For 46 years, Joe Paterno has embodied everything about Penn State football. He's been its face, its spirit, and its conscience. Hell, he's been the de facto moral leader for all of college football. But as the Jerry Sandusky scandal continues to unfold, and horrifying detail after horrifying detail emerges, it's becoming clear that Paterno was negligent in failing to do much at all about a sexual predator wandering around his campus, and guilty of putting his program and himself above the lives of who knows how many young boys.
"Shocked" is a word that has been thrown around a lot since the story broke over the weekend that Sandusky, Penn State's defensive coordinator from 1977 thru 1999, was arrested for the sexual assault of at least eight young boys dating back as early as 1994. It's the word that Paterno himself used in a statement released to the press on Sunday, in which he said, "If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers."
A nice sentiment, Joe, but way too late. Where the hell were those thoughts for the victims over the past decade, when you failed time and time again to protect past and future abuse victims from Sandusky?
Sandusky is a full-fledged predator, and one who was incredibly shrewd about how he selected and intimidated his victims. His "charity" is called Second Mile, a foundation designed to give guidance to young boys from absent or dysfunctional families. You couldn't possibly think of a more diabolical way for a deviant to have access to children. And even though Paterno and others told people about the reports, they never made sure the that the authorities were made aware of them, and never made any attempts to follow up on them. Instead they wiped their hands of his crimes, knowing full well that Sandusky was still a constant presence in the lives of numerous young and vulnerable boys.
Where the hell were Paterno’s thoughts for the victims over the past decade, when he failed time and time again to protect past and future abuse victims from Sandusky?
After reading the Grand Jury's statement — a document that is more disturbing than any horror movie I've ever seen — what we know is that Paterno was told by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary (a former Penn State quarterback and current assistant coach) that McQueary had walked in on Sandusky anally raping a boy of about 10 years old in the shower of the Penn State locker room. After reporting the incident to Paterno, a series of meetings between McQueary, Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley, and vice president Gary Schultz occurred, the ultimate result of which was that Sandusky's keys to the locker room were taken away, he was barred from bringing young children to campus, and the charity that Sandusky founded was supposedly made aware of the situation.
Read that again. After an eye witness caught him anally raping a child, Sandusky had his keys taken away. Since then, rather than rotting in prison, Sandusky has had nearly unfettered access to the Penn State facilities, maintained an office on campus, and attended practice as a friend of the program. One time in 2007, he even brought a little boy to practice with him. Of course, nothing was done about it.
Much like the Catholic Church abuse scandal, Paterno and Penn State had ample opportunities to expose this monster to the world and save God knows how many more boys from unspeakable horrors. But instead, they chose to sweep it under the rug, seemingly to save the program the embarrassment. What other reason could there have been to not report such a despicable series of crimes to the authorities? If they had done so when they first knew — whether that was in 1998 when Sandusky was first investigated, or in 2002 when McQueary caught him in the act — then it would have been a terrible story for a short time, but ultimately the program would have been respected for doing the right thing.
The mentality of covering up something like this is too absurd for me to wrap my mind around it. It almost seems like a Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme. No matter how ridiculous the original reasoning behind it may have been, the longer it went on the worse it got, and eventually they were in too deep. But did they really think that it would never come out? How can anyone be that stupid, that callous, or that negligent?
Much like the Catholic Church abuse scandal, Paterno and Penn State had ample opportunities to expose this monster to the world and save God knows how many more boys from unspeakable horrors.
There are absolutely no redeeming characters in this tragedy, and no sympathetic figures aside from the victims. Curley and Schultz are facing perjury charges for lying to the grand jury about McQueary's report. McQueary himself not only failed to stop a 10-year old boy from being raped, but continued to work there after Sandusky had no ramifications brought upon him. (And seriously, how is that not a bigger deal in all this? How is McQueary not being utterly vilified for witnessing that and just walking away and letting it continue to happen?)
And JoePa? He's just as guilty as the rest of them. The PA Attorney General said that Paterno is not currently a target of the investigation, but that could still change. He says that he did what he was supposed to do by reporting McQueary's claim to his superiors, and that he didn't know the extent of the details of what McQueary saw.
Even if you believe him though (and we'll come back to that), there's a big difference between doing the bare minimum from a legal standpoint and doing what is right from a moral standpoint. JoePa has built up himself and his program as one to be emulated. So what's his excuse for having this man — a man who he knows was doing something with a young boy in the shower, a man who runs a charity that works with many other children — walking around his facilities?
Getting back to Paterno's claims, I have just one question: Is anyone really buying this crap? Again, Joe Paterno IS Penn State. Nothing happens there without his knowledge; in fact he's famous for it. Penn State players could get into a skirmish in town and Paterno would know about it before they could call him from the police station. So after his right-hand man gets investigated for sexual misconduct in 1998 (the smoking gun for Sandusky retiring from the team the following year), then he gets a report of the same man assaulting a kid in the shower four years later, Paterno is going to pull the "shocked" card when everything gets exposed? Does he really think all that goodwill that he built up over the years is enough to make us cut him a break on this?
Sorry Joe, but after all those years of touting your own morals, you're now completely bankrupt.
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Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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