Jerry Sandusky: Penn State and The Second Mile

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The Second Mile is a charitable organization that was founded by Jerry Sandusky in 1977 to serve disadvantaged youth. Jerry Sandusky, 67, is the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions. He worked side by side with head coach Joe Paterno for 30-plus years before his sudden retirement in 1999, at the age of 55.

As the founder of The Second Mile, Sandusky was a major fundraiser, contributor, and volunteer for the organization. According to a grand jury report on Sandusky, he used the charity — which the grand jury noted was initially founded to help troubled young boys — to gain access to young boys.

Jerry Sandusky was under investigation for almost three years and, in that time, numerous individuals from Penn State and The Second Mile testified before the grand jury. Oddly, Penn State acted as though it had been blindsided by Sandusky’s indictment and arrest and, more interestingly, was completely unprepared for the maelstrom that was to follow.

There’s no easy way to explain that. However, it causes many to suggest that Penn State still — in spite of the reality at their doorstep — believed it was untouchable and above reproach. That’s possible.

In a less likely albeit plausible scenario, perhaps Penn State’s reaction was some twisted attempt at PR spin. Maybe they realized that if it appeared the university wasn’t taken by surprise and actually was fully prepared every step of the way once the news broke, their image could have still taken a huge hit.

Maybe, in some Machiavellian way of thinking, Penn State officials thought they’d fare better in the court of public opinion if they were perceived as being so shocked and devastated by the “revelations” that they could barely function. Thus, Penn State the institution becomes a victim of the monster Sandusky.

The Pennsylvania attorney general, however, in a press release following the indictment, made statements that indicate the former is more likely the case.

“The failure of top university officials to act on reports of Sandusky’s alleged sexual misconduct, even after it was reported to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness, allowed a predator to walk free for years – continuing to target new victims,” [Attorney General Linda] Kelly said. “Equally disturbing is the lack of action and apparent lack of concern among those same officials, and others who received information about this case, who either avoided asking difficult questions or chose to look the other way.”

Kelly said that despite the false testimony and “uncooperative atmosphere” encompassing some Penn State University and Second Mile officials, investigators from the Attorney General’s Office and State Police gradually uncovered a pattern of other potential sexual assaults by Sandusky. 

Well, we already know who the attorney general means by false testimony, as two (now former) Penn State officials have been charged with perjury. However, what is this about an “uncooperative” atmosphere encompassing Second Mile officials? That sure is interesting.

We know for certain that one of those officials who testified is Jack Raykovitz, the CEO of The Second Mile. Perhaps they are also referring to attorney Wendell Courtney, who at the time of the 1998 incident, was legal counsel for both Penn State and The Second Mile. But why — WHY — would people who are in charge of protecting and helping at-risk children be “uncooperative”? My oh my, that certainly is odd…or is it? I expect we’ll hear a tad bit more about The Second Mile in the months to come.

I don’t want to state this as fact but, it might be worth mentioning that it has been reported that some are looking into the suggestion/allegation/rumor that…it pains me to say this…Jerry Sandusky was pimping out boys to rich donors. If that’s not enough to make you want to vomit, I don’t know what will do the trick. Of course, this is, as of this writing, unfounded.

Once again, I will state that just about nothing would shock me at this point, as far as this scandal is concerned. I certainly hope that is not true — I hope beyond hope — but it could be. After all, who would have imagined that Sandusky would be arrested for sexual abusing children? (Other than everyone who suspected or knew about his proclivities, of course.)

Who would have imagined that people at Penn State knew about Sandusky’s alleged inappropriate behavior — or maybe even saw inappropriate behavior with their own eyes? Would so many people keep Sandusky’s secret, if there was one to keep? Of course, if there was — and they were, no one was keeping that secret for Sandusky. It was all in the name of Penn State. It was always about Penn State.

Until last week, Cal Ripken Jr. was listed as one of the honorary directors of The Second Mile. He requested that his name be removed from all publications, following Sandusky’s arrest November 5 on 40 counts of child sexual abuse. It is important to note, however, that Ripken’s only involvement was a one-time speaking engagement at a benefit for The Second Mile.

Former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz’s name has also been removed from their literature since Sandusky’s arrest. Holtz, who is now an ESPN analyst, said he also spoke at a fundraiser for The Second Mile (in 2009) and was unaware that the organization had listed him as an honorary director on its site.

Joe Paterno’s name has also been removed from the website, but it is unknown at this point if it was done so at his request or if the organization acted on its own in doing so. According to news reports, other honorary directors included Arnold Palmer, Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Andy Reid, coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, and actor Mark Wahlberg. As of Friday, a list of honorary directors had been removed from The Second Mile website. A search for the organization’s board of directors has also turned up no results.

"Jerry Sandusky Arrested Sex Abuse"

A week after Sandusky’s arrest, The Second Mile’s website still featured a flash introduction that features emotionally charged (and now tragically ironic) words like “responsibility,” “opportunity,” “character,” positive contact,” and “positive interaction.” Eerie.

The CEO of The Second Mile, Jack Raykovitz, issued a statement (which is posted on its homepage) on November 6, the day following Sandusky’s arrest that reads, in part:

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.

However, it is interesting to note two things. First, who is lying about the 2002 account? Did Athletic Director Tim Curley lie to the CEO of The Second Mile about what he was told by Mike McQueary? (According to the Sandusky grand jury report, McQueary told administrators that he saw Jerry Sandusky raping a child in the locker room.)

Or is the CEO whitewashing what he was informed about that incident? Second, what about the 1998 accusations and subsequent investigation that did involve the Penn State University Police and the district attorney? The child at the center of that investigation was also a member of The Second Mile.

Keep in mind that the 1998 accusation and subsequent investigation was for behavior far less sinister and legally criminal (it involved showering and inappropriate touching) than what McQueary claims to have witnessed in 2002. However — and this is a vital aspect — the 1998 investigation involved the child’s mother, a Penn State outsider.

We can only assume at this point that was the juggernaut that propelled an investigation at that point. OK, juggernaut is a little strong. Maybe we should say “motivation.” After all, the end result, as we now know, was that it was swept under the rug and kept silent.

So, in 2002, when Jerry Sandusky was suspected of inappropriate behavior, that was at least the second accusation involving a child. Why was he permitted full, unfettered access to children until 2008? Furthermore, if this investigation began in 2008, why did Sandusky not resign from The Second Mile until 2010? These are all pertinent questions, and they all speak to a widespread problem that seems to involve either looking the other way or actual involvement/enabling/cover-up.

When Sandusky retired from The Second Mile in 2010, he was photographed with one of The Second Mile’s success stories, Joshua Sinisi. According to Sinisi (and especially his mother), Sandusky was an integral figure in his life while he was involved in The Second Mile. Sandusky used to provide homework help and checked in with him routinely by phone, the story states.

One incident that gets overlooked is that a janitor at Penn State reportedly witnessed Jerry Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy who looked to be 11 or 12 in 2000. By all accounts, this janitor was extremely distraught by what he had seen and discussed it with his fellow janitors, who were of the opinion that their jobs would be at risk if they did anything.

According to reports, the janitor did, in fact, report it to his supervisor, who advised the janitor of his options to report the incident. He did not do so, it appears, and is currently in a nursing home and suffers from dementia. He is not able to testify. The child was never identified, obviously.

One must take note, however, that his supervisor did not report it to anyone on campus, which seems to fly in the face of what we’ve learned of Penn State’s “policy” on reporting wrongdoing. If McQueary was not legally obligated to tell anyone other than his superior Joe Paterno and, in turn, Paterno was not legally obligated to tell anyone but his superior, what about the janitor’s supervisor? Did that rule not apply to him? Or was he playing by the real rules of Penn State, which seemed to be more of a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” sort of rule?

I came across some rather disturbing information that Dead Spin learned about the relationship between Jerry Sandusky and The Second Mile since 1998, when he was first investigated for showering with boys from The Second Mile.

The Second Mile’s website is not rich with information. However, they still have their brochure posted, and I was intrigued to see this on one page:

“Every child can be somebody.” Former Penn State Football Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky has always believed that, with the right support, every child can be somebody. He founded The Second Mile because of his faith in the young and their ability to absorb love and encouragement, to shed inhibitions in order to learn, and to make healthy choices for their lives and sound decisions for their futures.

Someone should probably remove that brochure from their website and rework it. I’m sure they have bigger issues on their plate, but this could potentially be one of those “oops” moments. It’s not as though they haven’t had time, since they’ve known of the attorney general’s investigation of Jerry Sandusky for upwards of three years. He’s also still listed on the last page as the founder.

I was able to retrieve an archived copy of the Jerry Sandusky biography that appeared on The Second Mile website in March 2005. Here is the most disturbing portion, in light of what the public now knows:

Jerry Sandusky once dreamed of helping Pennsylvania’s children achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing them with opportunities to develop self-esteem. In 1982, that dream was realized with the founding of The Second Mile.

“Retiring as an active coach has allowed me to devote more time to The Second Mile,” Jerry told a local newspaper. “As the organization has grown, the demands for my hands on involvement have increased dramatically. I’m pleased to be able to devote my full-time energies to expanding the reach and influence of The Second Mile in a day and age when more and more kids seem to be at risk.”

Strangely, this bio states that The Second Mile was founded in 1982, which stands in contrast to the 1977 date that has been referenced repeatedly over the past week. If only that were the strangest thing about all this.

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  1. melora says

    I’ve been reading your series of posts about Penn State and I wanted to thank you, there is a lot more detailed information here than I’ve been getting from the mainstream media (which seems more interested in covering the student riots and JoePa), and the more information I get, the more angry I am.

  2. says

    Thank you so much for your comment. I feel compelled to write about this issue, mainly because I don’t have an agenda and I want to raise questions that might otherwise not get asked (because of editorial pressure or they’re too suggestive of conspiracy, and so on).

    I don’t want to contribute to the media overload…but I do think that this issue is so important and so multi-faceted that I simply can’t ignore it. The possibility (in my opinion, near-certainty) that an institution like Penn State (and possible The Second Mile) are part of a massive cover-up to protect their football program and the university (not sure which comes first!) is beyond mind-boggling for me. Even more mind-boggling is the overwhelming public opinion that Joe Paterno did nothing wrong and has been persecuted in the fallout. It is overwhelming here, though, in this area…I can’t imagine what it’s like in central PA, in Happy Valley.

    Again, thanks…and, as you can imagine, I will be posting regularly about this. I’m “trying” to keep it to once a day….which means each piece is about 1500 words, if not more. Sorry about that. LOL.
    Kristin recently posted..Joe Paterno: Not a HeroMy Profile

  3. Mary Beth Elderton says

    I have also been glued to this series and thank you! Yours is the best, in fact ONLY, attempt at real analysis of this situation that I have found anywhere. I have tried a couple of times to comment but am so angry about the incidents themselves, about the university and corporate media spins, and about the public’s reaction that I am still unable to process this nightmare entirely.
    Again, thank you.

  4. George Willis says

    56 now, a relatively athletic and good looking hetero-sexual male in youth, I was constantly “hit” upon by older men from many walks of life. In college, I recall reading about the “normalcy” of such behaviour in ancient Greece. I wasn’t much swayed by the “intellectualizing” of the notion then and the whole pederasty thing still turns my stomach. I’ve many adult “gay” friends who echo similar sentiment. Whether an isolated anomaly for the whole Penn State bunch, (I doubt), or a hive of perverted sickos, I just pray that some much needed justice gets doled out cause I assure anyone, just a little curious, that these boys NEED a little justice. From someone who wished I’d had a little of it!

    • says

      Thanks for your message. I’m sorry you had to deal with such behavior in your youth. I also hope for some justice in this case.

      Take care.

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