From Happy Valley to the Rocky Mountains



  • Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6                                                     
  • Micayla C. Medek, 23
  • Alex M. Sullivan, 27
  • Jessica Ghawi, 24
  • Navy Pertty Officer 3rd Class John Thomas Larimer, 27
  • Matthew R. McQuinn, 27
  • Alexander “AJ” Boik, 18
  • Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
  • Gordon W. Cowden, 51
  • Alexander C. Teves, 24
  • Jonathan T. Blunk, 26
  • Air Force Staff Sgt. Jesse E. Childress, 29
No counseling; no therapy; no compensation.  They are dead. Twelve victims. And they were, almost all of them, young.  Twenty-somethings, for the most part, with their whole lives ahead of them.  And one little girl just beginning to experience ‘firsts’ in life – first movies, first childhood memories, first grade.
Back in Happy Valley
By now everyone is familiar with the scandal at Penn State University and the story of the ten nameless victims of the child molester who shall be nameless.  See here for the consequences of silence, peer pressure, inaction, going along to get along and winning one for dear old U.  We have read and seen and heard of the scorn,  criticism and condemnation of PSU, its officials and its football culture. A shadow has been  cast over Happy Valley for the actions, or inactions, of a few and perhaps a few more, and maybe many more.  The fines, the resignations, the firings, the loss of prestige, the erasures from the record books, the possible collateral damage to other athletic programs, even academic programs,  the guilt complexes and the soul-searching.  It was a local shame writ national, as localities, societies and institutions nation-wide are taking stock.
They knew.  They turned their heads.  They ignored. They failed to inform.  They failed to act. They failed to stop it.  They covered it up.  They protected themselves.  They protected Dear old Penn State.  Unconscionable with a capital…..U.  And the press, the national press, covered it, like a blanket, and almost with a vengeance.


Meanwhile, back out West:

The psychiatrist who treated suspected movie-theater shooter James Holmes made contact with a University of Colorado police officer to express concerns about her patient’s behavior several weeks before Holmes’ alleged rampage, sources told ABC News.

The sources did not know what the officer approached by Dr. Lynne Fenton did with the information she passed along. They said, however, that the officer was recently interviewed, with an attorney present, by the Aurora Police Department as a part of the ongoing investigation of the shooting.

Fenton would have had to have serious concerns to break confidentiality with her patient to reach out to the police officer or others, the sources said. Under Colorado law, a psychiatrist can legally breach a pledge of confidentiality with a patient if he or she becomes aware of a serious and imminent threat that their patient might cause harm to others.

That is not the extent of it. This goes well beyond a contact between one University employee and a police officer. It goes to the very core of the concept of protecting the innocent from harm by a body set up specifically to do just that. An official University of Colorado committee.

ABC News and affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver first reported Wednesday that Fenton had contacted other members of the university’s threat-assessment team about her concerns. The university-wide, threat-assessment team reportedly never met to discuss Holmes after he announced his intent to withdraw from the University nearly six weeks before the July 20 shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured.

This is not a breaking story. This has been coming out in dribs and drabs for a few days now. Headliner? Nope. Lead on the Evening News? Well, at least ABC mentioned it.   See, they had their prayer vigil out in Aurora. It was on TV. All the local officials showed up, said a prayer or two, congratulated all the first responders and officeholders in the area and retired to wait and see what Chuck Schumer and Michael Bloomberg were going to do about machine guns, or something.  Oh, and, as an afterthought, the University of Colorado is investigating itself to see if it did anything wrong.


Some might say it’s early days yet, but early indications are:  They knew.  They turned their heads.  They ignored. They failed to inform.  They failed to act. They failed to stop it. 


Yes, we know this isn’t a football-related story, so we can fully understand that the press isn’t all over this like a blanket, as it was back in Happy Valley.  We do not really expect there will be harsh sanctions against the PHD program at the U. of Colorado medical school, where the Aurora shooter was ensconced for several months or a year with a monthly stipend of $2,600.   We don’t expect the dean or the president or the board of trustees will resign.  If anything, the Threat Assessment Team will probably get augmented with increased federal funding to help insure that, as the saying goes, nothing like this ever happens again.


There is no peace in the Valley, but it is awfully quiet in the Mountains.

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August 9, 2012 11:39 am

Code of Silence, denial and desire for cover-up causes these events.  There ought to be a law…

Blue Collar Muse
August 9, 2012 12:30 pm

Moving analysis, Bob. Spot on, as well! Thank you …

August 9, 2012 6:20 pm

Feds ignored all those flight school warnings as well. ” We have men who just want to learn to fly the plane. They aren’t interested in learning how to take off and land.”