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Key witness in Penn State case testifies publicly

by Michael Smerconish Last Friday, there was an important hearing in the Penn State case.

by Michael Smerconish 

Last Friday, there was an important hearing in the Penn State case. It featured two hours of testimony from Mike McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback who in 2002, at a time when he was a graduate assistant, claims to have witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the football locker room showers.

While what McQueary saw -and said -is being challenged, one thing we know is that no one called the police in 2002. No, the police were not called until 2008, as a result of the courage of a high school student who went to his principal and said he was victimized by Sandusky.

He is referred to in the grand jury summary as Victim No. 1, not because he was the first to be victimized, but because he was the first to come forward. And because of him, there are now a total of ten known victims, and 50 charges of abuse pending against Sandusky.  And frankly, it strains credulity to believe there are only ten victims.  If there is one real victim, my hunch is that there are many more than ten.

But where would we be without Victim No. 1? Arguably, the case would still be the stuff of cover-up. That's what I kept thinking while reading minute by minute tweets last Friday from media members in the court room for the preliminary hearing for former athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz.

Remember, there was a report of abuse by Sandusky that was investigated by Penn State police and referred to a local DA back in 1998.  The DA declined to prosecute.  Four years later is when McQueary saw something in the showers.  He told the athletic director about it, and the vice president in charge of campus police - a man who was in the loop on the claim just 4 years before.  No matter how McQueary described it, you'd think in light of the investigation just four years prior, that would have sounded the alarm bells and launched a full investigation.  But it didn't.  Instead, six more years passed, and it wasn't an adult who brought this to an end, it was a young man who'd been victimized.

He has paid a price for his courage. As the Patriot News newspaper said this weekend regarding Victim No. 1: His story gave others the strength to come forward, to share their stories with authorities. Together their testimonies have built a mountain of evidence against Sandusky and led to the fall of men once thought untouchable

Without him, it might still be continuing.  Once he came forward, others did likewise.  Others, who until that moment, were presumably suffering in silence. We ought to take a moment and reflect upon how a brave boy confronted an evil doer at a time when cowardly adults had simply closed their eyes and shut their mouths.  The grown-ups at Penn State, it seems, can learn a lesson in personal responsibility from the children they are supposed to be protecting.