General Question

flo's avatar

Penn State: Why are the officials who knew and did nothing not prosecuted?

Asked by flo (11804points) July 26th, 2012

Why is it only Jerry Sandusky the only one to go to jail, and not the higher up individuals (I know Joe Paterno is dead) who knew but did nothing as well? Is that odd?
The NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacating of all wins dating to….” Is that odd? Why do they get to escape jail time?
Re.the quote above from an article, I changed the word “vacation” to “vacating”.

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46 Answers

flo's avatar

I just missed my edit time. I meant not prosecuted. I hope everyone got it from the context.

CWOTUS's avatar

For “jail time” a criminal conviction is necessary. I haven’t followed the case closely enough to know whether the District Attorney is considering criminal charges against others who may have been accomplices or who may have actively attempted to cover up the Sandusky crimes. If the DA can make a case, the I would expect a case to be made. But Sandusky’s prosecution (and conviction) had to occur first. You wouldn’t prosecute accomplices to any crime without first prosecuting and convicting someone for the principal crime, would you?

The NCAA doesn’t get to levy criminal convictions or jail time no matter how high its high horse is.

flo's avatar

@CWOTUS I think he got convicted unless I’m wrong.

All I hear is the damage to the name of the University not the victims so much by the way.

wundayatta's avatar

There are going to be civil suits against the university filed by the victims. The officials at the university are also going to be prosecuted. These things will happen in time. Read the Philadelphia Inquirer today if you want information on what is happening to the university counsel.

Rarebear's avatar

Because I don’t think that their inaction is a crime.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Inaction if you know a crime is being committed can be a crime in some states, especially with minors involved. But this wasn’t inaction, it was a coverup. Their asses should have been nailed to the wall. Now the entire University and it’s students are going to pay. All for a bunch of ballless wonders.

filmfann's avatar

Papa Joe didn’t “do nothing”. He reported it to his superiors in the Deans Office.
Proving that he believed nothing would happen by doing that would be something to see.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@filmfann You don’t think he should have done more? He knew this guy’s raping kids. You want that on you.

YARNLADY's avatar

In most states it is a crime for an educator (or anyone else) to not report child abuse.

PhiNotPi's avatar

The NCAA is not a government body, and violating its rules is not a criminal offense. Becuase of this, they cannot sentance people to jail.

zenvelo's avatar

@filmfann Joe Paterno (he was no Papa) arranged for Sandusky to have the run of the Athletic Department after his “retirement” and did not take action after Sandusky was off the staff. All Paterno cared about was his legacy and his contract.

There are and will be investigations for possible criminal charges now that an unrepentant Sandusky has been convicted.

JLeslie's avatar

I was going to say what @YARNLADY said. What I don’t know is if the administrators at the top fall into the same category as educators, I would think they do k-12, but not sure at the university level. Maybe even professors at the university level don’t come under the same laws of having to report a crime of abuse?

Aethelflaed's avatar

Gary Schultz, Tim Curely, and Graham Spanier probably will all face charges, but there’s still a good amount of investigating going on.

@JLeslie Spanier, Schultz, Curely, and Paterno were all mandatory reporters, and all discussed that they were mandated to report in emails, but decided it would be “more humane” to simply talk to Sandusky about the problem and not report.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed Thanks for that info. I didn’t read much about the case. Whether they were mandatory reporters or not they are horrible people. At minimum they should have told the parents! Forget punishment, just simple protection of the children. But, to really protect children in the future the law would need to eventually get involved.

Buttonstc's avatar

In general, the regulations regarding who is considered a mandated reporter and associated penalties for failure to report differ in detail from one state to another.

But I taught in Pa. for a number of years and I can state that there is absolutely no question that Spanier and his cohorts (as officials and staff of an educational institution) are consideted mandated reporters by the State of Pa.

Upon being notified by Paterno, they were required to immediately make an oral report by telephone followed by a written report within 48 hours. There is no wiggle room on that.

It specificaly states that they were not allowed to make an independent assessment of the accuracy of the report as an excuse for failure to report. They were REQUIRED BY LAW to report. No it’s ands or buts.

That is clear and specific. So they are guilty, without question, of failure to report to the Dept. Of Child Welfare.

However, what is less specific, unfortunately, is the precise legal penalties for their inaction. All it says is that they may be subject to fines and/or jail time.

But this case is so egregious and the inaction and failure of such long standing, that I think it would cause such public outrage if they only got a slap on the wrist regarding jail time.

I’m sure that the Pa. legal system is aware that the eyes of the world are watching and trying to unobtrusively sweep it under the rug just won’t fly.

At least that’s what I’m hoping.

But there were so many officials in the RC Church who got away with systematically covering this up for decades and never saw a day in jail so….

Buttonstc's avatar


I must admit to a slight bit of surprise at your response.

You, as a medical professional are also in the category of mandated reporter should you ever encounter a child whom you have reason to believe has been physically or sexually abused.

At least that’s true of Physicians, medical personnel and Emergency care providers in ever state that I know of.

Obviously you aren’t the perpetrators of the abuse (in the same sense that Spanier and the others were also not the abusers themselves) but still have a legal responsibility to report, as they did.

Are things different for your state?

I realize that some medical professionals dealing almost exclusively with adults would hardly ever be faced with this; but I guess I was assuming that it was standard knowledge similar to knowing about HIPPA laws. But maybe not.

chyna's avatar

@Buttonstc There was a case here where a doctors son was abusing his 2 year old child. The doctor had treated the child on several occasions and did not report it. Eventually the child died and it all came out. The doctor was tried and lost his license and put on probation for not reporting child abuse.
So I do think the officials that knew what was going on at Penn State need to be tried also. I feel they had a duty to protect those children and didn’t.

Buttonstc's avatar

Absolutely they did. No question about it. And even tho he “technically” reported it, so did Paterno.

Lets face ir, realistically speaking, he had more real power at Penn State than even Spanier and the head of the Athletic Dept. If he had put his foot down and demanded a thorough investigation, it would have been done and kids would have been protected.

Is there a doubt in anyone’s mind that if the last name of one of those kids had been Paterno, things would have been vastly different in outcome? So just because these poor kids weren’t blood related, they deserved no protection? Disgusting.

Buttonstc's avatar

So the Doctor was merely put on probation? Gee that sent a wonderful message, didn’t it ?

chyna's avatar

The details were horrific. The doctor said a dog bit the child’s scrotum among other lies. He deserved a long prison sentence. He finally told the truth to avoid prison. His son did get a lengthy prison stay.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
flo's avatar

@JLeslieMaybe even professors at the university level don’t come under the same laws of having to report a crime of abuse?” I hope that is not the case.
If a janitor or anyone with any other job description saw it, he/she is supposed to report it as a human being. We’re supposed to stay at the scene of a crime by law, so…

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo We have emails of the 4 involved in the cover-up mentioning that they knew they were mandated to report, and that there could be repercussions if they failed to report.

flo's avatar

@Aethelflaed I am reassured that they will be prosecuted. The woman who hacked into her children’s report card to upgrade it got how many years? let’s hope they get a lot more than that. EDIT: According to District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Debbie Garlicki, Venusto could face up to 42 years in prison or a $90,000 fine if convicted.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo I never thought about it as being something you can be prosecuted for, I think of it more as something you can lose your license.

I don’t know anything about laws regarding scenes of crimes? Most states you can’t be charged with anything if you don’t help someone, maybe all states I don’t know the laws well. I would have figured that extends to leaving a crime scene also? Or, do you mean people who are required to report crimes and not the average person?

flo's avatar

@JLeslie “crime of an accident” is what I meant and that is for the person involved in the accident. Anyway whatever it has been so far, I think things should change. It would be inexcusable for Spanier, Schultz, Curely not to be prosecuted. For them to merely lose their their licences would be criminal.
In the middle of @Buttonstc post
“However, what is less specific, unfortunately, is the precise legal penalties for their inaction. All it says is that they may be subject to fines and/or jail time.” “Jail time” seems right to me, otherwise it is like endorsing the concept that we should be humane to the perperator: @Aethelflaed‘s permalink…but decided it would be “more humane” to simply talk to Sandusky about the problem and not report.”

JLeslie's avatar

@flo I don’t want to change the subject, but what about the parents of children who were molested by Priests and took hush money and never brought it to the authorities? They let it happen to other children. They probably thought they were protecting their children from the horror of reciting what happened and dealing with the law. Often people choose to not report. Women, adult women, choose to not report when they are raped. I think intentions get all screwed up. I think it should reported, don’t get me wrong. I think wanting to bury this sort of information because of the “team” the “school” reputation, etc, is horrible, and I would guess it is at play.

flo's avatar

@JLeslie The example you gave ”...took hush money and never brought it to the authorities? They let it happen to other children…That is a hard one, because “_they probably thought they were protecting their children from the horror of reciting what happened and dealing with the law.” (the ones unlike Toddlers and Tiarra parents)
Women, adult women, choose to not report when they are raped.” And men/boys too. Those senarios are entirely different. They can be excused for feeling like they can’t report. They are the victims of jokes about rape for example. That is very different from being motivated by the crazy notion of being humaine to the perpertrator. Actually they probably were protecting their names for not being competent enough etc. not so much being humaine to the criminal. they can’t possibly have thought that really and truly.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo You don’t think some of those Catholic parents cared about protecting the church? The church image. I think there are some similarities.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’d encourage anyone who is interested to actually read the Freeh Report that most of what is said here is based off of.

There is an executive summary that starts on page 13 (the whole report is very long) that breaks down what they actually know and what is being pieced together. Some things stated as fact in the news were never stated as fact in the actual report they’re basing it off of. A best guess has a way of not going as far at criminal trial.

It’s also worth noting that the coverage of the story changed significantly throughout the time it’s been in the news and this report is the total evidence seen through the lens of knowing for a fact that Sandusky is a child molester. The people involved at different times either didn’t know, should have known, or eventually did know, but didn’t have the benefit of certainty that we have now to judge their actions by.

flo's avatar

@JLeslie If parents saw it happen, or learned about it from a reliable source, and did nothing they should be held responsible too. Protecting the church is wrong too. It can’t be an excuse to continue allowing their children to be abused. The trio at Penn protecting their own careers their own names, the Universities name, is all money related.

@funkdaddy what about the email exchange that says they should be “humaine” to the criminal? They did have certainty. Also, speaking of certainty, what about Toddlers and Tiarra parents, and everyone else involved in that crime?

JLeslie's avatar

@flo How does Toddlers in Tiaras come into the discussion? I’m confused.

flo's avatar

@JLeslie You mean we haven’t heard of a case where a parent was caught molesting etc.? Okay you can ignore that part for now if you want.

JLeslie's avatar

Huh? Still confused.

flo's avatar

@JLeslie The show, parents say yes to perverts and potential perverts thinking (and acting on it) of children sexually. They girls acting like burlesque etc.
Not the best example of a video though.

Buttonstc's avatar


I think it’s confusing the issue slightly to conflate LEGAL responsibility WITH MORAL responsibility.

The issues of Catholic parents accepting settlements and also Toddler and Tiara-type parents are in the category of MORAL responsibility (unless there is actual sexual molestation on the part of a parent).

But the discussion regarding the Penn State officials has now shifted focus to their LEGAL responsibility since they themselves were not sexually abusing children and Sandusky himself as the perpetrator has been declared guilty in a court of law.

It’s obvious that Spanier and his cohorts had a moral responsibility to these kids (which they abandoned in favor of money) but the question remains about what LEGAL penalties they should incur.

According to the Freeh report, there is no question that the abuse had been reported to them by Paterno and by extension, Mike McQueery as the eyewitness.

According to PA. STATE LAW, at that point they were LEGALLY REQUIRED to report to the State Child Welfare Dept.

It does not matter whether they had all the facts or even if they had doubts about the validity of the details of the incident.

The law is clear that because of their professional capacity (as school officials) they are deemed as mandated reporters. They don’t have a choice. They are legally required to make a report of any incidents of child abuse of which they are made aware.Clearly they did not do this. It doesn’t matter what excuse they give.

That part is clear. So they broke the law in that regard and there is no excuse.

What’s not that clear is what their penalty for breaking that law will be.

But they haven’t even been officially charged and tried yet. But there is no way they can avoid a trial (other than a plea deal) since they have broken a clear legal statute.

I’m hoping that their penalties will include real jail time as well as fines to send a clear message to other schools and officials. But that remains to be seen.

flo's avatar

@Buttonstc But I’ve been saying Penn State people should be charged. That is my OP about. I brought up the Toddlers and Tiarra as an aside, because I’m finding it hard to believe it can exist, and how are the parents are not considered unfit by CPS considering your instinct as a parent is supposed to be “Don’t even think of thinking of my child in sexual way! They are doing the opposite of that ! “Hey you all you perverts! please do think of my child in sexual way!

JLeslie's avatar

@flo As much as I don’t like 5 year olds glammed up and put on display, I can’t agree that parents are asking for their children to be seen in a sexual way. No matter how skimpily dressed and how much hair and make-up a child has on, I feel very sure my husband doesn’t see a 5 year old as a sexual object. Those parents are letting the kids “dress up.” I don’t see how that is the same as allowing grown men to actually touch children, molest them. Are you going to go with if a girl dresses a certain way she is asking for it? Don’t get me wrong, I think we need to be aware of how we are perceived in how we dress, but it doesn’t give anyone license to touch anyone.

Buttonstc's avatar

The main distinction I was trying to make was that parents and others who are not participating in child abuse are not mandated reporters in the same way that school officials, medical personnel etc. are.

We may think these parents worthy of arrest but there isn’t any legal basis for that, particularly in the case of the Catholic parents who accepted settlements and kept their mouths shut. They are not legally classified as mandated reporters. Educators are.

I think that’s why JLeslie was finding some parts of this confusing. So I merely tried to clarify the distinction between parents and educators regarding LEGAL responsibility.

There are still people out there who think that the Penn State guys aren’t legally responsible because Sandusky was the only one doing the actual molesting of children.

But that’s legally incorrect because they can be charged under the mandated reporter part of the law. They do vary from one state to another but in PA. they are classified as mandated reporters. Period.

Parents are not. Regardless of which state they live in.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc I do understand the difference between being a mandatory reporter and not. I think the discussion got off track slightly because @flo was talking about alay person’s obligation to report a crime, or stay at the scene of a crime, which I had never heard of before. Then I brought up the Catholic parents as an example of people who don’t report crimes, who are not obligated to legally. And, also as an example of how morally it can become difficult.

Buttonstc's avatar

You’re right, of course. I was just trying to get this back on track.

And just because the Penn State officials have not yet been charged doesn’t mean they won’t be eventually. There really is no way to avoid it.

I’m just uncertain how stiff will be the penalty since the law, as currently written, doesn’t specify in any detail.

I’m hoping that the fact of the worldwide media spotlight being on it will ensure that the eventual punishment will fit the magnitude of this crime.

flo's avatar

@Buttonstc I brought up Toddlers and Tiarra as an aside. ”We may think these parents worthy of arrest but there isn’t any legal basis for that…” , And my point is, how is it not illegal considering this is 2012, and not hundreds of years ago, and this is U.S, not like parts of the world where people live in abject poverty and where the children are abused/exploited in all kinds of ways including sexually.
@JLeslie You have a major blind spot on this topic. Having them lose their licence doesn’t not correspond with the magnitude of this crime. After losing their licence people can go on to start a business, like a dollar store for example.
2) My post went: “Hey you all you perverts! please do think of my child in sexual way! You brought up your husband. What does your husband have to do with it? I was referring to the molesters who happen to be audience members of the show. It is sick to have a child dress up like that (con bra…) dance and act like that (burlesque) even in the privacy of one’s own house.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo You thing pedophiles are not sometimes attracted to young girls with no make-up, hair pulled back in a pony tail in an innocent, modest school uniform or other modest clothing? My point bringing up my husband is normal men do not see young girls as sexual objects no matter what. They can be naked, and most men would not find a 5 year old to be sexual. It horrifies me to think it.

I am not sure why you bring up poverty, because there are bad people at all levels of income.

Are you saying you think an average person should be able to be brought up on charges and go to jail if they turn a blind eye to possible abuse? I like to think an adult would report a suspicion, and especially report if they know for sure something has happened, but have them able to be prosecuted for failing to report? Sorry, no.

I don’t have a blind spot. You seem to not understand how these things work. And, not be able to understand there can be grey areas. Everything is not always black and white. If these other people at Penn State were well aware of what was going on, more than a suspicion, then I think they should have some sort of legal penalty for covering it up and pushing it aside. Some sort of fine or jail time, not sure.

I wonder if any parents did know what had happened at Penn State and did nothing?

flo's avatar

@JLeslieI was referring to the molesters who happen to be audience members of the show.” You brought up “my husband” again, and “normal men” Why are you bringing up normal men and your husband?

Toddlers and Tiarra parents TV channel et al, are sick,sick, sick. It is child abuse, the parents are using the children as slaves. “Toddlers and Tiarra is a paedophiles feast” to quote someone. It prepares the children not recognize when a criminal is doing inappropriate thing to them. The Jerry’s of the world are happy that it is there unless they are trying to stop, There is nothing grey about it.

JLeslie's avatar

We obviously are not communicating well. Let’s just forget it.

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