Showing posts with label Sandusky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sandusky. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Freeh report to be released

The long-awaited report from the Freeh investigation, which is expected to explain how the Jerry Sandusky scandal happened, is being released Thursday, July 12, at 9:00a.m. on The Freeh Report on PSU.com. There has already been a tremendous amount of criticism about the investigation's leaks and disappointment over speculation that Mike McQueary, Gary Schultz, Tim Curley, and Joe Paterno were not interviewed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

No Act of Ours--a documentary about how Penn State students' reacted to tragedy

Penn State graduate and documentary filmmaker Kelly Dolak is on a mission. In the aftermath of the now-infamous Jerry Sandusky scandal that erupted in November, Dolak started making regular trips to the State College area. After the charges against Sandusky were announced and the Penn State Board of Trustees removed university president Graham Spanier and football coach Joe Paterno from their posts, some of the students rioted in the streets. Although this was not representative of the student body at large, images from the riot have been replayed and dissected. The student body then came together a few days later to rally in support of the victims of sexual abuse.

Like much of the media attention that focused on Penn State, Dolak filmed the events as they unfolded. But Dolak stuck around campus after the satellite trucks pulled out to talk with the students. She captured much of the fallout and emotions that surrounded the Penn State students during those weeks and is pouring it into the documentary No Act of Ours. Though self-funded up to this point, Dolak is using the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to secure additional backing for the film, which will help pay for final production costs, including a publicist, marketing, and licensing fees. The project has a fundraising goal of $28,000 by June 15.

I spoke with Dolak this week about the film and her hopes for it. Dolak's first feature, "Postcards from Tora Bora", premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2011 she produced the documentary "Our Lips Are Sealed," which is currently in festivals.

Q: You were in New Jersey when the Sandusky case broke. How quickly did you decide that you wanted to film this?

Dolak: Immediately. About an hour after I found out about it, I wanted to be down there.

Q. There are many angles that this could be told from. What made you realize that you wanted to document the student’s point of view?

Dolak: The students are thinking about this situation complexly. They were angry and wanted to protect this central father figure of Joe Paterno. To them, it was like a family member being treated badly. I think if we just sit with that and think about ‘what would we do if a member of our family was treated badly?’ we might think differently about how they reacted.

I’ve talked with students who really believe that the University stands for these high standards and some of them are let down. There’s also anger from some people who feel like the University could have done more.

Q. Have you met with any resistance to the film?

Dolak: I have encountered resistance through postings on FaceBook. Most of the conversations have been really positive, but there is a consistent backlash from some alums who feel nervous about the project. They worry that it’s critical of Paterno or the University and it’s really not. Some people feel it’s time to move on and this film might not let us.

But there are students who have told me that the media destroyed the University in 72 hours. I think it’s important to explore those feelings and give voice to what the students have to say.

Q. How much of the documentary is finished?

Dolak: I’ve shot more than 70 hours so far in seven months and have about six months to go. I’ll be following a student’s perspective as the trial moves forward and his experience being there. I’m also including interviews with lawyers, child sexual abuse survivors, and some professors.

Q. Regarding Kickstarter, have you used crowd funding before?

Dolak: I have not, but I have friends who have done Kickstarter and there have been some great successes in the film industry. I’ve backed about half a dozen projects on Kickstarter myself and it’s made me feel really good when the films have been shown in festivals and find success. You get to follow that film though that whole process, which is very cool.

Backers of No Act of Ours fall into different pledge levels and can receive recognition, signed copies of the DVD when it’s released, and exclusive updates on the project. The generosity we've received so far is truly amazing.

Q. How do you feel about everything that happened?

Dolak: I enjoyed my time at Penn State and I think it’s a great school, but I never thought that bad things couldn’t happen there. No town is immune from these things but it did surprise me. It makes me sad about how so many people’s lives have been affected.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A fair trial with Centre County jurors? Of course

The Attorney General's office seems to have a misguided and incorrect understanding of the residents of Centre County. In the motion requesting that an out-of-county jury be brought in for the Sandusky trial, the AG states:

"The citizens of Centre County feel a laudable and proper sense of ownership of, and participation in, the fortunes of Penn State. To ask members of that community to breakdown that alloy and insulate themselves from the institution which informs so many aspects of their lives is asking too much. It is unfair and impracticable."

I'm not sure how the AG came to this idea, but the implication is that since this is Penn State-related, a Centre County jury would find it difficult to keep their Penn State loyalties separate from their feelings towards Sandusky. I guess this could go either way--a jury might be prejudiced toward a guilty plea because of what this has already done to the University or they might feel loyalty toward Sandusky because of his football years.

I think either of these scenarios is unlikely. There is very little, if any, positive feelings toward Sandusky around town. Most people I talk to believe that he is guilty on at least some of the charges and blame him for the negative media attention to our town and for the firing of Joe Paterno.

On the other hand, I think residents of Centre County would like Jerry Sandusky to be innocent. Not just found "not guilty" but to actually be innocent. There has been so much negative publicity devoted to painting the community as a football-obsessed group of child abuse-enablers, we'd like nothing more than to find out it was all fabricated, much like the Duke lacrosse scandal.

Sadly, though, I don't expect that to be the case.

The judge's ruling on whether or not to grant the change of venire should be coming in the next few days, if not hours. I hope the judge decides to have a local jury...the alleged crimes were committed here, it's only fair that a local jury should hear the case.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The short prelim recap

The preliminary hearing, if we can still call it that, was painfully short. I don't care what Amendola says, they could have waived it the night before. Some of the victims were, in fact, there and had to sit in the same room with Jerry Sandusky. I can only imagine who stressful and emotional the whole thing must have been for them and their families.

I was surprised by Sandusky’s demeanor during the brief time I saw him. I expected a typical "head held high" kind of approach. Instead, Sandusky looked rather befuddled in a Gomer Pyle kind of way. His shoulders were hunched, his head bobbled, and he walked like a kid who didn't want to go to school--resigned, but in no hurry. The whole thing was just, well, odd.

So I spent the rest of the morning taking photos of the media taking photos of the locals and lawyers. I overheard more than one cameraman complain about how they all came to Bellefonte for nothing.

But it wasn’t for nothing, it was for Joe Amendola’s big press conference! Nobody but Joe knew this ahead of time, but it didn't matter since he had enough time to spend with each and every journalist. I think he would have sat down and answered questions from me if I hung around long enough. He's definitely a brilliant guy, I'm just not sure if he's applying his smarts to the case or to his own career.

Anyway, here is a shot of the nice policeman who were ready to drop any bad guys who showed up. They were also on the roof for a while and were nice enough to wave at me.



This would have been a nice photo of Armen Keteyian from CBS if the guy with the nose issue didn't get in the way.


And my favorite. It's like a before-and-after but at the same time.

and compare to this one, taken by the pretty lady with her cell phone in the background of the above photo.


On a side note, I've mentioned this before, but Matt Lauer missed it since he's still calling the town "Bell a fon tay," which just sounds silly. Someone, please tell Matt that it's Bell font.

Monday, December 12, 2011

GenPub's prelim prep work

Prelim viewers from the general public, of which I am one, have to report to the Willowbank Building on Holmes and Willowbank streets between 5:00-7:00am to check in. From there, we can enter the courthouse between 7:45-8:15am. If you’re not familiar with Bellefonte, the Willowbank building is, according to Google maps (see below) a 0.6 miles walk from the courthouse. The distance isn't too far but it's up a steep hill, some of the sidewalks are out, and its a busy and narrow road. I realize the court employees have bigger concerns than how the genpub will get around, but it does complicate things.

My plan is to park at Willowbank around 6:00am, sign in and get the papers they’ll have for me about “decorum” and then drive to somewhere around Linn Street. I used to live on Linn so I know the alleys and side streets well.

Although reporters can tweet from the court room, the genpub cannot. I will, however, be posting photos from outside the courthouse and can give updates during the recesses.

The genpub has been told that there will be an area outside the courthouse where we can gather to be interviewed. Although I doubt I would do it anyway, a bout of laryngitis will prevent me from speaking on camera. If you see any live shots and notice someone in a blue sweater popping cough drops, that's me.

I'm excited about going because this case has really gotten under my skin, but I feel so bad that the victims have to go through this. I hope they aren't on the stand for too long and that Amendola backs off. It is just preliminary, it's not like anyone expects the charges to be dropped.

I keep expecting to get an email saying that Sandusky waived it and the hearing is cancelled. But since it's not coming, I'd better head to bed. My 4:30am wake up call will be here soon.