Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Big Trouble In Happy Valley

By now, even the non-sports world is reeling from the sordid tale of the sexual assault of a young boy in the locker room shower in Penn State's stadium by a former coach and the subsequent completely inadequate response on the part of very important people in the athletic hierarchy who were informed about it.

Let us begin by reconstructing a basic timeline.  In 1977, Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky starts a non-profit called "Second Mile" which is created to assist at-risk youth.  More on this later.  Sandusky resigned from Penn State around 1999 or so.  However, he still had a parking place, keys to the building and an office at the athletic complex. 

On March 2, 2002, a graduate assistant informs Head Football Coach Joe Paterno that he had seen Sandusky having sex with a young boy-adjudged to be about 10-in the shower in the football locker room the night before.   On March 3, Paterno advises Athletic Director Tim Curley that the GA saw Sandusky "doing something of a sexual nature with a young boy."  No law enforcement investigation is launched. 

Later in 2002, Second Mile gets wind of the shower incident.  The AD tells Second Mile there was no "finding of wrongdoing" on the part of Sandusky.  Still, law enforcement not advised although Sandusky by this time has been relieved of his 24/7 access to the locker room and is advised by Penn State not to bring anymore Second Mile kids around the facility.

From 2005-2007 Sandusky begins another relationship with a Second Mile kid.  Buys him gifts.  Takes him to sporting events.  According to testimony before the Grand Jury, Sandusky performed oral sex on this boy 20 times during this period. 

In 2008, the kid's Mother reports Sandusky to his High School principal.  Sandusky is banned from coming on campus and the police are notified.  Eventually, Sandusky is indicted on numerous counts of sex with children.  The Athletic Director and one other administrator are indicted for lying before the Grand Jury.  Paterno escapes any criminal sanction.

Paterno says he advised AD of sexual activity.  AD testifies that Paterno told them that Sandusky and the boy were merely "horsing around."

At this point, let us distill this down to the simplest essence.

I have coached youth sports for years.  I never, and I do mean NEVER touch a kid outside the presence of another adult.  While I have devoted much of my life to being a friend to kids, I do not have a peer relationship with any of them.  It has been my recent privilege to have 3 boys in my life and I came to love them very much.  But I was not in love with them. 

If somebody came to me and told me that they saw one of my fellow coaches, or acquaintances even, was seen naked with a child, not only would I have informed law enforcement, I would probably have to be physically restrained from killing the son of a bitch.  Since when is a grown man in the shower with a naked boy "horsing around?" I don't know whether Joe Paterno had a mandatory duty as the Head Football Coach to notify law enforcement as would a doctor, a minister, or-yes-the principal that finally sounded the alarm.  I don't know whether I have a mandatory reporting responsibility as a coach of youth sports. 

But I don't need to know what my legal responsibilities are.  I know what my moral responsibilities are as one who is privileged to be entrusted with other people's children.  And it wouldn't take me very long to connect the dots between Jerry Sandusky and Second Mile.  Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks.  "Because that's where the money is," he replied.  It is not completely cynical to suggest that Sandusky was informed by a similar logic when he incorporated Second Mile. 

I don't get on my High Horse very often around here.  But I'm up there now and I'm digging in the spurs.

And the kid that Sandusky is accused of molesting between 2005-2007?  That's on Joe Paterno.  That's on Tim Curley.  Hell, it's on the Graduate Assistant.  But at least he reported it to SOMEBODY.

Paterno says he will retire at the end of the year.  You goddamn right he will.  If I'm Penn State, I tell him to hit the bricks yesterday. 

Because any kid molested by that bastard after 2002, that's on Joe Paterno. 

1 comment:

Polycarp said...

I agree with you about most of this, of course, but you're just wrong when you say you rarely get on your high horse.