Paterno Aide Engulfed In Abuse Case - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Paterno Aide Engulfed In Abuse Case

MSNBC.COM  - When Mike McQueary went to Penn State Coach Joe Paterno's house on the morning of March 2, 2002, he was a graduate assistant — the lowest rung on the coaching ladder beneath Paterno. Still, McQueary, 28 years old and a football lifer, had aspirations of one day becoming a head coach, maybe even at Penn State.

A former quarterback for Paterno, he had once been a fan attraction for his shock of bright orange hair and his State College roots. Popular and known for an easygoing, collegial manner, he was beginning the baby steps toward his dream job.

Nine years later, what McQueary told Paterno at that meeting — he had seen a former senior football coach molesting a young boy in the football building's showers — has figured prominently in the most ignominious episode in university history.

On Wednesday night, Paterno, who had hoped to remain as coach for the final three games of the season, was fired. Graham B. Spanier, the highly regarded and long-serving president of Penn State, was removed. Penn State's athletic director has already been charged by the authorities. The campus is in turmoil. And there is a football game Saturday that could determine the team's season.

In an ugly episode that has torn at the soul of a proud university, set off criminal investigations and ended the career of one of the sport's most accomplished and revered coaches, McQueary has occupied among the strangest of positions: he could be the star witness in the coming criminal cases against senior officials at the university; he has become the target for widespread criticism for not having acted more decisively himself nine years ago; and he could well be on the sideline Saturday for the game against Nebraska, helping execute a game plan devised by the coach he once dreamed he might succeed. A Penn State victory would leave it in position to reach a major bowl game.

Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator under Paterno, has been charged with sexually abusing eight young boys over a 15-year-period. According to findings laid out by state investigators, only two Penn State employees were known to have witnessed Sandusky committing a sex crime: a janitor, who now has dementia and is not competent to testify, and McQueary.

"It's not that he's not willing," John J. McQueary, his father, said about his son's public silence. "I think it's eating him up not to be able to tell his side, but he's under investigation by the grand jury. He'll make it. He's a tough kid." Click here to read more from MSNBC.com

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