The shameful public knowledge of Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of nine boys in 15 years has recently tarnished the reputation of Penn State’s establishment and affiliates. Ironically, I happen to attend Penn State as an online student and today received the Lion’s Pride Fall catalogue which has Paterno featured on the cover. Symbolic or coincidence?
A black and white photo of the historic Penn State football stadium has a colored silhouette of the legendary Joe Paterno looking proud at the crowd. In addition, the Board released to students today that Dr. Rodney A. Erickson will replace Graham Spanier as interim president, and Tom Bradley will substitute for Paterno.
Paterno has been the head coach for Penn State’s football team for the last 46 years. A revered man who inspired and changed the lives of many, Paterno said he regretted not taking stronger actions after receiving an eyewitness report from a graduate assistant in 2002 of Sandusky sodomizing a 10 year old boy in the team’s showers. According to a Fox News report, Paterno took minimal legal actions by reporting the incident to the school’s athletics director, Tim Curley, and vice president, Gary Schultz, who in turn relayed the information to the President, Graham Spanier. All three school officials failed to alert the authorities and are now facing charges.
After 40 years, Sandusky, who had retired from Penn State in 1999, was given an office, parking space and access to campus amenities as a retirement package, in addition to running his established “Second Mile” program for troubled boys from Penn State’s campus.
Reports of sexual abuse started surfacing about him as early as 1994 with boys 7-13 years old from his “Second Mile” program. According to a chronological timeline presented by the Associated Press, in the fall of 2000, a Penn State janitor, James Calhoun, witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy against a wall. After reporting the incident to his supervisor, Calhoun was advised to take the matter to appropriate school officials. Calhoun stated the report was never made to authorities because he was a part-time employee.
Several more allegations were made before the 2002 Penn State occurrence involving Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier. ESPN reports that Sandusky was prohibited from holding youth sports camps on campus in 2002, but continued to hold them 2003-2008 under his Sandusky Associates company at the university’s Behrend campus located outside Erie. The camp was aimed at students from fourth grade through high school and offered personal attention and coaching from Sandusky.
According to journalist Kim Jones in a report to WFAN radio, Joe Paterno stated in a team meeting yesterday that he didn’t know anything about Sandusky, and that the allegations came as a surprise to him. This contradicts his previous statement about relaying a witness report to both Curley and Schultz back in 2002, and what he said in a recent press conference, “It is one of the great sorrows of my life…with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more…I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.”
Unfortunately, deep regret does not beget moral inadequacies and Paterno is still responsible for allowing nine years to pass while having daily interactions with a suspected sexual predator. Witnesses even reported seeing Sandusky using campus gym facilities as recently as last week. Paterno’s plan to resign at the end of the season has rightfully been shortened.
As a Penn State student, I am appalled at the apathy demonstrated by Paterno, Curley, Schultz, and Spanier toward Sandusky’s victims. Every person involved in witnessing or being made aware of these crimes should have immediately contacted the police. Instead of confronting the issue and saving potential victims, each looked the other way and chose to stop their pursuit. Although he led to many victories, Paterno also led to his own demise. Had he have morally been inclined to follow up on the Sandusky issue, he would have left Penn State as a noble legacy. Now, he leaves wishing he had morally done more to prevent sexual crimes. After 46 years, it’s time to go Joe.