In all of the mess that has transpired in and around Penn State in the past week or so, there’s one thing Pennsylvania’s attorney general has made clear: Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary did, based on what’s known at this time, what they were legally obligated to do in the eyes of the law.
Whether they met a moral obligation with information they had — McQueary testified to a grand jury that he witnessed former assistant Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy and took that information to Paterno, who took it to his boss — has become an overriding subset of the controversy that’s erupted since Sandusky was indicted on 40 counts of sexually abusing eight children last weekend.
The scandal has cost Paterno his job, and left McQueary on administrative leave. It’s also led to the university launching an investigation that will be undertaken “to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable.”
Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning (see video below), Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, who was the attorney general when his office began the investigation into the Sandusky allegations in 2009, said that calls from both sides of the political aisle are surfacing to change the existing laws as it pertains to the reporting of abuse, sexual or otherwise, at public institutions such as Penn State.
“We have to make sure the change in the law is one that is effective,” the governor said.
Corbett also spoke on McQueary specifically, saying that while the then-graduate assistant met “the minimum obligation… [he] did not in my opinion meet a moral obligation that all of us would have.”
And Corbett is absolutely correct. While McQueary and even Paterno may have done what was legally obligated, bare minimum as it was, neither McQueary nor Paterno nor any other Penn State official connected to this whole sad, sordid saga even remotely approached doing what was morally right: intervene immediately and pursue justice for the child that was allegedly raped on their campus, and put a stop to an alleged predatory pedophile who went on to claim, the grand jury said, other children as victims after the alleged 2002 rape.
There’s a legal aspect to this situation as it pertains to the person directly involved in the alleged molestation of children — and those that may have been involved in a cover-up — and then there’s the moral aspect. We’re guessing civil courts will take care of the latter.