Parsing rape is a well-used and weary defense, often employed by attorneys, most certainly by the rapist. And in the case of former Penn State coach and convicted rapist now serving a 30 â 60 year sentence for 45 counts of child sexual abuse, parsing rape becomes his only strategy.
His parse? The witness got it wrong, says Jerry Sandusky on tapes recorded for documentary filmmaker John Ziegler and played on NBCâs âToday Showâ on Monday, March 25.
That witness who âmisinterpretedâ things would be Mike McQueary, a graduate student and assistant football coach working in the athletic department at Penn during the time of the Sandusky/Joe Paterno reign, which came to a crashing end in 2011 after a slew of rape and sexual abuse charges against Sandusky. You may recall that McQueary is the person who walked into the shower area of the locker room back in 2001 and testified later that he heard a âskin on skin smacking soundâ which he interpreted as sex:
ââ¦ McQueary described the incident to his father and the description mentioned hearing but not seeing a slapping sound in the other room, seeing Sandusky put his hand around the childâs waist and later emerging wearing a towel. Mike McQuearyâs testimony for the preliminary perjury trial says that he heard âtwo or threeâ slapping sounds before entering the locker room, and later saw Sandusky with his arms around the childâs waist while hearing âmore than oneâ of the showerheads running and saw that the childâs hair âwas wetâ; 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 âover the lineâ and âextremely sexualâ and âsome sort of intercourseâ was taking place, and that he tried to explain what he had seen to Coach Paterno by using the word âfondling.â [Source]
This, Jerry Sandusky claims, is where it all got grossly misunderstood. From Salon:
âThat would have been the last thing I would have thought about,â Sandusky said during what Ziegler described as 3Â½ hours of interviews. âI would have thought maybe fooling around or something like that.â
Yes. Because âfooling aroundâ or âsomething like thatâ with a 10-year-old boy in a shower would have been so much more acceptable, Mr. Sandusky.
But given the facts of the case, which included indictments on over 40 charges of sex crimes perpetrated against eight young boys over a period from 1994 through 2009, with attendant recordings of salacious phone calls and other inappropriate correspondence entered into evidence, it is safe to presume Sanduskyâs interpretation of facts are sadly lacking in wisdom or honest perspective. It is particularly compelling to hear his take, after the fact, on what it is McQueary walked in onâ¦âfooling aroundâ becomes a dismissal of actual rape. But then, rapists so seldom conjure an interpretation of their actions that includes the honesty of the word ârape,â as weâve just sadly witnessed, conversely, in the Steubenville case, where young boys thought molesting an unconscious teen did not rise to the level of actual rape. In both cases, the jury thought otherwise.
Filmmaker John Ziegler was interviewing Sandusky as a member of the late Joe Paterno defense team, hired by the Paterno family looking to clear Paternoâs name as a man who knew of Sanduskyâs molestation of children and ignored it. Sandusky was reportedly asked to testify on Paternoâs behalf at trial but âchose not to do so,â according to Paterno family lawyer, Wick Sollers:
Sandusky also told Ziegler he was not sure whether head coach Joe Paterno, who was fired after Sanduskyâs November 2011 arrest, would have let him keep coaching if he suspected Sandusky was a pedophile. Sandusky was investigated by university police for a separate shower incident in 1998, but remained one of Paternoâs top assistants through 1999.
âIf he absolutely thought I was, Iâd say no,â Sandusky said. âIf he had a suspicion, I donât know the answer to that.â [Source]
Perhaps not as unequivocal as the Paterno family would have liked.
But maybe they can get more from Sandusky the next go-around. He isnât going anywhere for the next 30 to 60 yearsâ¦ locked up for what he would call, âmaybe fooling around.â