Monday, August 21, 2017

Penn State Confidential: What Did Mike McQueary Hear and See?

Editor’s Note:  Once again Mark Pendergrast allows to print the first of two excerpts about Mike McQueary from Pendergrast's forthcoming book, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgement (Sunbury Press, November 2017). Hopefully, Judge John Foradora will read this excerpt before he decides whether Sandusky deserves a new trial.  

By Mark Pendergrast

Because there are so many alleged Sandusky victims, many of whom remain anonymous, it's important to look at how the first allegations against Sandusky developed.  Let's look first at the infamous sodomy-in-the-shower scene, since that is usually regarded as the most compelling, horrifying evidence.  I know that's what convinced me that Sandusky was guilty when I first heard about the case.

The Sandusky Grand Jury "Presentment" of Nov. 5, 2011, a summary of secret grand jury testimony, stated that, on March 1, 2002, a Penn State graduate assistant (later identified as Mike McQueary) had gone to the Lasch Football Building at Penn State around 9:30 p.m. As he entered the locker room, he heard "rhythmic, slapping sounds" that sounded sexual to him.  "He looked in the shower.  He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky."

Because grand jury testimony is supposed to be secret, there is no available public transcript to show exactly what Mike McQueary said there, but it is clear from everything else he said about this incident, including his subsequent courtroom testimony, that he did not witness sodomy or any other form of sexual abuse that day in the Lasch locker room.  His version of events morphed over time, but none of the narratives included witnessing overt sexual abuse.

Here’s what appears to have happened.  On a Friday night, February 9, 2001, a full year earlier than the inaccurate date in the Grand Jury Presentment, Jerry Sandusky was indeed taking a shower with a Second Mile boy in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building. 

Sandusky took it for granted that boys and men showered together after exercise.  It was part of the way he was raised, an accepted part of the sports world.  Though he had retired as a Penn State coach two years before, he could still use the facilities, and he sometimes brought the troubled Second Mile boys there for a workout, followed by a shower.

As he often did, Sandusky, whom everyone considered “a big kid” himself,  was goofing around with the boy. They were snapping towels at each other, or perhaps slap boxing, according to both Sandusky and the boy in the shower.  Mike McQueary, then 26, who had been a Penn State quarterback as an undergraduate, was halfway through his post-graduate education, while working as an assistant football coach.  This Friday evening, he came to the Lasch building to retrieve tapes of possible recruits.  On the way, he figured he might as well put his new shoes away in the locker room.

Before he opened the door to the locker room, McQueary heard slapping sounds.  He thought they sounded sexual.  As McQueary later put it when describing the scene, “Visualizations come to your head.”  By the time he got to his locker at the near end of the wall, it had quieted down. Curious, he looked obliquely into the shower room through a mirror across the room and caught a glimpse of a boy in the shower.  Then an arm reached out and pulled the boy back.  Horrified, he assumed that he had just overheard the sounds of child sexual abuse.  After closing his locker, he saw Jerry Sandusky walk out of the shower.  Was his former coach a pedophile?

McQueary quickly left the building and called his father, John McQueary, and told him his suspicions.  His father advised him to come right over to talk about it.  Then John McQueary called his employer and friend, Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a nephrologist, asking him to come over and help them sort out Mike’s disturbing experience.

Dranov attempted, using the diagnostic and interviewing skills that he used with patients, to get a clear description of the scene that had so upset his friend’s son.  Dranov was unable to get Mike McQueary to put into words anything sexual he had seen, in spite of asking several times, “But what did you see?”  McQueary explained that he had seen a boy in the shower, and that an arm had then reached out to pull him back.  Dranov asked if the boy had looked scared or upset.  No.  Did Mike actually see any sexual act?  No.  McQueary kept returning to the “sexual” sounds.

Upon the advice of his father and Dr. Dranov, Mike McQueary took his concerns to legendary head coach Joe Paterno at his home the next day. Apparently because McQueary did not actually witness anything sexual, they did not suggest he contact the police, nor did they feel called upon to do so. 

This was the only initiative McQueary ever took connected with the shower incident.  Paterno subsequently told his immediate supervisor, Athletic Director Tim Curley, about it, who told Vice President Gary Schultz and university President Graham Spanier.  Curley and Schultz met with McQueary to hear what he had seen and heard.  From that conversation, they concluded that Sandusky had been “horsing around” with a kid and that, while it was not sexual abuse, it wasn’t a good idea, particularly because they remembered that a parent had complained back in 1998 about Sandusky showering with her child (details on that incident shortly).

So Curley told Sandusky that as a result of someone (he didn’t name McQueary) complaining about the shower incident, he should stop working out with Second Mile kids on campus, and there the matter was left, case closed.

McQueary apparently calmed down and accepted that he may have overreacted and that perhaps Sandusky had just been “horsing around.”  He remained at least overtly friendly with Jerry Sandusky over the following years.  He signed up for the Sandusky Celebrity Golf Event in the fall of 2001, just four months after the shower incident, then took part in other Sandusky charity-related events, such as flag football fund-raisers coached by Sandusky in March 2002 and April 2004 and another golf event in 2003.

By the time the police questioned McQueary about the shower incident in late 2010, he couldn’t remember exactly when it occurred, and he said that it happened during spring break of 2002, more than a year after the actual date. At the time, McQueary was a 6’ 4”, 220-pound 26-year-old. Some critics would later question why, if he had witnessed horrifying child sexual abuse, he would not have rushed in to put a stop to the behavior.

McQueary’s story changed several times after the police told him that they knew Sandusky was a pedophile, as we will see in Chapter 12. In response to the police telling him that Sandusky was a child molester, McQueary searched his decade-old memory and now “remembered” something that he had not reported back in 2001 -- that he had seen Sandusky with his hips moving against a boy’s backside in the shower.

In short, Mike McQueary did not witness Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the shower, although he later came to believe that he had.  At the time of the incident, he overheard slapping sounds and interpreted them as being sexual.

We know a great deal more about this incident because we know the identity of that boy, a Second Miler named Allan Myers, who was nearly 14 years old at the time, not ten, and who remained friends with Sandusky until after the allegations created a public furor in November 2011.  Sandusky later recalled that shower with Myers in a 2013 interview with reporter John Ziegler:

“He [Allan] turned on every shower [and] he was like wild, he put soap on himself and was sliding, he was seeing how far he could slide.  I remember that.  Then we may have been like slapping towels, slap boxing, doing something like that.” 

Here Sandusky laughed, remembering that “he [Allan] always, no matter what, he’d always get the last lick in."

Recalling his relationship with Allan Myers, Sandusky said, “He was like family.  We did all kinds of things together.  We studied.  We tutored.  We worked out.  He went to California with my wife and me twice.  He spoke for the Second Mile numerous times.”  This all took place after the 2001 shower incident.  “He asked me to speak at his high school graduation, and I did.  He stayed with us the summer after his high school graduation, worked part-time jobs with classes.  He would go home on weekends.  We went to his wedding.”

Indeed, Myers, a Marine who had recently received an honorable discharge at the time the allegations broke, came forward to defend Sandusky, telling Sandusky’s lawyer and his investigator, Curtis Everhart, what had actually happened.

 Myers, born on Feb. 28, 1987, had endured his parents’ volatile marriage, in which he witnessed his father threatening his mother with a gun.  His guidance counselor suggested Myers for the Second Mile program, which he attended as a fourth and fifth grader, getting to know Jerry Sandusky the second year.  Myers said that Sandusky was a “father figure” associated with “many positive events” in his life.  On “Senior Night” at a West Branch High School football game, Myers asked Sandusky to walk out onto the field with his mother, as the loudspeaker announced, “Father, Jerry Sandusky,” along with his mother’s name.

About the McQueary shower incident, Myers said, "This particular night is very clear in my mind.”  In the shower after a workout, he and Sandusky "were slapping towels at each other, trying to sting each other.  I would slap the walls and would slide on the shower floor, which I am sure you could have heard from the wooden locker area."  Myers said that he recalled hearing a locker slam but he never saw who closed it.  Although McQueary would later claim that both Sandusky and Myers saw him, neither of them had any idea he was there that night.

Myers repeatedly and emphatically denied that Jerry Sandusky had ever sexually abused him.  “Never, ever, did anything like that occur.”  Yes, Sandusky had put his hand on his left knee while he was driving, but that didn’t bother him.  “I often would stay at Jerry’s home overnight,” he said.  “Jerry never violated me while I was at his home or anywhere else.  On many occasions there were numerous people at his home.  I felt very safe and at ease at his home, whether alone with Jerry or with others present.”

The only thing that made Myers feel uncomfortable and violated was his September 2011 interview with Pennsylvania State Police officers.  “They would try to put words in my mouth, take my statement out of context.  The PSP investigators were clearly angry and upset when I would not say what they wanted to hear.  My final words to the PSP were, ‘I will never have anything bad to say about Jerry.’”

Allan Myers also wrote a letter to the newspaper and the Pennsylvania attorney general and submitted a sworn statement to both the Pennsylvania State Police and a private investigator to the effect that he was not abused that night or any other time by Jerry Sandusky.

“I am one of those many Second Mile kids who became a part of Jerry’s ‘family.’  He has been a best friend, tutor, workout mentor and more,” Myers wrote to the attorney general.  “We’ve worked together, competed together, traveled together and laughed together.  I lived with Jerry and Dottie for three months.  Jerry’s been there for me for 13 years; and stood beside me at my senior parent’s football night.  I drove twelve hours to attend his mom’s funeral.  I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

Myers wrote that letter on May 1, 2011.  But like so many Second Milers, Myers subsequently found a lawyer, Andrew Shubin, and joined the throng of those seeking millions of dollars in compensation for alleged abuse.  He did not testify at the trial, however.  Both prosecution and defense lawyers knew that Allan Myers was the boy in the 2001 McQueary shower incident, but for their own strategic reasons, neither chose to identify him, so that the jury never learned that Myers was in fact the anonymous “Victim Number 2.”

The McQueary story of the alleged sodomy-in-the-shower became the linchpin of the entire case against Sandusky, lighting a fire under the investigation and creating a media firestorm, and it is what led to the firing of Penn State University President Graham Spanier and football Head Coach Joe Paterno, as well as subsequent lawsuits against Spanier and former Penn State administrators Gary Schultz and Tim Curley.  

Ironically, the sodomy charge of “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse” in the McQueary incident was among the few for which the jury found Sandusky not guilty, since the witness did not say that he had literally seen penetration.  The jury did find Sandusky guilty of four other McQueary-related charges:  “indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and endangering a child's welfare.”


  1. Mike McQueary clearly had a very poor memory of the 2001 shower incident since he got the year and month wrong. The Feb. 9, 2001 shower incident occurred at the end of a very memorable week for PSU football. Feb 7, 2001 was national signing day. On Feb 8, 2001, headlines reported that PSU wide receivers coach, Kenny Jackson, was leaving to coach for the Steelers.

    McQueary testified that the first thing Paterno said to him on the phone that Saturday morning (Feb. 10, 2001) was that he had no job for Mike. That was because Paterno suddenly needed a wide receivers coach. Yet McQueary didn't remember why Paterno told him about a job, or he could have quickly determined the exact date. McQueary got the wide receiver position in 2004.

    Lawyers for Sandusky, Curley, Schultz and Spanier never questioned McQueary about the Kenny Jackson job opening either to expose McQueary's poor memory.

  2. I trust that Mr Pendergrast realizes that the fraudulent presentment and the janitor hoax was a deliberate stratagem to paint a picture of a little boy being pinned against a wall. This was done to totally prejudice the jury pool, and have the media go wild. The janitor hoax was the mechanism used to drag Joe Paterno and the football program into the fiasco. While Spanier was the target of Corbett's vindictiveness, the collateral damage done to everything PSU must have been very satisfying to Corbett and his cabal. The amount of perjury suborned by Frank Fina alone is epic as well as the conduct of judges who violated every rule of jurisprudence that you can imagine.

  3. With respect to Paterno: No educator is ever allowed to go over the heads of the administrators that he/she is bound to report an alleged incident to. Even had Paterno personally witnessed a questionable circumstance he could not have legally reported it to the police unless the administration refused to act and he specifically knew that someone was being harmed and/or violated. This is less of an indictment of Paterno, and possibly even Sandusky, than it is of a corrupt,sinister, and theatrically oriented media who saw an opportunity to bring down a man whose values are not aligned with the heinous absence of values of today's media.


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