Thursday, February 14, 2019

Unholy Triangle At PSU: The Media, Prosecutors And Plaintiff's Lawyers

By Ralph Cipriano

Alexander H. Lindsay Jr. was happy to read the formerly confidential report done by seven Penn State trustees that catalogued the many faults and failures of the Louis Freeh Report.

"We agree with the substance of the [trustees'] report" on Freeh, Lindsay said. "But it doesn't go far enough."

Lindsay, a former Butler County assistant district attorney and a former assistant U.S. Attorney under Dick Thornburgh, is the long-suffering defense lawyer for Jerry Sandusky. In took the trustees 113 pages to make their case. Lindsay's review of the Freeh Report, however, is far more succinct.

"It's total fiction from top to bottom," Lindsay said about the Freeh Report, which the NCAA used as the basis for imposing draconian sanctions on Penn State. Lindsay has the same view of the 2011 grand jury presentment that had to invent a lurid but imaginary child rape in the showers to brand his client forever as a raging, serial pedophile.

"They're all wrong," Lindsay said about the twin works of fiction issued by Freeh and the attorney general's office that are still being propped up by the media as legit. In the view of Lindsay, a lone voice in the wilderness, his guy is totally innocent. And, Lindsay will tell you about Jerry Sandusky and his loyal wife, Dottie, they happen to be "two of the bravest and most courageous people I have ever known."

So how does an innocent man wind up in jail? Lindsay blames the work of "an unholy triangle of forces that push these things ahead [in lurid, high profile media cases] and result in false convictions."

He's talking about the convergence of a hysterical media, overzealous prosecutors, and hungry plaintiff's lawyers. All of this was on vivid display at Penn State, as Lindsay is about to explain.

The Unholy Triangle

When a public figure is charged with a lurid crime such as the sexual abuse of children, Lindsay said, "the media are off to the races." They can be counted on to supply non-stop "salacious" coverage that elevates hysteria and sensationalism over truth and rational thought.

Especially when they are being fed by "overzealous, over aggressive prosecutors who want to make the case," Lindsay said. The prosecutors go to work to convict the accused in the court of public opinion, before the case ever goes to trial. They are typically aided by willing dupes and accomplices in the media, who are all too happy to run with sensational prosecutorial leaks that may or may not be true.

The final ingredient of the unholy triangle, Lindsay said, are "plaintiff's lawyers who look at the diocese [of Philadelphia] or Penn State as a gold mine because it's easy money, and they're so vulnerable."

"I'm a plaintiff's lawyer," Lindsay said, so he fully understands the lure of suing the Catholic Church or Penn State.

But as far as playing defense goes, whether it's the church or the university, "They're not so much concerned with the truth but with damage control," Lindsay said. "And these plaintiff's lawyers are suing for money, and the plaintiff's lawyers are loving it."

That's exactly what happened at Penn State. Let's start with overzealous prosecutors, who in this case, had to invent a crime to put a man in jail.

To turn Sandusky into a serial child rapist, and Paterno into an accomplice, the prosecutors had to invent a lurid rape in the showers of a 10-year-old boy, but it's a crime that for two decades has gone without a known victim. The prosecutors did it by twisting the words of Mike McQueary, a confused dope with a known gambling problem and an affinity for sending pictures of his penis to women not his wife.

A guy like that would be putty in the hands of scheming prosecutors and cops. Even though McQueary subsequently stated in an email to a lead prosecutor and the lead investigator in the case a week after the erroneous grand jury report was issued that he never really saw a rape in the showers. The written response of the prosecutor: keep quiet.

Armed with a deliberately false document, the hysterical media went nuts, especially when they had a chance to crucify Joe Paterno, a former Republican Mr. Clean, as an enabler of an assistant coach on an imaginary child rape spree. Instead of carrying torches and pitchforks the media mob was armed with cameras and microphones.

In the Sandusky case, Lindsay said, the grand jury "becomes a weapon for an unscrupulous prosecutor." The many leaks from that grand jury, according to state law, should have been investigated by the appointment of a special prosecutor, Lindsay said. But it never happened.

In Sandusky's case, Lindsay lamented, all the "safeguards that are built into the grand jury process have been stood on its head."

Finally, the greedy plaintiff's lawyers showed up at Penn State, in search of millions of dollars in easy money. They would not be disappointed.

Sadly, I've seen how this game works. In the case of the Philadelphia archdiocese, a former altar boy named "Billy Doe" -- real name Danny Gallagher -- made up a story about being sexually abused in serial attacks by two priests and a schoolteacher.

In the criminal courts, Gallagher not only sent three innocent men to jail -- the alleged attackers -- but also Msgr. William J. Lynn, who was falsely accused of not monitoring an abusive priest.

And in the civil courts, thanks to the work of Slade McLaughlin, a Philadelphia plaintiff's lawyer, the altar boy -- a junkie hustler, serial liar and total fraud -- collected $5 million in what was supposed to be a confidential settlement from the Catholic Church.

Gallagher got his cash without offering a single shred of evidence to support his allegations. Indeed, as the Philly D.A.'s former lead detective in that case, Joe Walsh, subsequently came forward to testify in court, all of the evidence, including the testimony of the altar boy's parents -- a cop and a nurse -- and the testimony of Gallagher's older brother -- an altar boy and sexton at the same church where the altar boy was supposedly abused -- contradicted Billy Doe's cockamamie and constantly changing stories of abuse.

That's how easy it is for an alleged victim to collect in a high-profile sex abuse case. As long as you'e targeting a public figure or a Catholic priest, you don't need any evidence. All you need is an alleged victim willing to stand up and tell a story.

The same Slade McLaughlin who collected $5 million for a complete fraud in Philadelphia, represented a dozen of the alleged victims at Penn State. In all, 36 alleged victims were awarded a total of $118 million -- $3.3 million each.

The money was approved by a board of trustees at Penn State that, according to a lawsuit filed against the university by its own insurance carrier, did little or nothing to vet any of the stories of the alleged victims.

And what a motley crew they were, a conga line of Billy Does. They came with constantly changing stories, thanks to the work of their therapists who presumably used hypnosis and guided imagery to recover supposedly long-buried [and constantly changing] memories of abuse.

[For further information, author Mark Pendergrast has written a book about the use of scientifically discredited memory recovery therapy in the case, The Most Hated Man In America; Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment."]

A third of these future multi-millionaires had criminal records. But for the plaintiff's lawyers at Penn State, it was easy money. Their clients didn't even have to give up their real names on their way to the bank.

A Moral Lecture From Mr. Integrity

At Penn State, with the trustees' report out of the barn, the people who had been stonewalling the release of the report for nine months shifted to damage control.

In the wake of the leak of the trustees' report on Louis Freeh, Mark Dambly, the former ruffian and cocaine dealer who is the president of the Penn State board of trustees, called the release of the report card on Freeh a "reprehensible" step that would supposedly undermine a culture where Penn State employees could confidentially report wrongdoing.

Wrong, Mr. Dambly. The release of the report done by the Penn State trustees affirms a culture where Penn State employees can continue to confidentially report wrongdoing. But if something reported confidentially turns out to be actually wrong, to right that wrong, it may be necessary to lay those facts out in the open.

In this case, the report by the minority trustees outed the majority trustees, now led by Dambly, for their collusion, political interference, and ultimate dereliction of duty in their handling of the supposedly independent investigation done by Louis Freeh. Sorry, Mr. Dambly, if you were on the wrong end of that.

As the guy who for nine months who led the cover up of the trustees' report, Dambly, a known scoundrel, attempted to scurry to the high moral ground. He was enabled by his accomplices in the media who have their own asses to cover. Like Susan Snyder of The Philadelphia Inquirer, but more on that later.

Reporters may have given Dambly cover, but the former drug dealer wasn't safe on twitter. In response to Dambly's statement, "PSUpittsfordNY" posted a video clip of Dambly lying his ass off when reporter Gary Sinderson confronted Dambly about his criminal past.

It's great stuff. Dambly was a Penn state trustee who in 2012 supported criminal background checks for university employees. That same year, reporter Sinderson of WJAC Johnstown Channel 6 memorably turned the tables on Dambly. In a video posted on, Sinderson asked Dambly if he had a criminal record; specifically the reporter wanted to know if Dambly had been arrested in 1979.

"I'm not aware of that," Dambly responded twice on camera. As he was walking away, in unreleased video recorded by the TV station, Sinderson asked Dambly about his alleged association with members of an infamous cocaine ring.

"I don't recall that either," Dambly said.

When asked by his fellow trustees during an executive session about his arrest, Dambly replied that it was "undocumented." But it was documented. And there are law enforcement types around who still remember Dambly's role in the cocaine ring.

First, the arrest. Back in 1979, on the weekend of a Penn State-Temple football game, Dambly was involved in an incident where three students got beaten up during a fight in the Pugh Street parking garage.

Dambly was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. If convicted, he faced a fine of $2,500 and a year in jail. Dambly promptly hired R. Bruce Manchester of Bellefonte, PA as his lawyer. On Nov. 17, 1979, Manchester sent Dambly a letter telling him about the offer of a plea bargain from the Centre County District Attorney's Office. The deal included pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, spending five days in jail, and paying a $200 fine. It was a deal that Dambly took.

"By pleading guilty you will have a police record which may have to be disclosed on various occasions in the future," Manchester wrote Dambly. "You stated to me on Wednesday the 28th that your career goal is to be a real estate broker."

In 2013, a year after he'd been ambushed by Sinderson, Dambly filed paperwork to get his prior arrest expunged.

TV reporter Sinderson had also asked Dambly about the infamous "Dr. Snow" yuppie cocaine ring run by Larry Lavin, then a student at the University of Pennsylvania dental school, that operated between 1978 and 1984.

In 1986, a judge sentenced three dentists to jail for their roles in the ring that the FBI said was then the largest known cocaine distribution enterprise in the history of the Philadelphia area, grossing up to $5 million a month.

A retired investigator who worked the Lavin case and sought anonymity said that a former FBI agent, Leo Pedrotty, who has since died, became Dambly's handler after Dambly decided to wear a wire to get himself out of a legal jam.

"Pedrotty was responsible for placing the recording equipment on Dambly and monitoring the results as Dambly secretly recorded conversations about the massive drug operation," the investigator wrote. "In exchange, Dambly would not be prosecuted and there would be no asset forfeiture action."

And this is the guy who's giving us a moral lecture about what constitutes being "reprehensible" in the Penn State scandal.

Accomplices In the Media

The work of the unholy triangle is never done.

Consider the recent efforts of Susan Snyder, staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

I happen to know from my own sources that Snyder, who allegedly covers higher education, has turned a deaf ear for years on requests to look into what really happened at Penn State. Nothing to see here folks. We got it right the first time.

But when I wrote a blog post earlier this week about WJAC-TV in Johnstown having a copy of the trustees report on Freeh, I mentioned that the Inquirer also had the report, but was sitting on it.

Snyder and her newspaper promptly sprang into action. Or should I call it reverse action.

Her story is a textbook example of media bias and slanted news coverage. It also happens to be intellectually dishonest. She and her newspaper should be ashamed of themselves, but I know from long experience that they fancy themselves as above all that.

Snyder begins her "objective" piece by noting in the lead paragraph that the trustees' report is the work of "longstanding critics" of Freeh. Holding her nose, she then prints one paragraph full of quotes from the trustees' report that dares to be critical of Freeh.

And that's enough of that, Snyder decides. She then devotes the next six paragraphs of her opus to attacking the messengers.

In paragraph Three, she writes: "The report, signed by seven alumni-elected members of the school's board of trustees, attempts to make its case by highlighting emails and handwritten comments by investigators that seem to question the report's conclusions and Freeh's motivation, evidence that they say was ignored or never shared, a list of key people Freeh's team never interviewed, and questioned the interviewers couldn't answer."

Paragraph Four: "In many ways, it's a summary of claims that Penn State defenders have made in the years since the scandal broke, this time with material from Fresh's investigation that they say bolsters their view. For years, they have challenged prosecutors' suggestions that head football coach Joe Paterno and school administrators may have ignored a serial predator in their midst. They seethed at the NCAA sanctions, fumed at Fresh's report, and ran en masse for alumni seats on the board."

Translation: nothing new here, keep moving.

Paragraph Five: "When they got elected, they sued the university and won access to the hundreds of thousands of interviews notes and documents that Freeh, also a former judge, used to prepare his report, then spent hundreds of hours poring over them."

Oh my God! How dare they attack the work of a former judge? And they spent hundreds of hours poring over confidential legal documents, to find out what really happened? Shouldn't that be illegal?

Paragraph Six: Penn State's leadership criticized the release of the report, and Freeh dismissed it as inconsequential, biased and inaccurate, a misguided attempt to turn back the clock and exonerate the university and its former leaders -- since convicted of endangerment -- for not stopping Sandusky years earlier.

Paragraph Seven: "The deniers continue to embarrass the many thousands of outstanding Penn State students, faculty and alumni by blindly disregarding the uncontroverted facts in favor of a misguided agenda," Freeh said in a statement.

Paragraph Eight: "It's release continues what has been an unending battle for those who believe that the former Penn State leaders perhaps made some misjudgments about how to handle Sandusky but did nothing intentionally wrong, and that a vaunted football program was scapegoated."

Again, this is a shining example of outrageously biased and slanted journalism, partisan commentary, reverse spin and damage control dressed up as a news story. By somebody, who, if what the trustees wrote was true, has a conflict of interest because she and her newspaper blew the story.

To sum up, in the first eight paragraphs of her story, Snyder quotes the critics for precisely one paragraph, while spending a total of six paragraphs impugning the alleged motives of those same critics. Then she spends one paragraph allowing Freeh to defend himself, and another paragraph quoting university "leadership" -- former coke dealer Dambly -- who is actively engaged in covering up the report.

Two Stories The Inky Blew To Hell: Sandusky & Lynn
Instead of reporting the news, she's editorializing. And in classic fashion, she's impugning the motives of the people who wrote the report, rather than deal with the evidence that the report presents.

On twitter, and in an email, I asked Snyder how, as "one reporter to another," she could ignore what the trustees wrote about a contemporaneous but previously unknown federal investigation on the Penn State campus. A federal investigation in 2012 that concluded that the only witness to the alleged shower rape, Mike McQueary, wasn't credible, and that there was no official cover up at Penn State.

The six-month federal investigation was disclosed in 2017 after the filing of a Freedom of Information request. It was the work of former NCIS Special Agent and cold case investigator John Snedden, who wrote a 110-page report that's posted online.

Snedden's report, and many comments he made in two interviews with Big Trial, were quoted extensively by the trustees in their report. But Snyder willfully ignored it. She also did not respond on twitter to my comments, or to an email that I sent her. Apparently, she and her newspaper, as paragons of virtue, are not only above criticism, but also don't have to entertain questions from mere mortals.

In her story, Snyder, in full cover up mode, then gave Freeh a platform for a couple more paragraphs to take shots at his critics, calling them "a gang of deniers" who wrote a "misguided, tilted, dishonest and biased" report.

In his defense, Freeh would seem to be an expert on that subject.

Of course, Snyder didn't ask Freeh any hard questions, like whether he really did have a conflict of interest, as the trustees asserted in their report. The evidence of this was disclosed in Fresh's own internal emails, published in the trustees report, where he openly stated that he wanted to use the Penn State investigation as a stepping stone to become the "go-to investigator" for the scandal-plagued NCAA.

Snyder also didn't ask Freeh, as I did last year, about the many emails in the so-called Freeh source materials that show that former deputy Attorney General Frank Fina was routinely leaking grand jury secrets, along with grand jury transcripts, to Freeh and his investigators, in blatant and repeated disregard of state law regarding grand jury secrecy.

When I asked Freeh, who was a private citizen while he was investigating Penn State, to explain how he and his investigators were authorized to have access to grand jury secrets, he declined comment.

Kind of telling, don't you think?

But Sue "The Shill" Snyder wasn't going to ask Freeh any hard questions; she's already in the tank. Instead, she published verbatim a four-page statement Fresh put out impugning the messengers.

Why? Because Snyder is no objective journalist on this story. She's a partisan hack actively involved in carrying water for the prosecutors, Louis Freeh and the Penn State trustees, all of whom are still actively engaged in an ongoing cover up of their own collusion, misconduct, and dereliction of duty in the scandal behind the scandal at Penn State.

It's shoddy and shameful but sadly, it's nothing new for the Inquirer. In the Billy Doe scandal, as I have previously mentioned, after publishing more than 60 news stories and editorials that presented Billy as a legitimate victim of sex abuse, and castigating the church and the accused defendants for their imaginary crimes, the Inquirer has never written one story that tells its readers it was a phony prosecution, and that the accused men were innocent. Even after the D.A.'s office let the last innocent guy behind bars -- a Catholic schoolteacher falsely accused and convicted of raping a child -- out of jail nearly a dozen years early.

Another falsely accused man in that travesty wasn't so lucky. The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, falsely accused by Billy Doe, died in prison.

This time, in another sex abuse case that they blew to hell, instead of ignoring the truth, The Philadelphia Inquirer is actively involved in leading the cover up. They're attacking the messengers and shielding the miscreants, to make sure the truth never comes out.

Shameful and corrupt. 


  1. I read Susan Snyder's story in the Inky and the way she explained it was to try to confuse people by marginalizing the board dissidents as deniers advocating the board to blame Freeh's report as being so riddled with fabricated innuendos. Nowhere in her article does Susan allude to the hatchet job done by prosecutors as she wants to confuse readers into ignoring the whims of deniers. Presumably the very same thing upbringing done in Michigan against claims made by two hundred female victims of the doctor now serving a life sentence without any chance of parole. It doesn't look like Michigan is going to make victims millionaires like Penn State did.

    The cover-up will go on with willing conspirators going on to suppress any thought of a flaw in the prosecuting flagellations of Penn State.

    1. In 2018, MSU made Nassar's accusers millionaires by agreeing to a $500 million settlement for the then 332 accusers. If the lawyers get a third of the $500 million that leaves a little over $1 million per accuser.

    2. I believe the Sandusky case is a huge black mark on the PA justice system especially convicting Sandusky of sexually abusing two unidentified boys, one based solely on a single hearsay witness. No identified victim and a single eyewitness or hearsay witness is textbook reasonable doubt.

      It's sad that, so far, major newspapers outside PA have all ignored the alumni trustee report. It details how slipshod Freeh's investigation was. Freeh's investigators did not even record their interviews, a technique that is now discredited. Some witnesses complained Freeh investigators told them what they wanted to hear. One witness was fired when he refused to say what they wanted.

  2. I'm sure the prosecutors, Penn State trustees, plaintiff's lawyers and Louie Freeh are very happy to have Susan Snyder and the Inquirer fronting for them.

    With "objective" journalists like Snyder and the Inky, who needs to hire PR agents?

    1. As much as I hate the term - its Ms Snyder and the Inquirer's "reporting" that has created the term "fake news" to our modern day vernacular.

  3. I've always wanted someone to ask Louie why he thought janitors represented by the Teamsters Union would be afraid of anything, much less reporting child abuse. (It was their supervisor's responsibility to report that to campus police if it actually occurred. That dog didn't bark). In real life, a sighting such as that would spread through State College faster than a California wildfire. But none of that happened, yet Louie like many sports writers, uses the Janitor Hoax as an example of the evil culture at PSU. Plaschke of the LA Times went gaga over the janitors. I have also wondered how Frank (The Rat) Fina got the one janitor to commit perjury at JS's trial, and why Cleland allowed highly prejudicial unsupported hearsay testimony. Was Cleland in on the hoax?

  4. Thanks for this Ralph. Please consider submitting it as an op ed piece to the Centre Daily Times, the local State College newspaper and any other newspapers that will publish it. You would be performing a valuable public service. You are a warrior.

  5. Maybe the Inky would be interested in printing an op-ed?

  6. Shameful and Corrupt is the best way to explain the act of slanting the news in favor of the prosecution. The Inky hides behind the "fighting corruption" banner when questioned or presented with actual facts of a case that differed from their manifesto. How dare they take facts and distort or ignore them whereby robbing citizens of their civil rights.

    The Inky has to play to its base, they certainly are adept at whipping the masses into a feeding frenzy.The prosecution certainly has their favorite pet reporters, I can only wonder what compromising material they must have for them to do their bidding.

    Penn State alumni, current students, and the facility should weigh in and let Sue Snyder know how they feel about her efforts on the part of the Inky.

  7. Another great piece Ralph, my question to you as a follow up, is why there is no hue and cry as to the source who supplied Sara Ganim the Grand Jury Testimony in the case which brought her a Pulitzer.

    Attorney Frank Fina would be a likely suspect, as was the case in other events he played a role. Fortunately for him, he still is coated with Teflon and the State Disciplinary Board continues to support his suspected behavior.

    The lure and temptation for Ms. Ganim, at the nascent point of her career, to be fed such explosive material is that kernel of corruption and abuse of prosecutorial power that has warped society as typified by Mueller feeding CNN with secret Grand Jury Testimony and sources and methods in real time. Mueller is operating from the same playbook that Freeh conducted and to watch slime as former CIA Director John Brennan run interference in this probe is evidence that the Media loves to run fiction by those who are invested in the Narrative.

    When it can be proven that the Rush to Judgement in cases of highly inflamed significance, it is poignantly refreshing that a gadfly as yourself continues to pursue the Truth.

    Have you ever tried to zero in on Sara, or the Sainted Lynne Abraham who was hired by Penn State, long before Freeh, to examine the institutionalized patterns of abuse at Sandusky's Non-profit 2nd Mile, before Paterno and Company were implicated and Sandusky was charged and arrested?

    The Phila. Connection of the 2 Fast Eddies, Savitz and Rendell, in the 2nd Mile Saga were legendary, but of course, the Inky had too much skin in the game to expose their bestial lifestyle and behavior. Around Rittenhouse Square and the Dorchester, the 2 Fast Eddies had a notorious cadre of deviants that included notables as Knight Ridder Heir, Inquirer Editor John Knight and Sylvester Stallone, who were protected and "joined at the hip."

    1. I'm not sure there is good reason to suspect an OAG leak for Ganim's 2011 article on the Sandusky grand jury She had nothing at all about the 2001 shower incident. All she reported was Curley, Schultz and Paterno testified before a grand jury. The location of the grand jury was not secret so reporters probably had someone keeping an eye on the comings and goings. Paterno would have been easy to spot given that he was so famous.

      Most of her article was about victim 1, which was an open secret at Central Mountain High School. She even named "John DiNunzio, Keystone Central School District's interim superintendent" as her source.

      She also had a great deal about the 1998 shower incident, so it is almost certain she got that from the Penn State police report. She could have gotten a copy of the police report from someone on the Penn State police force.

    2. Tim, for someone who has been so prolific on this blog, to discount the unholy alliance of prosecution sources and Sara Ganim to be rewarded for regurgitating fictionalized accounts, demeans the cause most posters here have argued for.

      Sandusky may have been a serial child molester, but it can't be dismissed out of hand that there weren't many donors and partners who partied with 2nd Mile Children who have escaped prosecution and incarceration.

      I wonder if the recently defrocked Cardinal was ever on a Party Boat with Jerry and the Fast Eddies. Not all the abuse had to be in the showers of Happy Valley.

    3. Jason Brando - I agree Ganim's later articles about the Sandusky scandal were very inaccurate, inflammatory and did not meet basic journalistic standards. Some of those articles named accusers as sources, such as the Sept. 2017 article "CNN exclusive: Joe Paterno may have known of earlier Jerry Sandusky abuse claim, police report reveals."

      When an author puts "may" in the title, that means it is not news but just speculation.

      My previous comment was only about the question of whether the OAG was a source for her first article on the Sandusky grand jury back in March 2011. My point was that her first article contained virtually nothing that could not have been obtained elsewhere. That article was essentially ignored until Sandusky's arrest in Nov.

  8. Another "media accomplice" of Freeh has been heard from: Chip Minemyer. Like Susan Synder, he ignores most of the new revelations in the report, and just wants to move on.


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