This past month was the fourth anniversary of my first blog about the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar. I still remember getting the e-mail from my predecessor, Pete Bosak (who I’m happy to report is back in journalism), that said, “The torch is passed.”1 In effect, he asked to, more formally, follow the path of the Gricar case.
I was reluctant to start a blog, because I’m not a journalist nor in law enforcement. Mr. Bosak, however, felt that I was familiar enough with the case and was relatively sane (which is not saying much compared with the rest of the Internet). What he didn’t say was this:
By the way, J. J., this involves the biggest scandal in the history of Centre County, that will lead to firing of Joe Paterno, an alleged cover-up by senior officials at Penn State, and the revelation that a pillar of the community, Jerry Sandusky, was a serial pedophile.
What would I have said then?
Well my first response to that statement would have been, “Who is Jerry Sandusky?”
When I first saw the headline, almost two years ago, with the words “Sandusky” and “Grand Jury,” I thought the story was about a major municipal scandal in an Ohio town west of Cleveland; I couldn't figure out why the CDT would be covering it. I’m not a fan of any organized sports, though I recognize the value of sports in both high school and college education.
I do not follow Penn state football. When I first attended Penn State, my father insisted that I buy a season ticket, despite me saying that I wasn’t interested. The ticket went unused. In 1982, Penn State won a bowl game, and I was visiting some friends, both of whom attended Pitt, ironically, who had the game on. I asked them who was playing. They said Penn State and one said, “Why aren’t you watching this? Why aren’t you there! You go there!” I said, “I’m not a football fan.” Their accomplishments, and there were many including winning that bowl game, were the accomplishments of the players and the coaches, not of every Penn State student or alumnus. In short, I was completely clueless when it came to Penn State football, or any other Penn State sports team; that has not prepared me for where the Gricar case has gone. That would have another reason not to do this blog.
And there are the crimes. In writing about what Mr. Gricar did, or didn’t do, in 1998, I had to not only look at the statutes for the crimes Sandusky was convicted of, but I had to look at the case law, which details the crimes of others. I had to read the horrific accounts of his crimes. At least, when it became too terrible, I had the luxury of turning off the computer. The victims didn’t have that luxury; neither did the investigators. Until November 5, 2011, I was writing about a missing person case, not one involving this horror of molestation and conspiracy. Had I know that it would drift into this, I never would have written about it.
And then there is Penn State itself, of which I am a fan. I’m not a particular fan of any sport, but Penn State is not, and never was, a football team with a university attached. It is a world class university and one ranked in the top 50 in the United States. The idea that the leaders of this university covered up a serial child molester, as is now being alleged, is a horror only surpassed by the acts themselves. This part of the scandal has little to do with any sport and would just be as appalling it this were the cover up of a famous, award winning, academic that was well respected in the community at large. I wish I didn’t have to watch, or at least didn’t have to pay close attention to, this turn my alma mater into a place of cloistered horror.
In all fairness to Mr. Bosak, neither he nor I had any idea that the disappearance of Ray Gricar would at least touch on these things. Ironically, neither did then Attorney General Tom Corbett, as, when I started, the Sandusky case had not been referred to the Attorney General’s Office.
Had I known, I think my instinct would been to turn off my computer, grab some money out of the bank, get a passport, and fly to either Slovenia or Ukraine, go to a bar, and start downing Grey Goose martinis. Who knows, I might had found an interesting drinking companion.
For me, and I’m sure for many of you, the Sandusky scandal at Penn State has thrust the disappearance of Mr. Gricar into a Central Pennsylvania Gothic horror story. I didn’t want this horror, and it has been a horror that, in parts, were completely alien to me when I started. This was my choice to start down the path, but I certainly never expected, or wanted, the path to enter a place so dark. The path, however, has taken me here and I still walking it. The torch that was passed still burns and gives off some light.
Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section:
Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com