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McQueary says he halted assault in ’02

By Mark Scolforo, Maryclaire Dale and Genaro C. Armas
Associated Press / November 16, 2011

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A former Penn State graduate assistant cited by a grand jury report as claiming he saw an ex-assistant football coach sexually abusing a young boy in a campus locker room shower says in an e-mail he made sure the act was stopped and then went to police - contradicting what the report says.

Mike McQueary’s comments, in an e-mail made available to the Associated Press yesterday, appeared to add more confusion to a scandal that has enveloped the university and resulted in the firing of head coach Joe Paterno, the ousting of president Graham Spanier, and charges of perjury against the athletic director and a senior vice president.

McQueary, now the football team’s wide receivers coach, told a friend from Penn State that he made sure the 2002 shower assault he witnessed was stopped and went to the police about it. The friend made McQueary’s e-mail, written Nov. 8, available to the AP yesterday on the condition he not be identified.

McQueary, who has been placed on administrative leave and did not coach in Saturday’s 17-14 loss to Nebraska, wrote: “I did stop it, not physically . . . but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room . . . I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police . . . no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds . . . trust me.’’

Added McQueary: “Do with this what you want . . . but I am getting hammered for handling this the right way . . . or what I thought at the time was right . . . I had to make tough impacting quick decisions.’’

According to the grand jury report, McQueary testified that he spoke to his father and then to Paterno before speaking to athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz, who oversaw campus police. Paterno has not been charged with any crime, and state prosecutors have said he is not a target. Curley and Schultz are accused of breaking the law by not going to police but maintain their innocence.

McQueary’s actions also have been scrutinized, with some critics suggesting he didn’t do enough after witnessing what he said was the sexual abuse of a child. E-mails to McQueary from the AP were not immediately answered yesterday.

McQueary’s remarks in the e-mail to his friend came less than a day after former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s admission that he showered with and “horsed around’’ with boys stunned legal observers. Sandusky’s comments, they said, could be used by prosecutors trying to convict him of child sex abuse charges.

Experts in criminal law and crisis management questioned Sandusky’s decision to give a TV interview in which he said that there was no abuse and that any activities in a campus shower with a boy were just horseplay, not molestation.

“Mr. Sandusky goes on worldwide television and admits he did everything the prosecution claims he did, except for the ultimate act of rape or sodomy? If I were a prosecutor, I’d be stunned,’’ said Lynne Abraham, the former district attorney of Philadelphia. “I was stunned, and then I was revolted.’’

Abraham, who led a grand jury probe involving 63 accused priests from the Philadelphia archdiocese, was retained this week to lead an internal investigation of Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile, from which he’s accused of culling his victims.

Sandusky is charged with abusing eight boys over the span of 15 years. He told NBC on Monday that he is not a pedophile but should not have showered with boys.

“I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,’’ Sandusky said. “I am innocent of those charges.’’

When NBC’s Bob Costas asked him whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys, Sandusky replied: “Sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But, no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.’’

Sandusky apparently decided to talk to Costas by phone at the last minute, with the blessing of his attorney, Joseph Amendola, who was in the studio.

What was especially astonishing about Sandusky’s interview was when he stumbled over the question about whether he was sexually attracted to children, said crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall, who runs a Washington consulting firm.

“That may not be legal proof that he’s guilty, but it is certainly not helpful, to struggle with the question,’’ Dezenhall said.

The state grand jury investigation that led to Sandusky’s arrest followed a trail that goes back at least 13 years, leading to questions from some quarters about whether law enforcement moved too slowly.

The attorney general’s office declined to comment on the pace of the investigation.

Sandusky’s next court date is Dec. 7, when he is due for a preliminary hearing in which a judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for prosecutors to move forward with the case.