The school's reputation was more important than what was reported to have happened. It's been reported that boys as young as 10 were being molested right on campus grounds! Yet, those who could have stepped in to save the little boys from any further harm instead chose to take the least action to prevent it. In other words, they did what amounts to nothing about it. And now at least eight boys' lives have been forever changed, with more boys reportedly coming forward with their own horrific stories of sexual abuse, rape and demoralizing behavior by a man and former Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky, who should be in jail but has bonded out and says he's not guilty. Yet, he has admitted to showering with boys, so...
So just this morning, I heard on the news about the young graduate assistant who witnessed one of the reported rapes in 2002. Instead of stopping it right there in the shower room, he wigged out and called his dad who told him to tell Paterno. And then what? He's become an assistant coach, been there all this time, knowing what he saw, knowing this guy, Sandusky, was still on campus hanging around young boys, bringing them to games even, according to the Grand Jury report. I can imagine the coaches must have run into Sandusky after that. But they never wondered why this accused pedophile was still around--with little boys, no doubt? Was their only thought to save Penn State's reputation. Really? Maybe they thought if they refused to think about it, it would go away? Turn the other cheek, you know. Don't face it. Pretend? It's not really that uncommon a response to abuse. Not really. And that's exactly why they should have done something more. Because they failed to live up to their own school motto that promotes success and honor, their response backfired. How do you live honorably when you know there is more you can do? The hindsight Paterno mentioned he wish he'd had then can't be good enough now--because we're talking about young boys' lives. Ruined! To what extent, only they can know. But can football really be that important that it's worth the pretense that was most certainly going to cause harm to others, especially these young, impressionable and vulnerable boys? I don't get that.
I do get that it's possible they were so shell-shocked by what they were seeing and hearing that they didn't know how to react immediately. But after you have some time to consider the seriousness of it, you still don't act on it? You don't follow up? You don't do anything more? Yet, you know this guy is still around little boys? What's a reputation worth, Penn State?
I hope this school, now that it has fired the only people who could have stopped the accused predator in his tracks, is now reaching out to the professionals. This school needs to act now. It needs to set up a campus-wide program immediately that will train employees, staff and administrators (Janitors witnessed these egregious acts as well and did nothing out of fear of losing their jobs.) not the minimum that must be done but the best response to end the abuse (i.e.: CALL THE POLICE!). It can't do anything less than create a climate where it's not only necessary but imperative to report abuses like this immediately. Reputation be damned! Children are worth far more than that.
Too bad about that hindsight, though, because now Penn State can be prepared to lose all that they believed Paterno brought with him--the reputation, the money. More victims are coming forward, so surely the lawsuits will clean them out. Rightly so.
And to address my friend's comment from that thread that led to this opinion piece? I can't believe these riots are occurring, either. Those college kids are so hyped up about losing their coach that they aren't even digesting why. A local sports journalist reporting from the field on MSNBC explained it like this: The school lives in its own bubble. I agree. But this is not a time to hail the hero inside of it. There was just never one there.