Tuesday, July 22

Patriot News: Part 3 of 9: Chapter 8, Not Anal Rape

When "anal rape" was an allegation in the Sandusky case it was repeated again and again.  When "anal rape" became an acquittal, it was subject to a media blackout.

Ray Blehar

The November 5th, 2011 grand jury presentment's statement that a young boy was "being subjected to sexual intercourse by a naked Sandusky" resulted in public outrage at Penn State.  Media broadcasts and newspapers repeated the story that McQueary had witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the PSU locker rooms for days on end.  

That media drumbeat resulted in Paterno and Spanier losing their jobs -- primarily because of  that single (inflammatory) allegation.

On November 11th, Sara Ganim, after meeting with her editors and local DAs,  began reporting the incident as an "anal rape" instead of the legal term Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse. Allegedly, this was to save "copy" in her columns.   However, her report about McQueary's report of an "anal rape" would be proven inaccurate about one month later.

The December 16th, preliminary hearing testimony of Mike McQueary proved the falsity of the Sandusky grand jury presentment’s statement that he had reported seeing Sandusky engaged in sexual intercourse with a young boy.  It also refuted the Patriot News (P-N) story that McQueary had  reported an “anal rape” to Paterno.

McQueary testified[1] that he never used the words “anal or rape in this since day one” in discussing the incident with Paterno.[2]   

The reports by the OAG and the P-N claiming that McQueary provided graphic details of that incident to Paterno caused a media firestorm and caused irreparable harm to PSU.  

The P-N's error was so egregious that it should have resulted in a front page correction and perhaps even an apology.  Those never came.  In addition, the P-N also never criticized the OAG for publishing that known falsehood in the grand jury presentment.  It was clear that the paper of record didn't care about accuracy in its reporting -- it was more concerned with sensationalism.

The McQueary incident, regardless of all the other facts in the case, was the whole “Penn State sex scandal” in the eyes of the public.  

And the P-N was not about to let the public know they got a major fact of the story wrong.

From November 2011 up until the trial, the public perception never changed because corrections were never made.  

The scenario remained: McQueary had seen a rape on PSU’s campus and that PSU had covered it up.   

The media likely expected that the Sandusky trial would prove the first half of that scenario.

Then it didn’t.

When the verdicts were returned, the jury did not believe Mike McQueary had witnessed a rape.  The charge of Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (IDSI) in the Victim 2 incident resulted in a not guilty verdict.  It was one of only three not guilty verdicts in the case, while 45 counts went the other way.

The incident – and more specifically, the allegation that inflamed the public against PSU resulted in a not guilty verdict barely garnered any “copy” in the first two days of the P-N’s post-trial reporting. 

Of the nine stories (list below banner at bottom) the P-N ran covering the trial verdicts in the two days following the trial, only one sentence in one story specifically addressed that not guilty verdict.  Sara Ganim’s column, titled, “Jerry Sandusky verdict: Guilty verdict met with rousing applause on courthouse lawn” contained this passage:

“His wife, Dottie, showed emotion only when the first not “guilty count” was read. It was for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse in the case of Victim 2 -- the assault assistant coach Mike McQueary says he witnessed in a Penn State shower in 2001.”

A story on the jury's deliberations ran on June 24, 2012 and cited the jury foreman Joshua Harper, who explained why the jury acquitted.   It was the only other story go further than to just list the acquittal. 

Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary testified about seeing Sandusky with a boy in the Penn State football building showers in 2001.

McQueary said he never actually saw penetration by Sandusky, meaning the rape charge would not stand. But after reviewing testimony, Harper said the close contact McQueary did see was enough to carry the day for indecent contact and three other counts.

Others in the media followed the P-N’s lead and simply repeated that Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 counts --  with no mention of the most important charge in the case resulting in an acquittal.   
As a result, many in the media and the public continue to believe the false story that McQueary witnessed and reported a rape to PSU officials.  

For an incident that caused a media firestorm when it was an allegation, it caused a virtual media blackout as an acquittal  

[2] http://www.dauphincounty.org/government/Court-Departments/CurleySchultz/12-16-Preliminary-Trial-Transcript.pdf, page 72 “I never used the term anal or rape in this from day one.”  Page 72, “Would you have ever used the term sodomy with Coach Paterno?” “No, never.”

Later this week: Chapter 7: The Corbett Cover-up

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Complete breakdown of charges | PennLive ...

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Victim 1's mom says 'I cried, I'm very happy ...

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Guilty verdict met with rousing applause on ...

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Sandusky found guilty of 45 of 48 abuse ...

Jerry Sandusky verdict: More on the 10 victims | PennLive.com

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Penn State wants to settle with victims ...

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Investigations continue of Penn State ...

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Gov. Tom Corbett commends the victims ...

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Penn State says, 'We accept responsibility ...

Saturday, July 19

What the Sandusky family statement doesn't say

The Sandusky family statement, through attorney Al Lindsey, doesn't say that Jerry Sandusky is innocent and reveals that Dottie Sandusky is in denial.

Ray Blehar

In response to Matt Sandusky's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Network, the Sandusky family released the following statement.

The family's statement that they never witnessed or heard of inappropriate behavior is a far cry from saying that Jerry Sandusky is innocent.  However, the fact is that the statement is untrue.

Dottie Sandusky admitted that Jerry told her exactly what happened in 1998 and, that when pressed by Matt Lauer, admitted that she would have considered it inappropriate if one of her children was hugged by an adult in the shower.

Lauer: One of the victims said he showered with him and hugged him. In the shower, while they were naked in the shower. Someone did that to one of your children and your children came home and told you that, wouldn't you think that's inappropriate?  That's hugely inappropriate.

Sandusky: I would. Yes, but.I would..I...I..I don't necessarily know that that happened. And maybe it did. Maybe Jerry said (trails off).

Next, while I can't speak for the rest of the family, Dottie is clearly in denial because she knew exactly what happened in 1998.  Her own words are below.

Lauer: Can you give me an example of something that he told you that he was truthful about that hurt? What were you referring to there?

Sandusky:  Gee that's hard to decide. To say. Of the...I can't really think of anything.  He told.. I guess..maybe it was the 98 incident.  He told me about that. He told me exactly what happened when that happened. 

However, I will agree that the statement "it is what we lived" reveals that at the time Sandusky's abuse was going on, the family was not likely aware of it.  Like the majority of people who knew Jerry Sandusky, they didn't believe he would be capable of such behaviors.  After the trial concluded, I suspect that some of the family realized that Jerry had committed crimes, although they may not fully believe all the victim's stories.

I agree with the final paragraph of the family statement.

There is no benefit to attacking Matt Sandusky because there is no way to disprove that he's a victim.  While many of the things Matt has said don't add up or make sense, even if someone was to somehow prove Matt was not abused, Sandusky remains guilty of many counts of child sexual abuse.  In addition, many Sandusky accusers/victims were never presented as witnesses at the trial.

Finally, I am in the same camp as many Penn Staters on the payment of victim settlements.  Matt Sandusky is not unique in that regard, as the University should not have paid anyone before its culpability had been established.  While it was explained that it was done for expediency and to avoid bad publicity, the fact is that bad publicity was going to continue as other lawsuits against PSU and the NCAA progress.

PSU has sued the Pennsylvania Manufacturer's Association Insurance Company because of its refusal to pay the settlements.  The policy in effect in 1992 and later excluded coverage for sexual abuse and molestation.  As a result, the $59.7 million in settlements was paid from University funds, according the PSU's 2013 financial statements.

At June 30, 2013, the University has accrued $59.7 million for 26 of 32 known claims, 24 of which have been settled subsequent to June 30, 2013. Such costs are included in institutional support within the consolidated statement of activities. Of the remaining six claims, two have been deemed to have no merit through the due diligence process. Without having knowledge of the number and nature of unknown claims and in view of the inherent difficulty of predicting the outcome of our remaining four known claims, each with their own unique circumstances that give rise to their alleged claims, and given the various stages of the proceedings, we are unable to predict the outcome of these matters or the ultimate legal and financial liability, and at this time cannot reasonably estimate the possible loss or range of loss. Accordingly, no amounts have been accrued in the 2013 financial statements for these claims although a loss is reasonably possible in future periods which could have a material adverse effect on our current and future financial position, results of operations and cash flows. 

In closing, Matt Sandusky's interview should be viewed as a reminder bad decisions made by the PSU Board of Trustees in agreeing to pay settlements.  By Matt's own admission, he was abused prior to anyone at PSU being informed about Sandusky's abuse.  It is truly puzzling why the PSU BOT would have entertained paying any abuse settlements for incidents prior to 2001, given that the University was told Sandusky did not commit any crimes in 1998.

Friday, July 18

Patriot News, Part 2 of 9: Chapter 9, The Pulitzer Prize

“We never lost sight of what the true story was. Sara and the staff kept focused on what was important.”
Patriot News Publisher, John Kirkpatrick

Ray Blehar

On April 17, 2012, the Pulitzer committee announced that the Patriot News (P-N) was the Pulitzer Prize winner for local reporting for its coverage of the “explosive Penn State sex scandal.”   The citation read:

“Awarded to Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff, Harrisburg, Penn., for courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky.”

The fact that the Pulitzer committee would refer to the scandal as the “Penn State sex scandal” was a reflection of the biased coverage by the P-N.  Had the paper of record honestly reported the facts of the Sandusky matter, it would have revealed a problem of much more significant scope that continues to endanger every child in Pennsylvania.  

In order to craft a false narrative of a “Penn State sex scandal,” the P-N’s Pulitzer winning coverage avoided any in-depth coverage of three significant issues in the child abuse investigation of Jerry Sandusky:

·         The Pennsylvania statute regarding child abuse reporting;
·         The practices and procedures for child abuse investigations; and,
·         The roles and responsibilities child protective services.

By not addressing these areas in its scandal coverage, the failures by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), Office of Attorney General (OAG) investigators, child welfare agents from the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), Centre County Children and Youth Services (CYS), and individuals from The Second Mile (TSM) charity, all of whom were responsible for protecting the children from Sandusky, were not made known to the public.  

P-N Publisher John Kirkpatrick’s statement that the paper “never lost sight of the true story” was nonsense.

The true story was never written.

In late November 2011, the P-N (inadvertently?) revealed that Sara Ganim had obtained the 1998 University Park police report early in 2011.  Evidence revealed she used it to break the story of the Sandusky grand jury investigation.  

When Ganim's reporting is viewed through the lens of her having knowledge of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, it becomes clear that she reported known falsehoods, obfuscated facts, and biased her reports to excuse the failings of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW).  In addition, P-N editor David Newhouse also avoided any mention of the 1998 police report when he described how Ganim "broke" the story.  Three of the paper's Pulitzer submissions contained falsehoods and/or inaccuracies related to the 1998 report.

The P-N submitted ten works to the Pulitzer committee for the judging of its coverage.  Each work varied in terms of accuracy and expertise; however, most of the columns contained errors that were obvious to anyone familiar with the details of the case.  Each of those stories should have been corrected and, in some cases, front page corrections should have been run.  However, as history reveals, the P-N has not corrected the vast majority of errors that plagued its articles.

The Pulitzer jurors [1], due to their geographic dispersion, likely worked from their understanding of the scandal based on national headlines, thus would not recognize many of the inaccuracies in the stories. 

A summary of each Pulitzer nominated story follows.  Please note that some of the errors cited in these stories are errors which the Pulitzer committee could have found if they had done a minimum of fact-checking.

A brief summary of errors, omissions, and biases for each story follow.

Story #1:   Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football staffer, subject of grand jury investigation March 31, 2011. Sara Ganim boasted the facts in this story "were 100 percent accurate."

Two errors regarding the date the Sandusky investigation began.
Error about when Aaron Fisher’s abuse began.
Error regarding who reported Fisher's incident to Clinton County CYS.
Omission of failures to follow interview procedures by police and child welfare.

Failures to call out the phony retirement of Jerry Sandusky from The Second Mile (TSM)
Failure to identify suspected abuse during TSM programs.
Lack of clarity regarding inflation of number of children served by the charity.

Dawn Daniels, the mother of Aaron Fisher, lashed out at Central Mountain High School more than she did PSU - headline was misleading.
Failure to identify child abuse reporting statute requirements.
Failure to identify failures of CMHS officials to protect children and ensure school safety.

Fabricated a “reporting chain” at PSU regarding the 2001 incident.
Published known falsehood of McQueary reporting an “anal rape.”
Failure to differentiate child abuse reporting requirements between PSU and TSM.

Incorrect date on the AG’s supervision of the case.
Incorrect time frame of  recovery of the 1998 police report.
Failure to prioritize investigative missteps.
Exaggerated role of Frank Noonan and additional investigators in finding victims.

Very little coverage about the TSM official - headline was misleading.
Article mostly focused on lack of transparency in management of TSM.
Did not make clear that Sandusky’s official retirement was a ruse.
Did not report that the charity permitted Sandusky to access children after his abuse finding.

Focused on insignificant relationships between PSU and TSM.
Excluded major business relationships between TSM Board and PSU.
Excluded naming many PSU BOT members who donated to the charity.
Wrote false narrative that PSU built its brand through TSM (opposite was true).

Repeated false story of  2004 kitchen table meeting of Paterno and PSU officials.
Claimed that Paterno “commanded a generous salary” when he was a very modestly paid coach compared to other major college football coaches.

Did not fully report all of the versions of Mike McQueary’s story.
No mention of how the child abuse reporting statute applied to individuals involved.

No mention of child abuse reporting statute.
No mention of requirements for a perjury conviction.
No mention of expunging unfounded abuse reports.

Go here to download the full analysis of each of the Pulitzer stories (33 page report).

[1] Sherry Chisenhall, editor and vice president, news, The Wichita Eagle (Chair)Nicole Carroll, vice president, news and executive editor, The Arizona Republic, Kevin Dale, news director, The Denver Post, Jane Hirt, managing editor, Chicago Tribune, John Winn Miller, publisher, The Concord (NH) Monitor, Debra Adams Simmons, editor, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH, William Snyder*, professor and chair, photojournalism, Rochester Institute of Technology

Tuesday, July 15

Tar Heel Times: Sara Ganim in another media scandal

H/T Alan J.

The UNC Saga: Anatomy of a media scandal

The following article is from guest author Thomas Eckerman, who received his B.A. degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and his J.D. degree from Tulane University School of Law.

Ever since one of the best sources in journalistic history fell into Sara Ganim’s lap and spoon fed her a Pulitzer for local reporting in the Sandusky scandal, Ganim has employed her unseasoned investigative skills to go whale hunting. Post Sandusky, Ganim’s first target was the University of Notre Dame regarding the Lizzy Seeberg matter. Since I don’t have a dog in the Seeberg fight and to avoid the recent fate of George Will, I will only say that Ganim’s fly-by reporting on the Seeberg matter was flimsy.
The next target of Ganim’s fly-by whale hunting was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ganim, like a heroin addict in search of her next high, was the perfect mark for Mary Willingham. Ganim’s CNN report featuring Willingham was a disgrace to even CNN. Rather than sending Ganim down to Chapel Hill, CNN could have saved money and just sent down a camera and tripod. Frankly, the camera/tripod combo would have asked more questions about the obvious falsehoods Willingham was spewing.

Willingham’s literacy claims about UNC athletes have been independently proven to be unequivocally false by three respected experts. It is nearly impossible to believe that she did not intentionally lie on her IRB application, and about the one paragraph paper she misrepresented on ESPN to be a student athlete’s final paper. The sundry list of her vacillating prevarications is so epic that a lengthy article could be devoted to them. Willingham appears to be a person who makes things up to support her agenda; so serious people do not believe what she has to say. That is why the attorneys in the O’Bannon trial and the U.S. Senate dropped her like a hot potato. Ganim continues to stand behind Willingham primarily through mindless tweets.

Sunday, July 13

Patriot News Preview

This blogpost is one of a 9-part series that will expose the lies and deceptions of the Patriot News' coverage of the Sandusky scandal.  I will be making releases between now and August 2, 2014.

Ray Blehar

I considered the review of The Patriot News’  (P-N) coverage of the Sandusky scandal to be a rather low priority in terms of importance in reviewing this case.   However, once I began reviewing its coverage, I realized that that the P-N was covering up information critical to understanding what really happened in the Sandusky scandal.  In a few instances, I found that the P-N deleted a considerable amount of information that was potentially damaging to Governor Corbett and The Second Mile (TSM) in its columns.  

While I am not certain when the P-N began deleting information, I suspect that it was some time after Kathleen Kane won the election as Attorney General and had made good on her promise to investigate the Sandusky investigation.

A blogpost I authored on August 21, 2012, titled “Mother of Victim 6: “This whole thing stinks so much more than we all know,” contained a link to a January 8, 2012 P_N column that published the mother’s quote and a lot of other information that raised questions about the Sandusky investigation.  When I clicked on the link a few months ago, I saw that the information I was seeking was missing.   I was able to track down a cached version[1] of the original article as well as find it copied on a blog.  Nearly 1,000 words were removed from the article that revealed evidence of foot-dragging on prosecuting and investigative missteps in the Sandusky case.

Similarly, Eileen Morgan asked me to find a quote made by TSM's Katherine Genovese, who revealed:  We’ve had to tell him to back off certain kids before.”  This quote was originally reported by the P-N on August 12, 2012, but was removed from an updated version of the column.   I was able to locate the full quote in an August 14, 2012 article by the Non Profit Quarterly as well as on about a half dozen blogs.  I later found the full article on a Yahoo blog and discovered 1,400 words were removed that were related to potential wrong-doing by the charity and the charity's ties to Governor Corbett.

While I didn’t review every article written on the scandal, I reviewed their Pulitzer winning articles and other articles related to the Department of Public Welfare, Centre County Children and Youth Services, the 2008-2011 investigation, TSM, and the Sandusky trial.  This analysis spans approximately 150 pages and contains 30,000 words.  In other words, it is meticulously detailed and contains references that prove the P-N's coverage obfuscated critical facts, was overly biased, was incomplete (omitted critical information), contained falsehoods and at least one outright fabrication

To be fair, I assessed the quality and accuracy of the writing based on the sources which were at the disposal of the authors at the time the article was written.  These errors should have been corrected by the editors before the article went to press.  It is also notable that when information surfaced that proved information in their past columns to be erroneous, the P-N did not make corrections.  

This review was very similar to other reviews I have conducted regarding the Sandusky case.  The more I  looked, the more I found.  And what I found was that the P-N used its power of omission (among other techniques) to promote a false narrative of a "Penn State sex scandal."