Editorial: A sad, familiar story

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Perhaps the saddest aspect to the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation case is that it’s an old and familiar story. A respected member of the community takes an interest in a (usually poor) youngster, often to the delight of the child’s family, and offers the boy — they are almost always boys — outings, opportunities and flattering attention.
        Sandusky – who was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison Tuesday – operated through a charity he founded called Second Mile that offered youths with troubled backgrounds such perks as access to Penn State athletic facilities. Sandusky, a popular and engaging figure, was defensive coordinator for 30 years in a rural part of the state were Penn State football was everything. Joe Paterno, the coach of 46 years, was as close to a deity as one gets in this secular society. It would take an exceptionally brave person to make the career-ending assertion that one of Paterno’s friends and closest advisers was abusing small boys.
A then-graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, reported to Paterno that he had seen Sandusky have inappropriate conduct in the shower room with one of the Second Mile boys. McQueary was on the first rung of the ladder to be an assistant coach. If he wanted a career, he dared not screw up, which perhaps explains why he was not forceful about pressing the allegation or following up after he reported the conduct to Paterno.
Paterno reported the incident, apparently in only perfunctory fashion, to his two superiors in the university administration, Gary Shultz and Tim Curley, who face trial in January for failing to properly report the allegations. But Paterno was such a revered icon at Penn State that he effectively had no superiors. Some form of the allegations reached university president Graham Spanier, but by then the NCAA was involved and Spanier was forced out.
The NCAA, as usual, laid crippling sanctions on the school that hit, most harshly, student-athletes who were guiltless in the whole sordid affair. They will lose scholarships and the chance for post-season play.
McQueary – who tried, however ineffectually, to do the right thing – has been fired and is suing the school for $4 million. But according to the New York Times and bloggers who follow the case, he was fired to protect higher-ups.
Sandusky will likely die in prison. The two administrators will be punished and then likely let go. McQueary will remain an outcast. The current, and innocent, athletes will be punished. And nothing has been done to prevent this from occurring on other campuses because no one wants to tamper with the billion-dollar industry that is college football.
– Scripps Howard News Service