Penn State’s Mike McQueary speaks out on sexual abuse scandal

November 16, 2011

Penn State’s wide receiver coach Mike McQueary, who was placed on administrative leave last week after the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal had already resulted in head coach Joe Paterno’s firing. He spoke to CBS briefly on Tuesday. As Cindy Boren reported:

Mike McQueary, the wide receivers coach who has played a central — if as yet uncertain — role in the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal, spoke very briefly with CBS News but offered no further explanation for what he might have seen Jerry Sandusky do to a child in 2002.

“This process has to play out,” McQueary told Armen Keteyian, who had asked McQueary when he would be willing to talk. “I just don’t have anything else to say.”

Asked to describe his emotions, he replied: “All over the place. Just kind of shaken.”

Keteyian: “Crazy?”

McQueary: “Crazy.”

McQueary told a grand jury that, when he was a graduate assistant in 2002, he saw Sandusky rape a young boy in a locker room shower. According to the grand jury report, he contacted his father and then coach Joe Paterno. He was criticized for his alleged inaction and, because of threats against him, was not on the field for Penn State’s game Saturday against Nebraska. He is on leave from the university.

Keteyian said that McQueary — making his first public comments, such as they were — told him off camera of concerns for his safety and for his coaching future.

Last week, his father, John, told the New York Times that McQueary was eager to tell his side of the story. “It’s not that he’s not willing,” John J. McQueary, his father, said. “I think it’s eating him up not to be able to tell his side, but he’s under investigation by the grand jury. He’ll make it. He’s a tough kid.”

The interview was the second in two days with a principal figure in the scandal. Sandusky was interviewed by Bob Costas on “Rock Center” on Monday night.

Armen Keteyian, the journalist who spoke to McQueary, is defending his decision to promote an exclusive interview that turned out to be less than 30 seconds long. As Dan Steinberg explained :

CBS investigative reporter Armen Keteyian has gotten no shortage of criticism after hyping an exclusive interview with Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary on Tuesday, which turned out to be a bland 24-second encounter. To give just two examples, Dr. Saturday called it “the most oversold interview ever,” while Awful Announcing collected the thoughts of disgusted reporters and wrote that it was “an embarrassment for the network, for the CBS Evening News, and for Keteyian.”

Well, Keteyian happened to be on with the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday morning, and he strongly defended the interview.

“Criticize or whatever you want, but I can tell you that my job is to stay on the story or in front of the story,” the veteran reporter said. “And if ABC or NBC or CNN or ESPN had that moment with Mike McQueary, they would have played it just like we played it.”

The story of how Keteyian wound up on McQueary’s porch was longer, but probably worth repeating.

“It was one of those things where a lot of little pieces had to fall into place,” he said. “It was hard to find Mike’s address. Josh Gaynor — who’s a producer here — Josh went up to the door. It turns out that it was the household we were looking for. Mike’s wife came to the door. We were just basically gonna leave our cards in hopes of talking or meeting with Mike in the future.

“And then when Josh saw Mike in the house, he welcomed me up to the house, and I went up there and we were able to convince Mike to come to the door. And he wanted to speak out on the porch away from his wife, and that gave us an opportunity to talk. And then I just said to him, look, we’ve got a camera here, would you mind if we at least documented the fact that I was at the house? And he said it was ok.

“And then I said you know, I have a microphone, can I ask you just how you feel? And he said ok. So those were the questions. And look, I could have gone in a lot of different directions, but I’ve done this a long time, and I know when to push the accelerator down and when to leave it off. And that was not the time to hassle Mike McQueary. And I just left with what I had.”

An e-mail sent by McQueary that was made available to AP included his insistence that he stopped the act that he saw in 2002, and that he reported the incident to all of the proper people. As AP reported:

The Nov. 8 e-mail from McQueary to a friend, made available to The Associated Press, said: “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.”

McQueary is a former player and current assistant coach who was placed on indefinite paid leave last week after school officials said he had received threats. E-mails sent to him seeking comment were not immediately returned.

He told the friend that he felt he was “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.”

The grand jury report issued Nov. 5, the day Sandusky was charged with 40 criminal counts for alleged sexual abuse against eight boys over 15 years, goes into considerable detail about the March 2002 incident. McQueary was putting sneakers into his locker late on a Friday night when, the jury said, he saw Sandusky having sex with a young boy.

He left, “distraught,” and contacted his father and then head coach Joe Paterno, jurors said. McQueary later met with athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz to describe what he had seen, the grand jury said. Curley and Schultz are charged with not alerting authorities to the report and lying to the grand jury. Paterno lost his job last week, but has not been charged and is not considered a target of investigators, state prosecutors have said.

More from The Washington Post

Why did Joe Paterno turn over house to his wife four months before Sandusky scandal?

Franco Harris fired for supporting Joe Paterno

Penn State and troubled priests: When adults fail a child in need

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