Penn State and the failure of men


On Monday, the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees released a report explaining why they "removed" the late head football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier last November. Penn State alumni, students, and others complained about the firings and asked the trustees to "state clearly" why they did so. The report is their response.

According to the grand jury presentment, graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary said he witnessed former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky raping a child in the shower in 2002. McQueary went to Paterno's house and told him what he saw. Paterno reported the incident to athletic director Tim Curley. Paterno testified that McQueary said Sandusky was "in the Lasch Building [on campus] showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."

I've read some of the grand jury presentment, and it's not for those with weak stomachs. What Sandusky reportedly did to those children is sad, nasty, blood pressure raising, and evil.

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Although Paterno, according to the report, "did his legal duty by reporting" the crimes to Curley, his decision not to do more to follow up "constituted a failure of leadership." The trustees also concluded that Spanier "took insufficient action" after he learned of the child's rape.

Sandusky coached from 1969 to 1999, and in 1977, he founded The Second Mile, a charity to help "troubled" boys. In 1998, State College, Pa., police, the Centre County district attorney, and other agencies investigated Sandusky for sexually abusing a child. Incredibly, no charges were filed against him, and he continued his alleged perverted crimes. Last November, Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period, with some of the incidents occurring while he coached at Penn State.

We didn't need a report to tell us Paterno showed a failure of leadership or that Spanier's actions were insufficient. Is there any doubt the "winningest" coach held the kind of power at Penn State to blow the lid off such heinous and disgusting attacks on vulnerable children? Of course, he did. So why didn't he go to the police? And why didn't McQueary, who witnessed the rape of a 10-year-old boy, clobber the pervert over the head and rescue the child? According to an ESPN timeline of events, a janitor named James Calhoun also saw Sandusky abusing a young boy in the shower. Why didn't he help?

What kind of man sees or hears a child being raped, or suspects rape, and leaves the child to his fate? The kind of man with low character and a heaping helping of cowardice. What must a child think when a man rapes him or when another man sees him in peril and walks away? Was Paterno disgusted when McQueary told him about it? Every person who knew or suspected what happened bears some of the blame.

But wait … aren't I being judgmental? Bad girl. Politically incorrect girl. When it comes to the protection of children, may we all be so judgmental. I'm certain an abused child would have welcomed such judgments from Paterno or McQueary.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications


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