Today’s Investigative Special Report – January 10, 2013 “Dealing With Todays Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “Should The Past Dictate The Future When Dealing With Child Sexual Assaults In College Sports?”

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Patern...
Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno on the sideline during warmups prior to the 2006 Homecoming game versus the University of Illinois on Friday, October 20, 2006. Taken by me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
The decision had already been made by Penn State University officials, the date was Sunday, July 22, 2012, former coach Joe Paterno’s statue was tore down as a reaction to the child sexual assaults which occurred on and off the campus at Penn State during his tenure as the head coach. Paterno’s legacy being destroyed do to the inaction of his alleged knowledge about former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual assaults on at least 10 or more children.
Today, Governor Tom Corbett announced that he is filing a federal lawsuit against the NCAA for its sanctions against Penn State. Corbett stated that the lawsuit is in response to the punishment the NCAA levied against Penn State for the years of child sexual assaults by Sandusky.
The NCAA has levied punishment for past violations by schools who have stepped outside the rules. Several schools are currently on probation such as the University of Southern California who recently played in the Hyundai Bowl Sun Bowl losing to Georgia Tech 21-7. Their punishment is as interesting as that of Penn State. The sanctions are as follows:
1.      Public reprimand and censure.
2.      Four years of probation from June 10, 2010, through June 9, 2014. The public report further details the conditions of this probation.
3.      Postseason ban for the 2010 and 2011 football seasons.
4.      One year show-cause penalty for the assistant football coach (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2011).
5.      Vacation of all wins in which the former football student-athlete completed while ineligible, beginning in December 2004. This vacation includes participation in any postseason competition, including football bowl games.
6.      Many more sanctions.
The NCCA levied punishment for the child sexual assault against Penn State. They are:
1.      Erasing all victories won under Paterno starting in 1998, when officials first heard, and overlooked, allegations against Sandusky.
2.      A 60 million dollar fine.
3.      A four-year postseason ban and the loss of some athletic scholarships.
4.      Forfeit its post season revenue share of the Big Ten for 13 million.
5.      Many more sanctions.
Main entrance of Old Main, at Penn State Unive...
Main entrance of Old Main, at Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The comparisons of USC versus that of Penn State are night and day. The NCAA being faced with the most serious child sexual assault case set a precedent which at first glance i.e. during the hype of the child sexual assaults coming out seemed reasonable and logical. However, now that Sandusky has been found guilty of the crimes he committed and is now incarcerated for those crimes there is a new perspective about the NCAA sanctions by those in leadership positions.
The lawsuit if found to support Penn State’s position could have a significant sanctions consequences. There can be arguments found to support the NCCA or Penn State’s positions. Since the Penn State child sexual assaults were disclosed there have been other universities which have had to deal with their own sexual assault allegations.
At Syracuse University three men came forward and alleged that the assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine sexually assaulted them beginning in 1984 and the last in 2002. The men were allegedly ball boys during the alleged sexual assaults. Head Coach Jim Boeheim was never told about the sexual assaults according to the men, but stated Boeheim saw them in Fine’s motel room on several occasions.
The Syracuse police investigated the sexual assault allegations, but criminal charges will not be filed due to the statute of limitations had expired. The United States Attorney’s office conducted a year-long investigation and determined that there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges that a sexual assault had occurred in a motel room in 2002.
A statement made by U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian stated, “The closure of our investigation does not constitute a determination of what did or did not happen…” This statement is the political correct way of telling the public they could not establish a crime occurred. This political correct message is unfortunate as Fine was not given his due that he allegedly didn’t commit the sexual assault allegations made against him. He lost his job, reputation, privacy, and simply could have been exonerated if Hartunian would have had the courage to say the alleged incident which allegedly occurred in 2002 was not credible i.e. not believable.
Everyone rushed to judge Fine as being guilty of being a pedophile, when in the end after interviewing over 130 witnesses and reviewing over 100,000 pages, including emails, financial and travel records could not say he was innocent of all the charges. Remember, this investigation occurred at the time the Sandusky investigation was occurring. Still this does not excuse the Syracuse Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office from telling the public ‘exactly’ what they found and didn’t find. Instead they left their investigative findings hanging in the air.
Upon learning of the child sexual assault allegations the University placed Fine on administrative and he was later terminated. The NCAA concluded that the alleged sexual conduct, even if it had occurred, would not have implicated NCAA rules.
It appears that when there is apparently a rule violation the NCAA does take the allegations seriously. There are those who criticize NCAA’s punishment as being inefficient, inconsistent, and compromised. Many argue that their 50-person investigative staff has incompetent and unintelligent investigators. However, the NCAA makes more than 860 million per year.
In an article on October 25, 2012, by reporter Matt Norlander of EYEON stated there are several ways to improve the NCAA investigation of rule violations:
1.      Outsource Major Investigations
2.      Outsource Punishment Decisions
3.      Be Transparent
4.      Encourage Investigations
5.      Commit Financially
There may be legitimacy in Norlander’s article as the education and experience of the investigators needs to be examined, evaluated, and analyzed. If an organization such as the NCAA has investigators who have the power to determine if a University violated NCAA rules, then they need to be competent and intelligent. There should be an external organization that has authority over the NCAA to evaluate and determine that they are doing things properly.
The NCAA has proven to be punishment oriented when dealing with alleged violations of the rules. If this is the mentality of the organization then this will be the mentality of their investigators. There are no wild cards in their 50 person investigator team. They are a team with strong leadership which has become apparent with the sanctions they have leveled most recently against the Division 1 Universities.
The rush to judgment in the Paterno investigation by the NCAA seems puzzling since they didn’t do a comprehensive investigation into what Paterno’s role was and wasn’t. If he shared any role or responsibility in the Sandusky sexual assaults, then the evidence to date seems to be scant at best. The response by everyone involved found the blame placed on Paterno’s shoulders as he was the head coach. Child sexual assaults occur in private, secretively, and generally silenced by threats of violence against the child and his family. There was one eyewitness, but this author believes everyone knew who and what Sandusky was.
Did the punishment against Paterno match his lack of responsibilities? When the Penn State University decided to take Paterno’s statute down, had the full investigation been performed at that time? Was there a rush to judgment against Paterno so they could demonstrate that they were “washing their hands” of the entire mess? These questions need to be answered and apparently will be addressed in the law suit filed by Governor Corbett.
The entire situation is disheartening and repulsive in that so many lives were affected by a man, Sandusky, who personally and privately brought down the modern day Rome of football i.e. Penn State and an astronomical football coach, Joe Paterno. When the arena of legal investigative experts question the competency and intelligence of the 50 person investigative team; the rush to judgment of Paterno and the University; the continual severe NCAA sanctions against major Universities should raise some concerns if sometimes the licensed enforcement agency might have gone too far.
Governor Corbett is on the board of Penn State’s board of trustee. Already the legal pundits are arguing that Corbett has a conflict of interest filing a law suit on behalf of the people in the State of Pennsylvania when he is on the Universities board. Further, these pundits are alleging that Corbett’s law suit will be defeated before the legal process has begun. Are these legal pundits the same individuals who had a central role in the crucifixion and destruction of a reputable University with the sweep of their power affecting current and future students and athletes who had no role or responsibility for what Sandusky and some of the Universities hierarchy did many years ago?
Millions of people respected Paterno’s coaching legacy. They now turn to Governor Corbett’s law suit as a page in history which may challenge the checks and balances of an organization which just may be too powerful and politically motivated.
Sit back, listen, and watch how the courts respond in questioning the authority of the other modern day Rome of football i.e. the NCAA. In the end the courts will decide if Penn State University and the other colleges have been unjustly and harshly sanctioned. In the meantime now that the voices of the past have been heard, may be some, like Governor Corbett, will advocate for the current and future students and athletes, and listen to them.


Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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1 comment:

  1. Your legal articles are always very informative, you make clear complicated law articles. Let me please invite you to write something to the directory of law enforcement articles on Attorney Online. There is also a legal blog you may post to and an Attorney Directory with free submission. I suppose, you know a lot of good lawyers who can be listed there.


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