When I was asked to write an article on ethics my first thought was: where do you start? Ethics in police work is a big topic. My second thought was let’s look outside our blue box and see what is going on elsewhere. Everyone in the country is pounded with ethics charges and complaints on officers. When the shoe is put on the other foot ethics is never mentioned. So, why are the folks in blue always getting the ethics bat over the head? Why are we always picked out as being unethical? I don’t have an answer but I have one heck of an example.
Let’s look at an episode that has blown ethics completely out of the water for the whole country and probably the world: Jerry Sandusky's molesting of young boys and the in-action of Pennsylvania State University staff to notify the police of his criminal conduct. So far, only one person has truly been held accountable and that is Jerry Sandusky.
This all began in 1998 when a boy reported to his mother that Sandusky asked to shower with him when he was 11. Sandusky lathered soap on his back and bear-hugged him. The boy told his mother, who reported the incident to university police, leading to a lengthy investigation. It almost came to an arrest of Sandusky. It should have stopped right then but tragically it didn’t.
The investigator was Ronald Scheffler. He interviewed Sandusky where Sandusky admitted that he had shower with the young man who has come to be known as victim 1 and several other youth. Scheffler went to the district attorney and presented what he thought was enough evidence to arrest Sandusky. District Attorney Ray Gricar declined to prosecute.
Unfortunately, with that information in hand Scheffler did not follow up on the other victims. Ten years and many victims later this investigation was not brought to attention. During the years the Ray Gricar had disappeared. Literally his car was found abandoned and he has never re-appeared. Although many fear foul play, they do not believe that his being missing is related to this case.
A victim known as #6’s testimony to a Grand Jury was heard in 2009. However, the statement was taken apart by Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s attorney. The victim could not recall what happened in the shower. The victim later told Scheffler that Sandusky never touched him sexually. "I could sort of feel like he kissed me once or twice on the head, like you would kiss your child, you know what I mean," the boy said in the transcript. "Like you would kiss a child," Amendola repeated.
Finally as we know the case was put together Sandusky was tried and rightfully convicted. He is in prison forever – we hope.
Now let’s look at the ethical part of this case. The first known case was investigated and the officer went for charges. A few issues here but at least there was an investigation to form a pattern.
In 2000 a janitor saw Sandusky in the showers with a youth pinned against the shower wall. He told his supervisor who told his supervisor and co-workers. Not one of them had the fortitude to report it to a higher authority or the police.
In 2001 a graduate assistant saw Sandusky involved in blatant sexual activity with a youth in the shower room of Penn State. He told Coach Paterno what he saw. Paterno told the athletic director Tim Curley who passed the information on to Vice President of Penn State Schultz.
Over a week later the assistant met with Curley and Schultz and told them what he had seen. The incident was never reported to law enforcement or child protective services. Curley later testified to the Grand Jury that he was told that Sandusky was merely “horsing around” and had “inappropriate contact” with young boys. Curley denied that he was told of an assault but he banned Sandusky from bringing youth onto Penn State campus.
Now in a report from CNN on July 2, it is revealed that more than the athletic department and vice president knew of the allegations. There are damning emails out there here are some excerpts: