The philosophy in America has always been that one is innocent until proven guilty. Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno are clearly poster children for that doctrine or its failure, depending on how you look at it.
Penn States seems to have a culture where children are sacrificed, where legality (“I reported.”) trumps morality (“I followed up.”). Leave no doubt in anyone’s mind: This is an ugly situation.
There are enough mysteries going around that if Alfred Hitchcock were still alive he could make three movies out of this: a county DA who received the report nearly a decade ago and then disappeared, never to be heard from again; riveting testimony before the grand jury of sexual abuse and failure to apply the law (and in fact failure to even report allegations of sexual abuse; it was a mother who stepped forth, not the men).
Penn State stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars due to lawsuits and legal fees. The Big Ten, to demonstrate its moral superiority all of sudden, took Paterno’s name off the championship trophy. And everyone is getting a criminal attorney, which is kind of peculiar when at the same time they call these allegations false, figments of imagination, and by gosh, it just didn’t happen.
Now, there are several problems with that. A Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania met for over a year. They heard testimony. The transcript says they heard from some of the victims (who were 10, 11 and 12 years old when this happened 10, 15 years ago), while the perpetrator was allowed to still use football facilities and showers.
The initial reaction coming out of central Pennsylvania, when the story broke, was that in some way or another, although these children were said to be victims, they still in some way or another were interrupting a good thing: big-time collegiate football profits and disturbing legends of the game.
The ESPN broadcaster urged focus on football, not what was off the field. Really? He was as shallow as the citizen-students on the campus of Penn State (yes, students, whether rioters or not, are citizens first).
How do you riot in support of Joe Paterno and totally disregard the heartache, pain and suffering of the victims? You would think that young people spending the hard-earned incomes of their mothers and fathers to get an education in higher learning would have been more intellectually astute figuring out that they were sending the wrong message.
We don’t know what motivated Jerry Sandusky. What motivated Paterno? JoePa has 16 grandchildren who we assume he loves dearly, and yet his statement that with hindsight he would have done more stills rings hollow and insensitive. He did nothing for these grandchildren of others.
I doubt Paterno would have allowed a grown man to horse around naked in a gang shower with any of his 16 grandchildren. So why these? He seems to have treated interceptions and fumbles with greater concern than he treated information about the potential misconduct of one of his favored assistant coaches.
Jerry Sandusky, until his early retirement in 1999 at age 55, was the heir apparent at Penn State when JoePa would step aside.
Finally, there are a couple of other things to consider. First, the judge who set a rather questionably low bail of $100,000 “forgot” to reveal that she was a member of the board of directors of the youth organization that Jerry Sandusky was involved with.
And then there is the general counsel for Penn State, Mr. Courtney, who “forgot” to mention that in the late 1990s, when he was asked to investigate allegations against Mr. Sandusky, he was also the general counsel for the organization that Jerry Sandusky had founded in 1977.
No, my friends, it is not a pretty picture, and it seems now that damage control is late in coming (should have been exercised at the first report of an incident). Now a state university — which means, in the final analysis, the taxpayers of the state of Pennsylvania — will have to foot the bill for the damage that has been done.
The problem is a lot greater than simply to say, as JoePa did, that in hindsight he “would have done it differently.” Tell that to the victims and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.