The Penn State football coach who told a grand jury that he saw another coach molest a child failed to meet "a moral obligation" to intervene, Pennsylvania’s governor said Sunday, adding that he expects more victims to come forward.
The coach who testified, Mike McQueary, had said he saw retired Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a shower at a campus football facility almost a decade ago. Sandusky is accused of assaulting eight boys over 15 years and has maintained his innocence. The university has put McQueary on leave from his job.
McQueary told the grand jury he was distraught by what he witnessed and walked away after both Sandusky and the boy saw him. He said he told his father what happened and then told head coach Joe Paterno, who reported it to his superiors. But those school officials, athletic director Tim Curley and school vice president Gary Schultz, face perjury charges, accused of covering up McQueary’s 2002 report.
The charges were filed last weekend and the grand jury’s report made public, and the resulting outrage made it clear that Paterno, who had coached for decades at Penn State, would share the blame. He was fired Wednesday. In his last game, a win over Illinois, he’d become the coach with the most wins in Division I history.
As for McQueary, the current attorney general had clearly decided that he was to be treated as a witness in the case, Gov. Tom Corbett said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."
McQueary met "the minimum obligation" of reporting what he saw to his superiors, who are required under Pennsylvania law to report such assaults to authorities. But McQueary "did not in my opinion meet a moral obligation that all of us would have," said the governor, who as attorney general initiated the investigation that led to the charges.
Corbett also said people have to keep in mind "that this is also somebody who is a witness to this crime and is a very important witness."
Additionally, Corbett went on FOX News Sunday and defended his vote to fire Paterno. He said that Paterno lost his confidence by not doing more to alert authorities about a report that Sandusky raped a child in the football team’s locker room, even though a grand jury determined Paterno did nothing criminal by not taking further action.
"As governor, I have a requirement to make sure that we protect the children of Pennsylvania. That’s my focus on this," he said. "In my opinion, when you don’t follow through, when you don’t continue on to make sure that actions are taken, then I lose confidence in your ability to lead. That would be the case here."
While expressing caution about discussing a case under active investigation, Corbett added that he blamed Paterno — and University President Graham Spanier, who was also fired — for "a failure to act."
"I’ve always have said, your actions speak louder than your words. That should not have been able to continue," Corbett said. "The actions or the failure to act while maybe not criminal, caused me not to have confidence in the president and in the coach."
State lawmakers from both parties have proposed changes to toughen the law that governs the reporting of sex assaults, Corbett added. He said he would not be surprised to see it strengthened this year.
"We have to make sure the change in the law is one that is effective," he said.
Corbett said he expects more allegations of abuse to materialize, a common occurrence in abuse cases.
"When the word gets out, when people understand that authorities are actually doing something about this, that they may be believed, then more people come forward," Corbett said.
Authorities have asked for victims to contact them.
Sandusky encountered all the boys through a charity he founded to help at-risk children, Second Mile, prosecutors have said. Leaders of the organization plan to meet soon to determine its future, Corbett said.
"If you talk to people who have worked with Second Mile, it has done great work," he said. "And if it should cease to exist, I am hopeful that other organizations will pick up the work that they did. We need to reach out to these children. We need to give them guidance."