There is an old adage that it isn’t the scandal that gets you, but the cover up. It looks like a lot of people in the senior leadership at Penn State- including the late Joe Paterno and fired President Graham Spanier, failed to protect children by turning in now convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky. On 22 June, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse of ten boys over a fifteen year period, and those are only the ones that could be proven or have come forward.
Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, lead the inquiry into Penn State’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal. Freeh and his team found that at least four members of the university administration knew about the allegations and the 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky. According to the Huffington Post “Again, they showed no concern about that victim. The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s. At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building.”
Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also did not inform the Board of Trustees about the 1998 investigation and none so much as talked to Sandusky about his conduct. The report also states:
“Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest. In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University…repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse.”
Regarding the report, the Penn State Board of Trustees stated:
We want to ensure we are giving the report careful scrutiny and consideration before making any announcements or recommendations. We are convening an internal team comprising the Board of Trustees, University administration and our legal counsel to begin analyzing the report and digesting Judge Freeh’s findings.
As we anticipate the review and approval process will take some time, our initial response and immediate next steps will be presented at 3:30 at the Dayton/Taylor Conference Room at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center.
These top-line reactions will provide an overview of our process for developing and implementing a plan once we have studied the report and have a better understanding of what it means and how we can implement findings to strengthen Penn State’s role as a leading academic institution and ensure that what occurred will never be allowed to happen again.
Freeh placed blame for the child abuse on the culture of the school in which there was an “active agreement to conceal” what was going on. This includes janitors who were more concerned about losing their jobs if they reported Sandusky than about the damage to the victim.
By and large, people are willing to forgive the hiring of a pedophile. Many pedophiles conceal what they are doing and do so fairly well. What people do not forgive is covering up that they are raping children. In the end, exposing the pedophile is less of a problem than covering them up and waiting for them to be exposed.
A lesson that the Catholic Church still has not learned.