Paterno’s Legacy Forever Linked To Sandusky

By  //  July 22, 2012

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PETER KERASOTIS – MY TAKE

 (VIDEO: )

        Exactly five months after Joe Paterno’s life ended, Jerry Sandusky’s life as he knows it ended.

        We tie the two together because never again will we be able to think of the former without the latter. Joe Paterno’s legacy is forever linked to Jerry Sandusky. As it should be.

Jerry Sandusky, guilty of 45 counts of sexually abusing boys, sits in jail, where he’ll likely live out his days. Meanwhile, his victims remain in their own prison, no doubt for the rest of their days, too. (Booking Photo)

       When the news finally arrived Friday night, it wasn’t shattering. Only the lives were.

        All these months since accusations of alleged pedophile sexual abuse broke last fall about former Penn State assistant coach football Jerry Sandusky, the mounting evidence seemed overwhelming. Friday night, a jury overwhelmingly agreed.

        So now Jerry Sandusky, guilty of 45 counts of sexually abusing boys, sits in jail, where he’ll likely live out his days. Meanwhile, his victims remain in their own prison, no doubt for the rest of their days, too.

        And Joe Paterno?

        In death, he escapes further questioning. But not further scrutiny. And scorn.

        Here are some of the questions that the former Penn State head football coach, the winningest coach in Division I-A history, did answer before his Jan. 22 death.       

Responding to a grand jury’s questions, Joe Paterno admitted that back in 2002, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary came to him concerning an incident in the Penn State locker room shower involving Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy. (Shutterstock image)

    Responding to a grand jury’s questions, Paterno admitted that back in 2002, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary came to him concerning an incident in the Penn State locker room shower involving Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy.

        Grand Jury: “Without getting into any graphic detail, what did Mr. McQueary tell you he had seen and where?”

        Paterno: “Well, he had seen a person, an older — not an older, but a mature person who was fondling, whatever you might call it — I’m not sure what the term would be — a young boy.”

        Now think about that. Even while testifying before a grand jury, Joe Paterno wouldn’t out Jerry Sandusky by name. Instead, he had to be asked specifically who this “mature person” was who was “fondling” a “young boy.”

        Grand Jury: “Did he identify who that older person was?”

Paterno: “Well, I don’t know what you would call it. Obviously, he was doing something with the youngster. It was a sexual nature. I’m not sure exactly what it was. I didn’t push Mike to describe exactly what it was because he was very upset. Obviously, I was in a little bit of a dilemma since Mr. Sandusky was not working for me anymore. So I told — I didn’t go any further than that except I knew Mike was upset and I knew some kind of inappropriate action was being taken by Jerry Sandusky with a youngster.”

         Paterno: “Yes, a man by the name of Jerry Sandusky who had been one of our coaches, was not at the time.”

        Notice that when Paterno finally identified Sandusky by name, he quickly added that at the time Sandusky was no longer one of his coaches, as if that mattered, as if that might’ve somehow mitigated his culpability. Of course, Paterno neglected to mention that Sandusky had worked for him for 30 years, and had only retired a few years prior.

        When pressed as to what he meant by “fondling” a “young boy,” this is what Paterno said.

        Grand Jury: “I think you used the term fondling. Is that the term that you used?”

        Paterno: “Well, I don’t know what you would call it. Obviously, he was doing something with the youngster. It was a sexual nature. I’m not sure exactly what it was. I didn’t push Mike to describe exactly what it was because he was very upset. Obviously, I was in a little bit of a dilemma since Mr. Sandusky was not working for me anymore. So I told — I didn’t go any further than that except I knew Mike was upset and I knew some kind of inappropriate action was being taken by Jerry Sandusky with a youngster.”

        Unbelievable. Paterno hears of conduct of a “sexual nature” by his former assistant on a boy and he didn’t “push” to find out exactly what happened, although he knew it was “inappropriate.” Huh? And because Sandusky doesn’t work for him anymore, he’s in a dilemma. Really?

        Evidently, the dilemma Joe Paterno was in wasn’t a moral one, because in that instance he showed he had none.

        And did you notice how Paterno started to say that he told somebody else, but then stopped himself? Hey, no need to offer the grand jury information they hadn’t yet asked for, information that might be helpful in their investigation. It’s only the lives of children that are involved.

We’re left to ask this: In the 10 years since Sandusky raped that 10-year-old boy, brutally sodomizing him in a shower in Penn State’s athletic facility, how many more victims fell prey to this monster? How many more lives were destroyed? (Shutterstock image)

        Meanwhile, we’re left to ask this: In the 10 years since Sandusky raped that 10-year-old boy, brutally sodomizing him in a shower in Penn State’s athletic facility, how many more victims fell prey to this monster? How many more lives were destroyed?

        More than we’ll probably ever know.

        Thank you, Joe Paterno.

        Paterno’s defense is that he reported what McQueary told him to his superiors, as if that absolved him. Interestingly, he didn’t report it right way.

        Grand Jury: “When did you — did you do something with that information?”

        Paterno: “Well, I can’t be precise. I ordinarily would have called people right away, but it was a Saturday morning and I didn’t want to interfere with their weekends. So I don’t know whether I did it Saturday or did it early the next week. I’m not sure when, but I did it within the week.”

        What a great guy, that Joe Paterno. He didn’t want to interfere with people’s weekends, even while Jerry Sandusky was destroying people’s lives. At the very least, Paterno was told that Saturday morning in 2002 that one of his buddies sexually molested a young boy and, oh, sometime within a week he finally gets around to letting someone in Penn State’s hierarchy know about. And by the way, we still don’t know exactly how Paterno presented it to them.

        What we do know, though, is that Joe Paterno never went to the police. Instead, he only went to his so-called superiors, and then walked away from the matter. As if Paterno was someone who even recognized, much less respected, the imaginary authority that existed above him.

        

Make no mistake, Joe Paterno was the authority at Penn State. He was the man in charge. Many have even said that after 61 years at the school as an assistant and head coach, Joe Paterno was Penn State. If there was ever any doubt that Paterno held all the power at Penn State, know that when the Nittany Lions had losing records in four of the five football seasons from 2000 to 2004, including a 3-9 record in 2003, university officials came to his home to talk to him about retiring.

         Make no mistake, Joe Paterno was the authority at Penn State. He was the man in charge. Many have even said that after 61 years at the school as an assistant and head coach, Joe Paterno was Penn State.

        If there was ever any doubt that Paterno held all the power at Penn State, know that when the Nittany Lions had losing records in four of the five football seasons from 2000 to 2004, including a 3-9 record in 2003, university officials came to his home to talk to him about retiring.

        Paterno wouldn’t even open the door.

        In 2004, he got a four-year contract extension.

        So for him to try and wash his hands of what he heard Sandusky did by saying he went to his superiors … well, it doesn’t wash.

        If anybody should’ve looked into what an “upset” – Paterno’s description – Mike McQueary reported about Jerry Sandusky and that 10-year-old boy, it was Joe Paterno. But instead of looking into it, Joe Paterno looked away.

        And this is a guy Penn State still has a bronze statue of on its campus?

        Disgraceful.

        Even more disgraceful is how Joe Paterno answered other questions.

        After more sick, sordid details of Sandusky’s predatory pedophilia emerged in the fall, Paterno agreed to an interview with The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins. That’s when Paterno said this:

After more sick, sordid details of Jerry Sandusky’s predatory pedophilia emerged in the fall, Joe Paterno agreed to an interview with The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins. That’s when Paterno said this: “In hindsight, I wish I had done more.” (Shutterstock image)

“In hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

Jenkins (and I’m sure she regrets this) never followed up that comment with another question. Instead, she allowed Paterno to backpedal from that statement and offer that the idea of pedophilia, of a man and a boy, was foreign to him; that even if McQueary had spelled out the sordid details, it wouldn’t have registered.

“You know, he didn’t want to get specific,” Paterno said. “And to be frank with you, I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man.”

Was he serious? Did he really think if he told The Washington Post that, people would buy it?

Keep in mind, and this must be noted, Joe Paterno was Roman Catholic. Was he not even paying attention to what had been going on in his own church and its decades-old sexual abuse scandals? In fact, some of the most heinous sex crimes against boys committed by Catholic priests occurred right there in Pennsylvania. The Catholic Church’s scandal in his home state was, and has been, all over the news for years.

Pointedly, if not ironically, within hours of Sandusky’s conviction, William J. Lynn, a former Monsignor of Philadelphia’s Catholic Archdiocese, was convicted of child endangerment due to covering up decades of pedophile priests who preyed on children.

No, it can’t be said that Joe Paterno was involved in a cover up. But he sure didn’t do what any responsible adult would’ve done to help uncover the abominable crimes Jerry Sandusky was busy committing.

Instead, he allowed a monster to continue in the midst of children. Because of that, life after life after life was ruined.

But finally, on Friday night, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse and sent away to where he’ll never be able to abuse boys again. It took weeks, though, of tortured young men having to testify and tell about all the sick, sordid things Jerry Sandusky did to them; the kinds of things that are so repulsive to any sane human being’s sensibilities.

If only Joe Paterno could’ve heard what he could’ve stopped.

If only he had lived five more months.


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10 Comments on "Paterno’s Legacy Forever Linked To Sandusky"

  1. Charlie Greene June 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm · Reply

    Peter,
    Glad you didn’t shy away from a very difficult situation. Another reason why you are head and shoulders above today’s columnists.

  2. Rich Burklew June 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm · Reply

    Peter,

    Thanks for writing about the the hard things that need to be discussed so a climate where such harm to young boys was not stopped will not be tolerated, even if a storts icon is put in what many would think is a harsh light.

  3. Charley Hester June 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm · Reply

    Peter,

    In your writing you have taken on a lot of tough subjects, but perhaps none tougher than this one. Thanks for once again having the courage to tell the truth, while adhering to your high standards of writing and integrity. Some will say that maybe because Paterno was a devout Catholic, he didn’t see anything wrong with what Sandusky did. In any case, his plea of ignorance on that subject had absolutely no credibility.

    Charley

  4. Larry Fallon June 25, 2012 at 11:06 am · Reply

    Thanks Pete,

    It has been pretty sickening the way people have tip toed around Joe Paterno, sure he was a great coach, but his chance to be a great man ended that day, maybe even sooner, he will probably not rest in peace.

    L. Fallon

  5. Dr. James Palermo
    Dr. James Palermo June 25, 2012 at 11:26 am · Reply

    Peter,
    Your entertaining and riveting writing style have enamored millions of readers to you. This piece showcases your journalistic honesty and courage. Like you, we must all be appalled by what transpired over so many years and hold Paterno and the Penn State leadership accountable for passively standing on the sidelines without timely outrage and intervention.

  6. Liz Tirado June 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm · Reply

    Peter,
    Well written and well said. I look forward to a time when these things will no longer plague humankind. My heart goes out to the young boys this monster brutalized.

  7. Keith Malone July 14, 2012 at 7:08 am · Reply

    Peter … I suspect this only scratches the surface of what still goes on and that there are lots more blind eyes turning out there.

    I would like to hope your graphic piece prompts others in the know to come forward and reveal these monsters using sport to get close to their victims.

    There should also be a website to which people could anonymously post revelations – although there is always the risk of false accusations also ruining lives.

    Food for thought.

  8. Ivan Briggs July 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm · Reply

    Peter: So thankful to find you after all these months, and great comment on Paterno, as usual an outstnding and informative article about the Penn State situation, you no doubt as Jackie Gleason would say “you are the greatest. All the best on your latest adventure ,

    Ivan Briggs

  9. Paul Lewis July 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm · Reply

    Peter,
    Another well written article that gets to the heart of the matter but lets the facts tell the story. Your ability to weave together the real information into a meaningful and flowing summary is most appreciated. Keep up the good work – even if your good work means telling the ugly truth about a tarnished icon. What is even scarier is that I read that the abuse may have started back in the early 70s. The only saving grace is that the recent announcment of the severe penalties and the negative press and ensuing civil suits will further deter aceptance and sweeping under the carpet this type of despicable behavior in the future. Well done and thank you again!!

    Paul Lewis

  10. Susan Plymel July 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm · Reply

    Peter,

    Very, very well said. The whole disgusting truth. Feel so sorry for all the victims and all the innocent people this will affect.

    Susan M. Plymel

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