I didn’t know who Jerry Sandusky was until this story broke on ESPN back in March. I skimmed the article and thought to myself, “Wow, that’s horrible. I’m glad he’s been gone for 12 years.” Little did I know that while I was partying with friends and enjoying some of the best years of my life, he was assaulting vulnerable children on Penn State University premises.
The way that Penn State University has handled this situation is embarrassing to say the least. The question that everyone is asking is, “how much did Joe know?” Well, he knew enough to regret not doing more and that’s about all you need to know. The answer that I’m seeking for is why didn’t he contact the police? Was this a cover up for his friend that he had worked with for 30 years? It’s possible and if that’s true I will have lost a lot of respect for him. But what would Joe have to gain by doing that? It wouldn’t have tarnished the football program if he went to the police as soon as he became aware of the crime, but it sure has now.
I truly believe that this was not a cover up of Jerry Sandusky. It was swept under the rug because no one wanted to acknowledge the horrifying things that were happening. This is the problem with sexual abuse. No one wants to talk about it.
I have read every single article that I have been able to get my hands on in the past few days, including the disgusting 23 page grand jury indictment. However, I get the feeling that most people haven’t read that grand jury report. The general population is asking, “why didn’t Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary do anything except contact their superiors?” I came away thinking, “why didn’t anyone do anything?” Shouldn’t the parents, teachers, and principals have done more?
This is a brief summary of missed opportunities for people to report the sexual abuse that was inevitably occurring.
Victim 1, as well as several other students, was routinely taken out of school by Sandusky with no questions asked. They would pull him out of whatever class or study hall he was in and allow Sandusky to meet with the victim in an unmonitored conference room. The victim’s mother called the principal and asked her to check into it. The principal called back in tears, “you need to come down here right away.” Sandusky was barred from the school district and the matter was reported to authorities.
Victim 1 was also involved in an incident one night in the weight room after hours. As Sandusky was lying on him, the school’s wrestling coach walked in to check why the lights were on. Sandusky quickly jumped up and explained that they were wrestling. Since Sandusky was not a wrestling coach and they were just lying on the ground next to each other, the coach was very suspicious. This incident was not reported.
Victim 6 was forced to shower with Sandusky and was sexually assaulted in the shower. When the child was dropped off at home, his mother immediately questioned why his hair was wet. She learned that her son had showered with Sandusky and reported the incident to University Police, who investigated it. This investigation included a second child, who was subjected to identical treatment in the shower as Victim 6. Furthermore, the detective, with the consent of Victim 6’s mother, eavesdropped on two conversations between Sandusky and Victim 6’s mother. Sandusky admitted that he had showered with other boys and he refused to promise to Victim 6’s mother that we would stop showering with Victim 6. When the mother asked Sandusky if he touched Victim 6’s private parts, he replied, “I don’t think so…maybe.” When Sandusky was told that he could no longer see Victim 6 anymore, he responded, “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.” Two weeks later the detective interviewed Sandusky directly. Sandusky admitted to showering naked with Victim 6, hugging Victim 6 in the shower, and that it was wrong. The detective advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and they decided there would be no criminal charges.
How is this not what we’re talking about right now?!?! I’ve been hearing over the past few days that Joe Paterno should have contacted the police. The police investigated a case in 1998 involving Sandusky with two identical cases. He admitted to showering with children and they ignored it. In my mind, those detectives were the real enablers and they should be serving jail time right beside Sandusky.
I am not trying to justify the actions of Joe Paterno or Mike McQueary. They obviously could have prevented more incidents from occurring. But as Rick Reilly wrote, “it’s about everybody not taking more steps that might have stopped it.” This is truly a sad story that does not have any heroes. Children’s lives have been destroyed and it is disgusting that these types of crimes occur. According to a 1998 study on child sexual abuse by Boston University Medical School, one in six boys in America will be abused by age 16. For girls, it's one in four by the age of 14. Read that again and think about it. My only hope is that people now have a better understanding of how serious this issue is. We need to educate our children about the initial warning signs to look for before it is too late.