One week after the final chapter in the Penn State child sexual-abuse scandal seemed almost complete with the conviction of the university's football team's retired defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse, emails have surfaced about the role of former head coach Joe Paterno.
These emails indicate Paterno not only might have remained quiet about Sandusky's behavior, but also might have actively tried to cover it up.
The email news broke just days after ABC News reported that Sandusky will likely be eligible to receive his pension in prison.
CNN reported it has seen emails between former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, and suspended athletic director Tim Curley from two weeks after a 2001 incident when assistant coach Mike McQueary saw Sandusky allegedly raping a boy in the Penn State locker room. (Sandusky was acquitted on this charge last week.) This incident took place three years after another one that involved Sandusky and a young boy in the Penn State showers.
In the email conversation, the three men initially agreed they should reveal the evidence to the Pennsylvania Welfare Department as well as officials at Sandusky's Second Mile Charity. Based on this new evidence, Paterno was against that idea.
After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps, Curley wrote in a message to Spanier and Schultz.
Although the emails allegedly never mention Sandusky by name (he's referred to as the person and the subject), hindsight makes it clear Sandusky is being discussed.
According to the New York Daily News, Curley expressed support for getting 'professional help' to the defensive coordinator. He also reportedly wrote, I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell[ing] them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation.
His change of mind was curiously timed. It took place just after discussing the sex abuse allegations with Paterno, who seemingly advised they ignore it. Spanier seemed aware of the risk they would be taking by not reporting the incident, although no source reports any emails where he is concerned about the welfare of Sandusky's guests.
The only downside for us if the message [to Sandusky] isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it, Spanier wrote, according to CNN.
Also from CNN, Since the scandal broke, Spanier, Schultz and Curley have publicly maintained McQueary reported only inappropriate conduct -- horsing around. The purported e-mails indicate the men could be at additional risk for not disclosing the matter to authorities. Schultz and Curley are currently charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse. They have pleaded not guilty.
In the shock that followed the initial revelation that he knew one of his subordinates was molesting young boys, Paterno had defenders. They are less vocal now, but it's hard to see individuals sympathetic to Paterno defending him against this evidence, which is obviously much more damning than that which has been made public previously. Dick Weiss of the Daily News writes that Paterno's legacy, once tainted, is now shattered.