Friday, November 18, 2011

Penn State’s Shame of Silence

by Diane Dimond

Imagine an 11 year old boy from an underprivileged family who gets help from a local charity called The Second Mile so he can spend time with members of the exalted Penn State University football team.

This little boy is ushered onto campus and is introduced around by one of the team’s top coaches. He gets to work out with the players and see the action up close. This kid feels like a King! Boy, wait till he tells his buddies back in the housing project where he lives with his single mother.

But a part of the boy’s dream includes something he wishes he could forget. The coach that brought him to this wondrous place suggests a shower at the end of their special day and when they are both naked engages in sexually charged behavior with the child.

After the coach drives him home the boy says to his mother, “If you’re wondering why my hair is wet, we took a shower together.”

The outraged mother calls police and the first official investigation of Penn State’s assistant coach Jerry Sandusky begins. The year is 1998.

The mother has two conversations with Sandusky while police listened in. Police confirm Sandusky admitted showering with several young boys and ultimately told the woman, “I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness … I wish I was dead.” The local District Attorney, Ray Gricar, decides there isn’t enough evidence to press charges.

Somehow word gets back to the University and a short time later Sandusky is told by head coach Joe Paterno that he will never be promoted. Sandusky soon retires but retains all university privileges, including keys to the football locker rooms.

Two years later, in the fall of 2000, in that very same Penn State shower room a janitor named Jim Calhoun comes upon a horrifying scene.

Just so you know the nature of what we’re talking about here I’ll quote a brand new Grand Jury report: “Jim observed Sandusky in the showers …. with a young boy pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy.” Calhoun was gravely upset and immediately told his supervisor, Jay Witherite. Another janitor, Ronald Petrosky, had also observed Sandusky walking out of the building that night hand in hand with a young boy.

Next, it’s March 2002 and a graduate assistant named Mike McQueary entered the locker room one night and heard a “rhythmic slapping sound” coming from the showers.

Back to Grand Jury report: “He saw a naked boy … whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.”

McQueary doesn’t call police. He calls someone he believes is of a higher authority – the exalted Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Paterno reports the incident only to his supervisor, Athletic Director Tim Curley. Curley tells the university’s VP of Finance, Gary Schultz, and the university’s President, Graham Spanier.

Not one of these men thought to call police or to try to identify the little boy. Why? Perhaps the 70 million dollars the Penn State football program generates each year had something to do with their silence.

I include the names of all the men who knew about Jerry Sandusky’s alleged activities with young boys because, to me, they are no better than the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who put blinders on and continuously refused to call in law enforcement lest their precious institution be embarrassed. They all consciously allowed the corruption of young children to continue.

The new Grand Jury report outlines sexual attacks by Sandusky on eight different boys. The most disturbing is Victim #4 who was described as being “A fixture in the Sandusky household … (who was) repeatedly subjected to Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and Indecent Assault at the hands of Sandusky.” Now 27 years old, the former Second Mile kid says he was victimized in 1996, often when he slept in a basement bedroom at the coach’s home.

Everyone in State College, Pennsylvania knew that Jerry Sandusky had established The Second Mile charity for kids back in 1977 and was actively involved in getting school counselors to refer troubled kids to his program. The Grand Jury reports he would often go to the schools and pull out boys from class for private, unsupervised meetings.

Joe Miller, a wrestling coach testified that in 2006 he found Sandusky in an isolated workout room of the school, on the floor with a young boy in a compromising position. “Miller unexpectedly entered the room and Sandusky jumped up very quickly and explained that they had just been wrestling.”

I’m going to predict we will all be astounded at the final number of young men who come forward to say they were victimized. At this writing the number is said to be more than 20 and some may be the many foster children the Sandusky’s housed over the years.

Sandusky is now out on bail, as are Penn State officials Curley and Schultz, the latter two were charged with lying to the Grand Jury about what they knew and when they knew it.

Some might say I’ve rushed to judge Sandusky but, may I just say, there has been no rush. Instead, there has been a years long campaign of foot dragging and cover up.

Shame on all those grownups who knew or who suspected what was happening and thought their football program was more important.

If Jerry Sandusky has an ounce of compassion he will repeat what he told that mother back in 1998. He’ll say he’s sorry and ask for forgiveness and spare everyone the torture of a trial.


Cozy in Texas said...

This is such a sad situation where someone in authority could have stopped it, someone could have been a wonderful mentor to a child and yet chose to abuse them instead and the police dropped the ball.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Sandusky saying he's sorry hardly vindicates the pain and suffering these poor young children suffered at the hands of a man they looked up to who ultimately reduced himself to the scum of the earth.

And I'm not even sure putting him in prison where he'll wind up being someone else's B__tch will be enough punishment for him! He'll be in his element. I'm appalled this went on for so long and even more disturbed by the fact that so many men knew about it yet did nothing.

After Joe Paterno was fired, the headline in the newspaper said, "I wish I had done more." In his mind, the only thing that mattered was the football program. He thought he would go out in a blaze of glory for all his hard work but ignoring something of this magnitude puts him in the same category as Sandusky. He's not only ruined the reputation of the school, but he's tarnished his name forever. What's even sadder is if this hadn't been brought to the attention of the authorities, he would have gone to his grave without an ounce of remorse.