Penn State May Have Erred in Firing Paterno

by on August 15th, 2010
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Joe Paterno appears to have followed Pennsylvania law when he failed to contact the police or social services regarding the alleged rape of a number of minors by Jerry Sandusky. Pennsylvania law 42.42. Suspected child abuse-mandated reporting requirements requires that staff of public or private schools or institutions must notify the person in charge of the institution if they suspect that a child they deal with has been subjected to abuse. It is the person in charge of the institution who turns in the report to police or social services.

Paterno did not have any direct knowledge of abuse of children. Any complaints or rumors were just that, until proven otherwise. Because he had no direct knowledge of the alleged rapes and no contact with the children, only reports by others, it is uncertain if he was even required to pass the concerns along. Nevertheless, Paterno did, while others did not. Mike McQueary, the current Receivers coach, allegedly witnessed Sandusky’s actions but did not report them to the police. McQuery has been allowed to stay on the coaching staff.

In another odd plot twist it was revealed that other allegations against Sandusky were investigated by the police and District Attorney’s office in 1998 and investigated thoroughly. The allegations were dismissed and the District Attorney involved, Ray Gricar, disappeared. Gricar disappeared in 2005 and was just declared dead this spring. Gricar, whose body was never found, had failed to prosecute because he could not find any evidence. According to friends, he could not proceed because to do so in the absence of evidence in such a high profile case was inappropriate.

If Sandusky is found innocent of the charges it is possible that Paterno could be civilly liable for reporting the allegations to the Penn State University staff. Paterno has reportedly hired a criminal attorney because he is concerned that he could be charged for not reporting the alleged crimes if Sandusky is found guilty. .

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