The once magical story it took Penn State football coach Joe Paterno 46 years to write is now tarnished. Anger, shock, embarrassment, disgust and a host of other emotions now fills the hearts and minds of the Penn State family and countless others in the college football nation.
A sex scandal shook the 84-year-old legendary coach’s firm grip loose from his beloved program. Last week’s chain of events left a blemish on the once proud institution and Mr. Paterno’s storied career.
Many questions are now left lingering. How will Penn State bounce back from this upsetting news and did Mr. Paterno do the right thing?
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, 67, was arrested Nov. 5, 2011 on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. The grand jury investigation alleges some of these acts were committed in Penn State football facilities.
Mr. Sandusky has been charged with 40 counts related sexual abuse of minors. He has since been released on $100,000 bail.
In 2002, Paterno was first informed of Sandusky’s conduct after graduate assistant Mike McQueary informed him he witnessed Mr. Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the shower at the Lasch Football Building on Penn State campus the night prior. Paterno then notified Athletic Director Tim Curley.
As a result, Mr. Sandusky was prohibited from bringing any children from the Second Mille, a charity he founded in 1977 that helps disadvantaged youth, onto campus.
Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly told The New York Times that university officials did not alert law enforcement.
On Nov. 9, Penn State Board of Trustees voted to relieve Mr. Paterno of his duties. News of Paterno’s release prompted an outcry from the Penn State student body. Thousands of students assembled outside Penn State’s administration building before storming downtown and overturning a news van in the process.
The question to be asked is why did Mr. Sandusky receive a slap on the wrist when confronted?
Mr. Sandusky continued to retain emeritus status and access to facilities at Penn State. The Patriot-News reports he continues to receive substantial monthly pension payments from the university stemming from a deal reached when he retired, which included a $148, 271 lump-sum pension payment from the State Employees’ Retirement System.
The Patriot News further adds the remainder of his pension is paid out on a monthly basis and totals $58,898 annually.
As Mr. Sandusky has access to facilities, one can assume the coaching staff and perhaps Mr. Paterno saw him regularly. Rather than painting JoePa as the victim, the world must direct their attention to the real victims- the young boys.
Mr. Sandusky is charged with a series of abuse that took place over a 15- year span. This is over a decade of abuse that has surely tormented these young men into their adulthood.
Mr. Paterno has made great strides in the game of football and has gone the extra mile to ensure his program is one of the nation’s best. But could Mr. Paterno have done more for the then 10-year-old boy now in his early 20s. Could Penn State and everyone else involved have done more?
When the nation searches for a victim, look not at JoePa. Look at the young men who were disadvantage and offered a beacon of hope through Second Mile only to have their dreams turned into nightmares.
Look at the young men whose youth were taken away from a man who has already lived his.
Look at the young men who sought a positive male role model and friend in their lives only for that friend to turn out to be their worst enemy. If you’re looking for a victim in this ordeal, it isn’t JoePa.
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