National Columnist

Emails show Paterno legacy, Penn State officials should face reckoning

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Emails show Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier, here in '08, were long aware of Sandusky's abuse. (US Presswire)  
Emails show Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier, here in '08, were long aware of Sandusky's abuse. (US Presswire)  

Joe Paterno's statue has to come down. That's clear today, now that CNN has released emails that bury Paterno and his Penn State cronies with their own dirty words.

Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium has to come down, because otherwise Penn State would be celebrating a man who helped talk school officials into leaving Jerry Sandusky alone in 2001, letting an alleged pedophile escape detection for another decade, giving that alleged pedophile -- and it's not "alleged" anymore -- unfettered access to campus for another decade.

After the statue comes down, then what? Well, then his statue would be disposed of, possibly melted down into prison bars -- maybe the bars that will hold Sandusky. Or maybe someone could just toss Paterno's statue into a landfill, throw it away as easily as Paterno and his underlings threw away the lives of so many boys in their community.

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But that's not the only thing on my wish list after reading the poisonous details of the CNN story. After someone disposes of Paterno's statue, and I mean in the next few days, prosecutors need to pursue jail time for former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, who face perjury charges stemming from a 2001 grand jury appearance where they denied knowing about Sandusky's behavior.

That looks to be an outright lie. The CNN story seems to prove that, and not with words from prosecutors or police or unnamed sources. CNN has words it says came from Tim Curley and former Penn State president Graham Spanier.

As for Spanier, well, prison doesn't look possible for him. He hasn't been charged with perjury, and I'm not sure the immoral negligence and the despicable cowardice he showed a decade ago are crimes. So if Spanier can't spend time in prison, fine.

He can pay another way.

The civil suits are coming, and they probably will name Spanier along with Curley, Schultz, Paterno's estate and of course Penn State itself. Everyone should pay, but the first check must be written by Graham Spanier. It needs to have a one, followed by a lot of zeroes before he even thinks about writing the decimal. A million dollars? That's a start, but how much does he have? Sell his house. Raid his 401(k). Take the damn dentures out of his mouth and hawk them on eBay.

If that affects the next generation of Spaniers, denying them of the inheritance that would have been theirs, so be it.

Think of what Graham Spanier helped to deny the next generation of State College young men, 10 or more who were abused by Sandusky. Officially the count is 10, but few believe that's where the actual number lies. When it comes to serial offenders like Sandusky, the actual number is never as small as the one that comes out in court. For starters, that poor little boy in the shower in 2001? The kid that former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary said he saw being raped by Sandusky? Prosecutors never found that kid.

Penn State officials never even looked for him, even though they knew he existed in 2001.

They were too busy protecting themselves.

That CNN story is bad, people. It's so bad, I'm writing about this scandal again, for the third time in a week, and I didn't want to do it. I don't want to write it, you don't want to read it, most of us just want to do what those 10 victims and their families will never be able to do -- move on.

But how can we move on? Did you see what Paterno and his cronies did? Did you see what some of them wrote?

CNN found emails between Curley, Spanier and Schultz -- weeks after McQueary reported seeing that rape in 2001 -- that showed the Penn State officials deciding to do the right thing: They would confront Sandusky, they would speak with the folks at his Second Mile grooming grounds, and most importantly they would report the incident to the Department of Welfare.

If there was anything to stop in March 2001, by God, that would have stopped it.

But then they changed their mind. Why?

Because Joe Paterno got involved.

CNN found an email from Curley that said: "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved."

In other words, Curley still wanted to confront Sandusky, Paterno's longtime defensive coordinator. But call Second Mile to warn them Sandusky was using the charity to groom potential victims? Call child welfare officials to tell them of the predator in their midst?

Curley didn't want to do that. Not after "talking it over with Joe."

And Spanier, gutless cretin that he is, signed off on the new plan.

"I am supportive," Spanier wrote in an email obtained by CNN. "The only downside for us if the message isn't heard and acted upon, and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it."

Read that again.

The only downside for us if the message isn't heard and acted upon is that we become vulnerable for not having reported it.

Never mind the downside of another boy -- or 10 more boys -- being molested by a pedophile. That wasn't the downside that scared Spanier. What scared Spanier? That Penn State, and Penn State officials, would be "vulnerable."

This isn't Penn State now, but that was Penn State then. And that was so bad, it hurts. Do you have bile in the back of your throat as you read this? I do, as I write it. Men should go to jail for what happened in 2001, and not only Sandusky. Curley and Schultz do not deserve their freedom. Spanier does not deserve whatever happiness his money can buy.

Joe Paterno does not deserve a statue. Or his reputation as a good man.

The mask has been almost fully lifted, and I say "almost" because who knows? Maybe it gets worse.

Maybe it's bad enough. Maybe enough's enough. Time for the gloves to come all the way off. Time for the men in charge of Penn State -- living and dead -- to face their day of reckoning for the monster they let roam free in 2001.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. More importantly, he is 4-0 as an amateur boxer, with three knockouts. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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