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Corbett on 'Meet the Press': McQueary Failed 'a Moral Obligation'

on November 13, 2011 9:46 AM

Mike McQueary met his minimum legal obligation but "did not meet, in my opinion, a moral obligation that all of us would have," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Corbett said his assessment is rooted in his own observations of the ongoing case at Penn State.

In a 10-minute interview with moderator David Gregory, Corbett faced several questions centered on the child-sex-abuse and cover-up allegations at the university. Corbett, as attorney general, began in 2009 the investigation that led to the charges this month against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and two university executives: Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.

McQueary, now an assistant coach for the football team, was a graduate assistant when he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy on campus in 2002, according to a grand-jury report.

The report shows that McQueary did not call but police, but instead told his father and, the next day, told head football Coach Joe Paterno.

Penn State trustees fired Paterno on Wednesday. Curley, Schultz and 16-year Penn State President Graham Spanier have left their university positions, as well.

On "Meet the Press," Corbett said McQueary met his obligations under state law. That law requires that, in educational institutions, anyone who witnesses such an attack must report it to his or her supervisor. (It's up to the higher-ups to tell law-enforcement authorities.)

The law does not require, however, that the direct witness immediately tell police. Corbett said that law "absolutely" should be changed to include more-strict reporting standards. He would not be surprised to see the state pass amendments to the law before year's end, he said.

McQueary has been placed on indefinite, paid administrative leave by Penn State's new administration. Asked Sunday whether McQueary should be fired outright, Corbett said that decision is up to the Penn State Board of Trustees and the university administration.

Corbett, by virtue of his role as governor, is an ex-officio member of the 32-person board.

"They (Penn State leaders) have to keep in mind that this is someone who is also a witness to this crime and is a very important witness," Corbett said of McQueary.

Among Corbett's other remarks on "Meet the Press":

  • In cases such as this, he said, it is not uncommon to see more victims step forward when allegations become public. Charges filed against Sandusky earlier this month list eight victims. Others who say they are Sandusky victims have since stepped forward, according to widespread news reports that cite police sources.

"Hopefully there aren't any more victims. Hopefully we know who they all are," Corbettt said. But if there are more victims, he went on, authorities encourage them to come forward. "We're going to do everything we possibly can to help you. It is about the victims."

  • Corbett said, as he has said before, that he expects the ongoing state investigation will focus in part on The Second Mile, the nonprofit group that Sandusky founded in 1977.
  • One reason Corbett attended Penn State board meetings last week, he said, is "to get a better handle on what's going on" within the university. He expects that a board-appointed investigative committee will look at whether Penn State has a culture of "people not questioning what is going on, not passing information along as they should."

"One of the lessons we need to learn from this is that when people see something like this or hear about something like this," they need to report it immediately, Corbett said.

  • Asked about the possibility of additional criminal charges, Corbett said that's always a possibility in an ongoing investigation.

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