Sundance Film Review: ‘Happy Valley’

'Happy Valley' Review: Amir Bar-Lev Examines

Amir Bar-Lev offers a typically gripping and thoughtful take on the Penn State scandal.

In his documentaries “My Kid Could Paint That” and “The Tillman Story,” Amir Bar-Lev zeroed in on the difference between the public perception of a scandal and the private truth of the matter — a theme that serves him no less effectively in “Happy Valley,” a gripping inquiry into the revelations of sexual abuse that shocked the U.S. and devastated Penn State’s storied football program. Rather than focusing primarily on Jerry Sandusky’s crimes, the film broadens in scope and complexity to examine the assumptions of an entire community, as well as the football-first culture that allowed evil to flourish in its midst. Distinguished by its measured, analytical approach and revelatory testimony from Sandusky’s adopted and abused son, Matt, this nuanced but quietly excoriating work merits widespread exposure, and could be especially well timed to coincide with the still-ongoing court proceedings against three former university administrators.

The acts of molestation and rape committed against young boys over a 15-year period by Jerry Sandusky, a 30-year member of the football coaching staff at Pennsylvania State U., are quickly recounted here: Police photographs and victims’ statements flash before the camera, along with skin-crawling archival clips of Sandusky promoting the Second Mile, his nonprofit charity devoted to serving underprivileged kids. But as its ironic title would suggest, “Happy Valley” (as the State College area is often known) takes a broader view of the matter, as Bar-Lev proves less interested in profiling a monster than in penetrating the cone of silence that shielded him for so long. To that end, he singles out the troubled legacy of the late Joe Paterno, the beloved head coach and Penn State figurehead who was removed from the university for his failure to report Sandusky’s actions to police.

Early video of onlookers gathered at the courthouse on June 22, 2012, cheering loudly when Sandusky is found guilty on 45 counts of child abuse, is later startlingly contrasted with shots of Penn State students rioting on Nov. 9, 2011, outraged by the news of Paterno’s removal. It’s a juxtaposition that gets at all the questions of denial, complicity and moral responsibility at the heart of the case: How much did Paterno and his colleagues know, for how long, and what did they do (or not do) about it? Yet the footage of students protesting — chanting “We want JoePa!” and “Fuck the media!” and at one point overturning a truck — also speaks to a larger point about what happens when college football becomes not just a diversion or a pastime, but a way of life.

If there’s an analogy to be drawn to the Catholic Church’s abuse scandals, it’s that the Sandusky affair was also effectively enabled by a religion — one that, in the forms of Paterno and Sandusky, came complete with its own untouchable deities. Shots of fans cheering wildly at football games take on a chilling lyricism that may briefly remind you of the acts of worship filmed in “Jesus Camp” (at the film’s post-screening Q&A, Bar-Lev invoked Leni Riefenstahl). Here and in his interviews, the director means to locate the point where love of the game is allowed to take priority over all else, whether it’s a few officials shielding a pedophile or a town going into damage-control mode.

SEE MORE: Sandusky’s Son Hopes ‘Happy Valley’ Will Empower Abuse Survivors

The strength of the film’s approach is the way it builds a potent moral argument while still remaining even-handed toward all involved. A die-hard Penn State fan may come off as more clueless than he realizes when he criticizes the candlelight vigil that was held in lieu of the traditional pre-game “rally in the Valley,” yet you can just about sympathize with his anger that, in the wake of the controversy, the community lost something precious and vital. Paterno’s sons Scott and Jay offer honest, heartfelt assessments of their father’s tarnished career; their widowed mother, Sue, clearly crushed, is treated no less sympathetically. Yet there’s no mistaking the family’s sense of misplaced victimhood when they hire an independent investigator to effectively diminish Paterno’s culpability in the matter.

Even as its argument takes shape, “Happy Valley” continues to deepen in complexity. The filmmakers would appear to support the NCAA’s assessment of an unhealthy “culture of reverence” for Penn State’s football program, yet they also give voice to the argument that the crippling sanctions imposed on the school in 2012 were a sort of shaming spectacle, part of the public ritual of repentance that always sets in whenever scandal rears its head. Some of the documentary’s most fascinating material — a few priceless altercations filmed near the bronze statue of Paterno on campus (it was ultimately torn down), artist Michael Pilato having to repeatedly alter the images in his famous Penn State mural as the allegations mounted — examines the very human impulse to enshrine our highest achievers through art. The speed with which the town turned on Paterno, attempting to blot out even the positive aspects of his legacy, raises the question of whether history, always a mix of pride and shame, should ever be erased.

In keeping with traditional media practice, the sexual-abuse victims remain unnamed here, with the singular exception of Matt Sandusky, whose soul-baring interview with Bar-Lev forms the core of the picture. Slowly but with great purpose, he recalls how the Sandusky family rescued him from a childhood of poverty and neglect, only to plunge him into a completely different nightmare — one he felt duty-bound to keep secret until conscience forced him to bring it to light. For a film that is very much about the need to continually question our heroes and hold them to a higher standard, “Happy Valley” offers an unapologetic tribute to one man’s painful honesty and a tacit rebuke to those who couldn’t muster anywhere near the same courage.

Bar-Lev’s technically polished production premiered at Sundance just a month after director Eric Proulx’s docu “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley” began screening in and around State College. A biopic starring Al Pacino as Paterno is also in the works.

Sundance Film Review: 'Happy Valley'

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Documentary Premieres), Jan. 19, 2014. Running time: 98 MIN.


(Documentary) An A&E Indiefilms presentation of an Asylum Entertainment, Passion Pictures production. Produced by Jonathan Koch, Steve Michaels, John Battsek, Ken Dornstein. Executive producers, Molly Thompson, Robert DeBitetto, David McKillop. Co-producer, Ezekiel Morgan.


Directed by Amir Bar-Lev. Camera (color, HD), Sean Kirby, Nelson Hume; editor, Dan Swietlik; music, H. Scott Salinas; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Richard Fairbanks; line producer, Alice Henty.


Matt Sandusky, Andrew Shubin, Joe Posnanski, Jay Paterno, Scott Paterno, Sue Paterno, Matt Jordan, Lou Prato, Michael Pilato.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 71

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Great job demonizing the greatest man in Happy Valley history. The man who drove hundreds of young men to greatness in their lives both in and out of football. And the man who inspired and led an entire, extended community.

    All for his tangential part in a horrific, ongoing, ubiquitous evil that is one small corner of the larger, national NAMBLA abuse of young boys by gay men and the progressive establishment that not only enables them but promotes them.

    Doubt me?

    Where is the condemnation of the judge who ripped a nine-year-old boy, Matt, from his biological family and presented him to the pedophile Sandusky? Despite the mother’s plea not to, including the allegation that Sandusky played mind games with the boy and that he did inappropriate things to him? Why didn’t that judge “do more”? Why
    didn’t that judge investigate the mother’s accusations? And why, despite the accusations, did the judge award this boy to this man?

    Why no inquiry, no documentary about the judge? Why no mention of the judge’s culpability in this evil during this documentary?

    Why no inquiry into the role of NAMBLA and the progressives who promote it? No investigation into those who cowed a judge into ordering the Boy Scouts to put gay men into the pup tents of prepubescent boys?

    And when THOSE lawsuits ensue, will anyone investigate the role of that judge who precipitated the predation, or the progressives who remonstrated for it? Of course not. They’ll blame the Boy Scouts for what was forced on them by the progressive establishment. They’ll blame the institution that transformed millions of boys into responsible, moral young men for over a century. They’ll not rest until they win that scalp for their belt. Mark my words.

    Always the institution that was forced by the progressives to accede to the NAMBLA agenda. The Catholic Church to allow gay priests. The Boy Scouts to allow gay Scout leaders. Society–including Penn State–to give the benefit of the doubt to the gay man in their midst. Can you imagine if Joe Paterno had come running, yelling “Pedophile!
    Pedophile!” when first given the ambiguous accusation that “something” “might have happened” in the shower between Sandusky and a young boy? Paterno would have been brought down by the same progressives in the media and culture who claim he didn’t “do enough” (especially ESPN and the NCAA and the others in the progressive establishment), as a homophobic bigot without any proof. A Neanderthal who hates gays. Better to keep it “in house” and let the administration vet the charges.

    But the progressives want The Moral Man’s scalp. And they don’t rest until they get it. And in doing so, ignore the real culprits.

  2. jpbster says:

    Ray given the description from McQeary “slow movements” etc….what do YOU think Sandusky was doing with a boy against the wall of a goddamn shower?….Frankly you breaking down minutae here is crass…vile..and repulsive…..just as your defense of this entire subject is. Sanity on this subject for you was simply abandoned years ago……

    • Ray Blehar says:

      LOL! The JURY didn’t believe McQueary’s story. Why do you?

      Please learn the facts of the case before shooting your mouth off.

      I suppose the jury is vile and repulsive too???

      • Dan says:

        Let’s make this simple for you. McQueary did not lie. This is why the jury found Sandusky guilty based on McQueary’s testimony. The jury BELIEVED him, as evidenced by the verdict and their comments afterwards. How in the world do you conclude a jury’s vote of Guilty on 4 of the 5 counts means that they believe McQueary lied is pure delusion on your part.

        Do you have comments from any members of the jury who said that McQueary lied? Nope. If Sandusky’s own defense attorney said “We don’t think Michael McQueary lied” you’ve got to then ask yourself why it is that you believe he did. It’s because you are still under the cloud of the cult mentality… that your church of Penn State football and deity Joe Paterno could never do anything wrong, even when the voice or reason suggests otherwise. Sad. Sad. Sad. I hope you receive the help that you need.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        LOL! Let me make this simple for you, Dan.

        If a woman accused you of raping her and you were found NOT GUILTY, did the jury believe her?


        Sandusky: Accused by McQueary of raping a boy in the shower.
        Verdict: Not Guilty.
        McQueary: Lied about seeing a rape.

        Judge Leete ruled Freeh’s statements about Paterno endangering children were LIBELOUS.
        That means Freeh lied.

        Victim 5 said he was groped and Sandusky was charged with Indecent assault.
        Verdict: NOT GUILTY
        Conclude: Victim 5 lied.

        Is this consuming me, yes.

        Why should I let a bunch of liars make a mockery of the American system of justice?

        There are several attorneys who have looked at this case and concluded similarly.

        The reality is that you got duped. Just like the public did in the Duke Lacrosse case….

        … and with Richard Jewell being named by Freeh as the Olympic Park bomber.

      • Dan says:

        According to you, Ray:

        Freeh… a liar

        McQueary… a liar

        Sandusky’s victims… liars

        Your crusade to “find the truth” is a quest of insanity. Jerry raped a boy in the Penn State showers. McQueary witnessed it. He told Joe. At some point you are just going to have to accept this as reality, or it’s going to consume you.

      • Dan says:

        So now you are stooping so low as to suggest that the jury was “duped by a lot of witnesses”? Good God man, use your brain. There was not some conspiracy for the witnesses to harm the university. They were telling the truth.

        And, McQueary’s testimony DID play an important role, as said by a member of the jury whose quote I already included below. Sandusky was convicted on 4 counts based on McQueary’s testimony of his observation of Sandusky having sexual relations with victim 2. He was not convicted on a 5th count based on a technicality, because he only saw Jerry from the back, humping the boy. If that doesn’t scream rape to you, then frankly you are a stupid person.

        I will not allow you to sugarcoat the severity of these crimes. Nor will I allow you to pretend that Penn State or Paterno had nothing to do with covering them up. What is happening here is clear to everyone by you. Joe is like a deity to you and Penn State football was his church. Worshipers of cult leaders are always the last to see reality, and sometimes they never see that reality.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Yeah, the jury believed MIke so much they ACQUITTED JERRY OF RAPING the boy. This is what everyone was up in arms about and the bottom line is that Mike couldn’t convince a jury that he saw it.

        Check the trial verdict: Victim 2: IDSI (rape) — NOT GUILTY

        How does Harper reconcile his statement about McQueary with the fact they acquitted Sandusky? Obviously, he can’t.

        As a matter of fact, there is no way that Harper can be remotely accurate in his assessment when you consider the crimes testified to by Victims 1, 4, 9, and 10 all resulted convictions for IDSI, but McQueary’s testimony on behalf of Victim 2 did not.

        Harper and the rest of the jurors will find out they got duped by a lot of witnesses.

      • Dan says:

        First, the jury DID believe McQueary. Here is a quote from one of them:

        “As emotional and wrenching as the accounts were from the eight victims who testified, Harper said the grimmest and most significant testimony came from Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant, who said he interrupted a sexual assault by his former coach against a young boy in the showers at the university’s football center.

        “It was just eye-opening on all the things that happened because we got a whole lot of detail on what Sandusky was doing,” Harper said.”

        Would you like to attempt to discredit the juror now?

        I also find it SICKENING that you keep saying LOL in this most serious of matters. You are a SICK and VILE human being.

  3. I believe that Ray Blehar is one of several paid advocates by the Paterno family to discredit anything that casts a negative light on Joe Paterno’s role in covering up serial child rape at Penn State.

    According to Washington Business Daily, Ragan’s PR Daily and the Huffington Post, that firm, which has been a heavy hitter in DC for years with a client list that includes mega-corporations like General Motors, Texaco, IBM and Coca-Cola, was contracted by the Paterno family in the wake of the scandal to clear Joe’s name at all costs. The Paternos are reportedly paying that firm upwards of several million dollars to infiltrate social media and to “astroturf” the situation to make their movement look stronger and more widespread than it actually is. One way to do that is by dominating a comments section in a movie review of said scandal.

    By creating phony “experts” to exonerate Joe while casting doubt on everyone else involved is one way to accomplish that goal.

    Unfortunately, the real victims here – the raped children – don’t have the means to hire a high powered PR firm of their own. Neither do any of them to have the means to hire a legal super team like King and Spalding as the Paterno clan did. As such, we have all seen all kinds of smearing of the victims with very little response from the other side. But hey, as long as the statue is put back up and the wins restored, all’s well that ends well, right?

    This feels an awful lot like Big Tobacco’s machinations to this uninformed idiot.

    • jpbster says:

      Ray they dropped one count of 5 relating to that particular incident…no one claims to have not believed him…it is simply a matter of proving that portion of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt and since MM was not sticking his face in Jerrys a$$ you can conclude he did not view penetration….your portrayal of this as well as other facts has been outright misleading and fictional……you are a flat out liar. And you have the gall to attach Freeh? Unbelievable….

      • Ray Blehar says:

        See above regarding the meaning of ACQUITTAL.

        The count wasn’t dropped. The JURY VOTED NOT GUILTY.

        BTW, the “unknown” victim in that case has come forward and settled a claim with Penn State for $2M,

        You’ll be astonished to learn that Victim 2, who was well known to The Second Mile and pictured in their 2001 Annual Report, was interviewed by a former FBI agent and he STATED HE WAS NOT ABUSED THAT NIGHT by Sandusky.

        You can call me a liar, but you have yet to get a single fact correct about this case.

    • Ray Blehar says:

      1. I’m not paid by anyone.
      2. I’ll be proven correct by the independent investigator who is investigating the Sandusky case.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Apparently, your reading comprehension isn’t very good. The actual victim in the McQueary incident came forward and said he and Jerry were horsing around in the shower.

        If you read the trial testimony, you can conclude that Victim 2 and Sandusky were slap boxing in the shower — because Victim 4 said that was common. So those slapping sounds McQueary heard were – SLAPS! Gee, how about that.

        As far as detective work goes and what Paterno was told, it’s pretty apparent that Mike told Joe he didn’t SEE anything. Here’s why. Dr. Dranov testified that Mike told him he saw a kid’s head pop out from around a wall. The locker room is laid out so that there from Mike’s vantage point part of the shower room is not visible because of the wall – and that’s where Sandusky and the boy were positioned.

        How do we know this? Because Spanier was told by Curley and Schultz that McQueary didn’t see anything because the incident happened around a corner, out of sight. Curley and Schultz talked to Spanier BEFORE they talked to McQueary. The only person they had spoken with about the incident was Paterno.

        Therefore, you can conclude that McQueary told Paterno the incident happened around a corner and out of sight and that McQueary didn’t see anything.

        Why would I talk to jurors who were absolutely fooled by several witnesses. They will be awfully embarrassed when some of the witnesses are charged with perjury and some of the convictions are overturned.

        Finally, eye-witness testimony (McQueary) is extremely unreliable. Thousands of convictions have been overturned that were decided on the strength of eye-witness testimony – that was later trumped by DNA evidence.

        You can say whatever you want about me. I have the evidence – you don’t.

      • jpbster says:

        I would not be astonished by anything…victims rarely…come forward and often are difficult to get straight answers from.

        You never bothered to answer what Sandusky was doing? Showing him dance moves? What was happening Ray?

        The other 4 counts guilty…and you get hung up on the one MM could not prove because he did not have his head in Sanduskys a$$… great detective work Ray….great.

        You truly are a sick man and if this is what passes for legal smarts from Penn State its obvious you miss the forrest from the trees.

        Tell you what mr detective….go do some research and interview those jurors…get their ENTIRE opinion on what went on with that charge…go ahead…why dfid they vote not guilty? Nevermind you already know or are too stupid to be reasoned with….even your supposed Freeh “lies” amount to nothing but some unsubstantiative hand wringing….how ,even if true, does that change anything with regards to what Paterno
        knew?… does not.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Brian, I’ll make this short and sweet.

        If that incident happened today and was reported to the football coach, the coach would be required to DO LESS.

        Under PSU’s new policy, put in place as a result of the Sandusky case, the coach would have simply turned to McQueary and told him to report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare (DPW).

        If Joe Paterno were alive today, and was the coach, he would be required to DO LESS. As it was in 2001, he took the burden off McQueary to make the report and did it on Mike’s behalf.

        Once the report was made, there was nothing else for Joe to do. Law prohibits child welfare from telling the reporter anything except the final status of the investigation.

      • Brian says:

        I have a question Ray. You know Paterno wasn’t “just the football coach”. He threw his weight around plenty – threatened to quit fundraising on more than one occasion, etc. So while I agree that others are guilty and should share the blame in this nightmare, I’d like to know why so many Penn St people want him to excluded by virtue of “he reported it to his superior”? Do you really think he shouldn’t have done more?

  4. jpbster says:

    1.prove it
    2.prove it
    3.prove it

    How was anything I posted related to any of your claims of minutae on Freeh?

    Time to start character assassinations on Mike McQueary Ray…..go ahead you can do it

    Glad to see Jobots attacking Sanduskys adopted son…I guess when you run out of options……..well………. right?

  5. Ray Blehar says:

    The Paterno haters have shown up. Goodness knows what drives these people?? But they seem to be impervious to the facts of the case as they are being revealed.

    Louis Freeh stated that his report was based on “reasonable conclusions” and did not meet the legal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. As the judicial process has unfolded we have learned the following FACTS.

    1) Louis Freeh lied about making independent discovery of the e-mail evidence. That evidence (e-mails) was found by the PSU IT department and turned over to the OAG in April 2011.

    2) Louis Freeh lied about finding the Schultz file. Kimberly Belcher testified that she DID NOT provide the file to Freeh and that Gary Schultz, himself, turned the file over to the Attorney General in April 2012. Belcher provided a copy of the file one day after Schultz did.

    3) Louis Freeh lied when he said Joe Paterno knew about the 1998 investigation and followed it closely. There is absolutely no evidence of that and it was a statement based on a faulty assumption.

    These people are going to be awfully disappointed when the investigations from the Feds and the Attorney General officially drive nails into the coffin of Freeh’s false narrative about Penn State officials enabling Sandusky’s abuse.

    • Dan says:

      Got it. The former FBI director lied multiple times in order to do harm to Penn State. Do you realize how ridiculous you sound?

      • Ray Blehar says:

        McQueary was a 27 year old man when this incident occurred and Sandusky was RETIRED from PSU and had absolutely no influence on McQueary or the football program.

        According to you, Joe had “police powers.” Where do you come up with this stuff????

        Here is an op-ed written by the Local District Magistrate from State College, regarding Joe’s lack of intervention in police matters.,988524/

        Your arguments are recycled nonsense!!

      • Dan says:

        They certainly don’t get a pass. Neither does Joe. Especially Joe. But keep in mind that McQueary was only a graduate assistant, and if I were in that situation I would be scared as hell about what to do. He should have went to the police, but instead chose to go to the man more powerful than the police. To Joe, the same man who would drive around state college and pull people over as if he WAS the police. Unfortunately for Mike’s football coaching career, he actually DID try to do something.

        Again, why do you continue to laugh about such a serious matter. What is wrong with you?

      • Ray Blehar says:

        LOL! LOL! LOL! You are really stretching it. Check McQueary’s preliminary hearing testimony where he RECANTS about talking to the police and admits he talked with Gary Schultz about ten days after talking with Paterno.

        Nice dodge. If the only option was to call the police immediately, why didn’t Mike to it?

        Why didn’t Mike’s dad do it (within a half hour of seeing the incident – Sandusky’s hair would have still been wet when the police go there)?

        Why didn’t Dranov recommend calling the police?

        Are you saying these three guys get a pass for not calling the police because Sandusky was revered and powerful?? What about the welfare of the child?

      • Dan says:

        From McQueary himself:

        “I did stop it, not physically … but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room … I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police …”

        So according to MM he did go to the police. He also went to Paterno and Joe admitted this.

        The reason he waiting should not be difficult to decipher. He was afraid because he say a revered and powerful man committing vile acts.

        Can’t wait for your conspiracy theory on this one…

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Eight hours before McQueary went to talk to Joe, he told his father and a medical doctor, Dr. Dranov, what he saw in the shower

        Neither man called the police nor did they suggest that Mike call the police.

        Gee, why was that? The answer is that Mike didn’t admit to SEEING anything, only hearing sounds.

      • Dan says:

        Except McQueary went to Joe’s home and TOLD HIM that he saw Jerry molesting the boy in the shower. WTF is wrong with you? If someone does that you go STRAIGHT TO THE POLICE. END OF STORY.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Dan, It is not a question of Paterno’s intelligence or anyone else’s for that matter. There is not ONE SCINTILLA of evidence that indicates Paterno had any idea that Sandusky was a serial child molester.

        I don’t know why you believe Paterno would be able to detect Sandusky as a child molester when just three years earlier, in 1998, the police and two child care caseworkers investigated Sandusky for showering with two boys and determined he wasn’t abusing them. You are simply in denial about how well Sandusky was able to fool everyone about his behavior. He was approved for foster care for 24 children and he adopted six children — all of those actions cleared by State child care workers.

        It is also a matter of record that Paterno’s grand jury testimony is inadmissible. There was no opportunity for his lawyers to cross examine him and clarify his statement. As a result, Paterno issued this statement two days after the release of the grand jury presentment to clarify his testimony (my EMPHASIS added).

        “As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he AT NO TIME HE RELATED THE SPECIFIC ACTIONS contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw SOMETHING INAPPROPRIATE involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.

        “I understand that people are upset and angry, but let’s be fair and let the legal process unfold. In the meantime I would ask all Penn Staters to continue to trust in what that name represents, continue to pursue their lives every day with high ideals and not let these events shake their beliefs nor who they are.”

      • kudravetz says:

        Dan, check Freeh’s recent record on BP and Wynn Resorts. Also, Ray’s information comes from actual documentation and sworn testimony, not the press. The press has done nothing to get to the facts; there are no headlines there. Paterno was cleared by the prosecutor — no one reports that. This is about so much more than football. Stay tuned for the Freeh, Emmert, etc., depositions.

      • Dan says:

        Ray, Do you think Paterno was a stupid man? I don’t. He clearly understood that Sandusky was a sick man and was molesting a kid in the showers, based on JOE’S own testimony. Not sure how you can disagree with that. Are you attempting to discredit Mike McQuary? I don’t understand your motivation for completely disregarding reality in defense of your cult leader? You will clearly stop at nothing to protect his image.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Dan, once again you are writing things that Paterno never said. Paterno never used the word “molesting” not did he ever say “extremely inappropriate acts.”

        I also think it’s wonderful that you’ve quoted something from McQueary that Joe allegedly said to him in November 2011(about the University coming after him) yet that statement is COMPLETELY ABSENT from his $4M lawsuit against PSU for defamation and wrongful termination.

        That point goes directly to the fact that McQueary is constantly adding and subtracting things from his story. He saw sodomy, then he did’t see sodomy. He looked into the shoer twice, then he looked three times. He ran out of there without doing anything, then he said he didn’t leave without making sure it was stopped before he left. He looked into the boy’s eyes, but he’s not sure if the boy saw him. Paterno talked to him 3 months after the incident and never again, then it’s Paterno checked in with him every couple years.

        He’s your witness.

      • Dan says:

        Paterno himself testified that McQueary came to his house and told him that he had seen Sandusky molesting the boy. So at the very least, Joe knew that there were extremely inappropriate acts happening on campus in the shower. He later told McQueary that the University was going to come after him for coming forward. Gee… do you think that Joe could have tried to protect him? Of course not. That would have further tarnished Joe’s image and as we have all learned, the can’t happen to Joe!

        Or do you want to dispute more facts???

      • Ray Blehar says:

        McQueary went on the stand ONE MONTH later on December 16, 2011 (at the preliminary hearing) and stated he never used those terms with Paterno or anyone else at PSU.

        Please try to keep up and stay on topic. The topic is what did Mike tell PSU officials. You are saying Paterno and the PSU people were told about Sandusky raping a child and McQueary refutes that.

        I’m not in denial. You are.

      • Dan says:

        “I’m pretty sure he was sodomizing him, I’m relatively sure,”

        “I see in the mirror Coach Sandusky standing behind a boy who is propped up against the shower. The shower’s running. He is right up against his back with his front,”

        “very slow, slow subtle movement” from Sandusky’s midsection.

        These all all McQueary quotes. What the hell else do you need to know? Damn you are one sad individual.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        McQueary did not use that term when telling his story to anyone at PSU and stated he was not sure what he saw.

        From McClatchy regarding the trial testimony:
        When asked about his certainty that it was sex, McQueary said, “I can’t tell you 1,000 percent. I did not see a penis entering a rectum. I do know it was extremely sexual.”

        McQueary said he didn’t go into details when speaking with Paterno, but said he was clear about what he saw.

        “I told (Paterno) what I had seen on the surface,” McQueary testified. “I made sure he knew it was sexual and that it was wrong … I did not go into gross detail about the actual act.”

        What Mike thinks people took away from his version of events and what people actually took away seem to be far apart.

        If Mike was clear about seeing anal intercourse, don’t you think his father and Dranov would have encouraged him to call the police?

      • Dan says:

        McQueary said that he saw Sandusky engaging in intercourse. Are you denying that? If so, which part?

      • Ray Blehar says:

        I’m not SUGGESTING anything. The PROSECUTION’s own witnesses, who are supposed to be supporting the story of a PSU cover-up, are refuting the evidence that was presented in the case.

        Kimberly Belcher and John Corro, PROSECUTION witnesses, have refuted Freeh’s claims of discovery of e-mail evidence and of the Schultz file.

        Mike McQueary, a PROSECUTION witness, refuted the information that was reported in the Grand Jury Presentment. The presentment reported information that he never said – especially the term “anal intercourse.” McQueary refuted the presentment at the preliminary hearing on December 14, 2011.

        Next, JUDGE LEETE just ruled that there were grounds to pursue a case of LIBEL, COMMERCIAL DISPARAGEMENT, and DEFAMATION based on what was written in the Freeh Report.

        You can read the rulings here:

        It is clear to me that you have no idea of the facts of the case beyond what you may have read circa November 2011.

      • Dan says:

        You are suggesting that the former FBI Director Louis Freeh LIED in his report. You went on to suggest that Mike McQueary LIED in his testimony. Do I have that correct? Any other liars you want to add to the list? And you have the nerve to suggest that I am in denial? Unbelievable!

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Says someone who doesn’t have any idea of the facts of the case and swallowed Freeh’s BS hook, line and sinker.

        You are in denial.

        Go read the testimony of the PROSECUTION witnesses who are refuting Freeh’s claims. I’ve referenced their testimony above.

        Educate yourself.

      • Dan says:

        The only thing going down in flames is your cockamamie theory that there is some sort of conspiracy to do harm to Penn State and Joe Paterno by Louis Freeh, the media, opposing fans, the NCAA, and anyone else who doesn’t subscribe to you cultist tendencies. One thing is clear… you will probably go to the ends of the earth to protect your cult and it’s former leader. That is scary.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Do you know how ignorant you are in defending Louis Freeh? Ever hear of a guy named Richard Jewell? Freeh is 0-4 in his last four investigations.

        FIFA decision over turned.
        Penn State Report discredited (by Dick Thornburg, Fred Berlin, Jim Clemente and others)
        Wynn Report discredited (by Michael Chertoff)
        BP Report discredited

        Freeh is going to be deposed in the NCAA case. He is also being sued for defamation by Spanier.

        He is going to go down in flames.

  6. jpbster says:

    Ray you keep claiming the trial proved this or that….the trials of Penn State top administrators HAVE not even OCCURED…..and you are missing the point the lead prosecutor never said Paterno didn’t know….he knew…you can claim his kicking the can wax rnough…but dont pretend he was some pillar of moral behavior….the man did the absolute minimum….minimum…he absolutely failed to act ENOUGH….How anyone can be discussing his greatness in light of that is disturbing….I’m sure we will never hear just how long he knew…or anyone knew…but a statement lik you just made does not somehow clear and absolve him of all wrong doing…..seriously grow up.

    • Ray Blehar says:

      The PROSECUTION’s own witnesses are clearing PSU officials of wrong-doing. I look forward to the trials because all of the so-called evidence against the PSU officials is being undermined by the Commonwealth’s own witnesses.

      The lead prosecutor made no such statement about Paterno knowing anything.

      The argument that Joe should have done more as the basis for Paterno’s guilt is a desperate one. The list of people who should have done more is long….and it starts with DPW and CYS in 1998.

      But it also includes Mike McQueary, John McQueary, and Dr. Dranov who all knew about the 2001 incident and could have called the police and possibly tracked down Sandusky while he was still with the alleged victim. Of course, you don’t ever mention that because that is a rather inconvenient fact for your side.

      How can you logically come to the conclusion that Paterno had more of a responsibility to call the police or DPW than two medical doctors who were mandated reporters under the child abuse laws?

      The answer is that you can’t. And you also can’t explain how two doctors, who were mandatory reporters, heard a version of events that included a crime or a case of child abuse if their recommendation was for Mike to tell Joe Paterno.

      It doesn’t add up.

  7. jpbster says:

    So here come the Joebots……”looking for truth” blindly ignoring facts…turning a blind eye to anything that disparages their insane obedience to a damn football coach…

    So let’s get the mantra straight….Joe didn’t know….he (being by far the schools largest cash cow ) was sold down the river by that evil plotting BOT who in turn knew about Sandusky and wanted to shift the blame….forget how illogical it is that by saying the BOT knew and it would follow many also knew (hell its been said their were rumors for Decades)….but even after all of this …Joe did not know? Its preposterous. Its not protecting the cash cow program….No…thats just too obvious……No its protecting the BOT who is purposefully doing damage to its #1 “product”….? On what dimensional plane of existance do you have to be for this to “make sense”?

    You literally have to ignore reason and make evetyone else wrong in order to make Paterno right again….the media…the BOT….hell anyone with a rational brain.

    Joebots please move on…please grow up…the completely unhealthy obsession over a football coach is a waste of your time and life….

    • jpbster says:

      Are you then going to have statues errected for those others who knew as Paterno did…but did not act? Why not? I mean they all should have reported it right? Know one has claimed others did not know (as Paterno did)…..but you obviously only care about them in conjuction with defending your pope.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        This isn’t about some stupid statue — that I never liked anyway. This is about making sure children get the protection they deserve.

        And they aren’t getting it because the true story of the Sandusky case was covered up. It is a story of a failing child protective services system that lets 20 kids get murdered and 2500 kids get abused every year in Pennsylvania AFTER the caseworkers have been called into protect the kids.

        I suggest you read my first report so that you understand what was covered up by Louis Freeh.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Dan, that information in the grand jury presentment (November 2011) was discredited by Mike’s own testimony one month later in December 2011. Much of the presentment has been discredited over the last two years.

      • Dan says:

        He said they were engaged in intercourse and doing sexual things. This is on the record. Look it up.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Dan, McQueary testifed that he never used the term anal intercourse. Again, McQueary’s own testimony is that he didn’t go into any detail with Joe Paterno. You are making stuff up.

      • Dan says:

        McQueary told Joe that Sandusky was having intercourse with the boy. What the heck do you think that means?

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Wow. Dan is on quite a roll of misinformation. Mike McQueary testified that he never used the word rape or sodomy to describe what happened. In fact, Mike testified that he didn’t go into any detail when discussing the incident Joe Paterno.

        Dan, you’re just making stuff up.

      • Dan says:

        A Penn State coach told Joe Paterno, IN HIS HOME, that he witnessed a boy being raped in the showers. What happened as a result of that revelation? Not much. Penn State told Jerry to stop bringing kids to campus. That’s it. The fact that the graduate assistant coach had to discuss with his father whether to even bring it to light should tell you all that you need to know about the culture.

  8. Ray Blehar says:

    Obviously, Dan is unfamiliar with the work I’ve done on behalf of children. You can read about how the Freeh Report shielded PA’s Child Protective Services from any blame in letting Sandusky abuse children for over 14 years here:

    • Dan says:

      You’re a sad man. Jerry Sandusky abused a child in the Penn State athletics showers. The janitor reported it to his supervisor. Nothing happened. Jerry did it again. This time anally raping a young boy in the showers. A graduate assistant coach saw it and reported it to Joe Paterno, AT JOE’S HOME. Nothing happened. These are FACTS. Do you deny them? What more do you need to know? The reason this never came out at the time is because the reputation of the football program and Joe’s image was (still is?) more important then doing the right thing. This is one of the themes of the film, and one of the conclusions of the Freeh Report. But, if you want to continue pretending that YOU are one of the real victims while making it part of your crusade to find the real criminals, go right ahead. People know better and will see right through it.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Trial verdicts are very clear on the issue – no rapes occurred on PSU’s campus AND that the JURY didn’t believe McQueary’s story about Sandusky raping a boy. That’s why they ACQUITTED Sandusky of the rape (IDSI) charge in that incident.

        I am specifically saying NO RAPES occurred on PSU campus and that is backed up by the trial verdicts.

        Did abuse happen on PSU’s campus? Yes. But the trial verdicts prove that most of the crimes were NON-CONTACT offenses. In the cases of victims 5 and 6, there were ACQUITTALS for indecent assault (inappropriate touching). Only one victim claimed to be abused on PSU’s campus and get a guilty verdict on a contact offense/molestation. 30 of the 45 counts were non-contact, endangerment and corruption of minors offenses. Most of the contact offenses occurred in Sandusky’s home.

        These are the facts and they don’t fit the narrative of Sandusky raping boys on PSU’s campus.

      • Dan says:

        Ray, you are even more delusional than I previously thought. Now you are suggesting that Mike McQueary completely made up his testimony? That this abuse never even occurred on campus at all, ever? Wow.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        LOL! The janitor incident is a hoax. Based on evidence from the PSU Payroll office, the eye-witness janitor was not employed by PSU at the time the crime occurred. Not only that, but the hearsay witness also got about five or six things wrong in his testimony that clearly show this crime was a fabrication.

        The trial verdicts disprove your claim of a rape of a boy in the showers in 2001. NEWSFLASH: SANDUSKY WAS ACQUITTED on that charge. AND there is not a single case of a rape occurring on PSU’s campus. In fact, more crimes occurred off campus than on campus. People that read the verdict list know those facts.

        It’s sad that you bought into a completely false narrative of Sandusky raping boys on PSU’s campus. It didn’t happen.

  9. Dan says:

    As I predicted in the first post, the “Joebots” would be here in full force! Well, here they are! What people not familiar with this story need to understand is that the Joebots are part of a cult. They have been brainwashed and believe that anything negative about their beloved Joe Paterno and Penn State Football is automatically wrong.

    The Freeh Report…. wrong.

    The victims of Sandusky… just want money.

    The real victims…. Penn State fans.

    This movie review… wrong.

    The move itself… wrong.

    Fact after fact reveals that the culture of the Penn State football program allowed a child rapist to prey on children on Penn State’s campus and within its own athletics facilities. Then, that culture led to these disgusting acts being covered up. The administration knew this was happening. AND YES, JOE PATERNO KNEW and turned a blind eye because the football program and Joe’s legacy were in danger of being damaged.

    This movie addresses that culture and it is on display for everyone to see here. Disgusting. There is no difference between the Heaven’s Gate cult members and the ‘Joebots’. They will continue to impose harm on their school by not accepting the reality that their cult like worshiping is what enabled these acts to occur in the first place. Their continued behavior will unfortunately lead to bad things in the future. But as long as the football program returns to winning and Joe Paterno’s reputation is ‘saved’ then they are happy. Who cares about the victim’s, right?

    • Janet says:

      A lot of people care about the victims — that’s why they want to get all the facts and are wondering why The Second Mile, Sandusky’s employer after 1998-99 (and where he found his victims), has not been investigated. Pennsylvania Child Protective Services has a lot to answer for its lack of investigation and action. THAT is about the children and that is why many people will not move on. On the football side, the Sandusky prosecutor has said as recently as September 2012 (CBS Evening News) that there was no evidence of a cover-up by Paterno. The judge in the NCAA lawsuit recently ruled that the defamation part of the suit will go forward, so Louis Freeh, Mark Emmert and Ed Ray (NCAA), Rodney Erickson (PSU President), and more, will be deposed in the next year. Stay tuned; all we want is the truth and it’s hard to understand why so many people don’t.

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Dan, Now that you know there were NO CRIMES on PSU’s campus from 2002 to 2011, can’t you admit you bought into the lies of Louis Freeh?

      • Ray Blehar says:

        Dan immediately resorted to name calling to diminish the people who have actually looked at the facts of the case. What does Dan hang his hat on? The Freeh Report – which has been largely discredited by every person who has reviewed it.

        The TRIAL VERDICTS support the case that there was NO COVER UP at Penn State. There were no crimes committed on PSU’s campus after 2001, so what was being covered up by Paterno and the PSU administrators?

        Next, Dan uses the highly inflammatory language that a child rapist was allowed to use PSU’s facilities to molest children. First, again look at the TRIAL VERDICTS and you find that the rape crime in this case occurred between 2005 and 2009 at SANDUSKY’s HOME.

        If you also look at the TRIAL VERDICTS and the trial testimony, there is NOT ONE VICTIM stating he was abused on PSU’s campus after Sandusky retired and was granted access.

        The REAL STORY in this case is that the people who gave Sandusky ACCESS TO CHILDREN, which was the critical access in committing his crimes, where the people at THE SECOND MILE and in CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES.

        The tragedy in this story is that the people who enabled Sandusky’s abuse are still in their jobs and millions of PA’s children remain unprotected.

      • Dan says:

        You don’t want the truth. You want your reality to be true. It’s not. Here is what happened… the football first culture at Penn State allowed these disgusting acts to occur and then to be covered up. Can you at least admit as much? While you are busy scrutinizing every detail of every little thing that someone said, the rest of the world has accepted what happened and is ready to heal. It’s time for you to do the same. I know that is never going to happen… because you are too busy ‘looking for the truth’ just as OJ is still searching for the real killer.

  10. Steve says:

    I will see the movie just because I would like to see how the director edited the comments of those included in the film. I am a career Federal criminal investigator and I am astounded at the utter lack of due process for Paterno and Penn State in this entire Sandusky mess. It became a media circus in short order because it had the high drama or a heretofore hero being knocked of his pedestal and nothing sells better than that. Then Paterno and Penn State were defined by a report by Louis Freeh that in my opinion after 30 years of conducting fact finding investigations was about as incompetent an investigation as I have ever read. Freeh’s self serving press conference, conducted beore anyone could read his report released minutes before, defined how the nations would see Paterno and Penn State forever, despite the fact his investigation was amatuerish and deeply flawed. From reading the review, Mr. Chang knows only the story defined by Freeh’s press conference and little else but that is what we have come to accept as journalism in this country. I sincerely hope Mr. Bar-Lev took a little more time to look at how this entire situation was mishandled by the media leading to a very inaccurate view of this entire matter and at least approached it in his movie.

  11. Ray Blehar says:

    Agree with Elwood. Most of the key themes in the review, such as a football culture that enabled Sandusky and that the people at Penn State valued football over the welfare of children, have been discredited by the evidence that has been brought out since the trial of Sandusky. Bar-Lev, like most people, only knows what the media tells him. And the media has done their best to ensure the public never finds out what really happened in the Sandusky case and that this is the biggest media screw up since the Duke Lacrosse case.

  12. ellwood says:

    When will this movie be available? Judging by your review this film is rooted in fantasy and deeply flawed. Is it? Or are you mistakenly interpretting it? I look forward to seeing it for myself.

  13. Ugh. I stopped reading at “cone of silence”. I’ve not seen this documentary, so I can’t fully comment. But I can address the awful mis-statements, innuendo, spin and prejudice by Mr. Chang.

    The fetid undercurrent to this entire mess is Pennsylvania Political Patronage, Cronyism, Trustees/Board Members with their hands in the cookie jar and Keystone Corruption as usual. Nothing’s changed here in Pennsylvania for decades…why would this be any different?

    Chang – you do realize that the children’s charity that Sandusky accessed ALL his victims from was state licensed, and in Pennsylvania the Office of Attorney General has oversight of non-profits/charities? Good God man, Sandusky was an Agent of the County by virtue of his status as an adoptive/foster parent and his employ at his charity, The Second Mile! Safety Plan? We don’t need no Safety Plan!

    The Second Mile raked in Million$$$ each year, and it’s Board members donated quite generously to Tom Corbett.

    In essence, our former AG, now Governor, Tom Corbett was the fox guarding the proverbial hen house. So stop with the ” football worship” theories and start looking at the stink coming from Harrisburg and Philadelphia in all this. The number one rule in any scandal is to follow the money. Look at that, look at the same names that keep swirling around like socks in the washing machine when it comes to Trusts/Charities/Non Profits and “protecting the children” in our state and you’ll be disgusted.

    For giggles, google Milton Hershey Trust Scandal.

  14. Jon Serianni says:

    What we really need is an honest film that will look at what really happened, not one meant to trash the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It just goes to show how little the filmmaker, the author of this review, and most others understand of PSU and its culture that they think we’re all about football. The filmmaker should not be praised when his misunderstands his subject matter so completely. but then again I doubt he really wanted to understand. That wouldn’t sell. Paterno had a loyal following and it had very little to do with football, but because he was able to win while making football success secondary if not even third behind academics and citizenship. Hard as it may be for the morally bankrupt Hollywood crowd to understand (how do you like being stereotyped?) Joe was respected and honored for being a good man and good teacher, not because he won. However, a movie about Sandusky (largely forgotten even in State College) would not sell well. Name recognition and sensationalism trump truth every time in the film industry.

  15. Matt Sandusky only came out as a “victim” when PSU opened up their wallets. He was a criminal and psycho growing up and his brother is a murdered. He was only adopted after he was 18 which means he needed the permit his “abuser” to adopt him.

  16. IAJF says:

    Of course here come the Joebots. This isn’t a movie review, this is a man sitting in judgement of a large group of people after getting a very limited perspective, very little background and very few facts. Yeah here come the Joebots and rightfully so. The children in PA are still at risk because somehow they managed to make child abuse about football. How ironic.

  17. Dan says:

    Here come the Joebots in 3…. 2…. 1…..

More Film News from Variety