Smerconish: Jury out in Sandusky trial, but the story is far from over

Updated
 

By Michael Smerconish
Follow @smerconish 

Let me finish tonight with this: And so the Sandusky jury is finally out.

No doubt many can’t wait until this legal process reaches a conclusion. The subject matter is unpleasant. The testimony was hard to read. But this is not the end of the inquiry, and nor should it be.

Jerry Sandusky will have his fate determined very soon, but there are many questions and issues that still need to be resolved. And the only way to protect children in the future is to ensure we have learned the lessons of the past.  

Among the unresolved matters: 

Was the investigation handled expeditiously? The Patriot News, where reporter Sara Ganim earned a Pulitzer for her coverage, has reported that for the first year of the investigation by the state Attorney General’s office, there was only one investigator assigned to the case. And that it took that investigator a full year to learn that Sandusky had been the subject of a prior criminal probe. 

There was similar delay in recognizing that Sandusky had written a book, oddly titled Touched which became a roadmap for finding alleged victims. All the while, the same Attorney General’s office had a large staff investigating state corruption in a matter called Bonusgate. Was that an appropriate distribution of resources?

A second question: During the Sandusky trial, reports surfaced that the independent investigation conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh has uncovered emails that evidence discussions within the upper echelon of Penn State’s leadership where there was a desire expressed to treat Sandusky “humanely” when Mike McQueary’s report of a shower incident was first reported. That requires a full vetting and, perhaps, additional criminal charges.

Third, there are criminal charges pending against two former Penn State officials for perjury and a failure to report what Mike McQueary told them. McQueary was, by all accounts, a credible witness at the trial. It’s important that the legal system hold accountable those individuals who had a legal duty to report and did not.   

Fourth, there will be, and should be, civil litigation in the event of a Sandusky conviction. If the criminal jury finds Sandusky responsible, those young men are entitled to be fairly and fully compensated for their horror. 

Finally, society needs to recognize the failure of adults to protect the interests of children. The prosecution of Jerry Sandusky brought to light many instances where adults had reason to suspect bad behavior but did not exhaust their rememdies to protect children.

Mike McQuery’s claim of witnessing Sandusky raping a child is well known, but there were many other instances: the janitor who failed to report to police seeing Sandusky allegedly performing oral sex on a boy in a locker room shower; the DA who didn’t prosecute the 1998 allegation despite the detective who investigated it thinking it was solid; the wrestling coach who saw Sandusky on the floor with a young man; the school officials who were initially skeptical of the abuse claims of the boy who was first to step forward with a complaint about Sandusky; and the parents who did not perceive the unhealthy nature of the relationship between the football coach and their sons.  

This chapter is over, but we can’t yet close the book.  

Hardball Let Me Finish

Smerconish: Jury out in Sandusky trial, but the story is far from over

Updated