Give Sandusky a Millstone

I can honestly say, unashamedly, that before this week, I was probably the only person in Americawho didn’t know who Joe Paterno was.  The only professional football coach I could name is Tom Landry, and I only knew about him because he was so well dressed.  I know absolutely nothing about college football.  Neither my high school nor college had any sports teams so I never developed a sense of “school spirit” so I truly don’t understand how a sport becomes more important than innocent lives.

When I first heard about the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, I said to my husband, “Where did the “boys” come from?  Why were young kids in a college locker room?”  Well, I’ve since learned that Jerry Sandusky started a charity called “The Second Mile” where he had access to any number of vulnerable victims.  Then it all made sense.

And before anyone starts writing that this scumbag is innocent until proven guilty, I say, “I’m not on his jury.”  I don’t have to presume anything.  There’s far too much smoke surrounding this Sanduskyguy to assume there’s no fire.  If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize.

There’s always going to be predators.  I’ve worked in the field of child abuse and neglect for over twenty years and they come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, all religions, all economic backgrounds.  Sandusky just happens to be a rich white guy and, apparently, no one wanted to rock the Penn State boat.

This is what I don’t get.  All states have mandatory reporting statutes which require persons in certain positions, teachers, medical personnel, caregivers, etc. to report suspicions of child abuse.  How is a coach, like Joe Paterno, a mentor who was entrusted with the lives of young people, not a mandatory reporter required to report to Child Protective Services instead of to some higher up in the chain of command at the school whose interest was clearly to hush things up and look the other way?

It didn’t surprise me to learn, after reading about the so-called “charity” work Sandusky involved himself with that so many turned a blind eye to his predatory behavior.  Sandusky was so good at what he was doing, as are many pedophiles, that when some children questioned his behavior, no one took the complaints seriously.  His “charitable” works provided the perfect cover and all those politicians, sports stars and community leaders who praised him for his work with these children were his patsies.

There was plenty of money flowing into The Second Mile to spend on these children, grooming them, breaking down their inhibitions and establishing trust, for Sandusky’s own deviant sexual needs.  He held overnight sleepovers at his home, took the children to restaurants and bowl games.  He wrestled in the swimming pool with kids who craved attention.  He bought them golf clubs, sneakers, dress clothes, computers and gave them money according to the Pennsylvania attorney general’s indictment.

But as far as I’m concerned, people like Joe Paterno, who were on notice when given direct information which should have amounted to what statutes refer to as “concerns of child abuse and neglect,” failed miserably in their duty as mandatory reporters.

But what I truly don’t get is the student body which protested after Paterno was discharged earlier this week and caused so much damage, as seen in the photos.  Were they so blinded by their own self-interests and more concerned about a football game than for the broken souls of the innocent children destroyed by Sandusky?  This reminds me of the moronic behavior of fans after their NBA team wins a championship.

I’ve written about the indifference of passers-bys when two toddlers were run over in China.  I’ve also written about whether we’ve lost our moral compass in this country.

Reading about the behavior of those in power at Penn State, those who had to have known that something was going on, those who actually saw a sexual assault of a child, and those who care more about a sports event than the abuse of children, gives me pause and concern that we’re no better than those people who walked by as a two-year old who lay dying in the streets of China.  In this case, I’m guessing, and this is purely a guess, there must be lots of money involved in college football.

When I read stories like Sandusky’s, I always remember the words of Jesus who said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”  At the same time, I always remember the words of my husband who says, “There’s a special place in Hell for people like him.”

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
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  • Kevin

    Now we are finding out through emails released recently, that discredited and controversial Penn State professor Michael Mann, at the center of the inauthentic data behind the Climategate scandal was the subject of an academic investigation under Graham Spanier, and nothing came out of the investigation. If they were willing to sweep child sexual abuse under the rug, it seems that this would be an opportune time to revisit that academic investigation with neutral sponsorship. The University received over 470 million dollars in grants and research contracts. You think maybe they would want to protect that money machine as well? It is worth another look. The Governor needs to get involved and keep the investigation on the up and up. Mann was the scientist who came up with the hockey stick theory of global warming based on what appears to have been padded data, and was revealed as being closely linked with Enviromental groups in a manner which seriously calls into question his scientific neutrality. In other words, he is alleged to have falsified the data to support a predetermined outcome. Happy Valley? Really? Are you guys just full of yourselves up there?

  • TOMMY FREEDOM

    I SHALL QUOTE THE GREAT GOV SARAH PALIN: IF SANDUSKY IS GUILTY, YOU FIND A TALL TREE, AND
    I’LL BRING THE ROPE !

    • Kevin

      If they had any honor they would commit seppuku for the shame they brought upon an otherwise great institution, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, college sports and coaching. Save us all the trouble of the tall tree treatment.

      At the very least every member of the athletic department staff, and every member of the football program should be fired and the whole program should be cleaned out,all the way down to the janitors (one of whom saw Sandusky performing felatio on a boy and nothing happened), the locker room remodeled and start the whole thing over fresh. I would not be against banning the football program for four years to clean it out completely. Let the players transfer schools with no penalty in eligibility. Is this an institution of higher education or a money mill? The football program is supposed to serve a subservient purpose to the larger purpose of the educational institution, regardless of its proclivity for victories and money. If the Grand Jury report is credible, and I believe it is since it was constructed by sworn testimony of people testifying under penalty of perjury, then the football program betrayed everything the institution professes to stand for and to keep it intact in the the Joe Paterno model is to admit it is about the money, and damn the values and standards. It would be a pox upon the institution to not clean house and start over as a way of confirming to its constituencies: the students, the faculty, the alumni, the contributors and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, as well as the NCAA, that it is serious about upholding the values it profeses.

  • chief98110

    Without a doubt, their silence was to protect the massive amount of money the football program generates for Penn State yearly, some 60 million dollars. The real issue is the molestation of little boys by someone with great power. This reminds me of the scene in the movie “Hannibal”, when the character called Mason Verger confesses his proclivity for molestation to the FBI agent and says,”I have immunity from the government and the “Ris”, ( referring to the Risen Christ) and nobody beats the Ris.
    Well, I have no doubt that there will be a special front row seat in Hell for this behavior.
    Good luck getting immunity from the Ris!

  • Neil1981

    Call me old-fashioned but what ever happened to “innocent until PROVEN guilty”.
    In the media today it seems everyone is first tried in the court of public opinion and then faces the actual legal system.

    Before anyone is quick to jump to conclusions about this case, please remember the last big college athletics scandal to rock the headlines back in 2006 involving the Duke University men’s lacrosse team. See link below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_lacrosse_case

    Let me start by saying that if the charges against Jerry Sandusky are true, then I would be the first to say to lock him up and throw away the key.

    Sandusky was not a Penn State employee when the alleged charges were made though he had access to the campus and athletic facilities (probably as a retiree of the school).

    Nothing in the comments thus far (or much in the media for that matter) even address Mike McQueary (at least at the time I wrote this comment on 11/15).

    He is the person (graduate assistant coach at the time, now an assistant coach) to allegedly have witnessed this incident yet he has not been held accountable as to why he did not go to the police and as an adult, report the incident himself and (for now) STILL has his coaching job at Penn St. WHY is this ?

    Why does the process skip him and go to Joe Paterno? We don’t even know at this point what McQueary told Joe Paterno about the incident he allegedly witnessed. Paterno has never even had the chance to defend himself. The university would not allow him to give his weekly press conference after the scandal broke or even let him speak on his own behalf.

    They instead threw him under the bus, firing the long time coach to distance themselves (PSU Trustees) from the scandal.

    Do they have a right to do this? Absolutely!!

    He is the face not only of Penn State football but also the university itself. But what purpose has it served aside from deflecting attention away from the real issue here and that is Jerry Sandusky.

    As this case unfolds we will see what transpired and who is guilty (and not guilty). So, let the legal system work.

    • Kevin

      Sir, nothing in this case remotely resembles the Duke debacle. Anyone who could stomach reading the Grand Jury Report all the way through will be sickened by the knowledge that numerous, perhaps countless children were damaged irreparably by the inaction and silence of an institution that was more interested in self preservation than the well being of its constituency or the children. Ms. Salazar points out clearly(and I agree) that we the public are not jurors, and are not blinded to our common sense by a duty to impartial judgment. We are free to employ both common sense and judgment, and the simplest exercise thereof yields the undeniable conclusion that when a man was the subject of a criminal investigation in 1998 in which he admitted to touching the private parts of a boy, and no administrative investigation was done by the University, but as a result was barred from using University facilities and then uses them anyway, and nobody stops him, he is caught sodomizing a child in the shower, performing felatio on a child in a hallway,that he is a danger to children. Nobody…NOBODY stopped him. McQueary has now desperately tried to extricate himself from his own cowardice but it is too late. He lies to friends through Twitter and email, then the police department verifies that he is lying. His sworn testimony is part of the record: He saw what he saw, then “left immediately”. He was afraid.

      Does anyone really believe that Joe Paterno did not know about this? The NYT reports: “There is nothing that goes on at the campus of Penn State that Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier do not know about”. He is the most powerful man in Pennsylvania, he knows everything that happens on that campus. He coaches with the man for 30 years and hears this ugly tale and does not pick up the phone and say,”Jerry I just heard an ugly tale. What’s going on?” He does not pick up the phone for one of two reasons. He already knows or he does not want to know. Either way, the moment Paterno hears McQueary’s story, everything that happens after that is his sole responsibility.

      Threw him under the bus? Shame on you. The lack of concern you display for the children makes me wonder if you are simply another Kool Aid drinking PSU grad out to preserve you own misplaced values that have been plastered all over your bumper and your windshield and your hat and your license plate and your house and your yard and your life for the past thirty years when you mistook football games for values, and are now trying to rationalize the inaction of a man in charge of a situation who said and did nothing while children were being molested on a wholesale basis. Forgive me, but I missed the part of your post which talks about the victims.

      I am digusted by the disregard this program and its cretin inhabitants showed toward the victims, the numbers of which were mounting almost as fast as Joe Pa’s victories. I suppose in your world, you would still be allowing that number to grow, since there has been no trial. In your world, Jerry Sandusky should still be with the kids in the Second Mile program, because there has been no trial. In your world, nobody gets to see anything and make any kind of judgment whatsoever, because there has been no trial. Surprise me and tell me you are not an attorney.

      Mark these words: Mike McQueary will never coach at Penn State again. Nor should he, the coward. The Board did not just distance itself from Paterno, it is not done answering to the public about why McQueary is still there, nor why after an investigation in 1998 and Sandusky’s retirement in 1999 under pressure, they failed to act on his presence on the campus, or as a result of the criminal investigation done prior to his “retirement” no administrative inquiry was ever conducted. This Board is not through answering for its own inaction. This story has legs and is growing. This story is now producing more victims who are willing to speak out. This is not Duke, shame on anyone who makes such an insane comparison. The guy admitted showering with boys on national TV!!! Time to get real, sir.

  • David R. Zukerman

    I guess this type of accusation is so heart-wrenching, we don’t bother with trials and find the accused guilty on learning of the allegation.

    • Ron F

      The standards for finding a person guilty or different than the standards for the University to take action. I don’t think anyone thinks Jerry Sandusky or Joe Paterno should be found guilty or receive criminal punishment without a trial and all of the protections a trial affords. Nevertheless, it is appropriate for an employer to take action with much less evidence or a formal trial.

    • Old Grouch

      Yep David, kinda like what the Bleeding Heart, Liberal Media has been doing to Herman Cain the past couple of weeks!!

  • Ron F

    We don’t know what the mandatory reporting laws are in Pennsylvania and what thery when the event happened. Actually, at this point in time, we do not know when it was first reported to the police and by whom. Althouth I disagree with the protests, I do not believe that the students were making a moral judgment that football is more important than child abuse. The protests were early in the story and the students were told that Joe Paterno had complied with all reporting requirements. It was later that it was discovered that Sandusky still had access at the campus. I heard on the news this morning that Sandusky was still involved in recruiting for Penn State. Even if Joe Paterno complied with all laws, his acts were immoral in allowing Sandusky access to the program. This confirms my belief that when the reputation of the institution becomes more important that the morality, terrible things happen. It happened with the Catholic Church. It happens with corporations and it happened at a state university, Penn State, when protecting the institution was more important than morality.

  • brad G

    Interesting thoughts Leona, but being ‘unashamed’ of not knowing anything about what goes on in the world of sports and not knowing who Paterno was isn’t really something that adds anything to your article. Big deal. Why brag about being ignorant of having any knowledge of what college sports and the big names that dominate them? Sure, this entire episode is one big ugly mess that seems to be dominated by the politics of big college sports and how they seemingly have turned a blind eye to atrocities committed to young boys, and I don’t think anyone’s life beyond this is really that affected by ignorance of all and any of it, but that’s not an essential ingredient to writing antagonistic articles with such an obvious sense of superiority. And then, the fawning little comments that follow…you must feel good about yourself.

    • Ron F

      I think the point of the introductory comments was to explain why she could not understand why college football fans would let their love of the football program blind them as to Joe Paterno’s complicity by his inaction.

    • CCNV

      Whew, Brad G! Take a deep breath and get over yourself!

  • Roger Ward

    I consider child abuse, particularly child sex abuse, to be as bad as murder.

    It’s an atrocious act when someone murders a child …. but is child rape any better? Most abused children lead lives of pain …. often in misery, acting out, not trusting others, possibly becoming permiscuous, with feelings of little self-worth, etc. Abused children often
    have lives filled with unhappiness and suffering …. and all because of perverts like Sandusky. It’s too bad that he and others like him can’t be made to live the life of one of their victims …. but even that would not be a sufficient punishment for such truly evil people.

  • IndependentLasVegas

    Universities in every state have enormous political/financial power.

    I lived in Iowa City home of University Of Iowa.. This University runs the state..The most liberal university this side of Berkley.

    Most of the criminal news about what happens at this university is not reported or under reported. Last time I counted in the last 3 years at least 25 football players have been arrested for various criminal offenses.

    I can’t speak for the other universities, however, if a sportswriter investigated all the shenanigans that go on with Ferrentz and his football team at U of IA he/or/she would have a NYT best seller.

  • Nancye

    From the article:

    But what I truly don’t get is the student body which protested after Paterno was discharged earlier this week and caused so much damage, as seen in the photos. Were they so blinded by their own self-interests and more concerned about a football game than for the broken souls of the innocent children destroyed by Sandusky?

    ****************************

    Unfortunately some people are like that. They don’t want it to be true about their beloved coach. But I don’t understand it either.

    I’m a big football fan, both college and pro football, however if something like this happened at the University of Alabama, I think I would act differently. I KNOW I would. It’s sickening that the abuse of those children could take place, be known, and nothing done about it but “passing the buck” to someone else.

  • MARINA

    Thank you, Leona. I work at a university, and I see the worship of athletics.

    I don’t remember his name, but a priest who started a huge “home for homeless kids” in New York came to Fairfield University and spoke. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and the donations flowed. I remember thinking how wonderful this priest is. Well, it wasn’t long before he was exposed by some of the kids. I was stunned! Your husband is right – there is a special place in hell for these people.
    Thank you for writing about this and your work helping kids who are helpless.

  • Gena Taylor

    Ms Salazar – yes, college football income is one of the largest sources of income for most big universities, to the point it has become obscene. Perhaps this situation at Penn State will bring out into the open how athletics at the major universities have become such a cash cow for the universities that the athletic departments have become untouchable in the activities of its members. College football should be returned to kids PLAYING a game and not semi-pro athletes financing the universities. Then and only then would the schools have to clean up their act. It would stop the silence on actions such as took place at Penn State, it would stop many of these kids getting paid huge amounts “under the table,” whereby they live like professional athletes while undergraduates, as long as their sports eligibility continues, only to be dropped like hotcakes, without being allowed to graduate once they are no longer useful to the sports programs. It is more than obscene what goes on with the college sports programs in this country, not only to little children as in the Penn State program, but to the athletes who are used as cannon fodder to further sports programs and then dumped while often basically illiterate. The vast majority of athletes on the vast majority of college teams would not have been eligible to enter these schools were it not for their athletic abilities. This is not what college should be about.