This week, Penn State received severe penalties from the NCAA, worse than the “death penalty,” once the most stringent discipline meted out to athletic programs that break NCAA rules. This punishment is well-deserved. For unlike previous perpetrators who showed callous disregard for the rules of collegiate sports, officials at Penn State displayed total disregard for the welfare of children.
The men at the helm of this otherwise distinguished educational institution, in the words of investigator and former FBI Director Louis Freeh, “failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized." University officials, including legendary Head Coach Joe Paterno, “never demonstrated through actions or word any concern for the safety and wellbeing of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.” In fact, this damning report went on to say, “Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them to Sandusky’s victims.”
How could it happen?
The first allegation at Penn State in 1998 was investigated by the campus police. A NY Times report on that query stated: “Sandusky admitted showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that it was wrong,” said the report issued last weekend by the Pennsylvania attorney general. “Detective Schreffler advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and Sandusky said that he would not.”
Somehow Paterno, Sandusky’s boss, figured that the matter had been put to rest. Yet when his former quarterback, now grad assistant Mike McQueary reported seeing the Defensive Coordinator molesting a child in the shower, Freeh states that Paterno told him, “You did what you had to do. It is now my job to figure out what we want to do.” He did nothing. With children’s welfare at stake, how could a father and grandfather take no action? It’s easy to note that they weren’t his grandsons, and Sandusky was a valued colleague. But there’s a psychological component as well.