By Victor Thorn
STATE COLLEGE, Pa.—To illustrate the prolonged, ugly and incestuous protection racket that Pennsylvania State University (PSU) erected for over a decade, on January 11, 2012, former PSU linebacker Brandon Short cited two independent sources that saw Jerry Sandusky sitting in President Graham Spanier’s luxury box during Joe Paterno’s final game as a head coach at Beaver Stadium on October 29, 2011. A number of PSU Board of Trustee members sat alongside Sandusky in this suite.
Not only had Sandusky been busted over 14 years earlier for inappropriate behavior with a minor, minutes from a March 18, 2011, Board of Trustees meeting verified that current PSU President Rodney Erickson and former President Graham Spanier heard news that a grand jury was examining allegations against Sandusky. Moreover, Short also revealed that on March 11, 2011, Spanier discussed the grand jury probe with trustees. Yet, Sandusky still basked in Spanier’s privileged box despite him and others knowing full well of an ongoing investigation.
To make this situation even sleazier, Erickson—who took over as president following Spanier’s disgraceful firing—lied about when he first heard of the Sandusky charges. He initially said that he didn’t become aware until media reports broke the story in November 2011. “Nearly all individuals at the university, including me, were not aware of any of this until we read the grand jury presentment, so how would we have known?” he stated.
That was lie number one.
A few days later, Erickson flip-flopped, saying he actually read about the Sandusky grand jury investigation in State College’s local newspaper, The Centre Daily Times, (CDT) on March 31, 2011.
That was lie number two.
As minutes from the Board of Trustees meeting confirm, Erickson knew of the grand jury on at least March 18, 2011. However, it seems an extensive hush-hush campaign had been instigated, as trustee Ira Lubert complained on November 9, 2011, “He [Graham Spanier] should have told us a lot more. He should have let us know much more of the background.”
Here’s the bottom line: in the normal world, if someone is found in questionable pedophile predicaments on multiple occasions (i.e., 1998, 2000 and 2002, at a bare minimum), employers, institutions and co-workers immediately disassociate themselves from the party in question. After all, pedophiles are the lowest scum on any social scale. Yet, Sandusky still maintained an office at PSU, Internet access, a parking pass, and regularly worked out at an on-campus gym several times a week, right up until the time of his arrest. Worse, in 2007 Sandusky gave a commencement speech for PSU’s College of Health and Human Development. Then, at Joe Paterno’s (JoPa) final game, he sat in President Spanier’s luxury box with several other Board of Trustee luminaries.
In the normal world, a pedophile with repeated accusations against him who has been censured by their employer is blackballed and ostracized quicker than greased lightning. Unless, of course, he’s being protected, he has damning information on others in his circle, or he’s part of an extensive criminal network.
1998: The Tom Corbett Connection
To understand this scandal, one must revert back to when the initial cover-up began. In early 1998 Sandusky admitted to showering naked with an 11-year-old boy inside a PSU locker room. He also confessed to hugging the pre-teen and touching his genitals. Afterward, the child told his mother, “I don’t understand, mommy. I’m just a little kid. I know what he did was wrong. Why didn’t he?”
When the prepubescent boy’s mother grew increasingly troubled, she contacted authorities. At this point, according to Sara Ganim of Harrisburg, Pa.’s Patriot News on November 11, 2011, “Then-Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar set up a sting in the mother’s house. Sandusky had requested to meet with the mom, and Gricar had officers hide in another room and listen to their conversation.” PSU police detective Ronald Schreffler was one of those present at her residence on May 13 and 19, 1998, when the boy’s mother confronted Sandusky.
During these meetings, the woman asked Sandusky if he had touched her son’s ‘private parts.’ He replied, “I don’t think so . . . maybe.” He later broke down, “I understand I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”
Another wrinkle must be introduced to the equation. Four of Sandusky’s accusers—identified as victims # 4, 6, 7 and 8—all first made their acquaintance with Sandusky between 1994 and 1997 through The Second Mile (TSM). Coincidentally, the Pa. Attorney General (AG) from 1995 to 1997 was none other than Tom Corbett, who later became AG again in 2005 before being elected Governor in 2010.
Corbett claims he only learned of the Sandusky allegations in March 2009, yet he accepted over $200K in campaign contributions from trustees of the TSM (which Sandusky founded). In the quid pro quo world of politics, Corbett also re-released to TSM a $3 million grant after being elected governor in 2011. Now, analyze the timeline. Corbett says he learned of the charges against Sandusky in 2009, yet two later he’s forwarding a cool $3 million to them.
If that’s not enough, during his second term as AG, Corbett assigned only one—yes, one—state trooper to investigate the Sandusky scandal. Then there’s this tidbit from a January 25, 2012 Sports by Brooks column. “From the month he learned of the Sandusky allegations to the day he took office as governor, Corbett’s AG office issued 42 press releases touting hundreds of arrests by the Corbett-commissioned Child Sexual Predator Unit.” Strangely enough, Corbett’s crime-fighters didn’t mention a single word about Sandusky. Zero.
Adding the final insult, when Corbett presided over the Trustees meeting (via speakerphone) where JoPa was made into the sacrificial scapegoat to divert the media’s attention, he resorted to the most despicable of tactics. “Remember that little boy in the shower,” he told the Board. Now, when it was beneficial to him, Corbett miraculously cared about an abused boy’s welfare. Moments later, after Corbett had tugged at their heartstrings, the Board terminated JoPa as PSU’s head football coach, hanging him out to dry so that other guilty parties could be protected. Tom Corbett is a man without shame.
1998: Psychological Reports
On May 8, 1998, Centre County Child and Youth Services (CYS) assigned psychologist John Seasock to diagnose Sandusky after the PSU shower incident. Seasock recounted how the naked Sandusky “came from behind [the 11-year-old boy], made a large growl and gave him a large bear hug.”
One day earlier, on May 7, Dr. Alycia Chambers, a clinical psychologist, forwarded her observations of Sandusky to PSU officer Ronald Scheffler. She wrote, “My consultants agree that the incidents meet all of our definitions . . . of a likely pedophile’s pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch.” She added, “There was very little doubt in my mind Sandusky was a male predator, someone that was in the process of grooming a young man for abuse . . . I thought my report was strong enough to suggest that this was somebody who should be watched.” Chambers concluded by classifying Sandusky as “a likely pedophile.”
There is no wiggle room here. Once Chambers laid her cards on the table, no doubt remained whatsoever that Sandusky exhibited the characteristics of a predatory pedophile. There were no excuses for inaction . . . unless, of course, Sandusky merited protection from official sources in positions of power.
1998: PSU Chain-of-Command
To completely understand the concerted PSU cover-up, one needs to be aware of the chain-of-command in place at that time in 1998. Graham Spanier— subsequently fired in 2011—was President. Athletic Director Tim Curley was charged with perjury by the 2011 grand jury. Gary Schultz, the man in charge of campus police—later to become senior vice president of finance and business—was also charged with perjuring himself. The chief of PSU police that answered to Schultz was Thomas Harmon, who once lived three houses down from Sandusky in Lemont, Pa. Finally, the commander of campus police, Detective Ronald Schreffler, had Harmon as his supervisor.
So, after Sandusky’s 1998 shower incident with the 11-year-old boy, Harmon reported it to Schultz and kept, by his own testimony, in regular contact with him. The man closest to the case among those on PSU’s campus police force was Schreffler, who stated, “At the very minimum, there was enough evidence for some charges, like corruption of minors.” Schreffler was the man who hid in an adjacent room and heard Sandusky’s confession to the boy’s mother.
But, inexplicably, Centre County District Attorney (DA) Ray Gricar informed Harmon that he would not file criminal charges against Sandusky, notwithstanding the lurid details he gleaned from the sting operation when Sandusky made his confessions. Harmon subsequently closed the case and told Schreffler that there would be no further investigation. For his part, Schreffler claims that he spoke with Gricar, who provided no explanation for his decision. “You don’t question Ray,” Schreffler recalled. “Ray was not a person to be intimidated. If he didn’t feel the events were there . . .”
1998: Ray Gricar
As you’ll see, the entire Sandusky cover-up is rooted in the 1998 incident. Particularly, why did Ray Gricar make his determination not to file criminal charges? In a December 2011 article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reporter Paula Reed Ward wrote, “Mr. Schreffler speculates that the DA [Ray Gricar] declined to press charges because the State Dept. of Public Welfare didn’t indicate a charge of abuse.” Schreffler added, “It’d be a little hard for them to prosecute when you have the state saying there wasn’t any abuse.”
This information is crucial, but as you’ll see, it attempts to shift blame onto the state, and therefore is patently not accurate, especially in light of the two psychological examinations cited earlier by Dr. Chambers and John Seasock. Chambers, if you recall, clearly indicated that she felt Sandusky exhibited the characteristics of a pedophile.
But, remarkably, Seasock opined that Sandusky had not sexually abused the boy. Rather, as the CDT’s Mike Dawson revealed on March 29, 2012, Seasock felt that what happened was merely “the result of a routine that coaches like Sandusky do after a workout.”
The preeminent question is: Where did Seasock come from? Answer: PSU police hired him. Question number two: For whom did Seasock work? Answer: He was a paid consultant for CYS via a grant from the federal government.
Here’s where the PSU cover-up is fully exposed. On May 8, 1998, Seasock spent a mere one-hour with the 11-year-old boy after being given no background information or documentation on the case by PSU police. On top of that, CYS was the agency that licensed Sandusky as a foster parent, thus introducing a definite conflict-of-interest.
Anyway, Seasock determined that a naked Sandusky had engaged in nothing more than “horseplay” with the naked 11-year-old boy. In his report, Seasock used the word “horseplay” two times. Coincidentally, after the 2002 shower incident when coach Mike McQueary caught Sandusky with another naked boy, Athletic Dir. Tim Curley met with JoPa and likewise used the phrase “horsing around” to describe this grown man’s actions. It seems a buzzword or precedent had been started with Seasock’s peculiar use of words, ones that clearly tried to minimize wrongdoing.
Circumstances get even stickier. It appears that even though PSU police referred to Seasock as a “psychologist” in their reports, he was nothing of the sort in 1998. In fact, Pa. state records indicate that Seasock didn’t even become licensed as a professional counselor until January 2002. Worse, the only report provided to Gricar was Seasock’s—the one referring to Sandusky as merely engaging in “horseplay.”
Now, let’s put ourselves in Gricar’s shoes for a moment. Up until 1998 he had presumably heard nothing about Sandusky’s alleged pedophile activities. Plus, Sandusky was a legend—the architect of “Linebacker U.” that helped JoPa win two national championships. So, a report is laid on his desk that says nothing happened between Sandusky and the boy. On the other hand, Gricar did initiate a sting operation that indisputably provided enough evidence from Sandusky’s own confessions to justify an investigation. Yet, two days after receiving the Seasock report provided to him by PSU police, Gricar closed the case. Moreover, a writer for Harrisburg’s Patriot News went so far as to say that their sources believe Seasock’s report was the reason why Gricar didn’t proceed. But, Seasock wasn’t a psychologist, or even a licensed counselor in 1998. Instead, he appears to have been some type of ringer or plant.
At this stage, we need to bring another individual into the mix. Specifically, Jerry Lauro, an investigator for Pa.’s Dept. of Public Welfare (DPW). Lauro went on the record with NBC News saying that neither Schreffler—nor anyone else at PSU—ever presented to him Dr. Chambers’ incriminating report about Sandusky being a “likely pedophile.”
After the scandal broke in November 2011, Lauro told NBC, “Wow! This is the first I’ve heard of this [Chambers’ analysis]. I had no idea. If I [had] seen this report, I would certainly have done some things differently. Boy, this is a shock.”
As mentioned earlier, these statements put Schreffler’s explanation in an entirely different light. The state of Pa. didn’t cover up the affair, PSU did by suppressing the Chambers document and only forwarding Seasock’s bogus distraction report to Gricar. But there’s more. Although Lauro did interview Sandusky along with Schreffler, he told the Patriot News, “I remember my last conversation with [Schreffler] concerning him hiding in that room. He didn’t tell me details. All he said was, ‘There’s nothing to it—we’re going to close the case.’ I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m going to close my case, too.’”
PSU was at the crux of this cover-up, concealing vital information from both Gricar and Lauro. Furthermore, Karen Arnold—Center County’s Assistant DA—who should have handled any matters dealing with child abuse, was not permitted to proceed on this matter. On page 32 of a Pa. State Police report, Incident no. G07-1146135, Arnold described having an “extensive disagreement” with Gricar over the PSU investigation. In the end, Gricar—and Gricar alone in the DA’s office—made the final decision not to file any criminal charges.
Joe Paterno: 1999
Despite this extensive suppression of evidence, in 1999 Sandusky shocked Nittany Lion Nation by announcing his retirement at the age of 55. According to most sources in the know, Sandusky stood as the heir apparent to takeover JoPa’s post as head coach. Now he was gone.
Not only that, but PSU had formed plans to create a satellite football program at the Altoona, Pa. branch campus, with Sandusky spearheading the endeavor. All such talk quickly ended with Sandusky’s exit. The decision to “retire” Sandusky appears to have been JoePa’s, as Schultz testified before a grand jury. “Coach Paterno felt it would be best that he make a coaching change.”
To keep everyone in the dark, explanations were floated in regard to Sandusky’s apparent retirement: (a) Sandusky wanted to spend more time working with TSM, and (b) he was disgruntled that JoPa wasn’t stepping down sooner.
To the contrary, during Sandusky’s final season with the Nittany Lions, he was allegedly abusing victim #4 on a repeated basis, including at the Toftrees Hotel where team members stayed the night before home games. Also, its important to keep in mind that PSU police had compiled a 130-page file on Sandusky by this point.
But the real indicator that JoPa was well aware of Sandusky’s proclivities came at his coach’s retirement party. During a November 11, 2011 broadcast of Anderson Cooper’s 360 Degrees, sports reporter Corry Giger of the Altoona Mirror observed, “There’s every reason to believe that Joe Paterno knew a lot about those 1998 allegations. One interesting story is at Sandusky’s retirement dinner, there was a peculiar situation. Joe spoke very briefly, only a few words, a minute or so, only stayed at the celebration for a few minutes, and then left. It was very odd to many people at the time. No one really knew exactly why. You would think that Joe would have stayed a long time. But there was every reason to believe, looking back on all this, that Joe was probably disgusted by the 1998 allegations and just wanted to distance himself as much as possible from Jerry.”
Indeed, there could be no clearer indication that JoPa saw Sandusky as a complete scumbag and wanted nothing more to do with him. Regrettably, it must have burned JoPa to no end every time he saw Sandusky still roaming the hallways, using the weight rooms, and showering in PSU’s locker rooms. JoPa may have run PSU football, but there were powers far more influential that—for whatever reason—provided carte blanche privileges to a man that was widely seen as a child predator.
Mike McQueary: 2002
In 2002 assistant coach Mike McQueary alleged that one evening inside a PSU shower room, he caught a naked Sandusky in a compromising situation with a naked pre-teen boy. Since McQueary’s account has been widely documented, only one further aspect needs to be highlighted: Harmon revealed that his superior, Schultz, never once came to him with any of McQueary’s sordid claims. The cover-up at PSU continued.
However, by some accounts, McQueary remained in contact with Gricar following the 2002 incident and felt that the DA was investigating claims about Sandusky right up until the day he disappeared.
Seven months prior to when the Sandusky scandal broke, radio talk show host Mark Madden of WXDX-FM in Pittsburgh, Pa., penned an article on April 3, 2011 for the Beaver County Times. In the piece, Madden focused on the crucial 1998 incident, observing, “Did Penn State not make an issue of Sandusky’s alleged behavior in 1998 in exchange for him walking away from the program at an age premature for most coaches? Did Penn State’s considerable influence help get Sandusky off the hook?”
He continued, “In 1999, Penn State was rid of Sandusky. His reputation was unblemished, which allowed him to continue running a charitable foundation that gave him access to underage males [and] be a volunteer assistant with a high school football team, thus gaining access to underage males.”
Strangely, upon Sandusky’s “retirement,” he never coached at another college despite undoubtedly being recognized as one of the country’s premier assistants.
On November 11, 2011, Madden upped the ante during an appearance on Boston’s WEEI. Hosted by John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, Madden dropped a bombshell about Sandusky. “I can give you a rumor and I can give you something I think might happen,” he began.
“I hear there’s a rumor that there will be a more shocking development from the Second Mile Foundation—and hold on to your stomachs, boys, this is gross—that Jerry Sandusky and the Second Mile were pimping out young boys to rich donors [and] that was being investigated by two prominent columnists even as I speak,” Madden announced.
Filling in the final details, Madden stated, “I think they’ll find out that Jerry Sandusky was told that he had to retire in exchange for a cover-up. If you look at the timeline, that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? My opinion is that when Sandusky quit, everybody knew—not just at Penn State. I think it was a very poorly kept secret around college football in general, and that is why he never coached in college football again and retired at the relatively young age of 55.”
Adding credibility to Madden’s words was Dom Cosentino, editor of Deadspin. On November 10, 2011, after the scandal became public knowledge, Cosentino referred to a conversation he had with a Pittsburgh, Pa., journalist, who told him, “He [Madden] ain’t bluffing here. I know he’s confident in what he has. Separate his on-air persona with journalistic chops [and] Mark is a hell of a reporter. Don’t dismiss him.”
In the sports world, Mark Madden is known as a bombastic blowhard that loves the limelight. He’s brash, a loudmouth, an egomaniac, and a publicity hound. Cosentino even described him as a “professional troll.”
So, considering how Madden is attracted to controversy like moths to a flame, why did he suddenly go mute after making these original statements on the radio? This writer left at least a dozen messages on Madden’s answering machine, in addition to at least a dozen emails, all with no response.
It is this writer’s contention that, after blabbing about a far-reaching pedophile network at PSU and TSM, someone quickly paid Madden a visit, tapped him firmly on the shoulder, and threatened, “Listen, boy, if you utter one more word about a pedophile network, it’ll be the last words you ever utter.”
Mark Madden isn’t stupid, and he innately understood what was being told to him.
As previously mentioned, during Graham Spanier’s tenure as PSU president, the university hosted two events that drew incredible amounts of blowback. One, in November 2000, was called CUNTFEST: a Declaration of Independence. To promote this brouhaha, huge banners with the words CUNTFEST were hoisted from campus buildings.
The second, held only months later in February 2001, went by the name Sex Faire. Games at this gala included “Pin the Clitoris on the Vulva,” “Smut and other Great Literature,” plus “Orgasm Bingo.” In addition, a “Tent of Consent” allowed participants to engage in whatever type of consensual sexual activity they so desired.
One must remember that PSU is a state-funded university using taxpayer money. When enraged legislators—prompted by incensed citizens—asked Spanier if he thought these two events were immoral, he responded, “It depends on what your definition of immoral is.”
Oddly enough, Spanier publicly pronounced that he sought to make PSU the most homosexual-friendly university in America. Moreover, while serving as Chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Spanier requested that all faculty post pink triangles on their office doors in order to show their support for gay and lesbian students.
Creepier yet, one of Spanier’s personal associates at UNL was a man named Ronald Roskens [a past UNL Chancellor and President]. Roskens has been intimately linked to the notorious Franklin Scandal, and then received his termination notice after being photographed with young naked boys at his residence.
Gary Caradori, a private investigator that delved into Franklin, wrote of the circumstances surrounding Roskens’s firing. “I was informed that Roskens was terminated by the state because of sexual activities reported to the Regents and verified by them. Mr. Roskens was reported to have had young men at his residence for sexual encounters. As part of the separation from the state, he had to move out of the state-owned house because of the liability to the state if some of his sexual behavior was illegal.”
On July 11, 1990, after obtaining pornographic-pedophile photographs that would have irreversibly exposed Franklin, Caradori was murdered when his Piper aircraft exploded in mid-air, killing him and his eight-year-old son.
It goes without saying that the similarities between these acts of pedophilia in Nebraska show a close resemblance to the alleged Sandusky pedophilia scandal that Spanier helped cover-up at PSU. In this light, a question must be asked: Was Spanier brought to PSU because of his close ties to a far-reaching pedophile network in Nebraska? Was he the hands-on university president that oversaw what many in-the-know at PSU realized was a powder keg that could explode at any moment (and eventually did)?
On November 7, 2011, only two days after Sandusky headlines erupted across the country, Brent Goodwin—a former member of U.S. Naval Intelligence, a former Central Intelligence Agency field officer, and private detective—delivered a scathing expose on Graham Spanier.
Goodwin stated, “Spanier and Roskens are both ‘closeted’ gay men who are sexually aroused by young boys. They are classic pedophiles. Ronald Roskens has ties to former Franklin Credit Union president and convicted felon/child molester Larry King, as well as a long list of known pedophiles throughout the United States. Several of Spanier’s ‘military friends’ were recently charged in an international pedophilia scandal at the Department of Defense. Spanier and Roskens were also close friends and longtime associates of convicted child molester Dr. Daniel Schrein.”
Although Goodwin’s words are his and his alone, Roskens did work directly with Spanier at the UNL.
Oh, in case you’re wondering what happened to Spanier after being fired from his post as president of PSU, he announced on April 11, 2012 that he has a new employer: the U.S. federal government where he’ll be working in, of all things, national security. How convenient, especially since Spanier did such a stellar job protecting the ‘security’ of all those shower facilities on the PSU campus where Sandusky reportedly preyed on numerous pre-teen boys.
1) Why would PSU engage in such an elaborate cover-up for Sandusky rather than permanently cutting all ties with him (i.e., severing the cancer before it could spread any further)? After all, who in their right mind would want an alleged pedophile in their midst that had been accused multiple times?
2) Why did PSU afford Sandusky all of the many lavish perks heretofore mentioned?
3) Did Gricar harbor a bitter, ongoing resentment of the PSU football program due to being, at least partially, bamboozled by them during the 1998 incident? Is this why his nephew, Tony Gricar, stated that his uncle had had “a bitter taste in his mouth for the program, and it’s coach, and that was not much of a secret?”
4) Did PSU officials deliberately make JoPa a media target to divert attention away from what could potentially be much deeper and darker secrets?
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 50 books.