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Cardinal Joe Paterno escapes culpability

Sounds to me like the legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno has escaped legal accountability for his actions in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. From the Pittsburgh paper: As for the 2002 incident, the graduate assistant reported it the next morning to Paterno, who informed Curley the following day, according to the presentment. “Despite […]

Sounds to me like the legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno has escaped legal accountability for his actions in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. From the Pittsburgh paper:

As for the 2002 incident, the graduate assistant reported it the next morning to Paterno, who informed Curley the following day, according to the presentment.

“Despite a powerful eyewitness statement about the sexual assault of a child, this incident was not reported to any law enforcement or child protective agency, as required by Pennsylvania law,” Kelly said.

You do realize that in Missouri, Bishop Finn is under indictment now for the same thing. Check out pages six and seven of the grand jury report in the Sandusky case. The grad student testified that he walked in on Sandusky anally raping a 10 year old boy. He told Paterno, who passed it up the line to Curley et alia, who buried it. And that, as far as Joe Paterno was concerned, was that. Read that grand jury report if you can stand it. You need to know exactly what Joe Paterno’s looking away, and the looking away of the two indicted Penn State officials, allowed to happen. Sports columnist Mike Wise in the Washington Post:

No one from Penn State — not Paterno, not the human neckties, no one — ever reported the alleged incident to law enforcement, which the grand jury report says is required under Pennsylvania law

In Warped Sports World, the don’t-ask, don’t-tell, sweep-it-clean behavior is rationalized as loyalty, having your coach’s or teammate’s back, moving on from the problem. It’s seen as a noble quality, putting the team’s needs — the university’s needs — before your own.

Certainly it can be argued that Paterno and Penn State would have been irrevocably hurt if these allegations had surfaced in a police report almost 10 years ago; a program whose legendary defensive coordinator was accused of being a pedophile would lose recruits and, by association, money and prestige. Who wouldn’t want that to go away?

But more unconscionable, if true: putting loyalty to the many, the program, in front of the victimization of even the one, a child.

They were kids. Boys. Some no older than 8 years old when they were allegedly abused by Sandusky between the years of 1994 and 2009, are now in their 20s, scarred forever by an adult they trusted. One testified under oath he hid in terror in Sandusky’s basement each time the coach came down the stairs.

For those who observed or were told about possible sexual abuse, never telling anyone beyond school officials is not merely an omission.

And if the grand jury’s report is right, the man with the most victories in the history of big-time college football knew.

Shame on Joe Paterno! Everlasting shame. He — and not only he — placed the worship of the idol of Penn State football over the welfare of defenseless children. Everyone — including the janitor who walked in and saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a child — who did not call the police ought to be ashamed of himself. But especially Joe Paterno.

Cardinal Bevilacqua isn’t the only Pennsylvania legend who ought to have been indicted in a serial child sex abuse case, but who slipped the noose of justice because the greater good of the institution was deemed more important than truth, justice, or the innocence of little boys.

UPDATE: And what about that unnamed grad student, a 28-year-old man who walked in on Sandusky allegedly raping a child … and walked away, “distraught,” in the words of the grand jury report. All he did was call his daddy. How the hell does a 28 year old man walk in on a child being raped by an adult, and doesn’t move heaven and earth to stop it? All he had to do was punch Sandusky, or drag him off the boy. Something. Anything. But he walked away. 

UPDATE.2: Sam M points out in the comments that that unnamed grad student is today a coach on the Penn State team.  And so it all starts to make sense. According to the grand jury report, this guy recognized that it was Sandusky sodomizing that child. With that information, his career with Penn State was made. Not saying that his silence was purchased with a job. But it looks bad.

UPDATE.3: Turns out that police investigated Sandusky back in the late 1990s for child sex abuse … but nothing came of it. From the sound of the report (follow the link), the then-DA probably buried it. And get this comment from a board member of Sandusky’s charity, which, according to the indictment, he used to find child sex partners:

“We work very hard in The Second Mile and it should have no influence in it,” said Dottie Huck, a member of the organization’s state board of directors.

Speaking personally, Huck said Sandusky has “done some wonderful things in his lifetime and we should try to help him. … We all make little mistakes in our lives.”

Little mistakes?!? Dottie Huck, you are morally bankrupt.

UPDATE.4: A Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist unloads on Paterno and Penn State. Excerpt:

That is where we start to see the difference between the fictional Joe Paterno, whose reputation and that of the university has been built on rock-solid morals, and what might be the real Joe Paterno.

The fictional Joe Paterno would have said, “Hey, this is awful, but we have to clean it up. We have to do the right thing. It’s going to look bad for us, but you can’t let something like this go. We have to get Jerry some help, and we have to make sure he doesn’t hurt any kids.”

The real Paterno, as nearly as can be determined from the indictments, passed the information to Curley and then washed his hands. He apparently didn’t follow up when there was no further investigation. He apparently didn’t ask questions when Sandusky continued to enjoy his emeritus status on campus, complete with an office and access to the same building in which the alleged assault took place.

If one of Paterno’s grandchildren had been sexually assaulted and the predator got away clean because he had powerful friends, do you think Paterno would have kept quiet?


And the best question is this: If Penn State athletic coaches and administrators could look the other way when a 10-year-old is sexually assaulted on campus by a prominent former coach, what wouldn’t they do? What could possibly be beyond their capability to accept in order to protect the “good name” of the program?

Everyone who bears even a hint of this stench must go. That includes Paterno.

UPDATE.5: Deadspin reports that as late as 2009, seven years after Penn State knew that Sandusky had been spotted sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the locker room, the university was allowing Sandusky to run an overnight football camp for kids on campus.