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November 10, 2011

11
A.M.

Joe Paterno firing: Q&A with Tracee Hamilton

Total Responses: 68

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Tracee Hamilton

Tracee Hamilton

Tracee Hamilton has worked at the Post since 1993, toiling in office obscurity as an editor before someone said, "Hey, you've got a lot of opinions and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from genealogy to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there were a Jayhawk who once flew off a ski jump, she'd know where he was buried.

Her list of pet peeves is considerably longer, but includes Missouri basketball and poor Metro etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

First Things First Archive
Tracee Hamilton Column Archive
Q.

victim

Let me tell your readers this: As I was driving to work yesterday, I tried to listen to the story about Sandusky and Paterno's FAILURE to protect the raped boys. I could not; I began to choke on tears. My feelings went back to my own rape at the age of eight and the FAILURE of anyone to respond to my pleas, fifty years ago. I thought, another rapist gets protected. I lost half my life as I was forced to supress my hurt. I had admired Paterno since his rise at Penn State. All that admiration washed away when I heard about his failure to protect these boys. He was wrong in his failure. He was wrong in his decision to complete the year. He should have stood up, like the man I had thought he was, and owned his failure. He did not. The board was right to fire him. And I admire them.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I am so sorry for what happened to you, but glad that you had the guts to write. There are MANY victims of similar abuses out there. Some never come forward. Some come forward, only to be doubted or discounted, even by their own parents, even by people who should know better. I cannot imagine how that must feel and I will not pretend to. But I will never, EVER, give the benefit of the doubt to people like Paterno and to institutions like Penn State and the Second Mile. They failed these children, just like people failed you all those years ago. Frankly, I am shocked that in 2011 our society is still this ignorant about this kind of abuse and about these kinds of predators. We train our children to be wary of strangers, but child abusers are often not strangers but friends and most horribly, family members. Maybe this situation will open some eyes and minds to these facts, so other children don't go through what you did. I am terribly sorry for your pain.

And with that, we'll get started. I don't think it will come as a shock that most of the questions today seem to be trending toward Penn State. I wrote about Paterno on Tuesday and I've been so worked up I wrote again this morning.

– November 10, 2011 11:00 AM
Q.

fired by a phone call

Paterno is annoyed that he was fired by a phone call, that he deserved more than that. The victims' families are annoyed that he couldn't make a simple phone call, to follow up on the rape of a little kid. Who is more justified in their annoyance?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I think you know the answer to that.

– November 10, 2011 11:02 AM
Q.

PSU Students?!

Oh my. What does the rioting say about the PSU students!!! Do they prefer pedophilia or JoePa? Kinda mars the PSU image!! They all ought to be kicked out.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

In fairness, that's a pretty small percentage of the students on campus, and some of them spoke out AGAINST Paterno. I also think it's fair to say that drunken idiots can pop up on any college campus. Let's not paint with a broad brush. The ones who committed vandalism ought to be charged, of course. My, that's ironic.

– November 10, 2011 11:04 AM
Q.

Your Beck's 3 minutes column

You do understand, Tracee, that when teams are ahead by 16 points with 4 minutes to go, they start to play a little soft, right? Bend, don't break, make them use the clock, right? You shouldn't even be giving Beck credit for the last 3 minutes, either. Most people would call this garbage time. You should too.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Of course I do. Trying to have a little fun, that's all.

– November 10, 2011 11:04 AM
Q.

JOE PATERNO TELLS KIDS TO GET OFF HIS LAWN

I am glad the trustees are not allowing JoePa to coach even one more game; his lack of action is reprehensible. But I give JoePa a LOT of credit for going outside last night to the students gathered at his house and telling the kids to go study. I realize the university will distance themselves from him for a long time, but Paterno could do a lot of good in calming the students and getting them to focus on the REAL victims.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Paterno would do well to leave town before Saturday's game. He and his wife appear shell-shocked and stayed there just makes them a lightning rod and inflames the minority of students.

– November 10, 2011 11:06 AM
Q.

Redskins practice field

The Redskins are looking for a new practice field. DC United wants a new stadium. Can the DC government marry the two?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I think the overlap would be too great. Besides, what the Skins need is an entirely new facility, with offices, meeting rooms, etc. That wouldn't work well with a soccer stadium. I don't think that works.

– November 10, 2011 11:08 AM
Q.

Congrats on your non-wishy-washy Paterno column!

I agree with you 100%.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Thank you.

– November 10, 2011 11:09 AM
Q.

Penn State: A college believing its own PR.

T: All week I have been feeling horrible about the scandal engulfing my alma mater. I have been listening to and providing some anger myself. It's an example of a college believing its PR. It's Happy Valley for God's sake! What can go wrong? But through it all, something has been gnawing at me, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Until I read your article: "According to the testimony from the graduate assistant who caught them, Sandusky and the boy saw him. If true, the boy must have been thinking, "Finally, maybe this will stop. Maybe someone will help me." But no one did. That is the key, isn't it? He was caught red-handed a decade ago, and no one with any kind of power said anything. Could you imagine the story in 2002 if Paterno called the cops? He'd take some heat, and some bureaucrats may have felt uncomfortable, but he'd only embellish the Paterno image. What I see now is an old man -- someone not in control of his program. You made me cry, Tracee. For the children first. For my alma mater next. And for Joe Paterno last. Larry Mattivi Class of 1985

A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I know this has been difficult for a lot of alums, and I feel for you. When I was in school, I wanted my school to win. Now that I'm older and I hope a little wise, I want my school to make my proud. That doesn't always happen, but something like this has to be shattering, and I am sorry for the alums. Obviously this man fooled a lot of people, and for other people, they chose to ignore the signs. I know Paterno was and is beloved, but he failed. There is just no other way around it.

– November 10, 2011 11:11 AM
Q.

The Airless Cubicle says "Money Honey"

A man accused of multiple deviant sexual acts continues to have access to Penn State because no one wants to turn off the Football Machine. The Football Machine at Maryland malfunctions and nine or ten other sports will lose their funding. The NBA may have a season cancelled because no one likes the current split of revenue and no one can figure out a better one. Nationals catcher Ramos is kidnapped in Venezuela by people holding him for ransom. Teams jump conferences or find themselves barred from the TV revenue table. We like sports. We're willing to pay for sports. However, the money stream coming into sports makes people do stupid things, or worse, evil things, to get more money or to keep more money. I can't think of anything to do about it, either. What do we do?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I don't have any good answers, TAC. I ranted a little last week about sports giving us joy, and if they don't give us joy, why do we watch. Are we reaching that point? I don't know. Are we just going through a really bad patch? I hope so.

– November 10, 2011 11:12 AM
Q.

Amazing column today.

You wrote everything that's been in my brain and heart since I heard about this. Thank you.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Thanks.

– November 10, 2011 11:12 AM
Q.

McQueary

Do you think McQueary will be fired or asked to resign? Should he be? I think he should go. In 2002, he should have called the cops. He was not a child, he was a 28-year-old man who allegedly witnessed something he was sure was a crime, yet didn't call authorities. He should have fulfilled his moral responsibility to help that child - calling your Dad and talking to Joe Paterno does not cut it. And what kind of person witnesses something like that and continues to go to work every day at a campus where he knows a sexual predator is roaming? I'm not saying he should never work again. But if I were Penn State, I would not want someone so tied to this scandal still at my school.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I think he'll be gone soon. He seems like the whistleblower and to some that will seem unfair, but for the reasons I wrote about this morning, I think it is the only thing to do. This is a man who wants to coach young men. You have to want to protect them. He did not. I think everyone even remotely connected with this will be gone. New brooms sweep clean.

– November 10, 2011 11:14 AM
Q.

The real blame?

Assuming the charges are true, doesn't the REAL blame at Penn State fall on Mike McQueary (for not calling the cops ASAP) and above all on Jerry Sandusky, for betraying Paterno's trust all these years?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

So Sandusky's big sin is betraying Paterno's trust? Really? I think McQueary should have called the cops, no question, but you are bending over backward to give Paterno a pass. I'll be honest, I don't think Paterno's trust amounts to a hill of beans compared to abusing and raping young boys.

– November 10, 2011 11:14 AM
Q.

Rational Voices

So few rational voices in this conversation. Penn State students are saying things like "I'm here because I just need to be with the rest of my school right now...This is just devastating for us" when talking about Paterno's firing. On the other hand, people like the Post's own Jennifer Rubin are saying that the football team should be abolished, and others are saying that Paterno is guilty of child abuse himself. I guess it's like everything else in America these days, but it's depressing that very few people seem capable of thinking rationally about the situation and apportioning out different degrees of guilt to the different individuals.

A.
Tracee Hamilton :

A football coach is never more important than a university. Neither is a basketball coach. This does nothing to tarnish a degree from Penn State. Nor does it tarnish the players who knew nothing about this. Abolishing the football program -- what does that do? By the logic, you should abolish basements, for God's sake, because he took those kids to his basement. Now I'm getting mad again.

– November 10, 2011 11:15 AM
Q.

Don't understand the rage

Paterno was told what happened and apparently thought the lack of action - or Sandusky's slow removal from active Penn State coaching, was enough. He didn't care enough about the children being abused to make Sandusky face the music. He had the power to do so and let it die. I think he was concerned with protecting the program and for that, his ouster is absolutely appropriate. I'd imagine more and more info will be bubbling out over the next several weeks.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I would imagine so, too.

– November 10, 2011 11:16 AM
Q.

This must be the only JoePa discussion where it's one sided

Every online poll I have seen has perspectives on both sides. I assume you're not receiving any pro-JoePa comments?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I've posted the ones I've seen. I'm reading as fast as I can, you know.

– November 10, 2011 11:17 AM
Q.

reasonable

Penn State university administration and football administration knowingly and willfully harbored a suspected child molester for more than a decade. Why on earth should they not be fired? Teachers who've been wrongfully accused of child abuse lose their jobs and reputations and never get them back. But Paterno et al are somehow above this? I also think PSU should forfeit any wins accumulated while Sandusky was on staff.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I'm not sure I'm with you on the forfeits, but several of you have mentioned that. I'm curious to know the reasoning. Penn State as a football team did not benefit from Sandusky's actions in any way. So why the forfeits, which will not punish Sandusky. I guess they'll punish Paterno -- is that the purpose?

– November 10, 2011 11:19 AM
Q.

I never Playe for Jo Pa

But I did admire him from afar. It really was time for him to go I first thought that it would be nice to see him finish the year but... no. If he knew more than he originally put out there then yes, it is time for him to go. One other aspect of all of this is the toppling of one of the news vans covering this and these individuals will more than likely have a criminal record. These same individuals would more than likely be first in line to voice their outrage at Joe Pa if it had been their son who had been molested by Jerry Sandusky.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

There are students attending Penn State who have been molested by someone in their lives, who must be sitting back watching this and reliving some awful memories. I feel for them.

– November 10, 2011 11:21 AM
Q.

Joe Pa

So ... I'm guessing that KU's football problems don't seem quite so bad today, eh? Sad. Very sad. -K-Stater
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Nope. It could happen to any of us. Very distressing.

– November 10, 2011 11:22 AM
Q.

PSU alum

I can't believe they fired him like that and failed to take responsibility for their own actions in overseeing the athletic program. At every university, the buck stops at the Board of Trustees. They are responsible for everytying on campus, including the athletic department, the campus police, the adminstration etc. Why do they refuse to take responsibility? Why does the buck always stop below the people really in charge? Also, I will never give money to PSU again. The way they treated JoePa is disrespectful, dishonest, and immoral. I hope the players refuse to play the rest of the reason, as I've heard mentioned.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

This is the only pro-JoePa post I've had so far today, so I'm posting it in fairness. The idea of the players refusing to play is, I think, a very bad one. I would be stunned if that happened.

– November 10, 2011 11:23 AM
Q.

My reactions

I have been thinking about this for some time, and I now would like to pose a question that will probably never be answered. When the assistant coach saw Sandusky in the shower with the boy, why didn't he try to stop it? Maybe he froze, and I may forgive that. I don't know what he saw and maybe it only looked questionable. Yet, if it was rape, personally, I think the correct reaction should have been to intervene. Next, what was Joe Paterno's reaction when the assistant coach reported the incident to him? Granted, he may have have to take one guy's word over another guy's word? Yet, did Paterno look Sandusky in his eye and tell him this better not be true or he's finished. Or was Paterno's reaction to look the other way? Maybe we'll never know. But I think it would matter. No kid should ever be assaulted. If I saw it, I'd intervene. If I heard of it, I'd want to know if it were true. If I thought if were true but I couldn't prove it, I would put the guy in question on notice that it better not be true or else, the cops will be called ASAP.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Well, you've echoed my column that went online this morning. I don't get it either.

– November 10, 2011 11:26 AM
Q.

Not a Penn Stater . . .

Joe got what he deserved. He knew yet did nothing to stop Sandusky. Had he acted, fewer boys would have been abused. Can we please stay focused on the 8+ boys who were abused?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Yes, and the key is the +. These were the boys (now men) they could find. That's the chilling part of this; there will almost certainly be more.

– November 10, 2011 11:27 AM
Q.

B'More Cat and College Football Lover?

On the eve of my trip to MN to see the Gophers get beaten by the Badgers, I find it very difficult to love college football. I read the entire Grand Jury report. I have many more questions than answers at this point. What is it about the culture of sports that fosters an environment where the team can do no wrong? When I was a student at MN, there was a case of three star high school (!) hockey players who were accused of raping a teenage girl. There was much discussion about waiting until after the hockey season was over to follow-through with the investigation, because this high school was one of the top hockey teams in the state. What were the hockey parents thinking? Looking at this from another angle, Penn State is/was on my nephew's short list of potential colleges. He's looking at engineering, not football. What are the long term implications for the whole school? Thanks, as always, for answering our questions and sometimes just listening.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I don't know if there is some kind of hormone released into the brain by winning in sports that just makes some people complete idiots. Sometimes it seems that way. I can't answer why it happens and I wish I knew what to do about it. It keeps me up nights, or rather mornings. Woke up at 3:40 and starting typing a Paterno column in my head.

I think Penn State will take a hit in contributions and maybe a little in enrollment for awhile, but it is a fine institution and that will pass. KU took a hit in contributions and that was just a ticket scandal! Suddenly, I feel pretty good about that. But it hurt the athletic department, no question. The same will happen in Happy Valley, for awhile, because some alums will be angry about the abuse and others will be angry about firing Joe Paterno. I hope you can let it go and have a good weekend.

– November 10, 2011 11:27 AM
Q.

Wilson Ramos Kidnapping Question

I realize this is a chat about Penn State but it's a busy sports-news day and, in the Washington area (or, at least to me) the kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is also a very newsworthy story. Have there been any new developments in Venezuela?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Not that I've heard, except they found the car used. This is a horrible story. I wonder why these players go home with this kind of risk, but of course it is home to them. Still ... I know we all hope this ends well for Wilson.

– November 10, 2011 11:28 AM
Q.

Are these students insane?

I appreciate what Joe Paterno meant to Penn State, but seriously. As a father, all I can say after last night's demonstration is that never in a million years will my kids go anywhere near Happy Valley.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Again, remember, it's always a small portion of students who do this, largely for the cameras. It's the same with Maryland students after Duke games. What is the enrollment there, 40,000? And some spoke out against him, which was pretty brave considering the crowd.

– November 10, 2011 11:30 AM
Q.

Prospective Students

How many incoming freshman do you think are calling admissions and say akin to "Never Mind?"
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

See above. Some. The school is leaderless, which as a parent would concern me more than not having a football coach (unless my kid were a football player). But I might wait to see what steps they took and who they brought in.

– November 10, 2011 11:30 AM
Q.

Penn State Students

Tracee, I didn't think I could get any more disgusted at the whole mess at Penn State but then I saw the riots on the campus when it was announced that Paterno was leaving. Appalling. Are today's college students so wrapped up in their own lives and desires that all they could see in this is that their coach got sacked? Have they no empathy for the victims? Do they not appreciate the horrific nature of the alleged crimes? A saw an interview this morning with a Penn State student who said, "He did the minimum that was required of him." Is this what our institutions of higher learning are imparting to our youth? My God...
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I think, sadly, that a lot of people believe doing the minimum required is a lofty goal. And not just college students.

– November 10, 2011 11:31 AM
Q.

This must be the only JoePa discussion where it's one sided

OK, here's the false equivalency at work again. What other side can there be, once you learn the facts from the grand jury report? How can there be another side to ignoring the systematic rape of children?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I don't know, but I'm scrolling through here looking for the "other side." I really am.

– November 10, 2011 11:31 AM
Q.

"This is the only pro-JoePa post I've had so far today,.."

Never argue with the person who owns barrels of ink. OK.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I really am looking. I'm one person trying to read a hundred posts and answer them. Yeesh.

– November 10, 2011 11:34 AM
Q.

How could Paterno have stayed?

Some folks here in Pittsburgh are griping about Paterno not benfiting from due process. I disagree. The university heard from Paterno himself about how he reported the allegation to the AD and did nothing more. They don't need to have proof of anything criminal. That act alone could be enough to fire someone for exhibiting poor morals (assuming there is some kind of morals clause in Paterno's contract). If you are in charge of 17-year-old boys and you hear someone was raping a boy in a shower and you only do the bare minimum - reporting it to your superior - how can anyone trust you to care for their children? Further, for those who wanted Paterno to stay - how did they see that playing out, actually? Penn State wins a game and players hoist Paterno on their shoulders, cheering -- all while the world knows that he did not do everything in his power to keep a sexual predator off campus?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

He couldn't have stayed, and he should have done the right thing and left under his own steam. That he couldn't see that -- that he thought the president of the school on down would be fired, but he would stay -- shows he was a little out of touch with reality.

– November 10, 2011 11:36 AM
Q.

Boz's column today

Tracee: Kudos to Tom for connecting some dots. Ever since I put a timeline together in my mind as the story came out, it seemed weird to me that an incident would have been reported in 1998 and then, in 1999, Sandusky would have left Penn State at 55 with a huge track record of success behind him and not be offered another job. He had been Paterno's right hand for years. If Paterno knew nothing of Sandusky's criminal behavior, wouldn't he have tried to get him to stay?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

One of the great unanswered questions, but one from which you can certainly draw conclusions. And yet, he retained an office, a parking place, access to all the buildings ... ARGH.

– November 10, 2011 11:37 AM
Q.

retirement at such a young age

What's your take on Sandusky retiring at age 55? A little too young, no, unless there were 'circumstances' warranting it. It's difficult to believe Paterno didn't know at that time that something was terribly wrong ...
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

The timing was interesting.

– November 10, 2011 11:38 AM
Q.

Men vs Women

With this scandal, and the other child abuse scandal that has rocked the world for the past decade plus, I notice it seems that all those who cover up or fail to report are men. Is there something to be made of this I wonder?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I don't know; I don't like to generalize. My dad, for instance, would be very uncomfortable discussing this -- but if he's passed that locker room, Sandusky would have been pushing up daisies for nine years and counting.

– November 10, 2011 11:40 AM
Q.

By the time Paterno first heard McQueary's allegations of Sandusky's behavior...

Sadly, by the time Paterno first heard McQueary's allegations of Sandusky's behavior, it was a day later, the child who was the victim was unknown and long gone, and presumably there was no significant physical evidence. If Paterno had promptly gone to the police with McQueary's account, it would've been hearsay, and they would have asked McQueary to come in to give his side -- which, even if true, Sandusky might have denied or minimized as "horseplay" -- just another case of "he said - he said."
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Perhaps ... but remember, there was a police investigation from 1998. No charges, but one call to university police and at least you can see a pattern of behavior.

– November 10, 2011 11:41 AM
Q.

Anonymous

As a small child, my brother was a victim, and we didn't find out until he was in his early teens and abusing younger children in our neighborhood. My father found out and had to turn him in. It tore our family apart, but my brother went through intensive therapy and recovered as much as he could, and we know that we likely caught the neighborhood children in time to try and save them. I have zero sympathy for Joe Paterno, Penn State and that gutless graduate student.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

This is part of the tragedy -- Sandusky likely passed on his problem to some of those kids. It's not uncommon. If he'd been stopped, even as late as 1998 ... I am so sorry about your brother and for your father, who had to do the unthinkable. But he did the right thing. It was horribly hard, I'm sure, but it was right. Bless his heart for thinking of other children. We all need to.

– November 10, 2011 11:43 AM
Q.

Thoughts from one Penn State grad

While I have a momentarily depletion of outrage over Joe Paterno's dismissal (I'm very firmly in the pro-JoePa camp), I think now might be the best time to say this: can we let the witch-hunt end and let the healing process for the university and the abuse victims begin?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Here's a pro-Joe -- took awhile to find. I'm not sure I'd equate the healing process of the university and the rape victims, and I am not sure the witch-hunt is at an end. We'll see. I would be stunned if there weren't more victims. I think it's more important to find them than to heal the university at this point.

– November 10, 2011 11:43 AM
Q.

Saturday's game

If I were JoePa, I'd go to the game and sit in the stands. The program doesn't belong to the trustees and it doesn't belong to the media, it belongs to the students. Let them decide.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Well, there's a bad idea and a ridiculous statement. The football program belongs to the students? Let's hike those student fees to pay for it, then, and see how long that lasts.

– November 10, 2011 11:46 AM
Q.

Paterno

No doubt Paterno was wrong but I can't believe the graduate student did not step in. Would he even have hesitated if the child was being beaten? It was an assault and he walked away.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

We're on the same page here.

– November 10, 2011 11:46 AM
Q.

Paterno?

In all this coverage I've missed why this is in the news now. What happened to bring this out now?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Sandusky's arrest and the release of the grand jury report.

– November 10, 2011 11:47 AM
Q.

How many others?

You know that Joe Paterno is not the only person ignoring the moral line while never quite crossing the legal one. Does anyone think anything will change? Paterno is a giant hero to fall, but I can hear coaches (or anyone) across the country telling people "Don't tell me, I don't want to know."
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I am guessing that in a lot of athletic departments, background checks are being run as we speak. And if I were an AD, I'd call in a locksmith, have every lock on my buildings changed, and sign out keys. I'm guessing in some places they already do that. There are lessons and warning signs here.

– November 10, 2011 11:50 AM
Q.

The same topic as everyone else

Tracee-- The most acceptable (to me) "balanced" interpretation of Paterno's inaction that I've seen runs something like this: Yes, he screwed up. Yes, he should be gone now. But don't kid yourself that doing the right thing would have been easy. Don't be sure you wouldn't freeze in the same situation. Even if that's true--perhaps especially if it's true--I think columns like yours are something we need. Not so we can feel morally superior to Paterno, but so we can steel ourselves for action when the time comes. We don't do the right things in times of trial unless we plan to ahead of time. (And I'm not talking about kneeing a rapist in the crotch, which might actually be easier to do; I'm talking about calling the cops on your friend, rather than referring a problem up the line.) Even the apologists, then, need to hear what you are saying. Thanks for saying it.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Thanks. I'm not pretending it would be easy. Turning in a friend or neighbor would be hard; turning in family would be tortuous. But if we all start taking the easy way out this country's going further to hell that it's already headed.

 

– November 10, 2011 11:51 AM
Q.

In football culture...

...how does McQueary not just take Sandusky's head off and rescue the kid right then? If anything happened to him, McQueary would have had the best exit interview EVER.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Again, I hope you'll all read my column that was just posted. Link's at the top of the chat.

– November 10, 2011 11:52 AM
Q.

Media cirus and dehumanizing of Paterno

The media, and in particular sports media, should really be ashamed of how they've covered this terrible situation. ESPN's 3/4 of the hour devotion to this story is absurd given that the trial hasn't even begun and despite the grand jury report, we really don't know everything about the situation. While I am certainly not defending Paterno's actions (or lack thereof), can't we put ourselves in similar shoes for just a second? Imagine hearing about this incident (or accusation) from a student about your close friend and colleague of over 30 years, who has a family, is well-respected not only among his colleagues and team but the hundreds of players who he has coached, and is claiming to be supporting initiatives that help underprivileged children. Wouldn't you feel a sense of disbelief and shock that somebody you know in this manner would ever do such a thing like this? Wouldn't you fear even telling another soul about such a terrible, despicable accusation?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I would feel a sense of disbelief and shock. I would not fear telling another soul. It's pretty clear from the grand jury report that Sandusky was troubled by what he was doing, but he couldn't stop himself. If Paterno was so close to him, why didn't he ask him? Sandusky might have broken down and told him. We'll  never know. But no, if someone came to me who had no axe to grind and told me what he saw -- bringing his own father along, no less -- I wouldn't keep it to myself. This was a child being anally raped. That's something you keep to yourself?

– November 10, 2011 11:54 AM
Q.

Perspective

Ignoring for a moment who did and didn't do what, who should or shouldn't have done what, I think we all need to take a breather for a moment and realize that the actions taken were ultimately by one man--Jerry Sandusky--and his horrible actions should not be a reflection on Penn State as a whole. The actions by the administration have been baffling, to say the least, but as a graduate of Penn State, I can attest that the university is one of the best in the land, with many great people. And the actions of one man should not be a reflection of the institution as a whole.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I agree. The people who enabled him and covered for him are almost all gone. I've said Penn State is a great school and it is. This could have happened at any university. Hopefully all schools will learn from this.

 

– November 10, 2011 11:57 AM
Q.

Another way to look at it

What if McQueary had overheard Sandusky calling a bookie and giving him inside information on the football team? Why do I have this terrible feeling that Paterno and the AD would have actually acted more forcefully to that claim?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Lord, I hope not.

– November 10, 2011 11:58 AM
Q.

Penn State Investigation

I am still somewhat puzzled as to the reason why the DA's office closed their file on the original complaint? How far and wide did they investigate and is there some culpability there?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I haven't seen a reason for the closing of that case. That DA is out of office so perhaps it will be reopened. I am not sure what the statute of limitations is on such cases in Pennsylvania. According to the grand jury report the university police were very thorough in their investigation until they were shut down.

– November 10, 2011 11:58 AM
Q.

McQueary a whistleblower?

Where are you getting this info that McQueary was a whistleblower?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Someone else called him that. He was the grad assistant that saw the shower incident. That's been widely reported, including by LaVar Arrington.

– November 10, 2011 12:01 PM
Q.

Penn State

We may never know if JoePa sacrificed his career to shelter the football program or a friend who wasn't worth it. Maybe it was a mix of the two. However, you and your colleagues can put away your journalistic knives and go have a celebratory beer. Take that prissy little guy from the NY Times with you. I saw him on the Today show and I'm willing to bet he couldn't explain a 3-4 defense if a week of Per Se dinners was riding on it.

A.
Tracee Hamilton :

How sad are you? Very, very sad.

– November 10, 2011 12:02 PM
Q.

other coaches?

How many other coaches in college football have heard of (but not witnessed) sexual assaults by their players or coaches and failed to report it to the police? I guess JoePa's the only one from what Mike Wise, Boswell, etc. have said. Must be nice to have that sort of omniscience.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

These are the kind of pro-JoePa comments I'm finding as I dig. I think maybe the pro-JoePa crowd should hope I stop. Yeesh.

– November 10, 2011 12:04 PM
Q.

Media timidity

Do you think Paterno's defenders would have been less vocal if the media had been more explicit about what the grad assistant witnessed and related to Paterno? NPR, for one, was so timid and vague that listeners might have thought that Sandusky subjected children to inappropriate touching rather than anal rape.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I doubt it, because anyone with a computer could read the account and it left no doubt what happened in any of the cases. It was very explicit.

– November 10, 2011 12:04 PM
Q.

stop calling it "inappropriate behavior"

I'm just lashing out in general, not at you, Tracee. But people have to stop calling this RAPE of little boys, "inappropriate behavior." Read the indictment and you will never call these horrible, horrible crimes "inappropriate." You will call it something far far worse.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I particularly like "horsing around." Good gravy.

– November 10, 2011 12:05 PM
Q.

Montgomery Village, MD

O goddess of the Plains and Knower of all things Great and small-- Given the events of the past 4 days and what we have learned, what has transpired and how much remains to be revealed, it might be a good time for everyone to just take a brief respite from the frenzy , trauma and craziness to reflect on all that has happened, our own transgressions and failures and take a deep breath. There will be many , many more days of discovery , damage, second guessing and sorrow. Maybe one day of reflection wouldn't hurt. Just a thought.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Oh, MVMd, if only we lived in simpler times.

– November 10, 2011 12:09 PM
Q.

One opinion

My feelings about Penn State are all over the place: first, I hate to think of the horrors that the kids went through. I would also hate to think that any college administrators were aware of the allegations and, while banning Sandusky from the main campus, simply looked the other way as Sandusky continued his "charity work" on other Penn State campuses. I also understand the possible reluctance of acting against Sandusky. After all, these were allegations, and Paterno and the administrators did not see the assault. Sandusky has the presumption of innocence until convicted. I am a little more surprised that Paterno was fired while the assistant coach who claims he saw Sandusky assault a boy remains on staff. To me, the question is why the District Attorney did not act. It appears the Penn State administration did what they were legally required to do. The matter was referred to Campus Police who decided there was enough evidence to present the case to the District Attorney. It seems to me, and I am not an attorney, that the most fault lies with the District Attorney. Paterno and administrators can't act legally against an employee until he is charged with a crime. They can restrict an employee's access to campus facilities based on a credible suspicion, which they did (although I do not believe they restricted him enough.) Yet, until and unless there is an indictment, weren't Penn State officials restricted on the degree to which they could act? I believe we should be asking why the District Attorney's office failed to act and why it took the Attorney General's office so long to produce these indictments. That is where I feel outrage should be directed. I don't know how others feel, but that is how I feel.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

That is fair outrage for the 1998 investigation, but not for the 2002 incident, which was never turned over to any investigatory body.

– November 10, 2011 12:09 PM
Q.

The media

Picking on his wife is just reprehensible. Watch the videos; it would make me embarassed to be part of your profession.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

No idea what you're talking about. Whose wife? Again, broad brushes. I don't think it's okay to lump Penn State students together; the same is true for "the media." By your stunning logic, all college coaches should be embarassed [sic] to be part of their profession, too.

– November 10, 2011 12:12 PM
Q.

Paterno

I think, without a doubt, PSU did the right thing. The Board did not just fire Paterno, they also fired the PRESIDENT of the school (which is a HUGE deal) and the VP and AD had already resigned. PSU needed to clean house and did. The fact that Paterno did what he was supposed to do legally is irrelevant to me (and I say this as a lawyer). The football program knew of these allegations, and not only did nothing, but it appears they did what they could to cover it up. And we're not talking about an unpaid tattoo, but the rape of children at PSU facilities. I'm just amazed that people think Joe was a scapegoat. It's not as if these things were happening and he had no knowledge - he was specifically told and then when no one above him did anything, failed to do anything more. How many more kids were raped and molested because of that? I feel sad for PSU right now. If this happened at my alma mater (go GW!), I would be so upset and sad that people in charge of a place I loved were ignoring such horrific acts - but I would also want the Board to take drastic action in an attempt to right the wrong. I read only one paragraph from the grand jury indictment that outlined what McQ saw in the locker room and I wish I did not - because I cannot get the image out of my mind. I think any kid rioting last night needs to read it and realize what was happening at their school and that no one did anything to stop it, or only did what they "legally" were obligated to do.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

If you read the entire report, you'd never sleep again. That's why I don't understand how McQueary never followed up with a call to the cops -- if I had seen that, it would be burned on my retinas forever. Both of them looked directly at him. Can you imagine the look on that boy's face? Dear God.

– November 10, 2011 12:12 PM
Q.

semantics

Can we stop referring to this as a sex scandal? It was rape.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

That's a good point. Thanks.

– November 10, 2011 12:12 PM
Q.

What should you or I have done if we had witnessed an assault?

Many people have commented that back in 2002, Penn State football grad assistant McQueary should have intervened when he saw the (alleged) assault occurring, in order to rescue the child. My question is: What if someone like you and me were in McQueary's situation -- and physically unable to take on a big strong assailant, possibly at the risk of being beaten up (or worse)? All I can think of is to call 9-1-1 without being noticed, then (in this era of cell phones with photographic capability) perhaps to snap a few pictures of the act unobtrusively, as evidence, while waiting for the police to arrive. Could the Post have someone write an article or do a chat on this topic?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Well, I wrote about what I'd have done. It depends on the situation. This was a man in his 50s, naked and vulnerable. I would have called 911 FIRST, in case he did clobber me with something, then pulled him off the boy and tried to get the boy out of there.

If I saw a man raping a woman in a dark alley in a bad neighborhood, and he had a weapon, I would call 911 and wait for the police to arrive, because I know my limitations.

Taking photos also occurred to me. Then it wouldn't have been a he said, he said situation at all. But the 911 call comes first, just in case.

– November 10, 2011 12:13 PM
Q.

1998 Questioning but No Charges - Why Not?

Sandusky was investigated in 1998, but never charged then. He did resign. Was it under pressure? It seems like it was a surprise, he was still in his 50s. What did PSU know then, and why did they continue to "give him the keys" to the PSU facilities? Talk about facilitating an abuser... Seems like DA, PSU and Joe all failed over time.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

These are questions that I think will be answered in the coming weeks and why I say the "witch hunt" is not over. And what a well-deserved "witch hunt" it is.

– November 10, 2011 12:14 PM
Q.

Greetings from Bagram (again)

Traceee, it took me a little bit longer to catch the Penn State story than most because of geography, which in a sense made it worse because instead of a trickle of information it was almost all available at once. As a father of two young boys, it made me ill. I'm a Hokie, so I don't have a rooting interest in Penn State one way or the other and I have always admired Joe Paterno because he always ran a clean, successful program. And now this. Your column neatly explained Sandusky's modus operandi, namely that he targeted children who didn't have someone like me who loved them or would go after a pedophile with the vengeance I would; were someone to do this to one of my boys the legal system would be the least of his worries. This is why I don't understand Paterno, a father and grandfather. I also don't understand the grad student who witnessed the alleged behavior in the first place. Or the university president. Here's what scares me more than anything, Tracee - what does it say about the place of sports in our culture when grown men are willing to sacrifice young boys to protect a football program?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

That scares me, too, and I can't explain it. I'm not a mother, and certain friends will tell you I don't have a maternal bone in my body. But I would step between a strange child and a predator without hesitation. We all deserve a childhood free from this kind of crap. And anyone who wouldn't, in my book, has a screw loose. They're KIDS.

– November 10, 2011 12:16 PM
Q.

penn state did the right thing

I'm sorry but we are talking about multiple boys being raped over a period of years and multiple people could have done something to stop it. Even if it was decided at the top level to cover this up, everyone down the chain should have figured out that wasn't right. Where's the outrage on behalf of the victims? Why is no one rioting demanding that this should never happen to another child ever again?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

No argument here.

– November 10, 2011 12:18 PM
Q.

classy

I see now that you're pointing out the grammatical errors of your commenters. Very classy. I look forward to your perfect spelling and correct use of grammar in all future posts and columns.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

You're right. I never do that and I let him/her get to me. I spend a lot of time on this chat, as regulars know, urging people not to lump any group of people together (such as Penn State students) and then to hear about how I should be embarrassed by my profession? I still don't know what that person was talking about! But I do apologize.

– November 10, 2011 12:22 PM
Q.

DA

Tracee, he is not only out of office, he is the guy who mysteriously disappeared 5 years ago. His car and laptop were found, but no body was. Unrelated but odd.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Interesting!

– November 10, 2011 12:22 PM
Q.

Bad Treatment of JoePA

I have never gone to PSU or played football for any university. However, I cannot believe the extremely bad treatment which both the university and especially the press - including the WashPost sports reporters, have shown to JoePA. In every article I have read in the Post it seemed to me that the writer did not even have all of the facts of the case before they lashed out at JoePa countless times. Very, very seldom was the actual perpetrator of the crime even mentioned. I also blame the media circus for actually instigating the mob action in the overturning of the press vehicle. If there had been fair and unbiased reporting I believe that never would have happened. The Post used to be a great newspaper but lately the sports reporting has become extremely one-sided whether it is the Nats, Wiz, Caps or the Skins and even the Ravens. One example: On page D3 of today's paper there is rather large headline which reads "Pittsburgh's Clark is perturbed by $40,000 fine" but nowhere does it mention that the Ravens were also fined for the hit on Hines Ward. I had to dig in the sports news to learn that. It should have been included in original article. Time to cancel my subscription!!!!
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

If our reporting on JoePa leads you to cancel your subscription, so be it!!!!

– November 10, 2011 12:23 PM
Q.

You rock

No real question or comment, but I just wanted to say that you rock. (No need to post this).
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Can't I please post this? To make up for the angry people?

– November 10, 2011 12:23 PM
Q.

Ramos

I know Washington Post is all football all the time (imagine if a football player were kidnapped? the Post would be in overdrive...) but I just want to urge everyone to think good thoughts or pray for the safe return of this young man.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Ditto. This is a horrible thing to have happened and hopefully he'll be recovered safe and sound and soon!

– November 10, 2011 12:25 PM
Q.

subscription

You guys are right on the mark with this. When I get paid next week, I'll *get* a subscription.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Ha! Thanks for the laugh. Needed that.

– November 10, 2011 12:28 PM
Q.

McQueary Will Coach

It was announced this morning that McQueary will coach this weekend. That seems fair, doesnt it?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

To me, no, it does not. Others will disagree.

– November 10, 2011 12:29 PM
Q.

Very, very seldom was the actual perpetrator of the crime even mentioned.

I don't know what planet your newspapers are published on, but every single story I've seen on this has named Sandusky.
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

Yeah, I just let that one go, but of course he's been mentioned in every story.

– November 10, 2011 12:30 PM
Q.

Penn State and prissy NY Times

I don't even get what this guy is so worked up about? he thought the media was responsible for Joe Pa's demise?
A.
Tracee Hamilton :

I don't know either. I was just fulfilling my obligation to find pro-Joe posts. And I didn't make those up. And I am going to have to quit with tons of posts unanswered, and for that I apologize, but it's just one of those days. I started answering questions at 10:15 and I haven't made a dent in the pile.

What a week. I hope everyone has a nice weekend and that Wilson Ramos is rescued and restored to his family. Let's talk next week!

– November 10, 2011 12:31 PM
Q.

 

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