Friday, July 13, 2012

Penn State Employees Feared Termination If They Reported Sandusky's Abuse

Louis Freeh

Former FBI director Louis Freeh yesterday released his report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, and coverage has focused mainly on the role of iconic football coach Joe Paterno in an apparent cover up.

Freeh's 267-page report concluded that the late Paterno and three high-ranking Penn State administrators tried to bury reports of child sexual abuse because they feared bad publicity for the university and its storied football program.

The most telling part of the report, however, focuses on janitors who worked in and around Penn State locker-room and shower facilities. One of the janitors witnessed Sandusky's abuse of a child, but he and his coworkers feared they would be fired if they reported it.

I know, from first-hand experience, that the janitors were justified in their fears. After all, I was fired from my job in the University of Alabama System for reporting on this blog about corruption in our state's "justice system." I didn't blow the whistle on misconduct within the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where I had worked for 19 years in various editorial positions. Rather, I reported on corruption among various lawyers, judges, and prosecutors in both our state and federal courts. These clearly were matters of public concern, and as a government employee, I had a First-Amendment right to comment on them without facing reprisal.

But I still got fired, and powerful University of Alabama forces apparently are ensuring that my ongoing federal lawsuit will be dismissed in a manner that is grossly contrary to law. I've been without a job for more than four years, and I've presented overwhelming evidence that a U.S. District Judge named William M. Acker Jr. has handled my case in a stunningly unlawful fashion, almost certainly at the instigation of pro-UA forces in our state's legal and political circles.

Does Pennsylvania have similar forces that would have caused the janitors to be fired if they had reported child sexual abuse on the Penn State campus? Would those same forces have exerted their power over federal authorities to make sure the janitors got cheated in any lawsuits for wrongful termination and retaliation?

The answers, in my mind, are an overwhelming yes. I have little doubt that pro-Penn State forces are every bit as powerful in Pennsylvania as are similar forces here in Alabama.

Bruce Feldman, of CBS Sports, addresses the janitors' story in an article titled "Institutional Control? Report Shows Tragic Result of Coach as King Culture." Writes Feldman:

Speaking to the culture of the place and how the football program controlled the school, Freeh brought up a janitor who observed one of Sandusky's attacks. Freeh said the man told him it was the worst thing he ever saw: "This is a Korean War veteran who said, 'I've never seen anything like that. It makes me sick.' He spoke to the other janitors. They were alarmed and shocked by it. But what did they do? They said, 'We can't report this because we'll get fired.' They knew who Sandusky was.
"They were afraid to take on the football program. They said the university would circle around it. It was like going against the President of the United States. If that's the culture on the bottom, God help the culture at the top."

Dennis Dodd, one of Feldman's colleagues at CBS Sports, called for a reappraisal of big-time college football in a piece titled "Let Freeh's Damning Report Ring--King Football Needs to Answer for Sins." Writes Dodd:

King Football must die. It must die a painful and immediate death. 
It must be hanged in the public square to show that now and forever King Football can't rule a sport, a school, a society. It is time. It is overdue. If you don't know that the culture has changed after the release of the Freeh Report on Thursday then you are blind to the toxic byproducts of the second-most popular spectator sport in our country.

Those are powerful words, but I contend that Dodd's view is too narrow. Cleaning up football abuses, even killing "King Football," is not going to heal what ails higher education.

UAB has one of the worst football programs in the country--the Blazers are plagued by losing records and sparse crowds--but I witnessed rampant corruption on the campus. And it has nothing to do with football.

The problem stems from placing weak, unethical, dishonest individuals in positions of authority. The real issue at Penn State was that President Graham Spanier and Vice President Gary Schultz were not willing to make sure the athletics department and the football program followed the law.

A similar culture exists at UAB under President Carol Garrison. After all, this is a university that committed an estimated $600 million in research and Medicare fraud, according to a federal whistleblower lawsuit. And with treble damages under the U.S. False Claims Act, UAB should have been on the hook for more than $1.5 billion in penalties. Instead, a friendly Bush-era prosecutor let UAB off in 2003 with a $3.4 million payment--way less than 1 percent of the estimated actual fraud.

As for me, it's not just my imagination that I was cheated out of my job because of the content on this blog. A UAB human-resources official named Anita Bonasera admitted in a tape-recorded conversation that I was targeted because of my reporting on the Bush-era prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman--and there is little doubt that President Garrison knows all about the real reason I was fired. You can listen to a key portion of the Bonasera conversation in a video at the end of this post.

Ironically, I compared my experiences at UAB to the coverup at Penn State in a post written more than eight months ago. And that post includes a word-for-word transcript of Bonasera's statements.

In our state, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees contributes mightily to corruption that permeates higher education. The board is led by a corporate executive who has documented ties to insurance fraud. Paul Bryant Jr. is president of the UA board and serves as CEO of Greene Group Inc., which used to include a company called Alabama Reassurance. That firm that netted a 15-year federal prison sentence for a Philadelphia entrepreneur/lawyer named Allen W. Stewart.

Public documents clearly show that Bryant's company was involved in the scam, but he never has been held accountable. And
Alabama Re was quietly liquidated in an apparent effort to help cover up financial crimes. Now, this man with ties to insurance fraud helps manage millions of taxpayer dollars that are funneled to the UA System. Comforting, isn't it?

Bryant's father, of course, is the late Crimson Tide football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant--a man who was Alabama's answer to Pennsylvania's Joe Paterno.

On second thought, maybe the arrogant mindset that comes with football success is the problem. Maybe King Football really does need to be killed.


James Greek said...

I'll tell you ow, Talking about UAB having a lousy football rogrsimmons, It's all because of Little Bear! He is running it into the ground in an effort to pease dad!

Anonymous said...

You know very well here in the State of Alabama a winning coach could commit murder and it be overlooked. FOOTBALL IS GOD IN THIS STATE..

This is horrible and I feel so bad for the families of these children.

Anything anyone connected to this mess should be taken down and destroyed. Until then it will never be over. I despise football for what it has become.. Not a sport anymore. A religion!

Robby Scott Hill said...

Football, like religion before it, has become the ultimate excuse for any & all misdeeds. It takes one of the aforementioned to get good people to do bad things. When the Army needs naive young Soldiers to go kill Brown People in Asia, recruiters look to the football team & the church for strong bodies & obedient minds, respectively.

legalschnauzer said...


Thanks for tipping me off on the Kristen Saban story. Most readers, by now, probably are aware that Coach Nick Saban's daughter has been sued for more or less beating the hell out of a sorority sister. Do you think Nick's daughter has a sense of entitlement because of who her daddy is and what he does? I need to check on the ID of Kristen's lawyer. Perhaps someone with ties to Bryant Jr.?

legalschnauzer said...

Kristen is represented by the T'town firm of Prince Glover Hayes. Those are the guys who are on one of the TV channels all the time, giving legal advice. I guess they are charging Nick about $500 an hour to advise him on how to get your daughter off after she beat the hell out of someone.

Anonymous said...

No because of her fathers name she will get by with it. WAIT AND SEE!! He could get by with anything. As long as he keeps winning they will sweep it under the fence. I always said Sandusky only wish he was a coach assist at AL he would not be in jail today.

It must be nice to have a famous name and get by with everything.

The not so famous suffer.

Anonymous said...

Children of the royal families had "whipping posts," and the children of non-royal families got to be "scapegoats." True history.

Kings' and Queens' sons, for example, when doing any "wrong" had a squire that was non-royal blood and that squire was tied to the whipping post and beaten as the scapegoat for a royal hide that could not be punished as the criminal that committed the crime.

Entitlement issues.

The GAMES were intentionally to use people as disposable commodities in whatever SPORT that could be imagined in the heads of the sickest of "society."

"CIRCUSES." Yes, bread and circuses.

In ROME where it all began and where the American architecture was also intentionally constructed to be certain the ROMAN EMPIRE was very covert in succeeding here in the U.S., too!

AMERICAN SPANISH WAR and we've been at this ever since.

Read FRITZ KRAEMER'S ON EXCELLENCE, the Pentagon goes for the STRONG AMERICAN BOY-MAN, to be the "Golden Army."

America has unfortunately, however, engineered the scapegoats into blubbering piles of protoplasm, mostly, look at the so-called "elite" leading as though royal "blood" on earth where nature rules in reality.

". . . 1898: The US battleship “Maine” was blown up in Havana Harbour, triggering the Spanish-American War won by the US. This left Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines as war booty for the Americans. It also included an early media PsyWar exercise led by William Randolph Hearst’s yellow journalism press that whipped up hysterical war frenzy amongst US citizens with his “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!” rhetoric. Years later, it was proven the ship either suffered a coal explosion or, more likely, a bomb attack. Divers later found that the ship’s armour plates were blown from the inside out, and not from the outside as would be caused by an enemy bomb. . . .

Robby Scott Hill said...

Roger - I'm going to reserve judgment on either one of the young women in that case. My fellow Jones School of Law & Boaz High School alumnus, Josh Hayes, is Ms. Saban's attorney. The good news is that she is getting one of the best lawyers in the state. If I were in a similar situation, I'd retain the services of Mr. Hayes also. I've had to beat the hell out of some folks myself & I've had to call the police a couple of times after being on the receiving end of the beating. I wish Ms. Saban the best of luck in getting the situation resolved and moving on with her life. She's still young enough to make a decision that she's not going to follow in the footsteps of folks like Paul Bryant, Jr. or Carol Garrison. It's not easy dealing with all the bullshit at the University of Alabama System. That's why people are getting shot & beaten & fired after 19 years of good service & it's why I left way back in 1994. Any university that continues to treat its students like blank checks & its employees like mindless slaves is doomed to destruction.

Anonymous said...

Universities. Tragic institutionalized fraud.

Anonymous said...

correction not all universities, "tragic institutionalized fraud."

However, the model was and is not designed to teach Americans how freedom FEELS in honor of our Bill of Rights.

Universities as higher education?

History taught for our future to be a stronger foundation of not just surviving, but thriving?

The South was a target because of the independent spirits, there, a long time ago.

But, the hubris of believing in the first go at that INTENTIONAL WAR, the South lost because it thought it had already won.

It actually could have, won the war, but the South had to not sit back and rest at first blush on its laurels.

All wars are very well planned events of bidding on winning the "grand chessboard," that is, earth.

The South could have actually made the difference, however, not so.

Today the same laziness prevails in that "spirit," of entitlement that was and is confused about the reality of twenty first century.

Southern plantation vibe is the same energy as tribal, but of course. This attitude must be elevated into a higher level of problem solving by thinking in every cell of the physical "form," our intuition reaches from the hypothalamus [back of the head] into the pituitary ["pine cone"], however! Every cell of the body, mind, spirit is the mind, intuition.

In the South, the tragical sell of ? Christian ?! has truly caused many holes in getting understanding.

Holy Spirit - pray for the revolution in "Southern Christianity."

Anonymous said...

Robby she admitted to it. You dont think she should be punished?

James Greek said...

This is a story for "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel!"