-American women in these forums have to say? That the accusers were “slutty white bitches.” (And let’s not even talk about the Southern California chapter of NOW refusing to condemn the 1995 O.J. Simpson acquital because “he is a hero to the African-American community”).



  • jodi-jacobson

    I think we are talking about both similar and different things and actually your very salient points do not, I think, undermine the ones I have made here.  There is a “tribal culture” in sports, in the military, in many areas where strong bonds are formed between people for many legitimate reasons.  But the fact is that college sports are a tribal system largely of men, in which men are the revered heroes and women, if they are in the picture at all are the cheerleaders (both in reality and metaphorically).  I love sports: baseball, ice hockey, college baseketball, college football, and others.  But I have always believed that we have to examine the faults and problems with the tribal culture as much as we have to change these.  I do believe that the patriarchal “don’t roil the waters” culture is widespread and things like sexual harassment, rape, assault often are covered up or papered over or dismissed because the sports team comes first.

    That is a different issue than many of the things you describe below.  Women and men both still blame women victims of assault for harassment, rape, assault, and violence.  “She must have dressed provocatively,” “She is a slut,” “She must have encouraged it.”

    Here we are talking about Sandusky’s sexual assault of boys.  As another colleague asked yesterday, what would have happened if the victims had been girls?  We know that in Texas an 11-year-old was gang raped and many of the media reports focused on what she wore and how much makeup she had on.  I am as appalled writing this as I was when it happened.  We have a presidential candidate who literally is cheered for his inconsistent and increasingly unbelievable accounts of sexual harassment claims against him.  Women get blamed, girls get blamed.  And unfortunately, even women blame women.  Misogyny and patriarchy are intertwined.  One feeds on the other.

    There is an entire movement now, SlutWalk, of which you may have heard, that has come about in reaction to the blaming of women for sexual assault, rape, violence, harassment. The people leading this movement understand that women can be the perpetrators of patriarchal values that blame women as much as men can be the perpetrators.  So its not so much about the Y chromosome in my mind as it is about the patriarchal, tribal structures and the supposed invincibility and heroism of structures like the college football team at Penn State that is protecting itself and which first and foremost serves the interests of patriarchal values, in which women may participate but are still subordinate.



  • rick88

    When all the smoke clears and all the facts are laid bare, it will be interesting to see what this will teach us a society. So far, there is a lot in this story that doesn’t make sense. Overall, male sports fans and jocks are, and the sports world in general (talking about male sports) is, extremely — even violently — homophobic. Yet Mike McQueary, a former quarterback, didn’t stop the rape of a boy by an adult male when he saw it, much less demand an agressive prosecution afterwards. He is now in seclusion because of the death threats he’s recieved. Meanwhile, sports forums on the internet are exploding with comments, mostly from male football fans, that conflate “homosexuality” with “pedophilia.” While in Wales, Gareth Thomas might publicly come out as his career in rugby is coming to an end, don’t expect to see the same on American soil anytime soon with a still-active professional in a team sport.


    Would the greater involvement of women on the administrative level at Penn State, especially in the athletic department, made a difference? Perhaps. Still, it is worth remembering that the whole macho mystique of football is driven not just by the players and their male fans, but by the women on the sidelines who idolize the jocks on the gridiron. As it has been for decades, on campus, strutting, shirtless jocks lord it over sensitive nerds in terms of popularity with the opposite sex, and so far, nobody has come up with a solution for that.

  • dianetundra

    I appreciate the above discussion and agree with how this unfolding story has been characterized by Jodi. And I think there are many gradations for how patriarchal systems are manifested as well as participated in.

    One thing that causes me to wince is every time I hear the rape of the boy referenced as “…seen having sexual intercourse…”  or “…they were engaged in anal sex…”  it completely muddies the story.  Slowly, I am hearing more journalists use the term “rape” rather than the aforementioned, and I hope that continues.

  • sayna

    These are just my assumptions and I have no idea whether I’m right. I know women are just as evil as men, but I just can’t imagine a woman doing the same thing. I can’t see a woman running away or not telling anyone about seeing a child being raped. I don’t know if it’s that a woman might respond better because we’re in constant fear of rape ourselves or that it’s some maternal instinct thing, but… I just can’t see it happening. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s just an intuitive thing so it could just be my own prejudices.


    Plus, I don’t see how anyone can slut-shame a little boy. =/

  • rjw918

    It has been reported that Paterno did report what he ghad been told to the head opf the campus police force – a forc e with the full powres of all police in PA.

    It is ewrroneous to assume that if the Grand Jury report didn’t mention somethoing, it never occured.

    The cyper-rape of Paterno isn’t as disgusting as the rape of those boys, but it sure is ugly

    Yes, it is possible that Paterno is the cad that many people think he is, but at this point there are insufficient public facts to draw any reasonable conclusions.  

    I believe that condemnation of people without a full knowledge of the facts should be opposed

  • crowepps

    “The cyper-rape of Paterno”?  Really?  He is being criticized for failing to do his job ethically and for enabling a child sexual abuser.  Being criticized is in no way equivalent to rape.  Just in no way.  Your use of the phrase trivializes rape and it trivializes what happened to those boys.


    People don’t need public facts to draw reasonable conclusions.  They can depend on Paterno’s own statement, as referenced in this article:

    It was, and still is for some, absolutely impossible that our Joe Paterno, the Joe Pa beloved for generations, was capable of doing anything other than the right thing regarding anything resembling the Jerry Sandusky case.

    Except he didn’t; and he admitted that he didn’t. In a statement released Wednesday morning, Paterno told the world, “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.” That was all I needed to see to know that Paterno could no longer be affiliated with Penn State. When you admit that you “could have done more” regarding a case that involves the sexual abuse of any amount of minors, you have to go. It doesn’t matter if you’re (arguably) the most legendary figure in a sport or the manager of the local grocery store.

  • colleen

    I can’t see a woman running away or not telling anyone about seeing a child being raped.

    I can imagine one woman reacting in this manner. It is, for example, not uncommon for girlfriends, mothers and/or wives to protect and even enable  an abusive partner or son.  What I cannot imagine is 15 women breaking the law and exposing other children to more sexual abuse to protect (and enable) a serial rapist as these men did. Indeed I have no clue why these 15 men made the choices they made.


  • wildthing
    We know quite a bit more about sexual behavioral issues than to just get carried away by sexual hysteria and they are much better handled by professionals that are not part of a lynch mob. All the parties involved would benefit from dealing with these kinds issues in something other than sensationalist means and way that are less punitive and more restorative… our repressive sexual world culture is part of the problem. Humans should be able to relate to the reality of a body and its instincts including the lynch instinct better than this.
    War is a rape of one country by another but it illicits pride. The culture of force as a solution to problems. We also know that perps often have been assaulted or abused themselves.  The fact is the consequences turning someone in are so severe it dicousrages people from doing so because helping and treating problems is out today, we are moving to a military police state and social programs, other than faith based dogma drenched initiatives probably staffed by volunteers with little professional training, are going away fast such as they were..
  • colleen

    our repressive sexual world culture is part of the problem. Humans should be able to relate to the reality of a body and its instincts including the lynch instinct better than this.

    Whatever are you talking about? Rape has nothing at all to do with “the reality of a body and its instincts”. It’s not OK to rape children, it’s not OK to rape women. It’s not OK to rape anyone or anything and if you do rape others you belong in jail and on the sex offender list so that others can protect themselves. How’s that for reality?

  • crowepps

    You know, everybody is born with emotions and impulses like anger, greed, selfishness and lust, and the whole process of bringing up children to be civilized is teaching them to take responsibility for restraining those impulses so they don’t cause harm to others or disrupt society.  This person totally failed in that responsibility.


    The totality of your post sounds like a lengthy string of excuses for pedophiles: they’re victims too, they can’t help it, people are just prudes, lynch mobs, nobody should get excited, blah blah blah.   The consequences for someone who realizes they have unacceptable impulses and who goes voluntarily and gets help from a counselor BEFORE others are harmed are very slight.  It’s a whole different scenario when someone hurts a whole bunch of children FIRST, and only stops after he’s been caught red handed.  Being revolted by the fact that he deliberately sought out boys who were disadvantaged, established a relationship with them so that they would look up to him as a mentor, and then betrayed their trust and raped them has nothing to do with “sexual hysteria” and a great deal to do with the fact that a person who betrays a child’s trust for his or her own sexual satisfaction is too morally bankrupt be trusted living free in society.


    Why are you trying to minimize rape?  Why are you defending the rapist?

  • julie-watkins

    they’re really not even bystanders. Brings to mind a rant from a friend. The situation was apparently much less serious but she was on a committee and the chairman was Absolutely Sure it was All a mistake, and was standing by his friend, and was on the verge of making an official statement in support and the group was sure it would soon be sorted. My friend (& probably others) had to go basically nuclear to get the chairman to shut up. I got the impression that other people were inhibited from speaking because chairman was being so insistant, or interrupted at the second word or whatever. My friend (& maybe others) had to really cite chapter & verse repeatedly just to get the Chairman into a sullen silence. And there were hard feeling she was unapologetic about. The chairman was all set — on no personal evidence and a lot of counter evidence — to do right by his friend to the point of making guarenttees in the names of others. Logic absolutely didn’t work. She was rather freaked about it.

  • maryp

    None of the people who knew acted as a normal human male should act when the young are abused.  Makes you wonder about the culture of Penn State.  Thank goodness for the mom who acted. As for facilitating abuse, Planned Parenthood does it all the time by aborting children of  children raped by adults, often their own relatives.

  • prochoiceferret

    As for facilitating abuse, Planned Parenthood does it all the time by aborting children of  children raped by adults, often their own relatives.


    When has Planned Parenthood ever “aborted” children?


    Do you suppose the state highway system also facilitates abuse, by giving abusers a convenient means by which to travel to their victims?

  • purplemistydez

    Basically mary is ok with raped children being forced to give birth.  Just as evil as rapist forcing themselves on the victim.  Taking the victims bodily autonmy is disgusting.

  • jennifer-starr

    So, maryp, you think that a raped child or an incest victim should be forced to give birth?? And you don’t think that’s cruel? Personally I think it’s horrible to force a child to go through that. 

  • jennifer-starr

    Some of these ‘pro-lifers’ seem to be under the impression that the child must be forced to continue the pregnancy because it’s  ‘evidence’ against the rapist–and they don’t even seem to realize what a truly sick idea that is.  

  • purplemistydez

    Just like the story about the 10 year old giving birth prematurely because of health issues.  An aborted fetus can see be used as evidence by doing a dna test just like a baby can.  Requiring a child to go through a pregnancy devalues the child.  All for the damn fetus that may or may not live. 

  • jennifer-starr

    Imagine explaining to a child that age why her body is changing, her clothes won’t fit–why she feels sick and why she can’t go outside and run around with her friends like she used to, climb trees, go to dance or gymnastics class, etc. Imagine a child going through labor pains and potentially life-threatening complications.  I can’t even imagine what that woud feel like, particularly after a trauma like a rape has already stolen away so much of your childhood. The thought makes me queasy. Little girls should have baby DOLLS, not baby babies. 



  • colleen

    As for facilitating abuse, Planned Parenthood does it all the time by aborting children of  children raped by adults, often their own relatives.

    Right, because forcing your pregnant 9 year old to carry your husband’s child to term is not child abuse at all. No sirree, not a  tiny bit.