Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Doing it wrong vs. doing it right - Penn State vs. The Second Mile

Over the last few days, there has been a lot of criticism of Penn State University, an institution that at times seemed to go out of its way to protect its current and former staff at the expense of the victims of sexual abuse by one former member of that staff. Here's what Graham Spanier was saying just a few short days ago:

The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance.

With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee.

Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately.

Graham Spanier

A few days later, Penn State tried to control the reaction to the case. First, the college said that Joe Paterno's press conference would only take questions regarding football and the Nebraska game - as if anyone wanted to ask about the Nebraska game at the time. When the media howled about the restrictions, the press conference was cancelled.

Perhaps both of these actions could be justified. After all, Curley and Schultz are innocent until proven guilty, and lawyers really wouldn't want Paterno to comment on an ongoing investigation. But at the same time, these actions just didn't fell right to anyone. They certainly didn't feel right to the mother of one of the victims.

When the arrests were announced Saturday, and the family learned that two Penn State officials had known about a prior incident and didn’t report it to police, she flipped out.

“I’m infuriated that people would not report something like that,” she said. “I still can’t believe it. I’m appalled. I’m shocked. I’m stunned. There’s so many words. I’m very mad. They could have prevented this from happening.”

Her son has accused Sandusky of four years of abuse, and it started not long after Curley and Schultz were notified of a abuse report in 2002.

The attorney general has said their inaction allowed Sandusky to molest this boy.

His mom said he knows that.

“He’s very angry,” she said. “I just can’t fathom how anybody could do that. When I read the indictment, I was very shocked that there was so many people that didn’t do anything ... and there had to be more people covering it up, I think, for him to get away with it for this long.”

Contrast this to the reaction of The Second Mile, the charity founded by Jerry Sandusky. On its web page, you can currently find these statements.

A Statement from The Second Mile 11.6.2011

The newly released details and the breadth of the allegations from the Attorney General’s office bring shock, sadness and concern from The Second Mile organization. Our prayers, care and compassion go out to all impacted.

The most recent reports we’ve read this past weekend state that Mr. Sandusky met the alleged victims through The Second Mile. To our knowledge, all the alleged incidents occurred outside of our programs and events. However, we are encouraging anyone with information regarding this investigation to contact investigators from the Office of Attorney General at 814-863-1053 or Pennsylvania State Police at 814-470-2238.

As The Second Mile’s CEO Jack Raykovitz testified to the Grand Jury, he was informed in 2002 by Pennsylvania State University Athletic Director Tim Curley that an individual had reported to Mr. Curley that he was uncomfortable about seeing Jerry Sandusky in the locker room shower with a youth. Mr. Curley also shared that the information had been internally reviewed and that there was no finding of wrongdoing. At no time was The Second Mile made aware of the very serious allegations contained in the Grand Jury report.

Subsequently, in November 2008, Mr. Sandusky informed The Second Mile that he had learned he was being investigated as a result of allegations made against him by an adolescent male in Clinton County, PA. Although he maintained there was no truth to the claims, we are an organization committed first and foremost to the safety and well-being of the children we serve. Consistent with that commitment and with The Second Mile policy, we immediately made the decision to separate him from all of our program activities involving children. Thus, from 2008 to present, Mr. Sandusky has had no involvement with Second Mile programs involving children.

The Second Mile was first contacted by the Attorney General’s office in early 2011. Since then, we have done everything in our power to cooperate with law-enforcement officials and will continue to do so.

Our highest priority always has been and will continue to be the safety and well-being of the children participating in our programs. We encourage program participants to report any allegations of abuse and/or inappropriate sexual activity wherever it has occurred, and we take any such reports directly to Child Protective Services. We have many policies and procedures designed to protect our participants, including employee and volunteer background checks, training and supervision of our activities.

The Second Mile has helped thousands of Pennsylvania’s children to lead better lives, and we remain committed to that mission. Our success is a result of the trust placed in us by the families and professionals with whom we partner, and we will take any steps needed to maintain their confidence in us.

And while Penn State is focused on its game with Nebraska on Saturday, the Second Mile has chosen to take a different tack.

Second Mile Reverse Drawing Scheduled for November 11, 2011 Postponed

We thank all of you who have purchased tickets for The Second Mile’s Reverse Drawing. The Second Mile has helped thousands of Pennsylvania’s children to lead better lives, and we thank you for your support of that mission.

That mission was in evidence as Second Mile Friend and Friend Fitness events took place at a number of locations across the Commonwealth this past weekend. We very much appreciate the continued trust placed in us by the families of all of our program participants. We remain committed to providing our programs and services to children as scheduled.

While we are providing our children’s programming as scheduled, The Second Mile has decided, out of respect and compassion for all impacted by the allegations from the Attorney General’s office, to postpone The Second Mile’s Reverse Drawing, which was to be held November 11, 2011. In past years, this has been a fun-filled and exciting evening, and we cannot imagine holding this event in the wake of the recent allegations, which have brought shock, sadness and concern to all associated with The Second Mile organization.

We thank you again for your support, and we look forward to seeing you at the re-scheduled event. We will be in contact with you about your Reverse Drawing support and our continuing to serve children together.

The Second Mile realizes that drastic action needs to be taken in this crisis, and is working as quickly as possible to regain the trust of its donors and beneficiaries.

The same cannot be said of Penn State.
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