Though Joe Paterno is the natural target of ire in the Penn State sex scandal, much of the harshest criticism is being reserved for the man who reported one of the alleged rapes in the first place. According to a grand jury report, on March 1, 2002, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary (pictured above to the left of Paterno) entered what he thought was an empty locker room only to witness a boy "estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subject to anal intercourse by a naked [Jerry] Sandusky," a former assistent coach for the school. Since that and other alleged abuses by Sandusky have come to light a week ago Paterno, patriarch of the Nittany Lions for 45 season, and university president Graham Spanier have been canned. Even before Paterno's firing, McQueary came under fire by those disgusted by the scandal, but now that Paterno is out and McQueary remains on the Penn State coaching roster, he's becoming the most hated man (after Sandusky, of course) in the scandal. Here are some of the reasons why.
He didn't stop the rape The grand jury's report says after seeing the rape, McQueary "left immediately, distraught," leaving some to wonder: Why didn't he try to stop the rape while it was occurring? "It would appear to be the rare case of a pedophile caught in the act, and you’d think a graduate student would know enough to stop the rape and call the police," Maureen Dowd argues in her most recent column. "But McQueary, who was 28 years old at the time, was a serf in the powerfully paternal Paternoland." Commenters at the Daily Collegian, Penn State's student newspaper, concur with Dowd: "Not only should Paterno be fired but McQuery should be too," writes one. "He witnessed a crime in progress and instead of stopping it and kicking the living you know what out of the pedophile." Most of us likely had similar visions of our own heroics in that situation, but psychologist Bibb Latané says not so fast. "I think most of us are very reluctant to get involved physically," he tells the Philadelphia Daily News. Most Good Samaritans act only if they feel comfortable getting involved--if, for example, they're bigger than the perpetrator or are trained to defend themselves, he says.
He went to his dad instead of the police Fine, maybe McQueary didn't think he could physically take on Sandusky (though, for the record, he quarterbacked the Nittany Lions in the 1990s). But at the very least, he called the police, right? Wrong: "The graduate went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen," the grand jury's report says. His father advised him to take the matter up with Paterno first, and he never called 911. Buzz Bissinger lays out McQueary for his failure to report to authorities: "McQueary, who witnessed the incident, witnessed it, doesn’t call the police, although he is 28. He runs to his daddy," he writes in The Daily Beast. That "daddy" line is something a lot of commenters have latched onto. "Leaders don't run to daddy to ask for advice," writes Peter Lieber for Yahoo Sports. "Yeah, let's mull it over in front of the family fire place over cocoa while a ten year old endures a life-changing, earth-shattering assault." Even if McQueary at first expected his allegation to reach police, years laters he knew it didn't, testifying to the grand jury that he knew Sandusky was never even banned from Penn State buildings.
He gets to coach on Saturday When Penn State's board of trustees decided to boot Paterno and Spanier, it let McQueary remain. That means, according to ESPN, he will coach when Penn State plays Nebraska this Saturday, and fans are uncomfortable with someone with first-hand knowledge of the abuse being allowed to take the field. "Trustees, I beg your attention: if he is still on the sideline Saturday, I — and I bet I’m not alone — am done with Penn State forever," one letter writer tells the Daily Collegian. Ron Cook, writing in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, wondering how he can even be expected to do his day-to-day duties anymore. "Reportedly, McQueary was on the road recruiting over the weekend when Sandusky was arrested and Curley and Schultz were charged. Can you imagine the reaction he received when he sat with mom and dad in the living room and told them their son would be safe and looked after at Penn State? Oh, to be a fly on that wall."
He's not Joe Pa Ultimately, Penn Staters are having a hard time shaking their loyalty to Paterno, as evidenced by all that rioting in Happy Valley after his firing. According to The New York Times, last night the rioters "turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal." Some wish that the media instead made McQueary the scapegoat: as one Pennsylvania-based fan writes for Bleacher Report, ol' Joe Pa did everything the law required of him and doesn't deserve a lion's share of the condemnation. "So with Paterno not to blame as much as people have shoveled on him, people should be focusing on McQueary and the fact that he did not report a crime."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.