Words matter in Penn State perjury case

Pat McMahon Contributor
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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Sitting in a Pennsylvania courtroom last month, listening to how allegations of child molestation were handled by one of the nation’s top college football programs, observers might have thought back on that old party game, Telephone.

Remember how the game works? A story gets passed down the line, told and retold until the tale that reaches the end bears little resemblance to the original.

In this case, the story began with an assistant coach at Penn State, Mike McQueary, who testified that nearly 10 years ago he walked in on former coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the football team’s locker room showers. McQueary, who was a graduate assistant at the time, said he had no doubt that he witnessed “severe sexual acts” that were wrong and “over the lines.”

Yet, as a transcript shows, each time McQueary’s story was told it became less specific, until others at the end of the line reacted as if what he had seen was no big deal.

It will be up to the courts to sort out whether McQueary pulled punches in telling the story, whether the others lied, or whether they heard only what they wanted to hear.

Full story: Words matter in Penn State perjury case

Pat McMahon