Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Some thoughts on Penn State and Joe Paterno. First of all, I hope that if I witnessed a sexual assault in progress that I'd do something to stop it, and call the cops. Mike McQueary apparently did neither of these things, and instead told his father what he'd seen and asked for advice. I guarantee that had I been in his position my father would have asked, "What did you do to stop it?" and "Are the police on the way?" He would not have told me to tell Joe Paterno about it.

Second, people seem to be confused about what this story is actually about. It is only tangentially a story about college sports-- what it really is about is the way that colleges handle incidences of sexual assault. Notwithstanding the fact that sexual assault is a criminal matter the default response on campus is to handle these things internally. The Penn State situation is unusual only in that the victims were not members of the campus community, but were instead brought onto campus by the assailant. Given the culture-- and the actual sexual assault policies of every school we've sued over the years-- it is hardly surprising that everyone who was made aware of the situation passed the matter up the administrative chain.

Third, there appears to be some backlash suggesting that Paterno is being scapegoated. In view of the fact that he made the wrong choice at each step of this genuine crisis, I can't agree. If he didn't want to be fired the classy thing to have done would have been to have resigned. Months ago. It is incredible to me that someone nearly universally regarded as a moral avatar could have been so morally tone deaf, particularly with the example of the crisis in his own religion before him as an example.

| Comments:
agree - 100%

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