It began with an article Rich Luthmann wrote for the Frank Report, where he mentioned Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach convicted of sexually abusing boys in 2012.
The Frank Report repeated the common narrative and read, in part:
“Joe Paterno, then the head football coach, faced criticism for not adequately addressing reports of misconduct by his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was convicted in 2012 for the abuse of ten boys, receiving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison. “A former Penn State quarterback, Mike McQueary, had reported witnessing Sandusky raping a boy in a Penn State locker room shower in 2001. Paterno informed Penn State officials but did not contact law enforcement. The revelations led to Paterno’s firing in 2011. He died a few months later.”
After publishing the story, I received an email from Frederick Crews, PhD, an Emeritus Professor of English at Berkeley, who authored numerous books, including “Freud: The Making of an Illusion,” published in 2017. His email was short: “The truth about the Sandusky case is exactly opposite to what the public believes. Please read this, just for starters: A Shower Of Lies: Spanier, Sandusky And The Mess At Penn State.
I read his essay and found more articles Crews had written about Sandusky. We spoke on the phone. He surprised me when he told me he was 90.
Why would a man past 90, an educated man, with a keen clear mind and the ability to express himself in concise language, put time into exonerating a notorious pedophile?
Crews said he did not know Sandusky before his conviction.
A Small Group Are Unconvinced
Online searches revealed that a small group thinks Sandusky may be innocent.
John Ziegler, for example, produced a documentary “Framing Paterno,” which argues that media and public opinion unfairly targeted Joe Paterno in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal. Ziegler maintains a website called FramingPaterno.com. He interviewed Sandusky in prison and shared those interviews publicly.
Then there is Ralph Cipriano, a journalist formerly with the Los Angeles Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has written extensively about the Sandusky prosecution.
And John Snedden, a former NCIS agent who is a special agent for the Federal Investigative Services. He conducted an independent investigation on the president of Penn State who was fired for the Sandusky coverup.
“There was no coverup,” Snedden said on Ziegler’s podcast. “There was no conspiracy. There was nothing to cover up.” Ziegler asked Snedden if he turned up evidence during his investigation that Sandusky was a pedophile.
“It was not sexual,” Snedden said about what Mike McQueary allegedly heard and saw in the Penn State showers. “It was not sexual,” Snedden insisted. “Nothing at all relative to a sexual circumstance. Nothing.”
Then there is Mark Pendergrast, who wrote the book, “The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment.” He reviews the evidence, trial proceedings, and media coverage of the case and suggests Sandusky is innocent.
Pendergrast has also written on recovered memories, authoring two books, “Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives,” and “The Repressed Memory Epidemic: How It Happened and What We Need to Learn from It.” In these books, he delves into the psychological phenomenon of repressed and recovered memories in the context of sexual abuse allegations.
This is relevant because almost the entire case against Sandusky was built on “recovered memory.”
The case ignited with McQueary, who said he saw Sandusky in the shower with a boy. That boy, Allan Myers, initially said Sandusky never sexually abused him. Through the help of a psychotherapist, Myers recalled he was sexually abused.
He did not testify at the trial.
But eight men did. Of the eight, seven had forgotten Sandusky abused them as boys. Therapists helped them remember, after they had retained lawyers.
Eight men testified at Sandusky’s 2012 trial, telling stories of abuse when they were boys.
The Victims and Their Awards
Here are the “victims” and their awards from Penn State:
1. Aaron Fisher, $7.5 million
2. Allan Myers, $6.9 million. (Shower boy; he didn’t testify.)
3. Jason Simcisko, $7.25 million
4. Brett Swisher-Houtz, $5.5 million
5. Michal Kajak, $8.1 million
6. Zachary Konstas, $1.5 million
7. Dustin Struble, $3.25 million
8. Unknown, unnamed, never-identified “victim,” no payment because he never materialized
9. Sabastian Paden, $20 million
10. Ryan Rittmeyer, $5.5 million
Victim #8 is a man unknown. Victim #10, Ryan Rittmeyer, is the only victim who did not need a therapist to remember Sandusky abused him.
All victims met Sandusky through the Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977, an organization said to serve troubled boys, but later known to be a setup for Sandusky to sexually abuse boys – and, it seems, to forget they were ever abused. There was never any report of sexual abuse by any boy, nor contemporary reports of abuse, despite hundreds of rapes and sexual acts by Sandusky against forgetful boys.
No allegation came out until Sandusky was under investigation for the shower boy incident, when two attorneys came on the scene to help any man who ever met Sandusky as a boy remember.
Victim 5 – Michal Kajak – for instance, did not remember being abused by Sandusky. But memory recall therapy revealed Sandusky abused him when he was 10. More therapy helped him remember he was not ten at the time, but actually 12. Next, he remembered he was not 12, but actually almost 14.
Kajak’s abuse was not rape. Memory therapy helped him recall that Sandusky soaped him up in the shower and may have touched his penis. He got $8.1 million.
Then there is Sabastian Paden (victim 9). Paden did not recall any abuse by Sandusky but later recalled Sandusky molesting him about 150 times. On one occasion, Sandusky locked Paden in his basement for three days, starving him and raping him anally and orally, while Dottie Sandusky, one floor above, was undisturbed by his screams.
Paden went away with the highest award – $20 million. Afterward, he went on Facebook to post: “Shit I’m balling like a mother fuck yea $.”
Based on his conviction, and the settlements of Penn State, Sandusky committed more than 500 rapes without any boy making a complaint.
If we believe the evidence the jury believed, justice was served. And the biggest dispenser of justice was attorney Andrew Shubin. He represented most of the victims who testified at the trial. Before they testified he helped them get their memories back by referring them to recovered memory psychotherapists. He represented poor men and made them millionaires – taking between one-third to half of their settlements with Penn State – between $20-30 million.
He did it all on spec. He did not charge them a dime; which he explained upfront unless they got money. Then they shared.
In fact, Shubin represented the boy seen in the shower by Asst. Coach McQueary, which started the whole thing. The shower boy, a man named Allan Myers, did not testify at Sandusky’s trial because attorney Shubin chose not to disclose his whereabouts, which apparently was at a rural location Shubin provided for the young man.
It made sense. Myers might have been a bad witness and if he testified justice might not be served. Myers originally told police Sanudsky did not abuse him, though he did shower with him in the locker room showers at Penn State.
Attorney Shubin provided Myers with a recovered memory therapist and Myers recalled his abuse. He got $6.9 million.
The Mystery of Victim 8 and the Reliability of Testimony
Of the ten whose victimization convicted Sandusky, two did not appear at trial: the shower boy, Myers, and Victim 8, whose name remains unknown to this date.
His existence is known only through the testimony of a Penn State janitor. He never saw Victim 8, but heard from another janitor that Sandusky abused an unknown boy in the locker room at an unspecified time.
The original janitor who witnessed the abuse was not called to testify due to cognitive issues. However, he had previously told police that the abuser whom he saw was most definitely not Sandusky.
Victim 8 never testified because he was never identified. The man who saw him being abused did not testify, as he was said to have dementia. Victim 8 came to life before the jury through a janitor who heard from another janitor that the unknown boy was abused. Double hearsay created Victim 8, who never received any money because he never came forward.
Rittmeyer’s Testimony: A Memory Unclouded
But eight young men did testify, and seven recovered memories aided by a therapist recommended by their attorneys. One man, the eighth, Ryan Rittmeyer, did not need therapy. He remembered Sandusky abusing him as a boy. He called the attorney general’s hotline, which sought victims of Sandusky, and retained attorney Andrew Shubin.
Rittmeyer was convicted of burglary in 2004, then burglary and assault in 2007. His criminal record expanded to include convictions for impersonation, criminal solicitation, robbery, and reckless endangerment, all of which was later blamed on the trauma inflicted by Sandusky.
Like other accusers, Rittmeyer never revealed his abuse when it happened as a boy.
But the man, Rittmeyer, testified Sandusky drove him in a silver convertible, exposed his penis, and invited the boy to put it in his mouth. Rittmeyer refused. Sandusky threatened to kill him.
Everything Rittmeyer said, the jury believed, except possibly the silver convertible. Sandusky never had a convertible. Rittmeyer received $5.5 million.
Rittmeyer was perhaps the best, most forthcoming witness possibly because he did not need therapy to remember his abuse.
Which brings us back to the shower boy who hid during the trial. He was likely to be a terrible witness since just a few months before retaining attorney Shubin, Myers told investigator Curtis Everhart, “Never in my life did I ever feel uncomfortable or violated… never did Jerry do wrong by me… I will never have anything bad to say about Jerry.”
He learned to recall this was untrue.
As Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan told the jury before calling his witnesses, he would have to “press these young men for the details of their victimization,” because “they don’t want to remember.” “That’s why the investigation was slow,” McGettigan told the jury, because “the doors of people’s minds” were closed.
Nobody believed Myers would make a good witness to corroborate McQueary’s story of how he saw Sandusky rape him when he was 10. For one thing, Myers was 14 at the time it allegedly happened.
McQueary’s Impact on the Case
Which brings us back to the man who got the ball rolling – Mike Jacob McQueary who saw Myers in the shower with Sandusky.
An athlete, McQueary, then in his twenties, at 6’4″ and 220 pounds, said in 2002, he saw a naked, 57-year-old Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in the locker room showers and ran away. He did not even call the police but he told head coach Joe Paterno the following day.
His original story got the ball rolling against Sandusky.
Later, McQueary changed his story to align with Paterno’s later-revealed diary, backdating it to 2001, since Paterno’s diary showed he was out of town on the date McQueary said he reported the incident to him.
Later still he claimed he never said he saw Sandusky rape the 10-year-old boy.
He wrote deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach, “I cannot say 1000 percent sure that it was sodomy. I did not see insertion. It was a sexual act and or way over the line in my opinion whatever it was.”
His story changed again. After being ridiculed for running away with a rape of a 10-year-old boy in progress, not even calling the police, McQueary said he did tell police on campus. Neither university police nor the State College PD had a record of his contact with them.
Later still, McQueary admitted under oath that he did not actually see Sandusky rape the 10-year-old boy but rather he heard ‘two or three’ slapping sounds and later saw Sandusky with his arms around the child’s waist and saw that the child’s hair “was wet.” Although he did not see any sexual contact of hands or genitals or any evidence of arousal, just from the positions of the bodies he knew it was ‘over the line’ and ‘extremely sexual’ and ‘some sort of intercourse’ was taking place.
The McQueary story, whether in 2001, 2002, or another year, and whether it was sodomy seen or only heard or something else, it not only ignited the prosecution of Sandusky, but also led to the firing of Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach, the university’s athletic director, Tim Curley, vice president Gary Schultz, and Penn State President Graham Spanier – all accused of covering up the shower boy crime.
McQueary, an assistant coach paid a salary of $140,000 per year, had troubles of his own.
He was allegedly illegally betting on Penn State football games, and used a Penn State phone to text photos of his penis to various women who weren’t his wife. Oddly, one of the women McQueary allegedly sent photos of himself was Sandusky’s attorney’s wife.
Penn State Dispenses with Protocol in Settlement with Victims
Following the Sandusky conviction and million-dollar awards for nine brave survivors, about 30 other men claimed Sandusky also abused them as boys.
In addition to the $60 million in payouts to the victims who testified and the shower boy who hid, Penn State made $50 million more in payouts to victims who came forward after the conviction.
To show sensitivity for the survivors, Penn State dispensed with normal vetting of claims and paid victims based on their uncorroborated stories, largely related by their attorneys, who charged the victims nothing but a percentage of 33 to 50 percent of what the young men collected.
How Recovered Memories Worked So Well in the Case
It was recovered memories that enabled making millionaires of men who forgot Sandusky abused them. The process is illustrated by Dustin Struble (Victim #7).
At first, Struble said, “Jerry Sandusky, he has helped me understand so much about myself. He is such a kind and caring gentleman, and I will never forget him.”
He told the grand jury Sandusky never molested him.
Struble, possibly through a referral from the prosecutors, retained attorney Andrew Shubin.
Shubin arranged for Struble to see a psychotherapist, and after a dozen recovered memory sessions, Struble remembered Sandusky put his hands down his pants when they were riding in Sandusky’s car. And in a locker room shower, Sandusky grabbed him and pushed his front against his backside, touched the boy’s nipples, and blew on his stomach.
Asked why his story changed, Struble testified, “That doorway that I had closed has since been reopening more. More things have been coming back and things have changed since that grand jury testimony. Through counseling and different things, I can remember a lot more detail that I had pushed aside than I did at that point.”
Penn State paid Struble $3,250,000.
Fisher Had Trouble Remembering Then Speaking About It
The process also worked for Victim #1, Aaron Fisher.
Fisher saw psychotherapist Mike Gillum, who extracts true recollection by encouraging the patient to face some of the truth, then more, and eventually all of it.
The process is so nuanced that the victim, Fisher, did not have to actually say what happened.
Gillum would “peel the onion,” by guessing what he thought Sandusky did, and Fisher would nod his head or say “Yes” or “No.”
When Fisher finally began to remember, he was ready to be interviewed by police. Gillum accompanied him on every interview.
At first, Fisher was hesitant and partial in his explanations of abuse. Two grand juries refused to hand down an indictment against Sandusky.
Gillum said it took him six months to peel away enough onion layers for Fisher to nod his head or say “yes,” when asked if Sandusky forced oral sex upon him — a charge Fisher retracted in the first grand jury appearance.
By the time he got to trial, Fisher (as “Victim 1”) could clearly nod yes to the questions.
Just as Gillum would pose questions, and Fisher would simply say yes or no – at trial the prosecutor asked, “Did the defendant put his penis in your mouth more than twenty-five times over the course of 2007, 2008?”
Fisher replied, “It was — yeah.”
The prosecutor asked whether Aaron performed oral sex on Sandusky at least twenty-five times.
Again, Fisher was able to say, “yes.”
Fisher and his attorney Shubin settled his case for $7.5 million.
Gerald Arthur Sandusky, born January 26, 1944, will be 80 in a month. He has been in prison since 2012. I am told he is a man beloved at the State Correctional Institution – Laurel Highlands, where no one, including the guards, thinks he is a child molester.
But no one thought he was a child molester for 30 years until Mike McQueary saw (or heard) something in the showers and an attorney helped some men remember things they never imagined happened.
Most of the world believes Sandusky is guilty. For him not to be guilty means his conviction rivals, for instance, the McMartin Preschool trial, or the conviction of Robert Kelly, or the Amirault family, who were convicted first by the media, then by reckless prosecutors, and later released from prison after suffering for years.
I suppose it’s time to look into this. But before Dr. Crews sent me his email, like everyone else, I just assumed Sandusky was guilty. He may be guilty, but just now, I am not so sure.