The Fall of an Empire

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Saturday, July 14, 2012

By Jim Prisching, AP
"The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims...Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University -- President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno -- failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade." (Freeh 14)

These are some of the opening lines of the 267-page Freeh report that outlines the history and magnitude of the child abuse perpetrated by Jerry Sandusky at Penn State. Abuse that was, as the report outlines in incredible detail, enabled by the inaction of university leaders in an effort to keep the face of Penn State clean.

I read the report. Every detail. With every page, my stomach tied into knots. (download it here)

There's no justification for it. Any of it. Paterno, Spanier, Schultz, and Curly are, in my opinion, just as responsible for the ruined lives of the victims as Sandusky. While none of these men perpetrated the physical crimes, they did nothing to stop them either. They chose, instead, to bury the actions of Sandusky to avoid tarnishing the reputation of Penn State and the PSU football program. And they denied it. No longer. The Freeh report has exposed their true colors.
Yet some people continue to support Joe Paterno and his football empire. Why? Why should any of these other men avoid blame for what they've done? True, Paterno has since passed away, but that doesn't negate his utter incompetence concerning the abuse and how Sandusky was, or wasn't, dealt with.

It is this blind praise that borders on worship which allowed these abuses to happen in the first place. Paterno was not, and never will be, an untouchable god. He was a football coach and he is responsible, along with Spanier, Schultz, and Curly, for allowing a sexual predator to continue abusing children on campus grounds for over a decade, as the report outlines.

How can anyone review the evidence, see the lives ruined and devastated by these crimes, and then say, "Well, yeah. But he did a lot of good for the university," or, "But he was one of the greatest coaches that ever lived."

It doesn't matter. His good deeds do not change the fact that children's lives were ruined. That he, along with other high members of the PSU regime, turned a blind eye to a child molester to avoid bad publicity. The rights and well being of children took a back seat to everything else.

Is this what we've come to? Elevating sports above morality and child safety? Why do we grant individuals, like Paterno or Sandusky, an "untouchable" status?

Let's look at it this way.

Mr. X is a man of somewhat high standing in a community. He's not the most well known or important figure in the community, but people know him. He does, however, work alongside the community's most respected and adored figure, Mr. Y.

Years ago, Mr. Y had planned and set up funds to create a recreational park for the community. Mr. X, to gain notoriety and good standing with the community, has decided he wants to fund a playground for children in a section of the park. He does this under the good graces and support of Mr. Y.

Now, being the man of importance he is, Mr. Y has an assistant. One night, while walking through the park and checking on the general goings-on, Mr. Y's assistant observes Mr. X molesting a child in the new playground. No one else is around. The assistant is the only one to see this.

Immediately, the assistant goes to Mr. Y to report what he's seen. Although Mr. Y shows concern, he is worried about the possibility that any media coverage of the incident may not only make his park look unsafe, but it may make him look bad as well. Instead of alerting the proper authorities, Mr. Y decides to have a talk with Mr. X about the situation.

After the talk with Mr. X, Mr. Y puts the incident behind him and assures his assistant that everything has been taken care of. But it hasn't. Mr. X continues to molest children at the park. He continues for years. Mr. Y hears rumors. He knows it's happened before, but he does little to nothing to stop it or alert the proper authorities.

Now, ask yourself this. Is Mr. Y guilty of any wrong-doing, or does his standing in the community and what he's done for it purge him of any fault? Although he didn't commit the actual crime, doesn't he have a moral obligation to do anything possible within the law to prevent it? Should his concerns be about the children or his public image?

Spanier, Schultz, and Curly deserve nothing from PSU. They, along with coach Paterno, let their community, the institution, the students, and, most importantly, the victims of Sandusky's crimes down. They allowed a sexual predator to roam free amongst them. They deserve no pity. They deserve no leniency. They are, for all intensive purposes, as responsible for these crimes as Sandusky.

As Sandusky sits in a cell awaiting the inevitable 300+ year sentence, he's thinking. He's retracing every event and every memory. At one time during a meeting with one of the victim's mother, Sandusky commented that he, "wished he were dead." I can only imagine that wish burning a hole right through him at this moment.

But while Sandusky is sitting in a cell pondering the expansive amount of time he'll be locked away and the almost certain notion that he'll die enclosed withing cinder block walls, we should all be thinking, too. We should be examining this incident and those like it perpetrated through the Church and other organizations.

Children's rights and safety should never be pushed to the wayside. And we as a society have a moral obligation to obliterate any possibilities of that happening. We must not grant any individual leniency because of their position or standing in a community.


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Comments (2)

I just googled: "Fall of the PSU Empire", cause that phrase popped in my head after reading the latest news on this thing... The Freeh Report, The NY Times article on the sweetened contract, pictures of people laying flowers in front of the statue, trustees saying they won't take the statue down.... Fall, indeed... Well written and thoughful article. Thank you!

Thanks for reading! Glad you appreciate it.

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