Mike McQueary: The Missing Link
There’s been relatively little said about the then-graduate assistant witness who reported the Sandusky abuse in the first place: now-assistant coach Mike McQueary. On Sunday, the Harrisburg Patriot-News identified McQueary as the graduate assistant who witnessed Sandusky engaging in acts of a sexual nature in a shower with a young boy in 2002.
McQueary told Joe Paterno the next day, then Paterno told Curley, and you know the rest. The question that holds JoePa’s fate in limbo is, why didn’t he go to the police if he knew what Sandusky was doing, especially after Curley let Sandusky get away with it? Paterno responded yesterday with a statement saying that McQueary had not given him the graphic details included in the grand jury’s report when he reported the incident. That’s all his statement mentions: “an incident.”
Joe Paterno is highly regarded as a pillar of moral integrity, and has been since well before I was born. I’m naturally inclined to believe what he says. But this whole scandal has rocked the University to its very core, and shaken it down so thoroughly that it calls everything about it that we hold dear into question, including our beloved Joe Paterno.
Mike McQueary is the star eyewitness in this case, and it rests with him to corroborate Paterno’s statement. Paterno’s fate is shaky right now, but knowing exactly what McQueary told him would clear up the uncertainty, no matter what it would mean for either of them.
But McQueary hasn’t said anything yet over the past couple of days. He’s declined comment in every media article released about the case and has yet to make any sort of comment or statement about the case or the involvement. But he’s the one we’re all waiting for to tell us exactly what he told Joe Paterno in 2002.
Maybe Paterno didn’t think that McQueary’s tip was credible. Maybe he thought that the graduate assistant he’d known for less than 10 years didn’t get the story right about the assistant coach he’d known for 30, especially if McQueary didn’t give him specifics, as he said. We won’t know unless he comes forward, and even if he does, we’re not likely to hear the whole truth.
That’s not to mention how traumatic it must have been for him, too. Not only did he witness the act, but he then had to recreate it for Paterno and Curley; if not out loud, then in his head while he told them. And he’s lived with that stark, haunting memory for nine years now.
There’s even more unease lurking beneath the surface with McQueary, too; he was in the same ethical position as Paterno, which has received huge amounts of media attention and buzz on the Internet, and therefore accountable now in the same way: When he saw Curley and Schultz failed to act, why didn’t he go to the police, either?
As a witness to the crime, he must have been in a state of shock and disbelief as well, to allegedly see a fixture of Penn State football in Jerry Sandusky violating a 10-year-old boy. Put yourself in his shoes: could you even believe your own eyes, let alone think immediately to go to the nearest police station?
We don’t know if he did, or if he didn’t; but more fittingly, McQueary went to his father, and then Paterno; people he must have trusted highly to confide such a fact in them. Not to say that McQueary is a victim of the crimes themselves, but, to see that happening all of a sudden must have taken a great toll on him. And then the courage to go and speak out against such an established Penn State figure: can you imagine how that conversation between McQueary and Paterno went, and how much McQueary must have been sweating? And in turn, might Paterno have had the same reaction as McQueary? Were the police first to cross his mind?
Nine years have passed, and no matter how traumatic a memory, what McQueary saw, and subsequently said, is crucial to fully understanding this case. With so much resting on a figurative wave of his hand, why doesn’t McQueary break his silence and fill in the blank once and for all?
If the grand jury presentment is true, and if the Patriot-News is correct in identifying him as the witness, then McQueary saw it happen. He holds the keys to this case, and what we find out about the actual incident flows through him. It’s McQueary who knows the most about what happened, and what he told Paterno, who now has the highest moral obligation to come forward and tell the entire truth.