Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Penn State report

There is a new Freeh report on the Penn State sex abuse scandal. One of its main findings is that Penn State "should have recognized the potential risk ... to the University's reputation." It also accuses the university of concealing facts "in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity". This seems contradictory to me. It is plausible that Penn State fully realized the risk, and was trying to avoid a public impression that the situation was worse than it really was.

Lawyer Tom Kline bragged on Fox News TV that the report is a "road map" for how he will collect millions of dollars in a lawsuit against Penn State.

I don't see a smoking gun. This report was held up until after Sandusky's conviction, so that it could refer to certain allegations as facts. But even if you accept the jury's findings, the most damaging allegation against Penn State is from McQueary about "victim 2", but the jury did not believe that and acquitted on that count.

The big issue is whether Penn State knew that Sandusky committed crimes. While lots of people argue that it should have been obvious that any man must be a child molester if he likes kids, starts a charity for boys, and writes a book titled, "Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story". But multiple govt investigations spent years on the case before bringing charges, and they only brought charges after McQueary changed his story and a couple of victims mysteriously had recovered memories. I think that McQueary is lying to save his own skin, and that Penn State officials are unlikely to have known about crimes.

This case is all about destroying Penn State football, and making taxpayers pay millions to lawyers.

Meanwhile in California, another alleged victim was not convicted because of a jury nullification:
Will Lynch, acquitted in the beating of a priest he says raped him as a child, won't face a second trial, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. ...

Prosecutors had argued that although they believed that Rev. Jerold Lindner molested Lynch and his 4-year-old brother in the mid-1970s on a camping trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains, his repugnant act didn't justify Lynch's "vigilante" attack. ...

Lindner, now 67, briefly took the stand in the trial to deny abusing Lynch before invoking his right not to incriminate himself. That has become the subject of a possible perjury charge, which Rosen's office said it is exploring.
The original allegation was never reported. In 1998, Lynch had a recovered memory of an incident in 1974 or 1975, and his family collected about a million dollars in a settlement. Some others also made allegations against Lindner, and collected monetary settlements.

We are never going to find out what happened in 1974. Even if Lynch were abused, he got paid off, and supposedly settled the matter. It is strange that jurors excused a revenge beating for a 1974 incident that cannot be verified. It is also strange for prosecutors to consider a perjury charge. Perjury means lying about a material fact. Both the prosecution and the defense stipulated that a molestation took place, so Lindner's testimony was not material to the case against Lynch.

I think that child abuse cases are the modern witch trials.

In other witchhunt news:
Federal civil-rights investigators interviewed dozens of George Zimmerman's friends, neighbors and co-workers, and no one said he was a racist, records released Thursday show.

FBI agents spread out across the state, talking to three dozen people, including gun-shop employees, Zimmerman's ex-fiancée and the Sanford police detective who led the investigation into the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old.

None said he or she had ever known him to show racial bias.
Since when do the feds go around digging for dirt on personal beliefs? It is not a crime to have some racist opinions. It should not be, anyway.

Update: Apparently racism thought is a crime in the UK. A soccer player was just on trial in London, as delicately described by the NY Times:
The case rested on whether Mr. Terry, who during a game last year used the word “black” when addressing Mr. Ferdinand in the midst of a heated exchange of insulting profanities, had meant it as a slur. ...

Mr. Ferdinand then tauntingly reminded Mr. Terry that he had, to paraphrase, illicitly slept with the girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, another player.

The court heard that Mr. Ferdinand enhanced his remark by making what Mr. Terry told the police was “an obscene gesture of a sexual nature,” whereupon Mr. Terry responded with a different gesture meant to suggest, he explained, that “Anton had bad breath.” ...

As the argument on the field became more heated, Mr. Terry at one point compared Mr. Ferdinand to male genitalia, and then to female genitalia, in consecutive sentences. ...

Mr. Terry does not deny that in the course of all this he used a racially offensive remark, inserting the word “black” between a rude adjective and a rude noun that had already seen a great deal of play in the exchange. But, he said, he was merely using the “rhetorical” device of repeating what he (mistakenly, it appears) believed Mr. Ferdinand had accused him of saying in the first place. He added that he often repeated other players’ insults back to them, as a matter of style. ...

The complaint that led to the criminal case was made not by Mr. Ferdinand but by an off-duty police officer who saw the game on television.

“Why not just say, ‘Anton, calm down?’ ” Mr. Penny asked.
This is crazy. It sounds as if the word "black" was the least insulting thing said. Is there something wrong with being black? Why do they take complaints from an off-duty cop watching TV?

Meanwhile, I am disturbed by a few more things about the Freeh report. Besides the above, you can get it at or

First, Penn State paid him $6.5 million. That is a huge amount of money to recapitulate info that almost all in the newspapers already.

Freeh claims that the report info is attorney-client privileged. [p.9, bottom] That means that he is concealing info in order to protect the interests of the client, Penn State. This is very odd, considering that the main accusation is against others who concealed info to protect the interests of Penn State.

The report complains about others not having a better conflict-of-interest policy. But the report leaves open the possibility that the lawyers who wrote the report will directly profit from their opinions by joining in lawsuits against Penn State.

The report brags about 430 interviews, but it did not interview McQueary, the only non-victim witness of abuse. Much of the report depends on McQueary's credibility. Why do we need Freeh's opinion, if all he has is the same conflicting McQueary statements that appeared in the newspaper?

As a sports writer points out:
Like other internal investigations, Freeh's was conducted under an imperfect set of rules for obtaining evidence and uncovering the truth. For one, those interviewed by Freeh were not under oath. Even if they knowingly lied, they could not have committed perjury or the crime of lying to government officials. While witnesses likely had other motivations to tell the truth, the absence of a legal threat is significant. This is especially true if witnesses had reasons to lie, such as to keep a job or preserve a public reputation.
The report reads like a one-sided lawyer's argumentative brief. There is very little recognition that there could be another side to the argument, that key witnesses could be lying, that supporting witnesses have incentives to lie, and that allegations may not be facts. The report might have been fairer if it got input from Joe Paterno's family.

I can only assume that this is the way the current Penn State management has decided is best to deal with their public relations nightmare. That is, make a dead man and a couple of others into scapegoats and let the taxpayers pay the damages.

1 comment:

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