I had not intended to write about the Penn State debacle, but after reflecting on it, I changed my mind. The detailed report released last month by the school revealed that the tragic events involving the school were even worse than I had thought. Based on findings in the report, it’s very clear that senior officials at Penn State University, including the school’s president and Coach Joe Paterno, concealed critical facts about Coach Jerry Sandusky’s abuses of a huge number of children over a long period of time. The obvious reason for the cover-up was that those in charge at Penn State were concerned about bad publicity for the football program. This makes their conduct, which was not only very bad, but almost impossible to believe, even more despicable. The school, and all persons involved in this scandal, deserve to be severely punished.
The report, coming from an internal investigation, revealed that Joe Paterno and other senior officials at Penn State “concealed critical facts” relating to Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse. To cover up such horrendous conduct is reprehensible and can’t be tolerated. The 267-page report, released on July 11th, follows an eight-month inquiry by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The report shows in detail how this scandal was covered up. Freeh was hired by University trustees weeks after Sandusky was arrested in November to look into what has become one of sports’ biggest scandals. The report concluded that Paterno, President Graham Spanier, Vice-president Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Tim Curley “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.” The report concluded:
In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the university — Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse.
Penn State has suffered greatly because of this scandal. On July 23rd, the NCAA came down very hard on the school and deservedly so. The Freeh report describes a classic case of a lack of institutional control by the school over the football program with the bad conduct being at the highest levels. Regardless of how we feel about sports, and college football in particular, we can’t allow any school, or any person connected with a school’s athletic program, to become so revered and powerful that they come to believe that laws don’t apply to them and that common decency can be ignored.
While Penn State’s football problem – and the reputation of the school – have suffered, those who have really suffered are Sandusky’s victims. The young men who were abused, first by Sandusky, a well-known football coach, and then by other powerful men at the school in a massive cover-up, must be compensated to the fullest extent allowed by law. The Defendants in civil suits must also be punished by the imposition of punitive awards. Hopefully, university presidents, boards of trustees, athletic directors and head coaches in all sports around the country will have learned from this tragic episode and will make sure such a thing never happens again at any school.
This is without a doubt a painful lesson for this school. But we must remember that the real pain and suffering was experienced by the young men who were abused. Our prayers are certainly with these young men and hopefully they will be able to get on with their lives. May God bless and sustain them.
Source: Associated Press
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