Graphic Details About What McQueary, Janitor Saw
An aside before getting into today’s Sandusky trial events. First, this is the last time I attend any major news story without a media pass. Since I didn’t think I could cover the trial, I didn’t go through the credentialing process for media personnel. Which means I’m relegated to a public spot, when it comes to gaining entry into the trial (thus the long wait in line, where you still might not make it, if the public passes run out too soon) and I’m not allowed to take in any electronic devices–such as my cell phone or iPad. This severely limits how much work I can accomplish, given that I can’t even access my equipment until I return to my car and get them.
So I’ve left the breaking news and tweet trail largely to the reporters who are here with news organizations, and instead tried to focus on aspects of the trial they might not. Media folks not only get to keep their phones, laptops and other toys with them, they can then write their stories from the courtroom. Write, but not file. (Well, they’re not supposed to.)
This is an adorable town, and I’m presently sitting inside Cool Beans, a quaint little coffee shop and cafe where, among other lovely things, they fill your coffee with iced cubes made from–of all things–java! That’s just brilliant! And what a way to inspire customer loyalty, because I, for one, dislike watery coffee. Wendy Fultz, the owner, has owned the shop for four years, and says the tradition is a carryover begun by the previous owner. An additional benefit is that the food and service are excellent. Plus, they are so laid back here they don’t even kick you out when it’s closing time, and seek to reassure you that you’re not at all in the way.
I’ve met and gotten to know many journalists here, so you could say this place has become our own little Vesuvio, albeit dry, since it’s absent the liquor Jack Kerouac loved. They’re all sitting here like me, writing or researching or working with their editor or producer–all in pursuit of the perfect story and making their deadline. Among them is Diane Dimond, whose excellent piece about Matt Sandusky’s bombshell is in today’s Daily Beast.
Last night as we waited for word the jury was wrapping up deliberations, a few of us writer types gathered to discuss the case. That’s where I learned Diane worked with my favorite broadcast journalist, Bob Edwards, whom she calls “a doll.”
I also met The Washington Post’s own Joel Achenbach. I’ve enjoyed his work for years, especially when it sheds light on Arctic issues, such as those espoused by Sarah Palin. He’s a science man, so he’s not the usual person to cover crime stories like this one, but when I read his post about the sound of silence Monday, I thought it one of the most compelling pieces written about the trial.
Then there’s the BBC’s Kate Dailey, whose story about today’s McQueary reenactment is quite colorful, and well worth reading. Kate, who works in the D.C. bureau, isn’t British but she’s a southpaw like me, so that means if we sip down side by side, our elbows don’t argue.
Since she continues to break stories like the one about Matt Sandusky, I haven’t gotten to see much of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sara Ganim, but we had emailed each other early on during the Sandusky story. So it was a delight to bump into her Wednesday, and have her graciously tell me she didn’t care if it was autographed, she just wanted to read my book. I promptly took a copy from my purse and gave it to her.
I wish I had the weekend to just hang out here and explore the town, it’s that charming. But of course I’m under a time crunch. As ever. Right now, even though I don’t have a major network breathing deadline fire down my neck, I do have to write and post this, in case the jury returns with a verdict.
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Speaking of which, some readers have said they will lose all faith in the justice system, if Sandusky gets off. Truth be told, I’m right there with you. For several reasons: not only because of yesterday’s revelation by Matt Sandusky’s attorney, that he is another victim–that Sandusky, Matt’s adoptive father, molested him, too–but also because of today’s trial happenings.
Since I wasn’t here last week when Mike McQueary, doubtless the prosecution’s most controversial witness, testified, I had to read it online like everyone else. Those accounts are nothing like sitting inside a courtroom, though, as a witness with details such as McQueary was privy to, recounts them for the jury. So when the jury asked to have McQueary’s testimony reenacted, the players took their places and more than 90 minutes of reading began.
That’s where I personally learned for the first time exactly what McQueary witnessed in the Penn State University locker room when he came upon the former football coach having sex with a boy described as only coming up to Sandusky’s chest. It involves the yet unidentified Victim Number 2 and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty. It’s also graphic, because McQueary testified he saw the older man with his abdomen pressed up against the boy’s backside, slowly moving back and forth toward the child. McQueary’ testimony also said he heard “slapping sounds, skin on skin slapping sounds,” in some type of sex act.
If that isn’t specific enough, McQueary said Sandusky had his arms wrapped around the torso of the clearly prepubescent child in an embrace that was “very, very, very–the closest proximity I think you could be in,” said Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, reading McQueary’s words.
As to why McQueary didn’t go to the police straightaway, I’d say shock can best explain that failure. “You don’t expect to see anything like that. Ever,” Fina read for man who was then a graduate assistant at Penn State. As read back to the jury, McQueary said he was used to stressful situations, but what he said he is absolutely certain he saw, during two glances, was “more than my brain could process.”
I understand this, because I’ve been in similar situations: where you know you should take immediate action, but you just can’t. Whether from shock or fear is irrelevant, but I’d wager we’ve all been guilty of it. (I’ve written about this particular failure of McCleary’s elsewhere on this site.)
There was much more to the testimony, and the articles I’ve cited above outline far more details than I can do here. Because I want to briefly mention something interesting and unusual about this case. It involves Jim Calhoun, the janitor who now has dementia, but who told Ron Petrosky, another janitor at PSU that he also saw Sandusky in a compromising position with a child. Petrosky said Calhoun was so upset, he was shaking and his face was white from the shock of seeing Sandusky perform oral sex on a child in one of the showers. (In the grand jury report, Petosky said He feared Calhoun would have a heart attack.)
The testimony related in the courtroom, and repeated during closing arguments yesterday, included Calhoun telling Petrosky he had seen Sandusky in the actual act of having his mouth on the child’s penis. No wonder Calhoun was so addled by what he witnessed! And the reason the judge is allowing what would normally be considered hearsay, is because of how much it rattled Calhoun. That’s what the law calls an “excitable utterance,” and it’s permissible because the person who relates what they saw or heard is so shaken by it, the law recognizes something had to happen, for them to be in such a highly emotional state.
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Daleen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Berry is the first recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change, for her second book, Lethal Silence, to be published sometime in 2012. She has expertise in overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment, and wrote about Wanda Toppins’ murder in her book, after reporting on the case in 1991 when she worked for The Preston County Journal. Wanda was another Preston County woman who died needlessly, and who Berry wrote about in Sister of Silence.
To read the Sister of Silence e-book (or any other e-book), download a free app from Amazon for your phone, tablet or computer.
Berry’s an award-winning author, editor and journalist who speaks at conferences around the country. Berry was one of two keynote speakers addressing a national audience at “The Many Faces of Domestic Violence,” the 18th Annual Conference of the Association of Batterers’ Intervention Programs on March 1, 2012, in Anaheim, Calif. She recently spoke to social workers from all over the country at the “Hope for the Future: Ending Domestic Violence in Families” conference at the University of California, Berkeley.
Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read the first chapter free, please go to Goodreads. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.”
If you want to read dozens of other five-star reviews, check out this title on Amazon. To view the Sister of Silence book trailer, go to her VintageBerryWine Youtube channel. For a mock up of the SOS t-shirt readers are demanding, check out Berry’s Facebook page.