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Sandusky sentenced, but PSU still on trial with Curley/Schultz cases


Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in jail Tuesday morning, which means he will be in jail for the rest of his life. He is 68 years old. The next day he spends in public will be his embalming.

But we knew that.

The Sandusky case has created such a media frenzy that every little development is covered like major news. I'm not criticizing the media frenzy. I'm part of the media frenzy. And I understand the need for closure for the victims. But for the public, Sandusky's sentencing does not change the story in any meaningful way.

We knew he was guilty. We knew he would spend the rest of his life in jail. We knew he is mentally and emotionally sick. We knew he is delusional. Nothing he said Tuesday could change that.

The public reached a verdict on Sandusky long before a jury did. For almost a year, we have believed him to be guilty.

His part of this saga is effectively over. But Penn State is still on trial. That's why the court case that still matters will take place this winter, when former athletic director Tim Curley and former senior vice president Gary Schultz go on trial for perjury.

They deserve a chance to defend themselves. Their trial should tell us so much about their actions, legendary coach Joe Paterno's influence and what really happened at Penn State.

We know that Penn State acted negligently when Sandusky was accused of sexual molesting boys on at least two occasions.

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What we don't know, if we're honest, is why.

In 1998 police investigated Sandusky for raping an 11-year-old boy but did not charge him. In 2002, assistant coach Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky raping a child and told multiple superiors. They did not pursue charges. And a janitor says that in 2000, he saw Sandusky raping a boy; the janitor told a co-worker and a supervisor, but he said he did not report the incident to police out of fear of losing his job.

So far we have reacted to clues, partial evidence, bits and pieces of the whole truth. Even the Freeh Report, which was thorough and damning, was incomplete. Curley and Schultz were awaiting trials. Their defenses are an essential part of this story.

The trial can provide answers. Did Paterno influence his "superiors" in a way that had dire consequences? Did former university president Graham Spanier feel invincible? Did Curley and Schultz willfully lie?

We know that Curley was told to contact child welfare authorities after McQueary's report. Curley responded the next day with: "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday -- I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps." Then Penn State did ... pretty much nothing.

There is a lot of smoke there. There is no denying that. But exactly what did Paterno say? What did Curley mean? We may think we know, but do we?

That e-mail reminds me of sitting in my apartment in 1998 shortly after the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton allegations broke. CNN kept replaying a video of Clinton hugging Lewinsky in a rope line at a public event, and the more they showed that video, the more you thought, "Clinton TOTALLY had sex with her." And of course, he did (though perhaps not totally -- that's a whole other conversation). But that video still told us nothing. It just felt like it told us something.

We have a lot more evidence in this situation. As I said: We know Penn State was grossly negligent. There is no way Penn State can come out of this looking great. But the Curley/Schultz trial can at least give us an idea of why seemingly responsible adults made such irresponsible decisions.

In one of those e-mails, Spanier wrote: "The only downside for us is if message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it, but that can be assessed down the road."

For Penn State, that downside was not assessed Tuesday. It will be assessed starting in January, when Curley and Schultz go on trial. I don't know what their defense will be. But I can't wait to hear it.