Criminal Coaches & Corruption: The NCAA Sex Scandal

What started with Penn State has now grown to include Syracuse University. An emerging pattern of abuse, lies, controversy, and cover-ups has grown into a media monster that rivals the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal that captured the attention of the American public nearly one decade ago.

As the details of the Penn State and Syracuse University scandals emerge, it is clear that the scope of this situation extends far beyond the lurid allegations of abuse and molestation. Recent interest from the public and the media has unearthed a tremendous lack of institutional control that apparently extends across the league.

According to the NCAA Constitution 2.8.1, institutions are responsible for monitoring compliance, identifying and reporting violations, cooperating with the NCAA, and taking corrective action.

According to NCAA president Mark Emmert, child molestation and sexual abuse allegations “try not only the integrity of the university, but that of intercollegiate athletics as a whole.”  The NCAA’s upcoming investigation into Penn State will examine the “actions, and inactions, of relevant responsible personnel.”

It is these personnel that are now coming under fire. Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno was fired earlier this month following his tremendous mishandling of the allegations. The victims of Bernie Fine are now calling for head coach Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Beiheim to be fired as well.



Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine was fired last night after a third victim stepped forward on Wednesday and signed a police affidavit detailing an incident of sexual molestation at the hands of the coach in 2002. The date of this newest report brought the case within federal statute of limitations, giving federal authorities the jurisdiction to prosecute. The following day, a dozen U.S. Secret Service agents raided Fine’s home. The seizure culminated in the removal of file cabinets, a computer, and Fine’s cell phone.

The case has now grown to involve the coach’s wife, Laurie Fine. Bernie Fine’s first accuser, Bobby Davis recently released a taped phone conversation between Laurie Fine and himself to ESPN in which they discuss the abuse in detail. The tape could possibly implicate Laurie Fine for aiding and abetting. However, according to Bobby Davis, Laurie Fine’s involvement is even greater.

Davis told ESPN that he and Laurie had a sexual relationship during his senior year of high school—and that she had initiated the relationship. Davis said that he told Bernie Fine of the affair, but that “It didn’t faze him one bit.”


Penn State

The NCAA recently announced the launching of its own investigation into the Penn State scandal. The investigation will also examine the “actions, and inactions, of relevant responsible personnel.”   The headliner of these alleged inactions is, of course, the former Penn State head football coach. Joe Paterno was fired earlier this month after his mishandling of the child molestation claims against Jerry Sandusky was made public. According to spokesman Bob Williams, the NCAA attorneys have determined that the circumstances at Penn State qualify as a possible violation of unethical behavior standards and possible violation of rules of institutional control and oversight—the most serious complaint the NCAA can make against a university.

Other Penn State officials have also been indicted for wrongdoing. Athletic Director Tim Curley stepped down after the allegations broke and now both he and former university vice president Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury and failing to report the allegations of sexual abuse.


A College Sports Scandal

The broadening scope of both of these cases has illuminated the common bond between both organizations—the NCAA. As the Syracuse situation continues to unravel through the media, a pandemic lack of institutional control is emerging under the governance of the National College Athletic Association. Stay tuned as we continue to cover this developing and disturbing trend.  Criminal Coaches & Corruption: The NCAA Sex Scandal.


Related Sources:


NY Daily News

Business Week

Huffington Post


St. Paul Salvation Army Bell Ringer Suspended for Harassment

A Salvation Army bell ringer from Inver Grove Heights has been suspended after harassment allegations. The bell ringer reportedly harassed a shopper, Mark Williams, and his 12-year-old son when Williams did not donate to the Salvation Army red pot.


Williams said he had only a check card with him, and that his son was too frightened to get out of the car after the incident with the bell ringer. According to Salvation Army spokeswoman Annette Bauer, the bell ringer had a psychological disability. She says that the bell ringers are encouraged to smile and give a holiday greeting, but not to engage in conversation or pressure patrons to donate. “If someone gives, they give. If they don’t, they don’t”.


Reportedly, when questioned about the incident, the bell ringer told the charity “All I said was ‘You should give to the Salvation Army’”. Williams, however, says the man berated him for not donating when he entered the store, when he left, and continued out into the parking lot. “This person was waving his arms and yelling at us.”


Williams wrote that this experience will have lasting consequences, “What a shame that a service that is designed to help the needy has to resort to using combative, rude people to achieve its goals. I will never again give to the Salvation Army.”
Bauer says that the Salvation Army receives a number of complaints about its bell ringers every year. The ringers are either volunteers or paid $8 per hour and trying to get back onto their feet, often after being homeless or living in a Salvation Army shelter. The unnamed bell ringer is not facing any criminal charges at this time.



The Penn State Scandal Pt. 3: Former FBI Director to Lead Probe into Leadership

This morning, the Penn State board of trustees held a press conference in Philadelphia to announce its sponsorship of an independent investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. The investigation will focus on the University’s handling of the situation, as well as the policies in place for addressing such matters.

The board hired Pennsylvania law firm Freeh Sorkin & Sullivan to conduct the investigation, which will be led by former FBI director Judge Louis Freeh.  According to Freeh, “This examination will include, among other things, any failures or gaps in the university’s control environment, compliance programs, and culture which may have enabled the alleged misconduct to occur, go undetected, and not be reported and addressed promptly and  properly.”

Freeh also announced that throughout the course of the investigation, he would be providing recommendation to the board of trustees  “which will ensure that we rectify such failures in leadership and control environment at Penn State that allowed anyone to prey on children with impunity.”

This investigation is separate from the one directed by law enforcement. However, Freeh stressed that he is not conducting a criminal investigation and that if the investigators uncovered any evidence of criminality, “we will report that immediately.”

Throughout the speech, Freeh emphasized the team’s commitment to independence and impartiality. This independence would be in contrast to the highly publicized reports of the state officials with ties to both Penn State and The Second Mile, Jerry Sandusky’s charity organization through which he allegedly gained access to many of the victims. The most notable example of this conflict is Judge Leslie Dutchot, who released Sandusky on $100,000 unsecured bail. Judge Dutchot was a volunteer and donor for The Second Mile.

A new judge has since been assigned to Sandusky’s preliminary hearing. Senior Westmoreland County District Judge Robert E. Scott has no known connections to Sandusky, The Second Mile, or Penn State.

Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky faces 40 counts of child molestation and sexual abuse. The mishandling of the reports led to the firing of head coach Joe Paterno. Stay tuned as we continue our coverage and legal analysis of the Penn State child molestation scandal.

Related Sources:

CBS Philadelphia


Syracuse Basketball Coach Accused of Child Molestation Amidst Penn State Frenzy

The Penn State hysteria has unearthed the story of yet another predatory coach. Bernie Fine—the assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University—was put on administrative leave this Thursday following the reemergence of child molestation allegations that were first made in 2003.

Bobby Davis, now 39, was a ball boy for the Syracuse basketball team during the mid-1980s-90s. Davis told ESPN that Fine began molesting him in 1983. He says the 10-year pattern of abuse took place in Fine’s home, in athletic facilities on the Syracuse campus, and on road trips with the team.  According to Davis, he reported the molestation to Syracuse police in 2003, but he was told that the statute of limitations for prosecution had expired.

The university began a four-month investigation in 2005, but found no evidence. According to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, these allegations are without merit. “This matter was fully investigated by the University in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would be involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.” The accusations also state that Boeheim walked into Fine’s room during one instance of the abuse.

Davis’ stepbrother Mike Lang stepped forward last week, alleging that Fine had sexually abused him as well. Boeheim also told ESPN that Lang’s timing seemed suspicious, considering the recent Penn State media blitz. Former Syracuse center Rony Seikaly also supports Fine: “Bernie would never do such a thing…There is no way something like this could ever happen in my eyes. No way.” Sekaly also stated that he believed that Davis and Lang were motivated by the Penn State headlines and publicity.

The Syracuse police began investigating the case again last week after Davis went public and broke the story to ESPN. According to Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan, “We’re in the early stages of an investigation… We take these matters extremely seriously. We’re commencing an investigation, but the allegations are old.”

Fine—who denies any wrongdoing—has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. This story is just one more of its kind to surface in the wake of the Penn State scandal. While Penn State has acted publicly in response to the Jerry Sandusky accusations, Syracuse has not yet released a statement confronting the allegations. Stay tuned as we continue our coverage of the Penn State—and now Syracuse University—sexual abuse scandals.

Related Sources:

Star Tribune

New York Times



In the Wake of Penn State: Girls HS Basketball Coach Accused of Fondling Players Pleads Guilty

Jerry Sandusky isn’t the only coach faced with recent charges of child molestation. Andrew Schwan, a former girls’ high school basketball coach accused of fondling two players in 2009, pleaded guilty to misconduct of a public officer on Monday.

Schwan was the head coach of the Park-Audubon girls’ basketball team in Audubon, MN. Both Schwan and the assistant coach Darrin Myhre are accused of giving the girls alcohol and fondling them in a hotel room during a Saint Cloud basketball tournament in December 2009. Both men resigned immediately after the allegations were made.

In September 2010, Stearns County prosecutors charged both men with felony fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Schwan and Myhre were also charged with misconduct of a public officer and furnishing alcohol to a minor, both misdemeanors. This Monday, Schwan pleaded guilty for the misdemeanor misconduct charge. As part of his plea agreement, Schwan faces a maximum of 10 days in jail and must register as a predatory sex offender for 10 years.  According to his plea agreement, Schwan invited the girls into the hotel he shared with Myhre. His behavior soon escalated when he began touching the girls. However, Schwan denies that the intimate contact was intended to be sexual.

Schwan’s guilty plea on Monday came in the wake of the Penn State scandal and the firing of head coach Joe Paterno. The public attention surrounding Penn State will undoubtedly lead to increased scrutiny of coaches nationwide. Schwan’s case is one of the first to resurface following the media firestorm, but it will likely not be the last. Stay tuned as we continue to explore this issue through our ongoing Penn State series.

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The Penn State Scandal Pt. 2: Sandusky’s Interview

Sandusky InterviewWelcome to part 2 of our Penn State blog series. For an overview of the Sandusky/Paterno case read part 1 of our Penn State series.

Last night Jerry Sandusky broke his silence in an exclusive phone interview with Bob Costas. During the interview Sandusky claims he is innocent of all charges. He admits to showering and “horsing around” with the victims, but denies that any sexual activity ever took place.

“I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,” said Sandusky.

Sandusky did however express regret for his actions, saying “I shouldn’t have showered with those kids.”

Joseph Amendola, Sandusky’s defense attorney, was present at the interview and spoke on behalf of his client. “I believe in Jerry’s innocence,” Amendola said. “We expect we’re going to have a number of kids…come forward and say this never happened.”

Watch the Sandusky interview.

What were Sandusky’s motives for breaking his silence? Was it part of his defense strategy? To answer these questions, I conducted a roundtable discussion with the defense attorneys at Appelman Law Firm, and asked them the possible reasons Sandusky’s lawyer consented to a public interview.

“This interview was essentially a PR move,” said Avery Appelman. “It was an attempt to humanize this man, whom the public have already labeled a monstrous child rapist. No one is being objective about this case, since it’s a highly sensitive area. Sandusky and his attorney are pointing out that this man has a right to a fair trial and it is not right for people to pre-judge him before he is granted that constitutional right.”

Avery Appelman believes the interview was a bad idea. “Nothing good will come of this. Although none of his statements will be admissible in court, he’s now publicly admitted to showering naked with little boys. He should’ve kept his mouth shut and let the attorneys go to work.”

Despite their differing opinions, all the attorneys agreed that there is very little chance that Sandusky will testify at trial. “There’s no way Sandusky’s attorney would’ve let him do this interview if he was planning on taking the stand,” said Stacy Kaye. “If he took the stand now, the prosecution would grill him on his admissions of showering and ‘horsing around’ with the victims.”

What are your thoughts? Was this interview a good or a bad move by Sandusky? Have your views of the case or Sandusky changed in any way?


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The Penn State Scandal: Part 1

The controversy surrounding Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky has been dominating the headlines in recent weeks. Many have heard the graphic details surrounding Sandusky’s criminal charges, as well as the allegations surrounding Paterno. However, no thorough legal analysis of the situation has been published.

Appelman Law Firm has teamed up with various experts in the legal field to provide an analysis of all legal aspects of this scandal. In the coming weeks, we will present installments focusing on elements such as the criminal defense and employment implications surrounding the Penn State sexual assault and child molestations.

To begin this series, we will first provide a brief synopsis of the story:

Jerry Sandusky was the defensive coordinator of Penn State’s Division I football team, working under head coach Joe Paterno. During his time at the university, Sandusky established The Second Mile, a charitable organization developed to help young boys from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to multiple allegations, Sandusky used this organization as a platform to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with the young boys involved. This conduct includes charges of sexual assault, molestation, and general inappropriate contact.

During one incident in 2002, a graduate assistant at Penn State reports witnessing a graphic incident in the locker room showers. As he was entering the locker room late one night, he heard the water running and slapping noises coming from the shower area. When he walked in, the graduate assistant saw a 10-year-old boy being subjected to anal intercourse by Jerry Sandusky. Both the boy and Sandusky looked up and saw the graduate assistant, who immediately left. He first called his father, and then head coach Joe Paterno.

Paterno testified that he did receive the report from the graduate assistant, who was extremely distraught. Paterno then called Tim Curley, Paterno’s immediate supervisor and Penn State Athletic Director.

A week later, the graduate assistant was called to a meeting with Curley and Gary Schultz, the university’s Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. He reported to both Curley and Schultz that he had witnessed what appeared to be Sandusky having anal sex with the young boy. The incident was never reported to University Police.

When Schultz later testified, he denied that the graduate assistant had specified intercourse, claiming instead that he believed that the graduate assistant was simply describing inappropriate contact. He said he believed the allegations to be “not that serious” and that he and Curley “had no indication that a crime had occurred.” He later denied having any sexual assault reported by either Paterno or the graduate assistant.

The allegations against Sandusky span as far back as 1998. In the Grand Jury presentment, 8 victims are mentioned.

Joe Paterno was fired on November 9th after 46-years as head coach at Penn State. He has been accused of helping keep the pattern of abuse quiet for years and not ensuring that the multiple incidents were reported to the proper authorities. Graham Spanier, the school president, also resigned during this time. Paterno called this situation “one of the great sorrows of my life” and says that “with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

In the aftermath of the media surge, there has been much flux in the Penn State administration. Stay tuned for our next installment, when litigation attorney Andrew Parker will discuss the employment issues surrounding Penn State and Joe Paterno.

Related Sources:

Investigating Grand Jury Presentment


NY Times


St. Paul Catholic Priest on Trial for Sexual Misconduct

A priest from St. Paul, MN, is on trial this week for third-degree sexual misconduct. Rev. Christopher Wenthe is accused of violating a state law which prohibits members of the clergy from engaging in sexual relations with someone seeking spiritual guidance.

The unnamed accuser says that she turned to Catholicism in 2003 while struggling with an eating disorder after a spiritual advisor told her to find solace in the Catholic Church. The woman told jurors that she would confide in Wenthe about her troubles, which she told prosecutors she found “incredibly significant”.

The woman reported the relationship to the St. Paul archdiocese in 2006, who gave her clearance to bring the matter to the police. She did not do so, but instead applied for employment within the archdiocese in 2008. After she learned that Wenthe was no longer with that parish, she went to the police.

Wenthe acknowledges that he broke his vows to the church by having sex with the woman, but he and his criminal defense attorney maintain that no crime has been committed. Wenthe is expected to testify later this month and has been removed from the Nativity of Our Lord ministry pending criminal charges.

Wenthe’s lawyer told the court a story a burgeoning, loving relationship. According to the alleged victim however, “I did not want this to happen. This is my worst nightmare. I just wanted to make sure this wouldn’t happen to anyone else.”  If convicted, Wenthe could face up to 15 years in prison.

Related Sources:

Star Tribune

7 Easy Tips to Protect Yourself from a DUI

dui tips, dwiThis is a guest blog courtesy of the accident lawyer experts at

Most people believe DUI convictions are straightforward – you get pulled over, blow above the legal limit, and automatically spend the night in jail while hunting down some expert DWI lawyers or DUI accident attorneys. But, they’re not always that simple.

There are several factors that play a part in whether you walk away without punishment – or spend the night in jail. And luckily, there are several things you can do beforehand to help minimize the risk of getting pulled over:


  • Check your license plate and stickers – Each month, check your license plate to make sure it’s properly affixed to your car and you have the proper registration stickers to go with it.
  • Check your vehicle’s lights each month – In the same way, do a thorough check of your vehicle’s headlights, tail lights, break lights, etc. to make sure they’re properly working. Even having one of these out is a reason for a police officer to pull you over, even if you’re driving safely.
  • Keep a clean appearance – Make sure your car doesn’t have too-dark windows and is fairly clean. You should also make sure to fix any body damage. Why? Officers are much more likely to pull over a car that’s looks like it’s been in a previous accident.
  • Blend in with traffic – If the only way to get home is a busy route, try to blend in with the traffic while keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you. Studies have shown you’re much less likely to get pulled over when among other cars.
  • Drive during normal hours – If you drive right after bar close or after a local sporting event or festival, you’re more likely to get pulled over because cops are looking for drunk drivers. Avoid these peak times if at all possible.
  • Take a different route – Find the route home that has the least amount of traffic, bars, and restaurants, even if it means driving a little bit further. Driving on the roads in your neighborhood put you at a much smaller chance of getting pulled over.
  • Turn off the music – A loud radio is one of the most common ways to get distracted while driving, as you may soon find yourself singing along to the music. Instead, turn off the radio and focus on your driving.


Each of these factors can play a big role in helping ensure you don’t get pulled over. However, they’re not fool-proof so remember – having a designated driver or taking public transportation is always the best choice.