HARRISBURG - Mike McQueary has been vilified nationally to the extent that it's highly unlikely he'll be coaching in college football anytime soon, if ever again.
And there's no question that in March 2002, when he says he witnessed Jerry Sandusky sexually molesting a young boy in the shower room at the Lasch Football Building, McQueary should have summoned police to report what he called "a crime" during two hours of intense grilling Friday morning at the Dauphin County Courthouse.
McQueary must live with what he didn't do, and, like all the other principals in this sick, depressing case, it's cost him dearly.
His inaction has also precluded, to this day, the identification of the alleged victim in the shower.
Given the benefit of hindsight from the high-profile case of alleged child sex abuse, everyone's awareness has been raised on how to deal with such a tragic situation.
But as McQueary answered questions with poise and consistent with the grand jury presentment Friday, I could not help but think that Penn State failed him.
Here was a 27-year-old graduate assistant, one of the lowest-ranking soldiers of the football empire, discovering a coaching legend and family acquaintance - Sandusky - naked and allegedly pressed against a youngster McQueary estimated to be 10.
McQueary described his emotions as "shocked, horrified, distraught and not thinking straight."
He admitted, "I really didn't know what to do."
He called his father, John, to seek advice. Asked if the two considered calling police, Mike said Friday, "Absolutely - without a doubt."
But they didn't.
Because it was late on a Friday night, they waited instead until Saturday to call Joe Paterno. They did so by 8 a.m.
Paterno, kiddingly, thought McQueary, in the third year of a three-year graduate assistantship, was calling for a full-time job.
"He [Paterno] said, 'I don't have a job if that's what this is about,''' McQueary said.
He assured the coach, whom he had never called that early on a Saturday, the matter "was much more serious" and requested a meeting "right away."
McQueary and his father went to Paterno's home. The meeting lasted, McQueary said, "10 minutes."
Do you find that interesting?
This was about Paterno's former top assistant, by then retired but still with campus access and having been investigated but not charged with a similar allegation in 1998, and the meeting lasted only 10 minutes.
The next day, Paterno called athletic director Tim Curley, and the two met with Vice President of Finance Gary Schultz.
About a week later, Curley and Schultz met with McQueary. The meeting, McQueary said, lasted only a few minutes, and the decision was made to pass the information to The Second Mile and inform Sandusky to stop bringing kids to the campus facilities.
Again, don't you think more time should have been taken to quiz McQueary and get as much information as possible on the seeds of an issue that has cost Penn State much?
Even though Sandusky was naked in the shower with a youngster, Curley's testimony said it was his decision not to advance the matter to campus police. He made it, he said, with university President Graham Spanier's blessing.
Curley said he was not aware of the 1998 investigation. Schultz said he was.
Attorneys for both Curley and Schultz hammered away at McQueary, wondering why he didn't call police.
Because Schultz's responsibilities included supervision of PSU security, McQueary thought then and said Friday, "sitting next to Mr. Curley, in my mind, is the police."
Curley's and Schultz's lawyers defended the integrity of their clients, saying if the graphic details that McQueary presents are true, everybody - including Paterno - would have called police.
They will attempt to discredit him, and maybe a jury will ultimately agree.
But why would McQueary make this up? And if he hadn't gone to the Lasch Building that night, how much longer would that shower have lasted?
No doubt, as mentioned, McQueary should have acted more decisively and called authorities himself.
But it also looks from here like the leaders of Mike McQueary's alma mater could have done a whole lot more to help him deal with a situation we can only pray none of us ever encounters.
Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527.