Penn State Sandusky Scandal Goes Beyond Joe Paterno

Adam B. WeinbergerCorrespondent IIJuly 12, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 12: Federal Judge Louis B. Freeh speaks with the media during a news conference July 12, 2012 at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Freeh released his report of the investigation into the facts and circumstances of the actions of The Pennsylvania State University surrounding the child abuse committed by a former employee, Gerald A. Sandusky.  (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Like many of us, I spent my Thursday morning watching Former FBI director Louis Freeh address the media after the release of his report on Penn State’s handling of Jerry Sandusky’s most despicable crimes.    

Sandusky has been at the forefront of national media coverage for over half a year. While there have been regularly occurring developments, none have been as damaging to the University's higher-ups as is the Freeh Report.  Yet, like everything that has happened thus far, even this 267-page document seems to be only the beginning. 

Here are some of the big facts from the report as heard during the press conference on ESPN.  All of these were made after an eight-month investigation by a third party brought in by the Penn State trustees.  For a more thorough recount of the document, go here

1. None of the “big four” PSU implicated individuals (President Graham Spanier, VP Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Joe Paterno) spoke to Sandusky about any of his crimes.  

2. The underlying motive to conceal information was to avoid “bad publicity.” 

3. A janitor witnessed a young boy being raped by Sandusky in 2000, but felt as though he could not report it for fear of being fired.  This was taken to reflect the overall culture of the Penn State program.  

4. Penn State officials were aware of the 1998 inquiry, and the school failed to fulfill federal law by not reporting the crimes. Furthermore, this leaves open the possibility that Paterno did commit perjury when he stated otherwise. 

There is nothing to be said about Jerry Sandusky and his victims that has not already been said. Quite frankly, I wonder just how much his conviction did to alleviate the psychological anguish that his victims have been forced to deal with for the rest of their lives. However, there have certainly been developments that make the abused feel even more alone, confused and sick than they already do.  

As much as we like to make a big deal out of sports, the reality is that none of it really matters beyond being a source of entertainment and activity.  Naturally, the Sandusky case has the world enraged, and for all the obvious reasons. Yet, there is something more that has been forcing me to seriously question humanity, and it has come from those who I would normally have nothing against: (some) Penn State students and (some) sports writers.  

Long ago, a nickname came into existence for the sports writers within the media world: the Toy Department.

Sports writers concern themselves with the most trivial of issues. Those who cover economics, politics and war are worried about things that can actually end people’s lives. I’m okay with it. I’d much rather talk about the declining NBA rookie classes than the declining economy. But, let’s not kid ourselves.    

So, when almost the entire press conference was devoted to Joe Paterno I needed to hold back the vomit.  When students rioted late into the night, or posted completely self-incriminating “Support Joe Pa” statuses onto their Facebook and Twitter accounts, I was filled with nothing short of shame. 

I am ashamed to be thrown into the same social group as these people.  I am ashamed to know these people. 

 

Do you think Joe Paterno is being singled out? Are you on a mission to sludge the reputation of a dead man?     

No, you are singling out Joe Paterno!  You are the ones who are more interested in a perjuring, selfish and irresponsible man than children who have been raped, humiliated and forever scarred.

The writers and media accuse the investigation of being geared towards incriminating Paterno. Then the students accuse the media of making it all about Paterno. It’s a vicious cycle.  

Why does so much of the investigation focus on Joe Paterno?  Because, you are talking about Joe Paterno.

 

How does this reflect on Joe Paterno’s legacy? 

Are you kidding me?  What does that have to do with this absolute tragedy?  Young children were abused.  Frequently abused.  And those at the highest level of prestige at Penn State were so callous that they did not even speak to Sandusky.  How can something so heinous get brushed under the rug?  Am I missing something?  Joe Paterno should not be the cover boy of the investigation. 

 

Is there some kind of agenda? 

Gosh, that might be the worst of them all.  Why does it take an agenda to match unforgivable molestation with the most severe of investigations and punishments?  It simply boggles my mind that another human being could conjure up such a ludicrous belief.   

 

We support Joe Paterno 

What exactly does that mean?  Does it mean you still believe him to be a great contributor to society?  Fine. He did countless great things. You can remember him as a great mentor and father figure to thousands.    

But, is there some type of implication that his firing or ensuing investigation was out of line?  Do you support him despite the anguish he allowed to continue?  Or, if you subscribe to early reports, do you think saying something to a supervisor is sufficient?

If someone told you children were being abused a matter of feet from where you work, would you tell one person something and be satisfied with your effort?  If someone told you that your children were being abused, would you be okay with the bare minimum degree of reporting?  

I must be a saint or something because that just doesn’t cut it for me.     

I support the families.  I support the victims who were abused by someone who they trusted dearly.  I support those who had the confidence to testify in front of a court, and I support those who are so damaged that they still cannot describe the gory details. 

This is not an attack on Penn State. This is an attack on any person who allowed the abuse to continue.  Second Mile was not the topic of the investigation, but you can be sure I am wondering what went on there as well.  

 

I can only sincerely hope the victims are not led to believe they are responsible for getting a “legend” fired and “tarnishing” his reputation. You are absolutely not. Anyone who makes you feel that way is as deplorable as all those higher-ups who could have prevented a decade of sexual abuse.  

Louis Freeh deserves a great deal of credit for keeping his composure in the face of an onslaught of media ignominy. He was polite and calmly answered one redundantly insulting question after another.  Even more remarkable was the fact that he was able to be professional and leave personal opinion all but absent.  

But, when asked whether the Paterno firing was justified, Freech responded deliberately with just one word. “Yes.” 

The silence was deafening.