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Teens Suffer from Mysterious Illness; Joe Paterno`s Legacy
Aired January 23, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
An important update on the mysterious illness that has doctors scratching their heads and 12 girls suffering for months.
And Joe Paterno`s passing, did shame and scandal destroy the legendary coach`s will to live?
And later, he raped her in a graveyard when she was just 13. She found him on Facebook nearly 40 years later. After four decades of suffering, you wouldn`t believe what she did.
Let`s get started.
Now, we are picking up right where we left off Friday night with an update on Thera Sanchez and Lydia Parker. We thought it was important to keep informing you guys about the progress of these young girls.
The two we interviewed on Friday night are two of the 12 from the same school suffering from a mysterious illness with symptoms that are sort of being talked about as similar to Tourette`s.
Lydia, Thera and Thera`s mom Elisa Phillips came on the show Friday. During the interview, Thera actually had a seizure. And we ended the show while she was still having a convulsive attack. I want to let you know that Thera is fine. During the show, her mom was courageous enough and appropriate enough to attend to her daughter and keep me and Dr. Sharp informed while we continued to interview her.
Now, the important point to remember here is Thera has seizures like that every day, every day. So her mom every day has to keep her from falling, keeping her airway open, attend to her when she has these attacks. And Thera herself across the weekend told me through her mom that she wanted people to witness this because she wants people to understand how miserable this is and what she has been contending with.
Now, myself and colleagues have been working on this all weekend, trying to get answers and help for these young girls. This story is important to me and my staff. I mean, this is not your usual kind of news, talk show, us, because it`s anchored by a physician. And so when these medical problems develop, we get invested. We try to see them through. And we are trying very hard with this particular case.
Tonight, we`re going to go further exploring this mystery with you guys, with the audience, to help you understand what this is. And by the way, our Facebook and Twitter lit up with all sorts of theories that you guys had. And I thank you for offering them. But I want to bring you up to date first so you can understand what`s going on here.
PINSKY (voice-over): Last week, we brought you the story of Thera Sanchez, a cheerleader, honor roll student and high school senior. She was looking forward to the future, but when she woke up from a nap last October, everything changed.
THERA SANCHEZ, STUDENT SUFFERING FROM MYSTERY ILLNESS: I couldn`t stop stuttering.
PINSKY: Once the stuttering ended, it soon gave way to uncontrollable twitching. Officials say 12 girls from Thera`s school have exhibited similar symptoms, including Thera`s friend, Lydia Parker.
LYDIA PARKER, STUDENT SUFFERING FROM MYSTERY ILLNESS: Last time I went to the neurologist, they said that they`re not sure and they`ll keep looking into it. But besides they haven`t told anyone anything.
PINSKY: We decided to look into it for ourselves. We had Thera and Lydia on the show Friday to draw attention to their illness and try to get some answers on treating it. It was clear they were suffering a very real and painful disturbance. Things took a frightening turn when Thera had a seizure in the middle of the interview. It was a scary few minutes but she stabilized within an hour.
After the show, comments poured in responding to our call for help. Nurses, doctors, people suffering similar conditions, all suggesting possible causes and treatments.
PINSKY: Now, I want the audience to be aware that Thera in addition to this - to this tic phenomenon you`re watching there, she has had a seizure disorder since childhood besides. And because of this unexplained illness, her seizures have gotten even worse and she seems to have perhaps has a secondary cause in addition to her primary seizure problem.
With me to explore this medical phenomenon is Dr. Michael Okun. He is the National Medical Director with the National Parkinson Foundation and Co- Chair of the Tourette Center Association Medical Advisory Board. Also with me is Dr. John Sharp, a psychiatrist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, author of the book "The Emotional Calendar." John was on the set with me Friday when Thera had her seizure.
And, John, I know you`ve been talking - both of us have had conversations with, Melisa, the mom across the weekend, and you`ve been working very hard in trying to hook her up with appropriate resources. Can you give us an update from your perspective?
DR. JOHN SHARP, PSYCHIATRIST, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Absolutely, Dr. Drew. Thanks again for having me onto try to help.
You know, I think more than anyone else, you`ve been a magnet to try to get attention to the needs that these girls all have and their families regarding treatment, and I did get a chance to speak to Melisa over the weekend, and I think we both really worked hard to try to find three levels of resources.
One is regional, two is something more, say, New York City or Boston if they wanted to travel and get a second opinion, or Washington, and the third is national, trying to find people who see unusual cases more often than the average physician. When you have an unusual case like this, you have to put extra attention into it, and I think both of us have been working to try to cover all of the bases, neurologically, medically, environmentally, immunologically, and also psychiatrically in terms of the emotional toll this is clearly taking.
PINSKY: And, by the way, at no point are Dr. Sharp and I suggesting that the care these girls have been getting is somehow inadequate or inappropriate. It`s just Melisa has asked for help to go further. We are trying to provide that help.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, I interviewed Thera and her mom about her condition and how it has progressively gotten worse. Take a look at this.
PINSKY: How are you?
SANCHEZ: I`m not good, not today, hasn`t been for awhile. My tics - my tics got worse.
PINSKY: And mom, I understand for awhile that they got better, she went back to school, and then they started to come back again. Is that accurate?
MELISA PHILLIPS, THERA SANCHEZ`S MOTHER: Yes. She was able to go to school in October and November, after Thanksgiving. It came back with a vengeance and started with seizures related to the tics. And, you know, it has just gone from there. She was hospitalized again in December.
PINSKY: Now John, again, Dr. Sharp, to review some of the things that you and I went over on Friday is that the issue of a possible conversion reaction has been brought up. And we were careful to point out that you really don`t call something a psychiatric problem until all medical causes have really been systematically ruled out.
And she, actually Thera herself asked us to define conversion reaction. Can you define it again today?
SHARP: Sure. You`re absolutely right. It`s a diagnosis of exclusion, first of all.
So after you rule out other identifiable medical conditions, you start to wonder whether somehow emotions could have gotten twisted into a physical form. This is not anything other than the extraordinary nature of all of us. We have the capacity to quote, "somaticize." You can have upset stomach before you`re about to have a performance. That`s the same kind of thing. You don`t know it consciously, but it`s your body reacting to stress.
So we wonder whether there could have been some terrible habit that got started for some reason. And again, it`s only one avenue of investigation, but why not explore it, why not look down all possible avenues.
PINSKY: Right. And then that there`s a contagion amongst the girls, but that too - all of this even if it`s a conversion is a medical disorder with a medical treatment requires a systematic approach.
PINSKY: Now, on Friday`s NBC`s "TODAY Show," they interviewed - yes - they interviewed neurologist Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, who has treated 10 of the 12 girls. Now, he says the girls are - his opinion is they`re suffering from a physiological problem that occurs in groups such as teenage girls particularly in small - small towns. Take a look at his explanation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, HOST, NBC "TODAY SHOW": The diagnosis here is that these girls are suffering from a mass psychogenic illness. What exactly is that?
DR. LASZLO MECTHLER, NEUROLOGIST: Well, it`s a disorder that occurs in small groups, especially in young girls in schools in small towns. And what happens is that one individual, so-called the index case, which means one person may have a neurological disorder.
LAUER: Like a conversion disorder.
MECHTLER: Or a conversion disorder, and then all of a sudden several other young ladies have similar symptoms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And Dr. Sharp, this has been your and my concern is that there could be a mix of things here. There could be a conversion. There could be a contagion. But someone like Thera could have a biological, medical problem that sort of hasn`t been yet adequately dealt with or explained?
SHARP: Completely right. I think Dr. Mechtler did a great job, by the way, of explaining that. And, you know, even inpatients who have been diagnosed with conversion disorder subsequently often times on a biological basis, some kind of neurotoxin or something is found later on. So you never want to quit looking.
But I think that the key thing here is to involve all of the best specialists we can find. I believe that DENT Institute is terrific. I think the evaluation and workup that the girls have had there, you know, is likely to be fantastic. It`s just that the girls live between Buffalo and Rochester. There`s a whole range of resources in Rochester that have not yet been touched. And we could look at helping anyone who wants a second opinion as well as I said going further to get even a further opinion.
PINSKY: Well, speaking of mobilizing resources, Dr. Okun is with us here today. And you`ve had a chance to look at some of this and hear the conversation they`re having. Can you ring in on this what your.? I understand you`re at a disadvantage in that this is quite at a distance you`re trying to render an opinion. What do - what do you make of all this?
DR. MICHAEL OKUN, CO-CHAIR, TOURETTE SYNDROME ASSOCIATION: So it`s interesting. And historically we`ve seen groups of cases that can present with hyperkinetic movement disorder. I think the most important thing is to reassure the public and reassure the families, and as you said, get help to these girls.
The types of movement disorders that we see, they take their genesis in the brain, from usually abnormal firing patterns from - from different circuits. And the circuit in the brain that we are most interested in is called the basal ganglia. And the cells in different regions, they`re having a conversation with each other. And when that conversation becomes abnormal, you can get these extra hyperkinetic or extra movements that we call tics.
Now, in these girls, we certainly could not call all of these girls tics, or all of these girls Tourette`s Syndrome. So I think that, you know, other experts are spot on. It`s possible, though, that some of these girls may have Tourette. And remember that all of these disorders can worsen with anxiety, with sleep deprivation, with any stressor, and that`s one of the hallmarks of this type of disease or this type of disorder.
PINSKY: Now, I`m going to - I`ll take a quick break here. But I`m going to follow up this and help you guys understand what the basal ganglia is and what part of the brain we`re talking about and try not to put you to sleep as I have a tendency to do.
But up next, more on this discussion as we of course try to examine what might be causing this illness. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: She does not have time for I feel or guesswork or anything like that. She`s deteriorating.
SANCHEZ: I don`t think this is in my head. I - I don`t think I can wake up from a nap and this just happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back.
And if you just joined us, we`re talking about a medical mystery. Twelve healthy teenage girls from the same New York community suddenly find themselves stricken with something that is similar to Tourette`s Syndrome. They`ve started stuttering, taking on uncontrollable tics and verbal outbursts.
Now, I`ve got to stop here. Now, my handwriting is bad enough, but I needed some sort of a representation of what Dr. Okun was talking about in terms of the brain and the basal ganglia. So here goes my try.
If I take my brain out of my head and move it on the edge like this, here`s the best picture I can do for you guys. That`s a brain, and the basal ganglia is down in here. No, no, wait a minute. I`ve got to get this so you can see it.
There we go, this area down in here. And that`s a horrible drawing of it, but that`s the basil ganglia. Deep in the brain - again, this is the sort of reptilian brain. These are the movement areas, and this is the area that`s affected and causing these movement disturbances Dr. Okun was talking about.
It is very complicated. There can be post infectious things that attack that part of the brain. There can be autoimmune syndromes. There can be congenital issues. As he said, it can be made worse with anxiety.
Maybe perhaps something in the environment, but that is something exceedingly rare, exceedingly rare, and we wanted to see if that`s possible. So we are asking for help.
Back with me are Dr. John Sharp, a psychiatrist and faculty member of Harvard Medical School and author of the book "The Emotional Calendar." And via Skype, Dr. Michael Okun. He`s the national medical director for the National Parkinson`s Foundation and co-chair of the Tourette`s Syndrome Association and Medical Advisory Board.
And Dr. Okun, some, you know, out there, somebody particularly living in that little community might be worried that this might be some sort of contagious condition. People are throwing around - I`ve seen tree spores and vaccines and all kinds of wild explanations, and saccharin, and everyone has an opinion about what`s causing this thing. Can you help dispel some of those myths?
OKUN: Yes. So I think this is actually a great opportunity to educate the public about what this may be and what this is not. And Tourette`s Syndrome, for example, usually starts - the average age is about seven years old, starts as a childhood illness and these kids and young adults, they get extra movements. We call those motor tics. And they also get phonic or vocal tics, and these things have to change over time.
And the syndrome`s associated with things like attention deficit and obsessive compulsive disorder and some behavioral disorders, and it has a very patterned type of presentation. And this is the type of disorder that can be easily discerned by an expert. So getting the kids to an expert will help to elucidate whether or not they actually do have Tourette.
And from the Tourette Syndrome Association`s point of view, we just want to help get them evaluated. The idea that a group of kids suddenly developed Tourette`s Syndrome is - is highly unlikely, and I would say would not be the answer to this - to this dilemma.
I think that the other guests and what you`ve been alluding to, Dr. Drew, is absolutely correct. There are probably multiple issues going on here, and under the right expert eye and under the right expert care, which does exist in Rochester, by the way. There`s a nice Tourette`s Syndrome association clinic there.
PINSKY: Yes. We are aware - right. We`re aware of that. We tried to hook them up.
Now Melisa, Thera`s mom, believes - has requested and is searching for more - she`s actually very sophisticated about movement disorders. She was on this - I`ve had a chance to talk to her across the weekend several times, and she was on the show Friday and she had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: All of us need to have more testing done. We need to know that every physical aspect of this has been visited. So, we are confident and, you know, a diagnosis that we do get from a doctor. We haven`t had, you know, heavy metal testings done. We haven`t had all of these stuff done, you know, collectively as a group.
You know, everybody`s been - being treated (ph) individually, and you know, their feeling, their, you know, assumption that this is just stress and anxiety induced or the conversion disorder, it`s not enough. I can`t go on by your gut feeling. I need positive reinforcement that this is what this is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So Dr. Sharp, at least in Thera`s case, does the mom have a good point? I`ve got about a minute left.
SHARP: She certainly does, and when she spoke with me on the phone yesterday, she said that she really wants and all the mothers really want to try to get to the bottom of this, have a coordinated approach so that we can get these girls well again. And, emotionally, there`s a lot of hope here.
I think the girls so need privacy. They need an excellent care team. They need a little bit of time, and once you start to get the ball rolling, once they start to actually get a little bit better, then they can get a lot better over the rest of the haul. It actually goes quite well, like I was saying the other day. It`s just something that we have to really work hard at.
And one other thing I want to say, Drew, is that there may be a role for medical hypnosis here, you know, to try to harness the brain`s powers to heal, not to do anything other than activate the brain`s own capacity for healing, which may be empowering and may help people feel better as they get better physically.
PINSKY: Interesting, Dr. Sharp. Thank you, Dr. Okun. Thank you for joining me.
Your comments and questions for Dr. Sharp and I when we come back. And I just want to remind people that Melisa, the mom, was planning to be with us here tonight, but Thera, I guess, had a kind of rough day so she`s attending to her now. She tells us that she will rejoin us again tomorrow if she possibly can, if she has someone there that can help watch after Thera for her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: I ended up leaving the last week of October because I didn`t feel I could handle school any more, and my doctor -
PINSKY: And Thera -
PARKER: -- didn`t think I could handle school any more.
PINSKY: I understand. And Thera, are you back at school now?
SANCHEZ: No. I`m getting home tutored.
PINSKY: Are other kids supportive of you? How are you feeling? How are you dealing with this emotionally?
SANCHEZ: Other kids are very supportive of me. It`s hard being - it`s hard not being able to do what you love, even going to school. I loved going -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back. I`m joined once again by Dr. John Sharp, psychiatrist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School and author of "The Emotional Calendar."
We`ve seen really thousands of e-mails and tweets and Facebook posts concerning the unexplained illness the 12 New York teens have been suffering from since October, so we want to get into some of those and take some of your calls.
First up, we have Kimberly in Texas. Go ahead, Kimberly.
KIMBERLY, KELLER, TEXAS: Hi, Dr. Drew. I have just a question to ask.
KIMBERLY: Do you think the girls could have come into contact with chemicals in a science lab that could have been tainted with some form of drug, like a PCP?
PINSKY: Dr. Sharp, you ring in with me as we go through these questions and Facebook posts and whatnot.
I would say no, there`s no transdermal penetration of those kinds of drugs. And, in fact, one of the things that Thera`s mom was complaining about was that was the first place the treating team went, which these girls have all been exposed to bath salts or a tainted methamphetamine or some sort of designer drug, which have been known to cause movement disorders, but I would say there`s no evidence that these kids have been exposed to an - illicit substances.
Dr. Sharp, do you agree?
SHARP: That was the first place that people looked. I think the Department of Health got involved, looking for environmental kind of allergies or some kind of toxin, and it`s been excluded, as far as I understand.
PINSKY: John on Facebook writes, "Why wasn`t the seizure the girl was having on your show last night - last week, on Friday night, considered a medical emergency?" and I will handle that one. I think it`s John.
The fact is, she has seizures like that every single day, and every day of her life she is contending with that now. Now, she can fall and hurt herself, she can have issues of aspiration and problems with her airway, which mom was attending to and she reassured us she was doing so. And she could have continued seizuring. That could get dangerous, but she stopped seizing on - during the program here.
And that`s actually what I wanted to see. I mean, if you saw my ambivalence, I was saying I`ve got to see this to make sure that this is settling down and that mom is able to handle the airway issues.
But of course, again, because she has this every day, they`re quite astute at handling this. And Thera herself is on record saying she was glad this happened because she wants people to understand what she is contending with on a daily basis.
Pete here tweets, "I don`t think PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal)" - that`s in parenthesis - "should be dismissed."
That`s a great point. Actually - apparently Thera has not been tested for this. That is a syndrome that can cause this sort of thing. Many of the other girls have been tested for this.
John, did you address this at all with Melisa, that she had - that she should get tested for the antibodies?
SHARP: We did talk about that, and one of the national resources that we found is really the expert, the number one expert in this whole area. The people I talked to in Boston said that it didn`t look like it was consistent with a typical PANDAS presentation, but I think testing is important. Absolutely.
PINSKY: Let`s go past the phone. Let`s go to the - let`s go to a Facebook question. Here`s - Michelle writes, "Has anyone considered synthetic marijuana?"
And yes, it`s another great thought. People have considered things like that, but there`s no evidence that these kids were using illicit substances.
We have one more Facebook or Twitter? Anything? Give me something here. Oh, we have a wild one here. This is the kind of stuff we`re getting all weekend. I got to share it with you. "Has anyone suggested this could be caused from ingesting a tapeworm larvae in the school cafeteria?"
Yes, these sorts of - cysticercosis has been ruled out, which is what you`re suggesting there. These - these kinds of common things, believe me, doctors are ruling out.
So, Dr. Sharp, thanks for joining me for this very important topic. Read more about it at HLNtv.com.
We`ve got to go. Back with more on the death of Joe Paterno.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Swan song for Joe Paterno. A sad ending to a legendary life. And shame, heartbreak, and losing the job you love destroy your will to live. And with scandal still looming over the Penn State campus, how should Joe Pa`s passing be honored?
And later, a woman brutally raped at 13 meets one of her attackers nearly 40 years later on Facebook. At first, she planned revenge, out him to his family and ruin his life, but after almost four decades of shame, fear and suffering, she made a surprising decision. It healed her and it will inspire you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Yesterday, word spread about the death of former Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno. He was 85 years of age. Paterno was among the most admired figures in the history of college sports. However, his reputation was, shall we say, shattered in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving one of his long time assistants. No hint of the scandal apparent yesterday or today as students celebrated the life of the sainted coach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN TECCEE, PRESIDENT, PATERNOVILLE: For generations past, he was a dynamic, sharp, successful figure who again seemed bigger than life.
SHANE MCGREGOR, QUARTERBACK: Ask him about a game from 1960 or 1980 or game that didn`t even matter or practice from August of 1958, he could tell you a story about it. It would have a lesson. It would have characters and have a plot. They will lead you as learning something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Joe Paterno`s health rapidly declined as he battled lung cancer, but people are asking did the heartbreak and shame of all of that scandal speed up his death? Did this man die with a broken heart? Joining me are Penn State students, Catherine Janisko and John Teccee.
Also with me, Trent Copeland, criminal defense attorney. We`re going to talk a bit about the case now that Mr. Paterno is gone, and Mike Galanos, anchor for HLN who has been covering Paterno`s passing. Mike, are the students divided at Penn State? How are they reacting?
MIKE GALANOS, HLN ANCHOR: No, there is no division here. All I`ve seen is just that sadness. There`s a heaviness, Drew. Yes, they`re honoring Joe Paterno. I`ve seen tears. I`ve seen tears from older alumni who come back. I visited the bronze statue, and there were people just weeping. A young woman, a sophomore here, making sure every candle was lit through a driving rain storm.
They want his light to shine. Drew, I`m going to show you a picture real quick. It`s from the Daily Collegiate. It`s Joe Paterno from 1950, was 23 years old. 1950, Truman was president. Here at Penn State, they want to remember how much Joe Paterno gave for so many years, not as much about the quote on the back when you talk about the scandal and Joe Paterno says, "I wish I had done more."
Right now, it`s about honoring this man and saying that goodbye they wanted to say with him living.
PINSKY: And Mike, when the history books are written, what do you think is going to stand out, the incredible career or the scandal?
GALANOS: That`s such a great question, Drew. I think six decades of building not just football players but building men. So many of the past football players have said, I wouldn`t be the man I am today without him. He was the father I never had. Six decades.
But then, you couple that with the 78 days from the time the scandal broke to the time of Joe Paterno`s death, I think the people here are hoping that those 78 days are going to be a footnote, and more of the six decades will be remembered.
PINSKY: Now, Joe Paterno often compared retiring from football to death itself. Alabama`s Paul Bear Bryant actually said that. Apparently, they both predicted that once they retired, that would be the end of them. I want to go out to the students, John and Katherine. How are kids feeling today? I`m sure some of you are upset that the world is even thinking about the scandal in the wake of his demise.
CATHERINE JANISKO, CURRENT PENN STATE STUDENT: Well, the obvious and clear reaction from the students here at the university is it`s despair. They`re really depressed about this. And, they`re emotionally distraught and upset about Joe Paterno`s death. But I have met some students who said this scandal, Jerry Sandusky scandal, has really taken a toll on them.
It`s really made them think a different way about Joe Paterno. So, there`s mixed emotions here at the university, but the vast majority of students here really do show a lot of emotion towards his death and really are upset about it.
PINSKY: John, do you agree with Catherine?
TECCEE: Yes. I think, you know, the overall thing is sadness walking around campus today. I mean, it was raining and that seemed appropriate. Everybody was kind of trying to process their emotions, I think, sadness and just celebrating the life of a man that has done so much for the university that we chose and that chose us and that we love.
You know, that`s really what`s important to students right now. It`s just sad to see his time past at Penn State.
PINSKY: Is this a case, I heard something over the weekend as one of the championship games were coming up in football where athletes maybe should look forward to retiring a season too early rather than too late. Did Joe just stay in the job too late? Was it our fault or was it the community`s fault for not letting him go into retirement sooner and needing him to stay there as a figure head? I`m curious what the students think about that.
TECCEE: I definitely think that`s an interesting aspect to look at. I mean, prior to 2005 season, I know that Tim Curley and Gram Spaniard asked Joe to step down, and he said no. You know, I know a lot of people, sometimes myself included, have wondered, you know, how much longer can he possibly coach, but at the same time, I mean, they took it year to year.
And I think that was really what was important. As long as he was performing at the level that he was, that he could continue to serve in that job, but I don`t think it necessarily fell on anybody to protect his life and well-being so to speak as his age got up. You know, his performance was still where it should be.
PINSKY: And it is an interesting thing. You know, people don`t die of broken hearts, and they don`t die of, you know, losing their job and stuff, but I tell you what, I deal a lot with geriatric populations. And when men in their 70s and 80s, that need to work and like working, stop working, it`s uncanny how frequently they just kind of fade out very quickly afterwards.
Trent, I want to switch gears here and talk about the scandal. Does the passing of Paterno impact on the case?
TRENT COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, look, clearly some of the high profile luster of the case is now gone. You won`t have this iconic legendary figure on the witness stand. You won`t have him there. You won`t hear from his mouth what he knew, when he knew it. So, I think for a lot of people, there will be something that does not resemble closure.
They`re not going to have Joe Paterno knowing what he knew and when he knew it, and hearing it from him from his lips. But I think from a strict legal standpoint, the truth of the matter is, he wasn`t a huge, huge figure in this case from a legal standpoint.
PINSKY: He punted. He appropriately punted upstairs.
COPELAND: Yes. He punted upstairs. He ran it up (ph) at the flagpole. And really, I think, remember, there are a couple of cases going on. There is a criminal case against Jerry Sandusky and there`s also the criminal case against Schultz and Curly, the athletic director and the vice president of Penn State.
So, I think, to the extent, the Joe Paterno gave information. This is what this whole case has been about. What did Joe know, what did Coach Paterno know, who did he tell it to. The fact is, he said he had a conversation with Schultz and curly, and I think, in terms of what his involvement is, in their criminal case, maybe his death has some significance there.
But in terms of his development and his involvement in the criminal case, I really don`t think against Sandusky, I really don`t think it`s huge.
PINSKY: Plus, he`s on the record with what he knew. He`s already under oath testified.
COPELAND: He`s under oath. He testified to the grand jury. Remember, that grand jury testimony was only seven minutes long. So, it wasn`t a huge, huge issue.
PINSKY: He`s not very involved.
COPELAND: He wasn`t very involved.
PINSKY: But there`s a piece of this that`s sort of almost quaint, which is when you hear him interviewed, I didn`t know men did that. I didn`t understand anything about this kind of thing. It`s like Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe, you live in a new world now, and I don`t think he really adjusted to that world he was living in. He didn`t really believe something was going on, at least, some part of it was going on.
COPELAND: Look, rarely, when I`m wearing the lawyer hat and legal analysis, I don`t want to opine in terms of what was in someone`s mind. But I find it hard to believe that Joe Paterno really knew what was going on. I think this was a man who really was so invested in his football program, was living in a world. Look, when he took this job at Penn State, gas was 32 cents a gallon.
COPELAND: So, I think as you suggest, living in a world that was insulated from the rest of the world beyond him, and I just don`t think that he truly understood what the real significance of what was going on.
PINSKY: Catherine, last word out to you. What are the student body going to do to protect this legacy? is there anything being done?
JANISKO: Well, it`s Penn State University. And I think we`re just going to keep plugging through, because like I said before, many of times to many people, this academic program here is magnificent, it really is. And that`s what we need to focus on. We need to focus on this positive things.
And Joe`s death is a really, really unfortunate thing, and we did see it coming. And about Jerry Sandusky, we`re never going to know Joe`s opinion now. He doesn`t have his voice anymore to speak out to the community and say, here`s what happened. Here`s what I did, here`s what I remember. So, as far as Penn State goes, it`s really going to -- we`re just going to try to plug through and maintain the status that we`ve had for the past years.
PINSKY: Here is what I say. I say if his legacy is kids like you and John, the legacy will live on in all its glory, and you won`t have to be defensive Penn State.
TECCEE: Yes, sir.
PINSKY: Thank you Mike. Thank you, John, Catherine. Trent, of course, thank you for being with us.
Coming up, after 37 years of pain and heartache, a woman finds her voice, confronting the man who raped her as a teenager after he popped back into her life through Facebook. That is next.
PINSKY: Welcome back. Tonight, Dorri Olds was a lonely, vulnerable 13- year-old when she was gang raped by a group of teenage boys. Thirty-eight years later, one of the boys who raped her popped up on her Facebook page under the people you may know section. Whew. Wow. What happened next?
Dorri bravely wrote about her experience in an incredibly moving piece for "The New York Times." We saw the article and we wanted to talk to her. She reminded me a little bit of Heidi Damon, if you remember her, the young lady that addressed, so to speak, her attacker in court, the guy that tried to rape and kill her.
This, too, is an incredible story of facing your past, a story of strength and survival. And she`s joining us now. Dorri, thanks so much for being here. First, tell us about the story. It begins when you were a shy 13- year-old. You`re desperate to be liked. You accepted an invitation to meet up with older boys in a graveyard. Does that sort of set the scene?
DORRI OLDS, WAS 13 WHEN SHE WAS RAPED BY FIVE BOYS: Yes. That`s about it. I wanted to fit in with this. It seemed like a hipper crowd. I was kind of nerdy. I was very studious. I got As.
PINSKY: Were these older kids? You were 13-year-old.
OLDS: Yes. Well, the girls were in my grade, and some of the boys were older. And it was a crowd of kids that just hung out. One day, you know, I said hi, and they went out at night, and it just sounded fun. They invited me along. They said -- one girl said, you know, we`re going to the cemetery tonight.
I said, isn`t that spooky? And, she laughed, and she was so confident, and so pretty, and I just wanted to fit in like everybody else, you know? Most adults you talk to, they say I never fit in, you know. Everybody felt like that I think.
PINSKY: And what went wrong? What happened there?
OLDS: Well, everything went wrong. My two -- the two girls, they had boyfriends, I didn`t. I was, you know, awkward, I guess, nervous, shy, and they went off to make out with their boyfriends. And so, I was standing there, feeling like a dork, you know, and then, we`d all been drinking a little, smoking some pot, and it was the 1970s, and then, this guy who I thought was -- he was the one who betrayed me the most.
This was a guy who I thought was my friend, because we used to talk in school and laugh and we knew some of the same kids, and he had a girlfriend who wasn`t there that night, and he said -- he motioned me over, like hey, come here, come here, I want a girl`s opinion. I need your advice. So, I thought great, oh, you know, somebody noticed me.
So, I went over, and he grabbed me. He clamped his hand over my mouth. He threw me down. He pinned me with his knee into my hip bone, and for a minute, I thought this is a joke. This is just boys like goofing around. But then it wasn`t a joke. I mean, they didn`t let up on my mouth, and they started laughing, and like taking turns, and ripping up my clothes.
I was a little girl. I didn`t know what was going on. I had no idea. I was like completely out of my element, and it was traumatizing.
PINSKY: Of course. And I understand one of your messages is for victims to A, not blame themselves, and B, speak up. And in your essay, I think was in the essay, you say you almost talked to one of your teachers, but eventually, clamped up, held it in, remained disregulated and wounded and then turned to drugs and alcohol as so many do.
OLDS: That`s about right. Yes. I had this one English teacher, Robin Diss (ph), and I loved her. She was great. I had her for creative writing, and I wanted to talk to her, but what stopped me from telling her, from telling my parents, my sisters, I knew that something would be done, and those boys would get in trouble.
And I was petrified that I would be unmercifully teased in school, bullied at school, because I would like be labeled a rat, a snitch. I was just petrified. You know, kids were cruel. They could be very cruel. And if you were insecure at all, you know, my father, he used to say, well, just don`t let it get to you. You know, he said have a poker face. But I just didn`t know how.
PINSKY: Well, and that was your version in that day and age of blaming the victim again. You assumed you would be the one to bear the responsibility. And it is a big deal. You know, you feel such shame as having been a victim that your shame and becomes an issue that is discussed out in the public. You have to testify against these boys. You have to revivify all of those experiences.
Now, I want to move pass a little bit to a line of the essay that really struck me. Toward the end -- I think it was the end of the essay, in fact, you said, quote, "I wanted to hate him and hurt him, but realized that the only way to be free was to let it all go. When I de-friended him," that`s your Facebook, "I felt strong. The past was the past, and my mouth wasn`t covered any more."
Tell me about that, because originally, he popped up, you wanted to get him. And you found, should we call it a more spiritual solution?
OLDS: Well, I wrote him a long note. I was shocked to see his face. It made me feel sick. And then, you know, I thought, should I friend him? You know, I could have just sent a message. But, I don`t know. I guess, curiosity. And so, I friended him. And he accepted the friendship right away. And I was so disturbed, like I thought does he even remember?
Do these boys know what it did to my psyche, and they probably forgot all about it, which had haunted me. And so, I wrote him a note, and I looked through -- as soon as he accepted, I looked through his photos. And I saw he had a pretty teenage daughter. And I wrote you know, you better keep your daughter safe from guys like you.
And that made me feel better because I was putting -- like I was a person. I felt like they had not seen me as a person. They were having fun with me and mean, and I don`t think they put it, like one of the boys said, man, she has an ugly face, but she sure has a nice body. And I think like I didn`t have an ugly face, but you know, I was a young girl.
So, I thought, oh, I must have an ugly face, you know? But I think maybe they were trying to dehumanize me, you know, by saying that.
PINSKY: Yes. Yes, of course.
OLDS: But it was very confusing, because I was adolescent. So, I thought oh, I have a nice body. It was such a mind --
PINSKY: And Dorri -- yes. Don`t use a bad word because that`s what kind of mind thing it was. But I want to tell you, you`re going to stay with us. And I want to point to people that the picture that`s been playing alongside you as a little girl, that`s you the year you were raped. I mean, that`s how much a little girl you were. And Dorri`s story, in fact, touched so many people.
When we come back, we`re going to talk about women -- to some of the women, hear from some of the women who say Dorri`s story changed their life.
PINSKY: Tonight, a woman confronts the man who raped her as a teen 37 years ago. He forced his way back into her life after she was matched with him under the people you may know section on Facebook. Dorri Olds is here with us. She bravely told her story to "The New York Times," and received hundreds of comments.
Dorri, I`m going to read to you a couple of these comments from people who were touched by your piece. But first, I just want to clarify something and understand something. It seems like you have become the beautiful, confident woman you always longed to be. How are you now?
OLDS: I`m very happy. I`ve been happy for years now, and there`s a lot of love in my life. I`ve had a lot of success with work. I`m happy.
PINSKY: Good. OK. Make sure you`re doing well after that incredible story. And are you in recovery now? You can answer that or not answer that.
OLDS: Yes, yes, no, I am. I had a terrible time of it. Life was out of control with alcohol and drugs. Terrible choices. The alcohol to try to forget and the drugs, and then, of course, the alcohol and the drugs become the problem.
PINSKY: Right. Exactly.
OLDS: And you know, you can survive anything, but like you can also thrive. If you get help, you can really overcome almost anything.
PINSKY: That`s right. Dorri, I`m so glad you`re saying that, because that is the idea. It`s not just about not using, it`s about flourishing. It`s about flourishing and that piece, that comment you make about letting this all go I thought was so, so powerful.
Let`s hear from some people. Briana writes, "Dorri, I wish I could fully express my gratitude for writing this piece. I, too, was a rape victim at a young age. I`ve struggled with finding the words to speak with my own daughters about my feelings about trying (ph), at the same time, to give them what they need to feel safe and secure in the world. Thank you for offering your voice."
It is that next generation we have to protect and heal ourselves so we don`t pour that trauma down on them. Yes?
OLDS: Yes, yes. I mean, part of why I wanted to talk about this was to let little girls know that if, you know, they`re depressed, if they`re lonely, you know, that there is kindness in the world, and to be careful, and hopefully, just talk to older people, teachers, siblings.
OLDS: Whoever is safe.
PINSKY: It`s ability to trust again that you re-enter that frame with other people where you can heal. Ann writes, "Dorri, it pains me to hear that you didn`t seek help from your parents so you could have been helped many years earlier. I`m a parent of two young girls. Please tell me what would it have taken for you to go to your parents to ask for help at the time."
OLDS: Well, I was a child, and I had worn a shirt my mother forbid me to wear. And so, I was ashamed. I thought, oh, it was the shirt. You know, I was a child. I didn`t know any better. And I was afraid of getting yelled at, and I was mostly afraid of the boys, you know, getting in serious trouble with the police and then me being tortured, bullied in school, tortured.
I was petrified. So, I think that -- but it was very obvious something was wrong. I became very rebellious, very angry, rage filled. And, my parents knew, you know, I was rebelling. But I guess I would like to say to parents if your child has a pretty extreme personality change, there`s probably a reason. It`s not just bad behavior. There`s a reason.
PINSKY: You`re absolutely right, get help. That`s the important thing. And also, tell your kids no matter what has happened, if somebody did something to them, not their fault.
Dorri, thanks so much for your bravery and thank you for joining me. Thank you all for watching out there and joining us throughout this very interesting program. Very inspiring, Dorri. Thank you for that. Thank you again. We`ll see you next time.