Tuesday, November 15, 2011

McQueary's Email Message & Moral Versus Legal Obligation

Mike McQueary issued an email on November 8, 2011 where he writes that he stopped the sexual assault and discussed it with police afterward.

The email is below.

There has been much discussion as to whether McQueary discharged his legal obligation by not taking further steps to ensure as best he could that Sandusky was removed from society.

A distinction should be drawn between a moral and a legal obligation. A moral obligation cast a wider net of responsibility. Perhaps in this case McQueary should have done more. That, however, is a moral obligation.

A legal obligation is what a person is required to do as directed by law. That's what the legendary U.S., Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes meant when he said, "This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice."

In this case, McQueary was required to report the incident to a supervisor as per Pennsylvania law. He did that when he reported it to Paterno. On top of that he reported it to Tim Curley and Gary Schultz – also his superiors. According to the grand jury testimony (as summarized a few articles down), Schultz told McQueary that he would handle it moving forward.

So McQueary discharged his legal obligation and then some.

Now we see that possibly he spoke to the “police”. It’s unclear if that’s campus police or the police generally.

The series of events dating back to 1998 makes you wonder to what extent Paterno, Curley, Schultz, Spanier and others tried to diminish the importance of Sandusky’s actions. As well, according to the grand jury transcript, in 1998 Sandusky was investigated for showering with an 8 year old boy in the Penn State showers. Although he admitted that much, the police did not press charges. Rather, they directed him not to shower with children. If this is accurate, it raises the question as to whether there were others apart from Penn state employees that did not take this seriously.

Given the foregoing, it is reasonable to consider if McQueary would have met with resistance if he sought to escalate things. As well, more information may come out that may clarify some of this.

There are still lots of questions that need to be answered including whether Schultz and other engaged in a pervasive, systemic and institutional failure to remove Sandusky from society. That being said, McQueary did discharge his legal obligation. Moral, as always, is up for debate.

Certainly, it is reasonable to believe that seeing Sandusky a year later still with a Penn State office, phone number, email address, parking pass and faculty listing should have inspired McQueary to keep pushing forward with a view to getting Sandusky arrested.

Again, however, we don't know everything at this point.

... you are the first person I have told this ... and I don't know you extremely well ... and I have been told bye officials to not say anything ...

I did stop it, not physically ... but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room ... I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police .... no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds ... trust me.

Do with this what you want ... but I am getting hammered for handling this the right way ... or what I thought at the time was right ... I had to make tough impacting quick decisions.

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