I began writing this post last week. I wanted time to think about every word, time to say things that would later be deleted. But I wanted to know at some point it would be posted, that I wrote how I felt about an evil situation while trying to understand. I am nowhere near to understanding, I might be farther away than I was last week. But this is where I am at this moment on this topic. 

 

Last week, we found out just how horribly a person can operate under the guise of running a charity meant to help kids.

 

Jerry Sandusky, former linebacker coach at Penn State, was indicted by the Grand Jury for 40 counts of alleged sexual child abuse. I need to say ‘alleged’ because he has only been charged so far and not convicted. As we learn more and more about the charges, when you read the actual report, it is sickening.

 

Thanks to Sandusky, every single one of us who work with youth in any capacity are being given a second look because he seemed like a great guy. Here was someone who was well liked and trusted by people. And yet he was a monster that people had seen doing horrible things.

 

Over the weekend, I read columns blaming the coaches, the parents, and those who purposely went after a group of children in a poor socio-economic group – figuring that this group would not make a fuss. The truth is that is only somewhat correct. Not all parents sat back, some reported what happened. A high school staff member made the mandated call. People made reports as they were required. That it took the Grand Jury three years to investigate might mean they had to make sure they had all of the facts right before they stepped into the world controlled by this man and Joe Paterno, aka JoePa.

 

Various Penn State staff members reported what they saw. Fear of losing their jobs might have made them reluctant to talk to more than their supervisor. One person who testified reported seeing Sandusky drive by the building several times, up until 2 in the morning, on a night he was seen doing wrong as if searching for the person who saw him.

 

After listening to a recent This American Life episode called “Petty Tyrant” about Steve Raucci in Schenectady, New York, I feel as if I understand some of the fear the Penn State employees would feel, knowing they would have to go against JoePa’s friend. Not that the lack of action is justified. But it does point out the atmosphere of fear and what it does to people.

 

I have known not one but two child abusers. The first was a security guard at my alma mater. A year after I left school, it was discovered he was raping both of his daughters. His wife was aware of it but did nothing to stop the behavior. Only because one of his daughters bravely reported the abuse did it stop with his arrest.

 

The other abuser was a neighbor. He was charming and friendly, approachable. He and his family were grounded Christians. We were not close friends but our families had a meal or two together. I never suspected, the radar didn’t go off. Then I saw a story in our local newspaper that he has been arrested.

 

He was acquitted. A year or so later they moved away. A year or two after that, he shares pictures through the internet with someone in another state. Now he is arrested by the feds because he crossed one line too many. The feds break into his house with a battering ram. After another year, his wife makes the decision to divorce him, change her last name and the kids’ to her maiden name and move back to her parents’ home in another state.

 

Abusers work to gain the trust and then separate their victims so that they can take advantage. The security guard isolated his girls. Our neighbor held sleepovers at his house like Sandusky did. Unlike Sandusky, our neighbor did not have friends in high places that could protect him.

 

Expect this case to get worse. More victims have come forward, the last total I heard being 17. Questions are going to be asked about a missing DA who disappeared in 2005; they found his empty car, and his laptop with notes on the case was at the bottom of a river. We are going to find out more sickening details as time goes on.

 

In the end, the best case scenario is that this will be one of the worst examples of the 1% taking advantage of their power and money to victimize members of the 99%. But if the rumors of grooming kids for donors are true, the worst could be a human trafficking case involving a top echelon university and a charity whose mission was to help kids at risk.

 

I wonder what I would have done in the face of evil. I hope the right thing and that I would do it without a second thought. After I threw up.

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