Ethically Speaking – Just for the Cops?

Let’s look at an episode that has blown ethics completely out of the water for the whole country and probably the world: Jerry Sandusky's molesting of young boys and the in-action of Pennsylvania State University staff to notify the police of his...

"This is a more humane and upfront way to handle this,” Gary Schultz, who was a university vice president at the time.

“Spanier allegedly acknowledges Penn State could be "vulnerable" for not reporting the incident “

"The only downside for us is if the message (to Sandusky) isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it," Spanier purportedly writes.

“In an alleged e-mail dated February 26, 2001, Schultz writes to Curley that he assumes Curley's "got the ball" "contacting the Department of Welfare," according to a source with knowledge of the case.”

“The next evening, February 27, Curley allegedly writes to Spanier; Schultz, who's out of the office for two weeks, is copied.  Curley indicates he no longer wants to contact child welfare authorities just yet. He refers to a conversation the day before with Paterno. It's not known what Paterno may have said to Curley.  Curley allegedly writes: "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps."

“The athletic director apparently preferred to keep the situation an internal affair and talk things over with Sandusky instead of notifying the state's child welfare agency.  "I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved," Curley allegedly continues.  “But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed," he adds.

“The next afternoon, Schultz allegedly responds to the Penn State president and its athletic director. Schultz signs off on handling the matter without telling anyone on the outside, at least for the time being.”

“Curley writes he'd be "more comfortable" meeting with Sandusky himself and telling him they know about the 2001 incident and, according to a source with knowledge of the case, he refers to another shower incident with a boy in 1998 that was investigated by police but never resulted in charges against Sandusky”  (CNN July 2nd, 2012)

This goes on forever.  Ethically speaking Penn State went to hell in a handbag.  Understanding that when the first report to the college was made, there was no mandatory report to police; law educators should have had the ethics to have simply called 911 or called campus police; however, they covered up for Sandusky for years knowing he was abusing young boys.

What message was/is Penn State sending?  What you see here today is no different than what we know as the “Blue Line”, “Blue Veil”, or “Code of Silence.”  Their ethics went out the wall for over ten years.  They were covering for a former friend and retired employee.  This does sound familiar right?  Are we hitting the nail on the head?

Fortunately for the victims there is some type of justice.  The grand jury decided that Schultz and Curley lied in court.  Now they are charged with perjury.  This investigation continues and I would not be surprised if there are more arrests.

Ethics is not for just police anymore.  This conduct should not be ignored or condoned.  This is the time for the rest of the world to catch up.  There is a little known saying in the Legal Liability Risk Management world “There’s a lawsuit in there somewhere.”  Lawsuits are what people believe is the end of the story in cases like these.  That is not true.  Jerry Sandusky’s victims have been traumatized and will need help for the rest of their lives. 

Penn State will pay out millions of dollars to the victims, money that would have never left the campus had they simply done the right thing.  All they had to do was pick up the phone and drop the atomic quarter.  Sure, the college would have a cloud over it for a while.

The NCAA made public it’s punishment of Penn State. President Mark Emmert in a news conference said that Penn States wins from 1998 to 2011 would be reversed.  The school would be allowed only 15 of 25 scholarships for incoming players if any would come there to begin with.  Finally, the school would be fined sixty million dollars and a four year bowl ban.

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