Mike McQueary, the former Penn State player and assistant coach who walked in on Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a child in the shower, may have been abused as a child and gambled on his own team while he was a backup quarterback under the late Joe Paterno.
According to a detailed report in ESPN magazine, McQueary told his players in 2011 about his ordeal:
Finally, McQueary confided in his players something he hoped would make them understand how he’d reacted at the time. He told them he could relate to the fear and helplessness felt by the boy in the shower because he too was sexually abused as a boy.
While he was a player in the 1990s, McQueary also allegedly bet on his own team:
According to several of his classmates and teammates, McQueary developed a compulsive gambling habit at Penn State. He bet and lost thousands of dollars on poker and sports wagering, mostly on pro football, though he also bet, several of his former teammates say, on Nittany Lions games. One former teammate specifically recalls that Big Red bet and lost on his own team in a November 1996 game against Michigan State at Beaver Stadium. With McQueary serving as a backup on the sideline, favorite PSU won on a late field goal 32-29 but didn’t cover the eight-point spread.
As his losses mounted, McQueary owed thousands of dollars to a bookie, a debt that was eventually erased by his father, several people say. A college friend recalls urging McQueary to slow down. “It got pretty bad,” the friend says, “and it just kept snowballing and snowballing. He was very impulsive.”
Whether Paterno or his assistants were aware of McQueary’s gambling isn’t known, but several teammates and former coaches say they doubt it. By all accounts, McQueary was fooling fans across Happy Valley — and pulling the wool over on Paterno. “I love Joe to death,” says a woman who worked for years in the football office. “But in a lot of ways, he was clueless.”
As ESPN noted, “prosecutors are expected to call McQueary to testify later this year at the criminal trial of former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, who are charged with crimes ranging from conspiracy to failure to report suspected abuse. If convicted, each would face a maximum of 39 years in prison.”
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