Instead, McQueary left and called . . . his dad. McQueary was not a child, or an 18-year-old freshman. He was a 28-year-old, presumably of good health and strong build. Yet he walked away? When I was 28, I probably still called my dad if I had a perplexing question about my tax return, but if I saw a naked man raping a young boy in the showers, I would have dialed 9-1-1, pulled the man off the boy, incapacitated the man with a well-placed and much-enjoyed knee to the groin, and gotten the boy out of there.
Isn’t that what anyone in his right mind would do if he saw someone being raped? I certainly hope our world hasn’t fallen so far into the Slough of Despond that seeing forcible sex acts performed on a child isn’t something we shrug off. This is the sort of thing for which 911 was invented.
But for whatever reason, McQueary didn’t do those things, nor did his father call 9-1-1. Opportunity No. 2, wasted. Instead, they went to see Paterno the next day. Again, no phone call. Goodbye, Opportunity No. 3. And Paterno’s report up the chain of command was so unlike what the grand jury report says McQueary described to athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gray Schultz that it was like a bad game of Telephone. According to the grand jury report, Paterno described what McQueary told him as Sandusky “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.” The same report says McQueary described it to Curley and Schultz as “anal sex.” Maybe Paterno didn’t believe it; maybe McQueary wasn’t clear.
And that’s why Paterno is gone. Yes, yes, he followed the chain of command and reported the incident to his superior, as did McQueary, so he followed the rules. McQueary was later told, according to the report, that Sandusky’s locker room keys had been taken and the incident had been reported to Second Mile. This was Opportunity No. 4, in my opinion, because this was McQueary’s chance to make the call. It was clear no one had contacted anyone with actual authority. Might McQueary have lost his job? Yes. Is letting a child be raped and doing nothing worth a line on your résumé? I would say no. Wouldn’t you?
Evil flourishes when good men do nothing. And at Penn State, a lot of men — good or not — did nothing when one of the greatest evils imaginable was perpetrated against some of the most defenseless among us.
When the dust settles in State College and the board of trustees begins to rebuild the university hierarchy, I am sure it will institute myriad changes in an effort to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. The easiest would be this: If you see a crime being perpetrated, do not send it up the chain of command. Of all the stupid rules that were followed at Penn State, that was the stupidest.
Crime happens, even in a place called Happy Valley. Letting football coaches and college administrators decide how to deal with it is as ridiculous as letting campus security run the football program. If a simple phone call had been made nine years ago, there would have been repercussions, but nothing like we’re seeing this week. Joe Paterno would have retired with his reputation intact. And more important — so much more important — a lot of children might have been spared. Just by dialing three digits. Dear God, just three little digits.
Joe Paterno fired as football coach at Penn State
Thomas Boswell: Penn State Coach Joe Paterno reaches a sad conclusion
Lavar Arrington: This is not how it should have ended for Joe Paterno
Jason Reid: Trustees do what coach could not
Photos: Paterno’s career at an end
Video: Paterno speaks to crowd after firing