Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A few words on Mike McQueary

I originally posted most of the following in response to comments concerning the conduct of Penn State Assistant Coach Mike McQueary made in response to my post In defense of Joe Paterno.  But the issues facing McQueary are a bit different than those facing Paterno, so I think it deserves its own post and discussion. 

McQueary is taking an incredible amount of heat himself for his relative lack of action in the Jerry Sandusky case.  That he did not immediately run into the shower and, apparently, beat the crap out of Sandusky to protect the boy very near the top of that criticism.

And, indeed, McQueary bears far more "moral" culpability than Paterno does, because he witnessed the actual incident.  Maybe legal culpability as well.

That said, I'm going to play Devil's Advocate again.  Keep in mind a few things.
First, remember that McQueary was just a graduate assistant. Sandusky was a legend on campus and was known throughout the US.  (I myself had heard of Sandusky in junior high.)  Major perception of power disparity there. McQueary may have felt Sandusky could squash him like a bug and nothing would be done about Sandusky. That's why he went to Paterno first. To make sure he had political cover. A perfect reaction? No, but a human one. Cowardly? Maybe. But would you act differently? Be honest.

And also consider the following, again from my own experience:

In my lifetime I have had a gun pointed at me, been present for an attempted shooting, been burglarized, had my car stolen, been surrounded by muggers, been physically threatened and narrowly escaped a car jacking.

In each of those cases, my immediate reaction was not anger or fear but bewilderment. "What? What's going on here? What the Hell was that?" What I witnessed or experienced was so out of the ordinary that I had trouble registering it at first. Making sense of it.

"Did he just point a gun at me?" "Some construction worker must be using a nail gun out in the Columbus City Center atrium, because that was REALLY loud." "Why are those two big men running at my car while I'm at this red light?" "What did that guy say to me?" "Why is the back door to my house open?"

It typically took a few minutes to register. You may see it on CSI: Miami or something and say you'll react this way or that if you experienced it yourself, but until you actually do, you don't really know. And seeing it in person is A LOT different than seeing it on TV.

So, if McQueary's response was anything like mine, when he witnessed the incident, he may have been more shocked and bewildered than anything else. Might have walked away in shock thinking "Did I just see that? What the HELL was that? What was he doing with that boy? He wasn't doing what I think he was doing? Was he?"

It may have taken a few minutes to register, for what he saw to sink in. Only after he realized what he had actually witnessed did he become upset. By that time he had probably left the building. And he may not have even been sure of what he saw hours later.

A perfect reaction? No. But a human one. I don't know that you can expect anyone to react perfectly in this situation. Even those trained to deal with it can have problems.

I don't know that that's what actually happened with McQueary -- I could be totally off base with it -- but just give that scenario some thought.


  1. regarding McQueary actions, "By that time he had probably left the building. And he may not have even been sure of what he saw hours later.".
    I do not doubt that he witnessed something, I just question his ability to relate only what he saw and not what he thought he witnessed.
    I have concerns with the complete accuracy of his grand jury testimony. Did McQueary's perception and his actions based on what he thought he witnessed change with time? McQueary saw something, took no immediate action, talked to Paterno almost a day later about what he thought he had seen, then a week or two later he met with the AD and told them what he thought he saw, then several years later he gave his testimony to the grand jury. Did he actually see as much as he testified or was his mind filling in the gaps?

    BTW, you could ask a lot of people who watched Hitchcock's "Psycho" how many times did Janet Leigh get stabbed while taking a shower and get answers saying the number of times the knife went into her body. Hitchcock showed no knife wounds, but a lot of the audience would be able to describe the knife wounds.

  2. According to the indictment McQueary testifies that he arrived at the locker room at 9:30 pm on a Friday to put a pair of shoes in his locker and retrieve some recruitment videos. He testifies that he was surprised to see the shower room lights on. As he moved closer he began to hear rhythmic slapping sounds that invited the possibility of sexual activity. McQueary testifies that when he leaned forward to put his shoes in the locker, he glanced into the shower where he saw a naked boy who he estimated to be 10 years old. The boy’s hands were pressed against the wall and he was “being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.”
    McQueary, totally distraught, leaves and calls his father. The two collectively decide that they need to tell head coach Joe Paterno. They do this the next morning in person at Paterno’s home. Paterno waits till Sunday to report it to his boss Tim Curley, who is the athletic director.
    A week and a half goes by and McQueary is summoned to a meeting with senior vice president for business and finance Gary Shcultz and athletic director Curley. They tell McQueary that the incident will be looked in to and that the appropriate actions will be taken.
    Two weeks later McQueary is notified that Sandusky’s locker room keys will be taken and that the incident was reported to Second Mile.
    This is a summary of the indictment of Jerry Sandusky regarding 1 of 8 victims.
    This whole thing is disgusting and inexcusable. We are talking about CHILD RAPE. People make it sound like Sandusky was smoking a joint with a hooker and Penn State would rather this info didn’t get out to the media. Shocked or not, there was a child rape occurring before McQueary, and his first thought was to turn, run, and call his dad. What kind of man is that? Even more shocking is that the four “adults” (since McQueary didn’t really act like one) who were notified and removed from initial shock that McQueary was subject to, did not think it was appropriate to call the police over a ten year old boy being anally raped by a 56 year old man. McQueary’s father doesn’t notify police, Paterno doesn’t notify the police, Tim Curely doesn’t notify the police, and Gary Shchultz doesn’t notify the police. They all should go to jail.
    You can read the full indictment here:

  3. Another note, McQueary is now claiming that he stopped the shower assault. I am really wondering what he saw, what he did, and who he talked to.