Penn State Scandal: Paterno and President Removed Amid Lingering Questions

S. SinghContributor INovember 10, 2011

Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno
Former Penn State coach Joe PaternoRob Carr/Getty Images

In a story that is both sordid and sad, many disturbing questions have been raised regarding the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal currently rocking the campus of Penn State. 

According to a 23-page Grand Jury summary of findings, eight victims have been listed as being abused by Sandusky.  Acts he is accused of include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, said to have occurred in campus facilities, hotel rooms, car rides and within his own home from 1996 to 2009.

According to the indictment, a graduate assistant walked in upon one act of abuse and notified Joe Paterno.  It does not mention an intervention, only that said graduate assistant was told to leave by his father and later told Joe Paterno, who subsequently told Athletic Director Tim Curley.

Legally, Joe Paterno did the right thing in that universities have a chain of command which must be adhered to.  However, many feel that Paterno failed morally when he did not follow up on the matter when no action was brought against Sandusky. While he claims in hindsight that he wished he had done more, some things you just don't need hindsight for, and abuse of children is one of these things. 

"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life," Paterno said of the scandal. "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

Questions linger as to why didn't Paterno follow up with administrators.  Why was Sandusky still allowed access to Penn State facilities and continue to work with innocent children?

Paterno denies being told that a sex act was occurring, but that doesn't line up with McQueary's statements to the grand jury regarding what he saw.  There are a lot of unanswered questions, some of which we may never know the answer to.  With the advanced age of Paterno, I doubt even Joe Paterno clearly remembers all of the details.

In the end, this is one example of how one monster's actions can have reverberating consequences.  A highly reputable institution is left reeling, two administrators have been charged with perjury and we have just learned Wednesday night that the board of trustees have fired President Graham Spanier and Paterno.

It is sad that Paterno will end his 46-year coaching career amid much regret and sadness, a forced retirement under circumstances nobody would have even imagined. 

Before we begin to tar and feather Joe Paterno, we should examine the facts and hold our judgement of him until we have all of the information. Joe Paterno was seen as a man who took the high road, and he preached excellence both on the field and off.  After everything he has stood for, the man deserves a chance to speak and present his side of the story. 

But in the end, this isn't about football. 

It is about the lives of countless victims, children who were abused at the hands of a man that they trusted. A man who wormed his way into these children's lives as a mentor, a teacher and a friend.  This event has brought to light several failures on the part of the university, coaches, campus police and organizations who work with youth.  We need to learn from this, and make sure this never happens again.