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Joe Paterno’s career at Penn State needs to end before this season does. And everyone else who helped to cover up serial child abuser Jerry Sandusky needs to be fired too. This evening the athletic director and former vice president stepped down. But this disturbing child serial rape case is far from over. It’s the Catholic church abuse case meets college football. Before we go any further you need to read the Attorney General’s report for yourself. You cannot have any opinion about what needs to happen at Penn State until you read this report. Most media, with the exception of Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel who got me to read it, are completely ignoring the details. As a preliminary, it’s graphic, grotesque, and will make you sick to your stomach. But you need to read it to see what a real moral issue in college athletics looks like.
All too often NCAA violations are trumped up as true moral failings. Jim Tressel, Bruce Pearl, Butch Davis, you name any fired coach in the past twenty years and what they did all pales in comparison to what Joe Paterno did.
In reality, they aren’t moral failings at all, they’re just broken NCAA rules. Which many of us, including me, feel like are already immoral anyway.
What Joe Paterno did was a moral failing of the highest order.
Told that his longtime assistant coach was raping a ten-year old boy in the Penn State locker room showers, do you know what Joe Paterno did?
He told his boss.
What did his Penn State bosses do with this report? According to the grand jury report on the child rape in the Penn State locker room, “The records reveal that the 2002 incident was never reported to any officials in contravention of PA law.”
That’s because 23 Pa. C.S. Section 6311 makes it mandatory to report child sex abuse.
You can read that statute here.
Let me ask you this, if someone told you that a child had been raped at your office, would you tell your boss and let it go? Because that’s what Joe Paterno did in 2002. Nine years ago! Do you know how many other kids have been victims since then? Probably dozens. And don’t give me any crap about Paterno not knowing. This happened multiple times. The university conducted an investigation about inappropriate shower touching back in 1998. It’s a hell of a coincidence that Sandusky stepped down in 1999, don’t you think?
Do you know what Penn State’s official response was in 2002 when Sandusky was caught raping a kid in the locker room shower?
They took away his keys to the locker room.
Let me repeat that.
They. Took. Away. His. Keys. To. The. Locker. Room.
If you’re Joe Paterno, a supposed moral paragon amidst a sordid sea of cheaters, don’t you have to call that response into question?
A former coach gets caught raping a kid in your locker room for the second time, and all you do is take away his keys? I’m sorry, that’s criminal negligence on Joe Paterno’s part too. If I was one of these kids’ parents, I would sue Joe Paterno, I would sue the university, I would sue the booster clubs that underwrite Nittany Lion sports, I would sue every living individual and entity who might have ever known about what was going on and done nothing at all. So far Paterno has escaped criminal prosecution, but I’d sure as hell make certain he was deposed in a civil lawsuit.
To hell with college football fans, every person in America ought to be outraged by this.
So let me be clear and succinct, Joe Paterno should never coach another game at Penn State.
By the time the Nebraska game rolls around on Saturday, Joe Paterno ought to be out to Happy Valley pasture. Especially when he’s releasing crap official statements like these.
Quoth Paterno’s lawyer:
“As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.”
Get ready for the lawsuits, Joe. By the time they’re over your legacy is likely to be similar to the legacy of Catholic church administrators who looked the other way as kid after kid was raped.
As Dan Wetzel has already argued, Joe Paterno needs to answer real questions, not release flimsy statements. Why was Sandusky distraught that he wouldn’t be Paterno’s successor? Why did Sandusky suddenly retire a year after allegations that he’d been behaving inappropriately with boys in Penn State showers first arose? Do you really believe that Paterno knew absolutely nothing about what was going on?
Especially since this was a decade ago. Joe may be senile now, but he wasn’t senile 13 years ago, back when he could have ended Sandusky’s serial raping of children by speaking out. Or at least speaking to authorities. The AG report identifies eight victims.
There are probably eighty. Or more. Many of those victims have come because Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in college football history, kept silent about the most sordid crime in college football history.
This isn’t just a sports story. At some point this week the non-sports media are going to dive in and this story is going to explode on the national scene. Much of the good will that Joe Paterno has built up over the past several decades is going to vanish in an instant. The only reason this story isn’t leading national news already is because it was released on the weekend. By Monday afternoon, this will be the top sports story in the country.
If I was a Penn State fan, I wouldn’t show up for the Nebraska game unless Joe Paterno was gone.
It’s the only decent response to the most indecent story in college football history.
Again, if you haven’t read the report, you don’t need to let anyone in the media make decisions for you, you need to make decisions for yourself. Once you read this report, you’ll agree with me, anyone who knew any of the details of these incidents needs to be gone.
Including Joe Paterno.
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